Darlyn J. Counihan is a mathematics teacher and coach celebrating more than 25 years of dedication to supporting her students with innovative instructional methods and curriculum. Raised in poverty by parents who worked odd jobs to make ends meet, Ms. Counihan discovered her gift for mathematics at a young age and had decided to become an educator by the time she had entered second grade. Inspired by the strength that she saw in her parents and grandparents and her desire to escape the cycle of poverty, she attended Hood College after graduating high school, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1970 and a Master of Arts in 1982, and pursued additional postgraduate coursework at the University of Maryland in College Park. Ms. Counihan believes strongly that education is one of the strongest predictors of success and the best way to empower students to overcome their economic circumstances and strove to inspire her students with her own story.
Ms. Counihan began teaching mathematics at Cabin John Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1970, and remained with the school for the next five years, taking on additional responsibilities as a girls’ volleyball coach for the 1975 season. While working for Montgomery County Public Schools, she was active in district leadership and consulting, and sat on the district Area 3 Advisory Council in 1972 and 1973. In 1975, Ms. Counihan left Montgomery County Public Schools to work as a resource teacher at Takoma Park Middle School, and in 1977, she accepted a resource teacher position at the district’s Ridgeview Junior High School.
The move from Montgomery County to Takoma Park came with a dramatic demographic shift: after starting her career in a high-income area with well-funded schools, Ms. Counihan’s students increasingly came from underserved communities and had come to expect less educational and social support in their school environment. Motivated by her own background and her experiences with poverty, she took an extremely active role as a resource teacher, creating an intensive remedial mathematics program for the school’s lowest-performing students. Though school administration was initially skeptical, Ms. Counihan’s commitment to earning the respect of her students, involving parents and families, and providing individualized instruction to each student paid off in student engagement and academic improvement.
From 1982 until 1984, Ms. Counihan taught math at Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, before returning to Takoma Park Middle School for a career-defining position in a highly selective magnet mathematics program. She taught mathematics and coached the school math team from 1984 until her retirement in 2000, continuing her signature creative instruction and high-performance expectations. Ms. Counihan’s work in the Takoma Park magnet program was recognized on a national level with honors including a 1990 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching, a 1993 Albert Shanker Award, and the 1996 Mathematics Association of American Edyth May Sliffe Award, as well as a National Science Foundation grant. She is the co-author of a geometry textbook, and partnered with an educational software project established by Johns Hopkins University to write the mathematics game “Descartes’ Cove,” which received a wide release on CD-ROM.
Ms. Counihan has been featured in industry and regional press, including an article published by the Maryland Federation Reporter. She is a lifetime member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and has previously been named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Professional and presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. In her retirement, Ms. Counihan enjoys playing bridge, traveling and enjoying the Pocono region with her husband, and organic gardening.