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News Release
For Immediate Release Contact:Dr. Darla Strouse, Director, Maryland Teacher of the Year Program, 410.767.0369
Important news for the public NEWS RELEASE
Statewide Winner to be Announced at Gala Reception at Martin's West

BALTIMORE, MD (August 23, 2007)

State Superintendents of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick today announced the names of seven finalists for the 2007-2008 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

"This year's finalists demonstrate unwavering dedication to teaching and determination in improving the achievement of Maryland's children," said Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools. "They deserve our respect and support, as well as our recognition."

The finalists (in alphabetical order by jurisdiction) include: Alicia Appel, Anne Arundel County; Radhika Plakkot, Calvert County; Karla Eberspacher, Dorchester County; Douglas Oxford, Garrett County; Christine Roland, Harford County; Raul Ortiz, Montgomery County; and April Todd, Somerset County.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, students, parents and higher education. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement. Oral interviews with the seven finalists will be conducted on September 15th.

The 2007-2008 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced on October 5th during a gala reception and dinner at Martin's West. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at $25,000, donated by Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, a presenting sponsor.

Presenting sponsors of the Maryland Teacher of the Year program are Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, McDonald's Family of Greater Baltimore, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. Platinum sponsors are Bank of America, Comcast, Lockheed Martin, Verizon Maryland, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. Gold sponsors are The Baltimore Sun, Maryland State Teachers Association, M&T Bank, State Farm Insurance Company, and WJZ 13.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award. 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, and will participate in National Space Camp with fellow State Teachers of the Year.

Additional information on the seven finalists is as follows:

Anne Arundel County - Southern High School
Alicia Appel, 9-12 Grades, English
Alicia is a Nationally Board Certified English and creative writing teacher with accolades including leadership awards for a Faith Community Coalition, theater direction, and a fellowship award to the National Writing Project. Outside of the classroom, she has climbed Mount Fuji and traversed zip-lines through rainforests in Central America. These adventures become memorable lessons for her students.

Calvert County - Huntingtown High School
Radhika Plakkot, Biology, 9-12 Grades

Radhika is a National Board Certified Teacher who is the recipient of educational grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and MICCA. She is an AP Reader for the College Board and served as a member of the State Biology Voluntary Curriculum Writing Team. She is the biology collaborative team leader, a member of the National Honor Society advisory committee, and sponsors biomedical club at her school.

Dorchester County - Maple Elementary School
Karla Eberspacher, 3-5 Grades, Special Education

Karla has received a mini-grant from the Masonic Temple and other grants to add technology equipment to her school. She serves as the chairperson for the School Improvement Team and the National Network of Partnership Schools, school-based committee. Karla is a trained school-based coordinator for CHARACTER COUNTS and was selected to participate in the Eastern Shore Consortium Math Partnership Grant Program.

Garrett County - Southern Garrett High School
Douglas Oxford, 9-12 Grades, Social Studies
Douglas is a state and national leader in school and community technology reform. He was a staff member of the Maryland Technology Academy's Leadership Program, a member of the Voluntary State Curriculum Write/Review Committee in American History, and currently participates in the Maryland Governor's Academy for Government. In 2006, 100% of his students passed the AP Psychology Exam, with half of them receiving the highest possible score.

Harford County - Edgewood High School
Christine Roland, 10th Grade, Biology
Christine, a native of Switzerland, worked in advertising, and later taught SCUBA diving in Egypt and Honduras before coming to the United States and earning her biology degree. After the birth of her children, she earned her teaching certification and began her career in the classroom. In her second year of teaching, she united students to complete the cross curricular activity "CSI at Edgewood High."

Montgomery County - Damascus High School
Raul Ortiz, Automotive Technology
Raul spent 19 years as a master automotive technician. He continued his education to receive his teaching certification and then went on to earn a master's degree equivalency in education. His example as a lifelong learner who strives for excellence inspires his students to pursue their own path of excellence. Raul guided Damascus High School through the rigorous process of achieving two of the highest credentials possible for an automotive technology program.

Somerset County - Somerset Intermediate School
April Todd, 6th Grade, Language Arts

April developed reading strategies that were implemented in two counties. As a sixth and seventh grade looping language arts teacher, her passion was to develop technology projects to inspire reluctant readers and writers. She included parents in student-led portfolio conferences. April serves as an assessment rangefinder and writer for the voluntary state curriculum and toolkit. She volunteers as a museum docent and participates in Relay for Life and Walk America.

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