Maryland Teachers of the Year 2011 - 2012
Nominees by City / County
Allegany County – Bel Air Elementary School
Vickie Diaz, Grades 1-5
Vickie Diaz has been an educator for 39 years. She is currently an elementary special education teacher. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Hood College in 1970, and a Master of Arts in Special Education from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1977. Vickie is a member of the School Improvement Team and serves as Public Information Officer on the Emergency Planning Team. As a member of Alpha Delta Kappa educator’s sorority, she is actively involved in many altruistic projects in her community. She was the first special education teacher chosen to implement inclusion in Allegany County.
Anne Arundel County – Southern Middle School
Laura Groo, Language Arts, Grade 6
With a B.A.degree from University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A.degree from Northern Arizona University, Laura is a local, state, and international education leader. At Southern Middle School, she is the Cultural Arts Coordinator, a Language Arts Advisory teacher, the 6th grade Service Learning Coordinator, and an Interdisciplinary Team Leader. In the community, she serves in PTA leadership roles, leads a youth drama ministry at a local church, and organizes groups to care for the seriously ill. Her students have raised nearly $8,000 to support their partnership school in Kenya where Mrs. Groo travels at her own expense to provide materials and professional development.
Baltimore City – Mount Washington Elementary School, #221
Margaret May, Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies, Grade 5
Margaret May graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 2001. She began her teaching career in Fairfax County, Virginia where she taught both fourth and fifth grade for five years. In 2006, she moved to Baltimore City, Maryland and began teaching at Mount Washington Elementary where she currently teaches fifth grade. She has served in several leadership roles at Mt. Washington such as Lead Literacy Teacher and on the School Improvement Team. She has also enjoyed writing social studies curriculum and facilitating multiple professional development workshops for Baltimore City.
Baltimore County – Windsor Mills Middle School
Joshua Parker, English/Language Arts, Grades 7-8
Joshua received his Bachelor’s degree in Science in Sports Communication from Towson University and Master’s of Leadership in Teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. He has organized a middle-school all-male reading club, directed a top-ten finishing Black Saga team, coached a boys’ junior varsity basketball team, implemented a comprehensive after-school program at two middle schools, coordinated a summer program directed at engaging local youth, and served as a panelist and presenter on the issue of Minority Achievement at the local and state levels. He has instructed students to mastery on the M S A and the H S A, with a high pass rate on both exams.
Calvert County – Calvert High School
Julie Morrison, Mathematics, Grades 9-12
Julie Morrison has been a Mathematics and Science teaching professional for 12.5 years. At Calvert High School, she won the 2011 SMECO Mathematics Teacher Award. Julie supervises the Minority Achievement Committee Scholars Program and increased Honors Algebra 2 enrollment by 15 percent. Her students exceeded the county midterm average even with a more inclusive enrollment. Julie provides afterschool tutoring for at-risk students, lunch math assistance and SAT prep classes, and leads staff development opportunities for differentiated learning strategies. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Marshall University and a Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.
Caroline County – Greensboro Elementary School
Cheri Nier, First Grade
Caroline County Public Schools first welcomed Cheri in the fall of 1979, when she entered kindergarten. After graduating from North Caroline High in 1992 she attended Salisbury University, majored in elementary education, and concentrated in early childhood education. She earned her Master’s in Education from Salisbury University. In 1998 she was welcomed back to teach at Preston Elementary. Six years later, she transferred to Greensboro Elementary and has taught 3rd grade, been a reading specialist, and currently teaches 1st grade. Her desire is to create a positive feeling about school by teaching with a deep love and respect for children.
Carroll County – North Carroll High School
Aaron Geiman, Agriscience, Grades 9-12
Aaron Geiman, an Agriscience teacher at North Carroll High School, earned a Bachelor of Science from Oklahoma State University in 1997, and a Master of Education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 2009. He is a member of the National Association of Agricultural Educators, where he is a National Committee Chair, and the Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association, where he is a seven-year Executive Board member. Geiman has received numerous awards from organizations, including the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the Maryland FFA Association. He is the nation’s first Master Teacher for the Curriculum of Agricultural Science Education.
Cecil County – Elkton Middle School
Rhonda Parsons, Grades 6-8
Elkton Middle School media specialist, Rhonda Parsons, is a U.S. Air Force veteran, National Board candidate, information specialist, and program administrator who teaches inquiry skills to students in grades six through eight, across all content areas. She created her school’s first film class and serves on the public library’s Film Festival committee. She creates county curriculum, provides school and county professional development, reviews books, and mentors college students. She earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Management/Human Resources from Park College and in Education from Austin Peay University and a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology from Towson University.
