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Honored educator credits farm upbringing: Billingslea named Teacher of the Year in Baltimore Co.

Honored educator credits farm upbringing: Billingslea named Teacher of the Year in Baltimore Co.

John Billingslea, the Franklin High School psychology teacher named yesterday as Baltimore County's Teacher of the Year, said that growing up on the family farm in northern Harford County taught him much about the value of hard work and the endurance he would need to sustain a career in education.

The Baltimore Sun

May 6, 2008

 

John Billingslea, the Franklin High School psychology teacher named yesterday as Baltimore County's Teacher of the Year, said that growing up on the family farm in northern Harford County taught him much about the value of hard work and the endurance he would need to sustain a career in education.

 

He said his grandmother, Inez Billingslea, a kindergarten teacher, drilled into him the value of a good education.

 

"My grandmother used to always, at dinnertime, tap me on my forehead and say, 'John, remember, they can't take this away from you,'" Billingslea recalled yesterday in a phone interview from the 97-acre farm in White Hall that he and his wife, Ellen, tend.

 

A serious mini-bike accident in 1976 that left Billingslea, then 8 years old, with head and brain injuries motivated him to pursue teaching, he said. The injuries threatened to leave him cognitively impaired.

 

"I promised that if everything turned out OK, I'd do something good in the world," he said. "In my family, teaching was always the noble profession."

 

. . . A 1989 graduate of Washington College in Chestertown on the Eastern Shore with a bachelor's degree in psychology, Billingslea also taught at a high school in Montana and at an Indian reservation in Oregon before returning to teach in Maryland. He also holds a master's degree in education from Washington College.

 

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