2019 - 2020 Maryland Teachers of the Year Bios

Sarah Llewellyn, Westernport Elementary School

Allegany County – Sarah Llewellyn, Westernport Elementary School, Grade 3

Sarah Llewellyn, strives to prepare students to enrich their communities by modeling best practices and through real world lessons. Sarah teachers at Westernport Elementary School, where she is an active member of the PBIS team and Partnership Action Team. Sarah has actively created an environmentally sustainable school culture by coordinating the TREX recycling program, constructing a native pollinator garden and piloting a school lunch composting program. Sarah received her Master’s Degree (2012) and Bachelor’s Degree from Frostburg State University (204). Sarah has taught reading intervention, second, third and fifth grade during her 14-year career with the Allegany County Public Schools.

Teresa Beilstein, South Shore Elementary School

Anne Arundel County – Teresa Beilstein, South Shore Elementary School, Grade 3

Teresa Beilstein, is committed to fostering character, confidence and curiosity in her students. She has Master’s Degrees from Walden University (2013 and 2011) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola College (2007). A third-grade teacher at an International Baccalaureate school, Teresa focuses on interactive and cooperative learning. Teresa has developed and implemented science curriculum and assessments aligned to Next Generation Science Standards used throughout Anne Arundel County’s 80 elementary schools. Earning National Board Certification in 2018, Teresa regularly participates in professional development and leadership opportunities. She is also the dance team coach, science lead teacher, and Science Fair coordinator.

Kyair Butts, Waverly Elementary/Middle School

Baltimore City – Kyair Butts, Waverly Elementary/Middle School, English Language Arts, Grade 6

An urban teacher with hopes and dreams for his students, Kyair encourages his students by saying, “We can do this work together.” He co-founded “Books & Buddies” and “Books & Brunch”. Kyair leads ELA planning, has a Fellowship with Wit & Wisdom, and facilitates professional development with Baltimore City Schools and the Baltimore Urban Debate League. He believes educators should “teach where youth are for the students will become our highest possibilities.” Additional awards include Community Engagement of the Year (2019), MVP of Urban Teachers (2019) and Partner of the Year for Higher Achievement (2018). He has Master’s Degrees in Elementary and Special Education from Lesley University (2014) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Drake University (2011).

Kristen Nielsen, Crossroads Center

Baltimore County – Kristen Nielsen, Crossroads Center, English Language Arts, Grades 9 and 12

Kristen Nielsen teaches high school English, AVID, and credit recovery at Crossroads Center, an alternative school. Kristen earned her B.A. in English Literature and M.S. in Teaching from University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her Reading Specialist Certification at Goucher College. She served as a teacher educator in China, NCTE’s P-12 Maryland Policy Analyst, and a Fulbright scholar with the Greece Summer Classics Program. Kristen has presented at the NCTE Annual Convention and the AP Annual Conference and co-presented a Keynote on Teacher Research at UPenn. She is a teacher-leader for the Maryland Writing Project and a passionate member of Crossroads’ equity team.

Dr. Nathan Kimbro, Huntingtown High School

Calvert County – Dr. Nathan Kimbro, Huntingtown High School, Special Education, Grades 9-12

Dr. Nathan Kimbro is a true ambassador of education. He has been a keynote presenter to educators, administrators and students specializing in rapport-construction and teacher leadership. He inspires teachers and students through powerful discussions and anecdotes. He has spent the entirety of his 15-year career working with students with autism and students who demonstrate behavioral challenges. He holds a BS in Psychology from Univ. of N. Carolina, Wilmington, M.A. in special education from Notre Dame of MD, an Ed.D. from Liberty University in educational leadership. Dr. Kimbro has a unique gift to present, inspire, and motivate students and teachers to find their individual “why”.

Shawn Elisa Parks, Lockerman Middle School

Caroline County – Shawn Elisa Parks, Lockerman Middle School, English Language Arts, Grade 8

Shawn Parks, a 28-year veteran of the classroom, with a Bachelor’s degree in English from Thiel College, is a leader at Lockerman Middle School. Through her creation and use of progressive levels based on ELA standards, Shawn equips students to lead their own learning by coaching them to track their progress and motivating them to pursue next steps towards mastery. She models the concepts of peer coaching and professional collaboration, has presented at numerous conferences, and, most notably, appears as a featured teacher in training videos for Learning Sciences International and Maryland FAME. She has also participated in the community, helping families understand the student-centered classroom.

