2016 - 2017 Maryland Teachers of the Year Bios

Tania Renae Pressman, Cresaptown Elementary School

Allegany County — Tania Renae Pressman, Cresaptown Elementary School, Grade 4

Tania Pressman received a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education in 2003 and a Master of Education degree in Reading in 2013 from Frostburg State University.  During her twelve years as an educator in Allegany County, she taught kindergarten for seven years and is currently a fourth grade teacher at Cresaptown Elementary School.  Tania serves on the School Improvement Team and is the chair of the Climate Action Team.  She also sits on the Allegany County Teacher/Principal Evaluation Committee as the elementary teacher representative and serves on the Board of Directors of the Allegany County Education Association.  Mrs. Pressman resides in Cumberland with her family.

Katrina Griffin, North County High School

Anne Arundel County — Katrina Griffin, North County High School, German, Grades 9-12

Katrina is the 2016 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year and a national Foreign Language Teacher of the Year finalist. As a nationally recognized leader in her field, she is a prolific presenter on topics such as as student engagement and STEM and is passionate about creating interdisciplinary connections for students. She is the Treasurer for the American Association of Teachers of German, an AP College Board Consultant, and the department chair for World and Classical Languages at her school. Katrina earned a Master's in German at Middlebury College in 2007, and B.A. degrees in International Politics and German at Penn State University in 1999.

Athanasia (Sia) Kyriakakos, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School

Baltimore City — Athanasia (Sia) Kyriakakos, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Art, Grades 9-12

Passion, resilience, perseverance, are the outcomes of the relationships Ms. Kyriakakos builds with her students. Athanasia Kyriakakos earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000, her teaching certification from Central Connecticut State University in 1995 and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1991. While teaching in Baltimore, she has been a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, an SLO ambassador and a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Teacher Leaders program. As a world-renowned artist, she represented Greece in the 50th Venice Biennale, and received a Fulbright.

Corey Carter, Old Court Middle School

Baltimore County — Corey Carter, Old Court Middle School, Science, Grade 6

“Teaching is its most rewarding when students see what they have taught me,” says Corey who has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s in Secondary Science Education from University of Maryland Baltimore County. He is a Grade Level Team Leader, curriculum writer for BCPS, and a member of the Instructional Leadership Committee. Corey developed a student-led lyrics club focusing on literacy and reading fluency. This club produced "Freddie Gray" a social commentary song. He also co-founded the My Brother’s Keeper after-school mentoring program and in 2015, helped create and carry out Old Court’s first all-male symposium.

Donna Miller, Windy Hill Middle School

Calvert County — Donna Miller, Windy Hill Middle School, Science, Grades 7–8

Donna received a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 1996 and Administrative I Certification in 2009 from McDaniel College as well as her Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Houghton College in 1982. She won the SMECO Outstanding Science Teacher award and is a . Maryland Master Teacher who engages students in science and engineering practices to build conceptual understanding. She infuses real world science applications from her work as a NASA Goddard STEM coordinator and Northrop Grumman Teacher Fellow. Her passion for teaching transcends her classroom as she leads teachers in applying innovative and technology-based lessons that build student success in 21st century skills.

Marcia Porter, Lockerman Middle School

Caroline County — Marcia Porter, Lockerman Middle School, Media

Marcia combines her passions of reading and technology in the media center, where students and teachers feel free to come read, learn, and create. A National Board Certified Teacher, Marcia earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from University of Maryland in 1986 and M.S. in Educational Technology from Towson University in 2008. She was named by PBS LearningMedia as 2016 Lead Digital Innovator for Maryland, chairs the Black-Eyed Susan 6-9 State Book Award Committee, and is a board member of Edcamp Maryland. Marcia is the Lockerman Maker Club advisor and serves as Technology Support Facilitator for her school.

Brendan Gallagher, Carroll County Career and Technology Center

Carroll County — Brendan Gallagher, Carroll County Career and Technology Center, Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences, Grades 11-12

Brendan earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Towson University in 2003 and a Master’s Degree in Microbiology from James Madison University in 2006.  He is a member of the School Improvement Team, the JMU Graduate Program External Review Board and the American Society of Microbiology. He is a mentor MSDE Project Lead the Way Trainer, Professional Development Coach, Exam Writing Team/Trainer, and Master Teacher and among 18 teachers nationwide to participate in the 2014-2015 National History Day Teacher Institute. Brendan’s work received recognition leading to a presentation to Congress. His program is the first fully certified school in Maryland.

Anne Highfield, Cecilton Elementary School

Cecil County — Anne Highfield, Cecilton Elementary School, Grade 4

A committed advocate for public schools with 26 years of teaching experience, Anne Highfield has served a variety of educational roles including library media specialist, instructional coach, and MSDE Master Teacher. She enjoys hosting classroom visitations for new teachers and facilitating professional development for her school, county, and state. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History selected Anne as the 2015 Maryland History Teacher of the Year. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Library Science from Slippery Rock University in 1990, and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College in 1997.

