Selinsgrove alum receives Maryland teaching award

Mar. 18—SELINSGROVE — Selinsgrove Area High School graduate Betsy Babylon has been recognized as a top music teacher by the Maryland Music Educators Association.

Babylon and Principal Rob Watkins received the outstanding music educator award for their work in Queen Anne County Public Schools in Maryland at an event in Baltimore earlier this month attended by family, including her parents, Dennis and Judy Van Benthusyn, of Selinsgrove.

"It's a phenomenal achievement. It shows all the work she put in," said Ed Smith, retired band director at Selinsgrove Area School District.

Babylon graduated from the district in 1992, one year before Smith joined the faculty but she worked with him as an assistant during the summer months when she was in college.

"You don't go into education to receive an award, but it is so nice to be noticed," she said. "It made my parents so proud."

The parent of three, Babylon said raising an autistic son impacted her teaching style. She's been engaging students with varying degrees of disabilities to perform with stringed instruments and has started professional development opportunities to support the work.

Babylon and Watkins were nominated by Michael Bell in part for the strings program and that 60 percent of the middle school students participate in the performing arts program.

"She has this magical ability to reach every student, no matter their ability level," Bell said of Babylon.

Babylon has degrees from Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and Peabody Institute of Music, Music Education from Penn State, and a master's in special education from the University of Kansas.