Brandi Jason, Liberty High School

Carroll County – Brandi Jason, Liberty High School, Instrumental Music, Grades 9–12

Brandi Jason, is the Instrumental Music Director at Liberty High School where she has expanded the instrumental music program to include nearly one fifth of the school population. Her wind band, orchestra, jazz and marching ensembles consistently receive superior ratings at the county, state and national level. She earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education in 2000 and a Master of Music in Clarinet Performance in 2002 from James Madison University. Brandi is a three time GRAMMY Music Educator Semi Finalist and a 2018 Grammy Finalist – 1 of 9 educators nationwide.

Jossie Perry, Rising Sun High School

Cecil County – Jossie Perry, Rising Sun High School, Social Studies, Grades 9–12

Jossie Perry, is a National Board certified social studies educator dedicated to teaching her students about the diverse, interconnected world. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in History-Secondary Education from Salisbury University (1999), her Master’s in School Counseling at Wilmington University (2002), and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Global Education from Rice University (2011). She is a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Alumnus, serves on the School Leadership Team, and leads professional development. She is the coordinator for the Cecil County Teacher Leadership Network, a grassroots organization that promotes quality classroom instruction, teacher leadership skills, and advocacy for public education.

Melinda P. Wright, Mt. Hope/Nanjemony Elementary School

Charles County – Melinda P. Wright, Mt. Hope/Nanjemony Elementary School, Grade 2

Melinda Wright, lifelong learner, encourages growth mindset, formative assessment, and STEAM. She is Nationally Board Certified (2014), with a Master’s Degree (Loyola University 1993) and a Bachelor’s Degree (Frostburg University 1989). A 2nd grade inclusion teacher, Melinda uses Growth Mindset to create flexible thinkers and implements formative assessment using feedback and success criteria to make learning targets obtainable. Melinda, model instructor for Project Lead the Way, runs an after-school STEAM program for K-3rd students and co-coaches Girls on the Run for 4th and 5th grades. She helped win the ESEA National Title 1 Distinguished School award.

Charlene Angela Zinnel, Dorchester Career and Technology Center

Dorchester – Charlene Angela Zinnel, Dorchester Career and Technology Center, Culinary Arts, Grades 9–12

Charlene Zinnel, is passionate about Career and Technology Education and in creating highly skilled, confident professionals. As a Culinary Arts instructor at Dorchester Career and Technology Center, she teaches students essential skills and techniques related to food preparation while incorporating employability skills critical to student success across career settings. As the SkillsUSA chapter advisor, Chef Zinnel has led her students to state and national recognition and success, while continuing to provide career-enhancing internship and catering experiences. A graduate of Wor-Wic Community College (1991) and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh (2005), Charlene Zinnel is a true CTE champion for students.

Michael Franklin, Catoctin High School

Frederick County – Michael Franklin, Catoctin High School, Health and Physical Education, Grades 9–12

Mike Franklin, is a dynamic teacher, mentor and coach who serves Catoctin High School as Physical Education department chair, baseball coach, and a Virtual School instructor. Mike also heads the ROAR Club, Seidel Tournament for Veterans, CMC Gambrill Baseball Chair and Polar Plunge at Catoctin High. Accolades include: 2017 FCA Coach of Year, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Award, 2014 Simon McNeely Outstanding PE Teacher and 2014 CHS Lions Club Teacher of Year. Mike has an Associate’s degree from Frederick Community College (1992), a Bachelor’s Degree from Salisbury University (1995), and a Master’s Degree from McDaniel College (2005).

Amy Rowan, Northern Middle School

Garrett County – Amy Rowan, Northern Middle School, Special Education/ELA, Grades 6–8

Amy Rowan is a middle school special education/ELA teacher. She holds master’s degrees in special education, educational leadership and is currently pursuing a third master’s degree in literacy, all from Frostburg State University. At the school level, in addition to teaching and mentoring other teachers, she is a department leader, a service learning coordinator, the Green School coordinator, and RTI specialist/compliance coordinator. At the county level, Amy is the student council advisor. She is accomplished at staff development having presented at TASTE, Common Ground, ISTE, and the National Formative Assessment conferences. She has also secured several health grants for her school several.