Charles County – Milton Somers Middle School
Stephanie F. Harris-Walent, Language Arts, Grade 7
Stephanie F. Harris-Walent is a Language Arts Teacher and Team Leader at Milton M. Somers Middle School in Charles County, Maryland. She has 19 years teaching experience in public and private schools. She was recognized in 2010 as an Exemplary Employee for her contributions to the reading program and dedication to student success. Also in 2010, she was nominated for the "Working Woman of the Year" Award. She is a SDB Fellow through Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Sarah D. Barder Fellowship program since 2009. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Salisbury University in 1992.
Dorchester County – North Dorchester Middle School
Valerie Lomax, Social Studies, Grade 8
Valerie Lomax graduated cum laude from Salisbury University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Education. She has taught in Dorchester County for 21 years as a Special Education and Social Studies teacher. She has served on numerous county and school committees such as the Instructional Leadership, School Improvement and Common Core Transition teams. She is involved with writing curriculum for Financial Literacy, Service Learning, county benchmarks and Social Studies. She has mentored nine pre-service teachers from local universities. Mrs. Lomax is a Maryland Service Learning Fellow and received the National Citizenship Education Teacher Recognition Award.
Frederick County – Monocacy Middle School
Andrea Maruskin, Science, Grades 6-7
Andrea Maruskin earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from Bowling Green State University and her M.S in Math and Science Education from Johns Hopkins University. She teaches science at Monocacy Middle School where she is the STEM teacher leader and co-coach of the Science Olympiad team winning second place in the 2011 Maryland State tournament. Andrea has been honored with nominations for the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, Business Week Magazine’s Award for Innovation in Education, the National Sally Mae Outstanding First-Year Teacher Award, and two nominations for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Science and Math Teaching.
Garrett County – Accident Elementary School
Angie Rush, Grade 5
Angie Rush, a beloved teacher and community leader in Garrett County, has fourteen years of teaching experience in elementary. She attended Frostburg State University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Reading. Angie serves as the chair of the School Improvement Team and the school’s silent auction, raising thousands of dollars each year. She is a community 4H leader, a youth league coach, a Lego-league coach and past PTO president. Mrs. Rush differentiates instruction and believes that all students can be successful when given the appropriate supports. Her colleagues describe her as the consummate professional.
Harford County – Halls Cross Roads Elementary School
Christian Slattery Sr., Vocal Music, Grades K-5
Christian S. Slattery, Sr. was named a recipient of the 2008 National Milken Educator
Award. That same year, he achieved National Board Certification in Early to Middle Childhood Music leading him to mentor Harford County teachers completing the process. He serves on several school-based and school system committees and mentors first-year music teachers. He also conducts programs on motivating teacher and support staff at the local and state levels. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He is completing a Master's in Leadership in Teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
Kent County – Galena Elementary School
Kathleen Jones, Special Education, Grades PreK-5
Kathleen Jones is a special education teacher at Galena Elementary School in Kent County. Ms. Jones, a learning disabilities specialist, teaches collaboratively with general education teachers to provide effective interventions for students with special learning needs. She is a member of the IEP Team and Student Support Team. Jones, an Eastern Shore native, attended Somerset County Public Schools before earning a B.A. in English Literature (1977) at Washington College and an M.Ed. in Special Education (1979) at American University. Ms. Jones, a veteran teacher with thirty years of professional experience, says that “every day in the classroom is an adventure."
Montgomery County – Highland Elementary School
Brian David Freiss, Mathematics, Grades 2-5
In 2000, Brian earned a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree from the University of Pittsburg. He achieved National Board Certification in 2007. His service includes grade 5 instructional team leader, Elected Faculty Representative, Core Leadership team member, and Baldrige School Improvement team member. He spearheaded the parent outreach event, Dinner for Dads, and created parent math classes, increased attendance at Back-to-School night, and initiated a boys’ after-school sports program. He played an essential role in the turnaround of Highland Elementary from a school in Corrective Action to a National Blue Ribbon school. In 2011, Brian was awarded the Marian Greenblatt award.
