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Philly teacher finalist in Great American Teach-Off

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Will Treece

Philadelphia teacher and blogger Mary Beth Hertz was selected as one of 10 finalists in the Great American Teach-Off competition for a $10,000 prize. She was eliminated from the competition after the first week of voting for "America’s most innovative teacher."

Hertz is a technology teacher at Alliance for Progress Charter School in North Philadelphia. Notebook readers may recognize Hertz from her blog Philly Teacher, which is standard fare in the Notebook’s Notes from the news. She also blogs about technology in the elementary grades at Edutopia, and is a weekly moderator on the #edchat discussion on Twitter.

This fall Hertz crowdsourced tips on how to raise money for another project: a robotics club for girls. She raised $670 for the club online.

Hertz said she had "a lot of ideas" on what to do with the teach-off prize money. Her position as a K-6 technology specialist would have helped the money to go far. She said, “If I get something for my classroom, I get to affect the whole school.”

The finalists for the teach-off, held by GOOD and sponsored by the University of Phoenix, were selected based on:

  • "how he or she makes a positive difference for students;
  • how creativity and innovation is fostered in the classroom; and
  • what impact he or she has made on the greater school community."

Each week, the remaining finalists submit a video responding to a prompt about teaching. At the end of each week, the two teachers with the lowest vote totals are removed from the competition.

Hertz said that the competitive nature of the Teach-Off was tough for her, especially given she is friends with one of the other finalists. But now she can happily watch from the sidelines as voting continues for the rest of the month. Readers can vote for one video each day.

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