Paige L. Milanoski, Havre de Grace High School

Harford County – Paige L. Milanoski, Havre de Grace High School, English, Grade 10

Paige Milanoski, is a twenty-year veteran of the teaching profession, where nurturing the whole student has fueled her enthusiasm for building a community of accepted and valued learners. Currently an English, Reading, and Drama teacher, she also passionately sponsors the student organization S.A.D.D., which has received multiple acknowledgements in regional media attention for their exemplary efforts in the education and prevention of the opioid epidemic. Ms. Milanoski earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Secondary Education from Elizabethtown College (1999) and a Master of Arts Equivalency in Reading (2009) after completing coursework at Towson University and The University of Phoenix.

Gregory Murach, Mount Hebron High School

Howard County – Gregory Murach, Mount Hebron High School, Mathematics, Grades 9–12

Greg Murach has a BS degree from Salisbury University and a MS degree from McDaniel College. His student-centered approaches, including bi-lingual education and real-life applications engage all learners by creating a positive, personal, and collaborative instructional environment. Mr. Murach works compassionately to hold his students to the highest standards, while teaching a wide-range of curricula from Algebra 1 with Seminar to Trigonometry and Calculus GT. Beyond the classroom, he sponsors Math National Honor Society, Freshman Advisory Programs, Class Boards, and Restorative Practices. He also leads school based and systemic professional learning, writes curriculum, and facilitates bilingual teacher professional development in Uganda.

Kirsten Krauss, Kent County High School

Kent County – Kirsten Krauss, Kent County High School, Social Studies, Grades 9–12

Kirsten Krauss, is a lifelong learner who prides herself in making academic achievement a priority in young people’s lives. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Washington College in 2000 and received a Master’s Degree in History from that same institution in 2004. Currently Krauss teaches a combination of US History, American Government, and World History. She also advises the Student Government Association and works diligently to coordinate schoolwide student-led events to improve the culture of her school. Krauss has spent all 19 years of her teaching career at Kent County High School on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Madeline Hanington, Hallie Wells Middle School

Montgomery County – Madeline Hanington, Hallie Wells Middle School, English, Grades 6–8

Madeline Hanington, was the first in her family to attend college. She has a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University (2003) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Pratt Institute (1988). She teaches 7th grade English and Digital Literacy at Hallie Wells Middle School. Madeline is an innovative teacher who encourages all of her students to reach for their dreams. As an instructional leader, Madeline fosters shared leadership and mentors many inspiring teachers and leaders. In 2011, she won the Milken Educator Award, and in 2014 she became a Lowell Milken Fellow for Unsung Heroes.

Angelica Brooks, Bowie High School

Prince George’s County – Angelica Brooks, Bowie High School, Choral Music

Angelica Brooks has been developing young vocalists’ skills for more than a decade. Her choirs at Bowie High School have attained top ratings at music festivals and competitions. She has also directed the PGCPS Elementary Honors Chorus. In addition, Brooks, a National Board Certification candidate, has guest lectured at Frostburg State University and served as an adjudicator for the Montgomery County Choral Festivals. She has been nominated for many awards, including the Grammy Music Educator of the Year. Brooks completed her bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance at Bowie State University and her master’s degree in Music in Vocal Pedagogy at The Catholic University of America.

Heather Efland, Centerville Elementary School

Queen Anne’s County – Heather Efland, Centerville Elementary School, Music, Grades K - 2

Heather Efland, is a music teacher who is committed to igniting talent. She has a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership from Walden University and a dual degree in Vocal Performance and Music Education from Southern Methodist University. As a member of the special events team, Heather organizes three student concerts a year, two performance field trips, and one in-school community concert. Extracurricularly, Heather teaches dance, guitar, and she founded the Chesapeake Children’s Show Choir. Last year, Heather received the QACPS Spirit Award and in 2009 she received a Congressional Award of Special Recognition for “outstanding invaluable service to the community”.

