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2013 Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching Winner

Dowan McNair-Lee, School-wide Enrichment Model Resource Teacher, Stuart-Hobson Middle School

Dowan McNair-Lee

“I am a teacher-mama,” Dowan McNair-Lee declares. “I believe that teaching is both an art and a science. The artist in me sees the classroom as a stage where I use my own life and experiences as guides to help my students acquire knowledge. The scientist in me uses data to track students’ progress and make adjustments to my instruction.” She has spent the past 10 years developing the art and science of her craft at Stuart-Hobson, appreciating her “supportive and collaborative” colleagues. During this time, Ms. McNair-Lee served as both a department chair and grade-level chair, and participated in the first cohort of D.C. Teach Plus Policy fellows. She is also an adjunct professor in the education department at Trinity University.
Katie Franklin, a former Assistant Principal at Stuart-Hobson, explains that building relationships with students is a must in middle school, but in Ms. McNair-Lee’s case, “she takes it to another level, with love and appreciation for each student.” Ms. McNair-Lee explains, “I’ve always been a teacher. I taught my stuffed animals. I taught the kids I babysat.” Her enthusiasm in the classroom pushes her students to “reach further and aim higher,” because they can expect to be supported and challenged at the same time. Ms. McNair-Lee draws her inspiration from her own 2nd and 4th grade teacher, who “pushed when I needed a nudge and pulled when I resisted.” Her son attends Watkins Elementary School.