Prince George's County – Baden Elementary School
Raeshauna Mboma, Special Education, Grades K-6
RaeShauna Mboma has been a special education teacher for eleven years. She earned a BS in Special Education from UMES, an M.Ed. from U of M College Park, and an MSA in School Administration from Trinity University. She became a participant in the PGCPS Pre-Leadership Academy, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from University of Phoenix. Mboma leads positive educational reforms in the classroom. She is Teacher in Charge, serves on the School-Based Management Team, and chairs the Wellness Committee. However, she is most proud of her contributions as itinerant teacher, trainer in best practices in special education, and student teacher mentor.
Queen Anne’s County – Centreville Elementary School
Allison Kern, Physical Education, Grades PreK-2
Allison has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Salisbury University, a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She is currently forming school-wide committees to participate in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has set the bar high with 91% of her students reaching the healthy fitness zone this year. She is the Chairperson for her school Crisis Management Team and Faculty Advisory Committee, a member of the County Calendar Committee, and as part of Race to the Top, spent time writing performance indicators for each of the primary level standards in the Physical Education Maryland State Curriculum.
St. Mary’s County – Great Mills High School
Charles “Allen” Skinner, Physics, Grades 10-12
A Virginia Tech graduate and National Board Certified science teacher, Allen Skinner has taught physics and engineering at Great Mills High School in St. Mary's County for thirteen years. His students have a 95% pass rate on the AP Physics Exam. He has designed and implemented a summer science enrichment program for elementary and middle school students and has helped build the county STEM program. He sponsors student teams that compete annually in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, Botball, Vex and First FTC Robotics, and the AUVSI Student UAS Competition.
Somerset County – Somerset Intermediate School
Dawn Lankford, English, Grade 9
A native of the Chesapeake Bay region, Dawn earned her BA in English, Secondary Education (2000) and MA in Public School Administration from Salisbury University (2006). Dawn motivates reluctant learners to master literacy skills by designing authentic, technology-rich lessons. She incorporates current issues, local history, environmental and character education and serves as a school-based NorthBay educator each year. In 2010, 90% of her students passed the MSA, and 100% of her Special Educations students scored proficient or advanced, effectively closing the achievement gap. Dawn also volunteers with organizations that support the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay and cancer research.
Talbot County – Tilghman Elementary School
Angela Asmussen, Mathematics/Language Arts, Grades 3-6
Mrs. Angela Asmussen, a teacher at Tilghman Elementary, is a graduate of Salisbury University with a BS in Elementary Education and a Master’s in Teaching and Learning with Technology. She teaches Math for grades 3-6 and Language Arts for grade 6. She is the Service Learning Coordinator for her school, has served on the School Improvement Team, served as a mentor teacher, and assists in the “Just for Girls” afterschool program at Tilghman Elementary. She is actively involved in the Trappe Volunteer Fire Department serving as trustee and chairing various fundraising projects. She is currently the secretary for the Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA).
Washington County – Western Heights Middle School
Katharine L. Long, Social Studies, Grade 8
Katharine Long received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in History at Salisbury University and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Educational Administration & Supervision at Frostburg State University. She serves as the Social Studies Department Leader, as well as the coordinator of the National Geographic Bee, and on the National History Day Project and Club. Mrs. Long writes county curriculum and serves on the School Improvement Team, the Instructional Technology Leadership Cohort, the Disciplinary Literacy Initiative Group, & Textbook Selection Committees. Mrs. Long also serves as a new teacher mentor through several university partnerships and enjoys volunteering throughout the county.
Wicomico County – Salisbury Middle School
Chad Pavlekovich, STEM/Science, Grades 7-8
Chad received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Salisbury Univeristy. His dedication to helping all students develop a greater understanding of science extends beyond the classroom to founding and facilitating such programs as Salisbury Middle’s, nationally recognized, Science Nights, the SMS Stem Academy, “Blast-Off!” a Summer Scholars program, and “From Stars to Stegosaurs,” a summer enrichment program for elementary students. Chad is a school leader, acting as ILT co-Chair, team leader, and mentor. Past recognition includes: M.A.S.T. Excellence in Science Teaching, Salisbury University Outstanding Mentor Teacher, and Wicomico County Environmental Teacher of the Year.
Worcester County – Snow Hill High School
Jennifer Sills, Science/Biology, Grades 9-11
Jennifer graduated from Salisbury University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Secondary Education. She is currently completing a Masters from Towson University. In her eighth year at Snow Hill High School, she teaches Biology and Environmental Life Science. She wants her students to feel more interested and intrigued about science and the world around them and because she understands the importance of motivating students, she is spearheading a new committee which will develop motivational strategies aimed at raising student achievement. She also serves as a new teacher mentor, a National Honor Society liaison, and a Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies team member.