Jennifer Cord, White Marsh Elementary School

St. Mary’s County – Jennifer Cord, White Marsh Elementary School, Grade 5

Jennifer Cord, is fiercely passionate about relationships with students, families and colleagues. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Frostburg University, and a Master’s Degree from Towson University. Spending 21 years teaching 4th and 5th grade at White Marsh Elementary, a 2016 Maryland & National Blue Ribbon School, she seeks ways to extend her abilities to better meet students’ needs and achieve continued success, collaborating school and district wide. She serves on school Leadership, Crisis and Green School teams, the PTA, as well as, district-wide instructional committees. She previously received the SMECO Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award (2009).

Christina N South, Deal Island Elementary School

Somerset County – Christina N South, Deal Island Elementary School, Grade 4

Christina South, inspires her students and her colleagues through positive relationships, creative content delivery, and a commitment to lifelong learning. A veteran of three Somerset County schools, she currently teaches 4th grade and leads the enrichment program at Deal Island Elementary. Ms. South demonstrates leadership as site coordinator for an after school program, professional development contributor, 2019 Common Grounds technology conference presenter and facilitator for arts integration. A former television news producer, she earned a B.S. degree in elementary education from Salisbury University (2012) and will receive her master’s degree in administrative leadership at S.U. later this year.

Kevin Carroll, Easton High School

Talbot County – Kevin Carroll, Easton High School, Special Education, Grades 9–12

Kevin Carroll, is a Special Education teacher at Easton High School As a passionate educator for all Students, Kevin identifies a student’s potential and challenges to a multitude of levels. He values the power of student’s voices within the school community. As a determined educator, he leads his school equity team, professional developments, school improvement team, and manages the dropout/re-engagement night school program at Talbot County Public Schools. Kevin earned his Master of Arts in TESOL at Salisbury University (2018 and his Bachelors of Science in Special Education through Grand Canyon University (2014). He is also a community collaborator involved with the local YMCA and Special Olympics.

Joshua Edwards, Clear Spring High School

Washington County – Joshua Edwards, Clear Spring High School, Fine Arts, Grades 9–12

Joshua Edwards, earned his Bachelor degree in Fine Art, focusing on graphic design and photography, and K-12 certification with an art history minor from West Virginia University (2003). Currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Frostburg State University, he is responsible for all Fine Arts courses at Clear Spring High School including AP Studio Art. Joshua has worked in WCPS for 15 years, teaching both elementary and secondary students. He is a member of the school’s iTeam and serves as yearbook advisor. Joshua has been the recipient of many awards including Maryland Outstanding Teacher Using Technology.

Shane Morton, Delmar Elementary School

Wicomico County – Shane Morton, Delmar Elementary School, Pre-Kindergarten

Shane Morton, earned degrees from Norfolk State University (1996, B.S.) and Sojourner- Douglass College (2010, M.ED. Public Administration). Her commitment to education goes far beyond her 23 years of teaching Pre-Kindergarten. She serves on the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Graduate Advisors Council at area Universities, advising and leading young women in civic engagement. As guest lecturer at Sojourner0 Douglass College, she taught Elementary Spanish. Mrs. Morton has consistently demonstrated her commitment to Wicomico Schools as former Chairman of the Multicultural Committee, Grade Level Chairman, and Wicomico High School head Cheerleading Coach. She currently serves as Instructional leadership Team Chairman at Delmar Elementary School.

Gina Russell, Snow Hill Elementary School

Worcester Co. – Gina Russell, Snow Hill Elementary School, Early Learning, Grades Pre-K, 3–4

Gina Russell, earned a Bachelor of Science from Salisbury University (2006) and a Masters of Special Education from Wilmington University (2010). In her eighth year at Snow Hill Elementary School, Russell currently teaches the new Pre- Kindergarten 3 inclusion classroom and services Pre-Kindergarten 4 students. She believes every student has the right to an appropriate education; one that inspires all students to communicate, grow, feel safe, and have a voice. Russell serves as the team leader for Special Education, a mentor teacher for local university interns, evaluates for Infants and Toddlers and is a writer for the The Autism Helper.