Jillian M. Durr, Dr. James Craik Elementary School

Charles County — Jillian M. Durr, Dr. James Craik Elementary School, Grade 3

“Every child will learn to read and write, but getting a student to love learning is my proudest accomplishment.” Jillian Durr earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania in 2007 and is working on a Master’s Degree in Curriculum/Instruction and Administration from McDaniel College.  Jillian serves as team leader as well as chairperson of the Relay for Life Children’s Team and Just Say No Club.  Jillian was recognized in 2012 as an Exemplary Employee and works every day to make a difference in the lives of the children she teaches.

Jennifer Wingate, South Dorchester K-8 School

Dorchester County — Jennifer Wingate, South Dorchester K-8 School, Grade 1

Jennifer, a Dorchester county native, earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Frostburg State University with a dual major in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and a minor in Spanish.  She studied in Spain while at Frostburg and obtained her ESOL certification through the University of Phoenix. She is pursuing an M.Ed. with a concentration in Teaching Strategies for the 21st Century Learner at LaSalle University.  She was nominated First Class Teacher of the Year, assisted with drafting first grade science curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards, and is a member of the Student Improvement Team. Jennifer is also facilitating the community’s - Race to Erase PTSD.

Scott Strait, Brunswick Middle School

Frederick County — Scott Strait, Brunswick Middle School, Social Studies, Grade 8

Scott Strait is an award winning teacher-leader who makes history come alive for students. Scott earned a bachelor's degree in Social Studies Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001 and a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Hood College in 2005. Scott serves as Social Studies department chair, eighth grade instructional team leader, and as a CSI team member. Community minded, he is a member of Leadership Frederick County. Scott has been twice named Maryland History Day Teacher of the Year for Frederick County and was named the DAR Outstanding Teacher of American History for Maryland in 2011.

Lorie Burdock, Northern Middle School

Garrett County — Lorie Burdock, Northern Middle School, Science, Grade 6

Lorie Warne Burdock, a 1993 graduate of Frostburg State University, began teaching for Garrett County Schools in 1994. She has taught fourth grade, seventh grade language and mathematics, and --currently-- sixth grade science. Lorie is a Maryland Association of Student Councils advisor, FIRST LEGO League coach, and FIRST Robotics Competition mentor. For her students, Lorie has garnered thousands of dollars in grants and donations, including MAC and CONSOL Energy grants.  “The greatest contribution I can make is empowering my students," she says.  "My goal is to foster a love of our earth, experimentation, leadership, STEM, and life-long learning.”

Sharalyn R. Heinly, North Harford Middle School

Harford County — Sharalyn R. Heinly, North Harford Middle School, Math, Grade 7

Sharalyn earned a BS Degree in Elementary Education in 1984 from Lipscomb University and an M.Ed in Deaf Education from McDaniel College in 1985. She has 30 credits beyond her master’s that focus on science, math and behavioral studies. She developed an afterschool program of self-reflection for her colleagues, creates and presents countywide professional development, participates in MSDE Item Reviews, and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Harford Community College for over 26 years. Sharalyn is the St. Jude Math-a-thon coordinator and Director for the One World Run. A nominee for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, she is also the recipient of the 2015 Harford Public Schools Service Learning Star.

Shalonda Holt, Centennial High School

Howard County — Shalonda Holt, Centennial High School, Biology, Grades 9-12

Shalonda Holt believes in the importance of building caring relationships with students. “Mrs. Holt is my sanity and my anchor. She has helped me through some of my most challenging situations,” says one student. She is passionate about using the flipped classroom to create a student-centered environment. She is co-sponsor of the Delta Scholars, co-sponsor of Eagle Ambassadors, and founder of NEST. Holt is the 2016 Washington Post Teacher of the Year. Holt received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2007 and her master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College in 2012.

Rebecca Bigelow, Worton Elementary School

Kent County — Rebecca Bigelow, Worton Elementary School, Grade 4

Fourth-grade teacher, Rebecca Bigelow, had no idea she would discover her true passion, until she began volunteering in an elementary summer program eighteen years ago. While working as a substitute teacher and then as an instructional assistant, she graduated summa cum laude from Salisbury University in 2007, earning dual degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Rebecca has served as mentor to pre-service teachers at the high school and college level. She currently serves on her school PBIS team and crisis team. In addition, Rebecca has been an EMT with the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company for the last ten years.

Michael Williams, John F. Kennedy High School

Montgomery County — Michael Williams, John F. Kennedy High School, Social Studies/History, Grades 9-12

Michael Williams is committed to education, equity, and issues of social justice. He earned Master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University (2003) and Northwestern University (1994) and a bachelor's from Howard University (1992). Currently a Social Studies Resource Teacher, he is one of the founders and coordinators of the Minority Scholars Program, a student-driven initiative that tackles the opportunity/achievement gap and has spread to 16 Montgomery County Public Schools.  He is a youth soccer coach with a penchant for developing young leaders, as well as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher alumnus who has won multiple awards including the MLK Humanitarian Award (2014).

