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'Mrs. Bic' Is Teaching's Tops

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Mary V. Bicouvaris, named last week as the 1989 Teacher of the Year, was feted in a series of Washington appearances at which she quickly became known as "Mrs. Bic," a nickname used by her affectionate students.

Ms. Bicouvaris, 49, who teaches government and international relations at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., was born in Greece. She came to the United States in 1960 and has taught at Bethel for 24 years.

"Her secret is in using the real world for her classroom," President Bush said at a Rose Garden ceremony honoring Ms. Bicouvaris. First Lady Barbara Bush presented her with a crystal apple.

During the 1988 Presidential campaign, Ms. Bicouvaris's students were given extra credit for working for the candidates of their choice. The founder and sponsor of Bethel's Model United Nations program, the new Teacher of the Year has taken her students to city council meetings and embassies, and frequently stages mock elections and political debates.

"I tell my students that I will haunt you when the day comes and you're eligible and do not vote," Ms. Bicouvaris said at her first press conference. "I want them to claim a place in this country."

The National Teacher of the Year contest is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Encyclopaedia Britannica Companies, and Good Housekeeping magazine.--ab

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