Finalists announced for Maryland Teacher of the Year

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery has announced the names of seven finalists for 2012-2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year, the Maryland State Department of Education reports.

“Our gifted finalists exhibit a commitment to classroom excellence and are helping to ensure that Maryland public schools prepare world-class students,” Dr Lowery said. “These teachers are ambassadors for our field and deserve all the appreciation we can give them for the work they do every day for our children and our communities.”

Patricia DiLeonardi, social studies
Liberty High School, Carroll County

Patricia DiLeonardi, a social studies teacher at Liberty High School, holds a B.S. in history and an master’s degree from Towson University. She began her teaching career at Liberty High School in 2001 as a substitute teacher. Since 2005, she has been a full-time teacher. DiLeonardi has received certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and is actively involved as a mentor with new teachers and student interns. DiLeonardi also serves as student government advisor. She credits her mother and father, as well as many of her teachers, for her decision to become a teacher.

Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship, English
Rising Sun High School, Cecil County

At Rising Sun High School, National Board Certified Teacher Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship guides tenth and eleventh grade students as they develop critical thinking and inquiry skills through the exploration of literature and the processes of writing, speaking, and listening. Ms. Blankenship writes county curriculum, is a member of the school improvement team, participates in professional learning communities, facilitates school and county professional development, and mentors student teachers. A summa cum laude graduate, Ms. Holmes-Blankenship holds a B.S. in English from Towson University and an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College.

Kerrie Seberg, third-grade inclusion teacher
William A. Diggs Elementary School, Charles County

Ms Seberg holds bachelor’s degrees in both English and biology from Cornell University, as well as an M.S. in childhood education from the State University of New York College at Cortland. She’s currently completing a graduate certificate in early childhood autism at John Hopkins and is a sponsor for Destination ImagiNation, chairperson for the Green Committee, and a teacher mentor for the high school careers program. She serves on the curriculum-writing team. She has presented to the county on using technology in teaching and differentiation in literacy and math. In 2010, she was nominated for the Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award.

Lisa Young, gifted and talented resource teacher
Atholton Elementary , Howard County

Lisa Young received a B.S. in elementary education from Towson University and an M.S. in educational studies from Johns Hopkins University. She began teaching in Alaska, becoming a leading advocate for use of the “Six+1 Writing Traits” and providing professional development throughout the school district. After moving to Howard County in 2003, she helped pioneer this model, now used in elementary and middle schools throughout the county. She continues to lead in writing, gifted education, and environmental programs, and is currently preparing math curricula that align with the Common Core State Standards. She serves as Maryland Green School Coordinator for Atholton Elementary and coaches a middle school girls robotics team.

Bernadette Scheetz, mathematics
Esperanza Middle School, St. Mary’s County

Bernadette Scheetz holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in educational mathematics (grades 6–8) from Walden University. She has served as Mathematics Department chair, team leader, mentor and professional development presenter, and is also on the Educator Effectiveness Academy Team, School Improvement Team, and School Technology Team. She volunteers as a board member with a local swim team and helps raise funds for community projects. Awards include the SMECO Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year and the Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award for St. Mary’s County for MSET.

Katie C. White, Title I reading and math specialist
Easton Elementary, Talbot County

Katie White has a B.A. in sociology/elementary education from McDaniel College and completed her master’s degree in Reading from Salisbury State University. She has been teaching for nine years and has taught language arts in third and sixth grades. She’s now the Title I reading and math teacher at Easton Elementary. Ms White is a member of the International Reading Council, chairperson of the School Improvement Team, and on the County Equity Team, which trains system staff in “courageous conversations” regarding equity and race. She participated in the Educator Effectiveness Academy in 2011 and organized a “math night” at the local Food Lion, which brought together 500 families to learn about everyday math skills. She’s active in her community and serves as an adjunct professor at Salisbury University.

Christina Hammer-Atkins, grade 2 magnet teacher
Boonsboro Elementary School, Washington County

Christina Hammer-Atkins holds a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Toledo and an M.Ed. from Hood College. She serves as a magnet teacher coordinator, professional development leader, and presenter in the Tri-State Teachers’ Conference. She has developed a school banking program and serves on various committees for the board of education and her school. In her community, she’s an executive board member for the band boosters and an active PTA member. Ms Hammer-Atkins has also organized the Backyard Habitat Certification for Pleasant Valley Elementary School and raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

Selection Process

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents, and higher education. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement. Oral interviews with the seven finalists will be conducted on Saturday, September 8.

The 2012-2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on October 5. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

In addition, the Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced next April. The winner will also spend the coming year as a speaker and advisor in Maryland. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be honored by the President at the White House next spring, participate in several national meetings and conferences, as well as in National Space Camp with fellow state teachers of the year.

Presenting sponsors of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program are Comcast, the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, McDonald’s Family of Maryland, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. Platinum sponsors are Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Verizon-Maryland, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Maryland Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maryland State Department of Education with major underwriting provided by corporations and other organizations. The program is an affiliate of the National Teacher of the Year Program. All Maryland local school systems participate and all 24 semi-finalists are engaged throughout their selection year, in learning and recognition programs and also as advisors to the state superintendent of schools. Selection of the Maryland Teacher of the Year is made by a blue-ribbon panel of judges that represent teachers, administrators, parents, and higher education. The Maryland Teacher of the Year goes on to represent teachers throughout Maryland and also competes for the title of National Teacher of the Year. The year 2012 marks the 22nd anniversary of the Maryland Teacher of the Year program.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more biographical information, see the About page.

1 Comment on "Finalists announced for Maryland Teacher of the Year"

  1. Christina Hammer-Atkins told the Herald-Mail she remembers school often being boring, here.

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