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Karen Nielsen-Anson Receives 2022 Robert Norris Award for Excellence in Teaching

Karen Nielsen-Anson Receives 2022 Robert Norris Award for Excellence in Teaching


By: Tim Campbell, Jessie Coyle, Melinda Kaufman, and Mary Kimball


The recipient of this year’s Robert Norris award is a teacher who has touched the lives of many McGillis students and families in a variety of different ways. This teacher is a uniquely exuberant human being, and whenever they encounter anyone in our Kehilah – a student, a colleague, or a McGillis family – they are generous with their heart, attention, time, and care. They are genuinely delighted to see you. They can’t wait to see you again. They live and they love with their whole heart.


This teacher works across all three divisions and is always looking for ways to integrate, connecting purposefully with the curriculum at each grade level, finding ways to work collaboratively with their colleagues. Serendipitous conversations in the hallways have led to brilliant ideas; formal planning meetings have shaped the work of entire trimesters. This person sees every child for who they are, and believes in the endless potential each student brings to their teaching space every day.


This teacher embodies our value of Limud L’shma (learning for the sake of learning), which was especially evident the last two years as we’ve navigated the challenges of COVID and remote learning. This person faced unique obstacles in re-imagining how students could perform, without an audience and at times without the presence of each other. This teacher was pushed outside their comfort zone, essentially learning a new language with technology in order to ensure that their program could continue, and thrive, during the pandemic.


With joy, positivity, and grace, Karen Nielsen-Anson has been a lighthouse for living The McGillis School values for the past 12 years as a teacher at the School, and certainly many more beforehand. Karen created our McGillis canon of music and brings her musical talents to Shabbat every week. Possessing a special gift for connecting with students and families, she has worked tirelessly to build and support our Kehilah. We are grateful for all that you have done and continue to do here at McGillis, Ms. Karen. Congratulations to you, as the recipient of the 2022 Robert Norris Award.


It is absolutely wonderful to receive this award, to feel appreciated for work I do with students in the drama program and for Shabbat. I'm still floating! I felt my heart expand upon receiving it, and my love for each and every Magpie deepen. To join the company of the past recipients is a true honor, and at the same time, I am so humbled because I know how hard each and every one of my colleagues works, and how there are so many others who also deserve this award. Thank you, Baughman and Norris families, and to the committee members, for selecting me. This is truly the honor of a lifetime."

Karen Nielsen-Anson