Every morning, instead of leading a traditional homeroom at North Harford Middle School in Pylesville, Maryland, eighth-grade science teacher Erin Wyatt helps a group of female students run the school store. The girls are part of Wyatt’s mentoring program, one she created based on a similar effort at her church to provide young women with strong role models. Members of the “Girls Club” are thriving, with higher grades, better attendance and fewer behavior referrals. Wyatt prioritizes students’ social and emotional learning along with academics: She helped develop and piloted “Unify Harford,” a curriculum with lessons on tolerance, diversity, citizenship, and cultural and community awareness. The program expanded from her classroom to the grade level, and the district plans to use it throughout Harford County Schools.
The chair of North Harford’s science department, Wyatt is known as an innovative and exceptional educator who meets all students at their level of readiness and accepts them for who they are. She works with students at every academic level, from those identified as gifted to students with IEPs. North Harford ranks fourth or fifth overall among the district’s middle schools, but its eighth-grade science scores land first or second. Wyatt’s students regularly surpass 80% on high stakes testing. An African American teacher in a district with limited ethnic diversity, Wyatt serves as a powerful role model for female, minority and STEM-focused students. Her pupils have earned first place in the school’s science fair, and Wyatt often arranges field trips to meet with scientists working in a variety of STEM fields.
Wyatt is known for her ability to form deep relationships with students and takes the time to get to know every student. Former students check in with her long after they have left for high school, and Wyatt keeps parents involved in their children’s learning process. She serves as a mentor for new and struggling teachers, who often visit her classroom to observe her pedagogical, classroom management and student motivation techniques. Wyatt has served on North Harford’s curriculum and grading committees and is on the team implementing the school’s new restorative practices. She sponsors several building-wide spirit activities, providing positive experiences in a rural community where after-school programs can be hard to find. Every spring Wyatt produces a movie featuring highlights from the school year, a beloved tradition that students and staff watch over and over.
Wyatt earned a bachelor’s in biology from Delaware State University in 2007 and a master’s in K-8 science education from Walden University in 2010.
Press release: Boosting STEM scores and emotional learning earns teacher Erin Wyatt a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
VIDEO: Erin Wyatt addresses the assembly at her surprise Award notification
VIDEO: Erin Wyatt talks about the "Unify Harford" curriculum she helped develop
"I hope [my students] are able to maintain a positive attitude and believe that hard work pays off. I want them to be able to say that..." (read more)