Ordinarily, only one Generosity of Spirit Award is presented to a faculty or staff member at Potomac’s annual Thanksgiving Assembly – but 2020 has been an unusual year in several ways. New challenges have meant new reasons to recognize Potomac employees for their selflessness, flexibility, kindness, and resilience – all qualities that help their students thrive. In that spirit, the school recently honored two exceptional educators with its 2020 Generosity of Spirit Award: Grades K-8 Physical Education Teacher Carol Hilderbrand and Grades 6-12 Technology and Innovation Coach Jenni Ashley.
Ms. Hilderbrand has taught at Potomac for 25 years. In presenting her award, Head of School John Kowalik noted her “commitment to excellence, keen sense of humor, and humility.” He also observed that Ms. Hildebrand “has been a positive spirit during the pandemic and a source of strength for her colleagues,” adding, “Carol Hildebrand exhibits our core values each and every day. She is never too busy to have an important conversation with a student, a parent, or a fellow teacher.”
For her part, Ms. Hilderbrand says she is “honored to have been selected for this award.” She adds, “It’s really about character to me. This award speaks to how you treat other people, how you behave as a member of this community, and I’ve said before that there are so many role models of generosity here on this campus. So to be recognized by my colleagues in this way was truly overwhelming!”
Asked about her educational philosophy, Ms. Hilderbrand says, “The most important thing to me is not only that the students are moving and getting healthy exercise, but that they’re feeling supported and safe. I want them to feel trust in me and my class; it’s never about competition. P.E. is about trying new things, finding out what you like and are good at, and building the foundations for a lifetime of good health.”
Of the second honoree, Jenni Ashley, Mr. Kowalik noted, “She is patient, selfless, and gracious. Ms. Ashley’s generosity knows no bounds, whether she’s filling in for a class, mentoring a new colleague, or standing by a camera at graduation just to make sure it doesn’t get knocked over.” He also observed, “Jenni is excited about showing students and teachers how to optimize new technology tools. She will patiently coach a struggling colleague and is willing to reteach a skill as often as needed. Even more importantly, she cares about our faculty and students, providing an ear to listen and offering a kind word when needed.”
Jenni Ashley responds, “I work with such amazing teachers and students that, to me, it’s very easy to be generous with my time and thoughtful in my interactions. Everyone is so gracious and appreciative of what I can bring to them and to their classrooms.” She adds, “I’ve established some great relationships with my colleagues and students, and I always say that Potomac is a great place to work – and it’s the people who make it so.”
Congratulations, Ms. Hilderbrand and Ms. Ashley!