When Robert Runk started coaching his children in soccer, many parents asked if he was a teacher because of how well he communicated with the young players.
He was not. But the enjoyment he experienced from working with youth motivated him to get involved with public education – first as a substitute teacher, then as a paraeducator, and now, as a special education teacher focused in science and social studies. During his 17 years serving the Parkville Middle School community, he has also served as a student mentor. Runk has eagerly taken on so many roles, and now he has a new one to celebrate.
Runk is the 2020 Baltimore County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. He is the first educator from Parkville Middle to earn this honor since the recognition program began in 1988. BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams surprised Runk with the news during a virtual staff meeting Monday.
“Mr. Runk has made a significant difference in the lives of so many students at Parkville Middle,” Dr. Williams said. “It is clear he is respected by his peers, and his teaching and mentorship serve as a treasure for the community.”
Runk, in his sixth year as a special educator, leads the mentorship program at Parkville Middle, which started as a lunch bunch for young male students who needed support. Now, it includes students in Grades 6, 7, and 8, both male and female.
“I often find it the most fulfilling part of being an educator,” Runk wrote in his BCPS Teacher of the Year application. “Having a strong person that builds relationships and cares can make all the difference in the world to these students.
Runk has served as an access point for the Maryland Food Bank at Parkville Middle. He also serves as a martial arts coach for Parkville Parks and Recreation. Runk earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix and a master’s degree in education from Walden University.
He is a Sparrows Point High graduate and resides in Lutherville.
The BCPS Teacher of the Year is selected by a committee of administrators, teachers, students, and BCPS staff. Each BCPS school, program, and center can nominate one teacher for consideration. Runk will be the BCPS representative in the Maryland State Teacher of the Year program.