Amanda Espina, Benjamin Foulois Creative & Performing Arts Academy

Prince George’s County – Amanda Espina, Benjamin Foulois Creative & Performing Arts Academy, Visual Arts, Grades K–8

Amanda received a B.A. in Art Education and Master’s Certificate in Arts Integration from University of Maryland, College Park. She currently teaches visual art at Benjamin D. Foulois K-8 Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Suitland, Maryland.  As a strong advocate of inquiry-based learning she involves her students in cross-disciplinary activities, often exploring the concepts of visual literacy and identity.  Amanda has been a mentor teacher, team leader and professional development presenter throughout her ten years as an educator. She serves as Art Show Coordinator for PGCPS, and is a member of the Maryland and National Art Education Associations.

Tamara Forte, Church Hill Elementary School

Queen Anne’s County — Tamara Forte, Church Hill Elementary School, Kindergarten

For twelve years, Tamara has been an advocate for student success .  She graduated summa cum laude from Susquehanna University with a B.A. Degree in Elementary Education and English in 2005 and earned a M.A. Degree in Education in the Diverse Classroom from Gratz College in 2011.  Tamara is a Washington College Student Supervisor, a Student Mentor, an Extended School Year teacher, a Home Hospital teacher, and a curriculum writer. She and her students positively impact the world daily by holding clothing drives, fundraising for hospitalized children, and helping first responders in need.

Allison Sayers, Fairlead Academy 1

St. Mary’s County — Allison Sayers, Fairlead Academy 1, English, Grade 9

Allison received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education Science from Eastern Michigan University and her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.  During her ten years in St. Mary’s County, Allison taught at Spring Ridge Middle School as a Reading/Language Arts teacher, an Instructional Resource Teacher, as well as a Science teacher for both 6th and 8th graders.  She currently teaches 9th grade English and Foundations of Technology at the Fairlead Academy 1.  She has been an integral member of the Maryland Writing Project, assisting in the organization and implementation of the Invitational Summer Institute in Southern Maryland.

Kolby Noble, Deal Island Elementary School

Somerset County — Kolby Noble, Deal Island Elementary School, Math and Science

Collecting $4000 for childhood cancer—just one of the challenges Kolby Noble’s students accomplished this year.  Through the use of national challenges, her students apply their math, science, and STEM skills. She has taught math and science for eight years and was the winner of the 2012 Tawes Award for a clean environment. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2008 and Master’s Degree in 2015 from Salisbury University and is a published author, identifying factors of science teacher self-efficacy. As a SIT leader at two schools, she worked to increase parental involvement. Kolby initiated a project at her local hospital that provides care packages to children and their families when they are transported in emergency situations.

Annie Mewborn, Easton Middle School

Talbot County — Annie Mewborn, Easton Middle School, English Language Arts, Grade 8

A former Army sergeant and Gulf War veteran, Annie Mewborn is an 8th grade English teacher who has a career-long passion for reading and technology. She earned a BS in Business Management from Thomas Edison State University and a M.Ed. in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University. At her school, Annie is department chair, anti-bullying co-
chair, faculty advisory committee member, and Student Government and Colorguard advisor. She also serves on the technology, curriculum writing, and grading committees with her district. In the community, Annie is Education Director with the Frederick Douglass Honor Society and a Juneteenth planning committee member.

Kyle Dingle, Maugansville Elementary School

Washington County — Kyle Dingle, Maugansville Elementary School, STEM, Grade 5

Kyle Dingle received his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Towson University in 2005 and will be receiving his Master of Education degree from Wilson College in May of 2016. Kyle has served as the intermediate STEM Team Leader and on the Instructional Design committee, which is responsible for coordinating school-wide efforts to meet the needs of students through different methods of implementing instruction. Kyle is an active member of Young Life, an organization that helps adolescents grow in their faith and Labor of Love, and an organization that helps grieving families cope with pregnancy and infant loss.

Christy Briggs, Bennett Middle School

Wicomico County — Christy Briggs, Bennett Middle School, ELA, Grade 6

Christy has been teaching for 19 years. She obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Salisbury University and is National Board Certified. Christy has been an ILT Chair, facilitator for after school professional development and mentor teacher. Throughout her career, her love of literacy has inspired her to implement a student book club, an annual Family Read In and an after school reading program.  Through her leadership in school partnerships, she planned the Back to School Carnival and Hope for the Holidays outreach program to support her school community. Her passion is to inspire her students to become life-long readers.

Kristina Belcher, Stephen Decatur High School

Worcester County — Kristina Belcher, Stephen Decatur High School, English, Grades 9-10

Kristina believes that to teach a child to read is to empower; therefore she strives to enhance literacy instruction locally, regionally, and nationally. Kristina received a Bachelor of Arts in English/Secondary Education and a Master’s Degree in TESOL from Salisbury University. Kristina holds high expectations and creates captivating and memorable learning experiences. She is Nationally Board Certified, Special Education certified, an Outstanding Professional Development Site Coordinator award recipient, a lead teacher for the Eastern Shore Writing Project’s Invitational Summer Institute, a National Writing Project Professional Writing Retreat award recipient, and a US Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Finalist.