2021 - 2022 Maryland Teachers of the Year Bios

Nicholas Z. Amick, Allegany High School

Allegany County – Nicholas Z. Amick, Allegany High School, English, Grade 9

Nicholas Amick is an educator focused on creating leaders for tomorrow’s world. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Frostburg State University in 2015, where he received Departmental Honors in Education; he is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. Nicholas teaches at Allegany High School, his alma mater, and serves as advisor of the Student Government, where he implemented a renewed focus on community volunteerism, and the JV Mock Trial Coach. Recently, Nicholas collaborated with county educators to create a new English Language Arts curriculum and served as a building technology leader, assisting with the transition to online learning.

Jing Dai, Meade High School

Anne Arundel County – Jing Dai, Meade High School, Chinese, Grades 9-12

Jing Dai is a recognized leader and award-winning teacher at Meade High School in Anne Arundel County. Jing holds Master's Degrees from both LaSalle (2020) and Towson (2011) Universities and a Bachelor's Degree from Sichuan University. She is the current president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association-National Capital Region and a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences. In honor of Jing's work with the Chinese Embassy promoting cultural proficiency for equity and inclusion, she was honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Chinese School Association in the United States and the Outstanding Performance and Achievements in Teaching Confucius Classroom.

Sidney Thomas, Holabird Academy

Baltimore City – Sidney Thomas, Holabird Academy, Social Studies, Grades 7-8

Sidney Thomas earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Millsaps College in 2008 and her Master of Arts in English from Jackson State University in 2011. She is committed to racial equity and supporting students as they blossom and thrive. As a BMore Me Fellow, she develops and writes a racially equitable and culturally responsive Social Studies curriculum for Baltimore City Schools.  Sidney also serves as a Multi-Classroom Lead, Holabird Equity Committee Leader, Project LIT leader, and other outside roles such as a CHARM magazine advisory board member and a One Book Baltimore committee member.

Brianna Chanelle Ross, Deer Park Middle Magnet School

Baltimore County – Brianna Chanelle Ross, Deer Park Middle Magnet School, Social Studies, Grade 6

Brianna Ross views teaching as “a revolutionary act of love.” With both a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Developmental Psychology (2014) and Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction (2015) from the University of Pittsburgh, and a certificate in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University of Maryland (2019), Ross expects her doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from Morgan State University by 2024. Having taught in both elementary and middle schools, Ross serves as her school’s Equity Liaison and Social Studies Department Chair. She coordinates a Summer Transition Program she launched to help elementary students prepare for and thrive in middle school.

Jennifer Rachic, Calvert Career & Technology Academy

Calvert County – Jennifer Rachic, Calvert Career & Technology Academy, CTE/Academy of Health Professions, Grades 11-12

Jennifer Rachic is a relationship-focused, high-achieving nurse educator specializing in curriculum development and high-quality instructional practices.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ohio University, Master of Science in Nursing from Jacksonville University and is currently a doctoral candidate with Capella University pursing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.  Mrs. Rachic teaches at the Career and Technology Academy with where she serves as a classroom instructor and program director with the Academy of Health Professions and mentor teacher for the building.  Her passion for teaching is evident in her classroom environment and student outcomes.

Michelle Foster, Colonel Richardson High School

Caroline County – Michelle Foster, Colonel Richardson High School, English, Grades 9-12

Michelle Foster is a 23-year veteran of the classroom who is passionate about creating a safe place for her students to learn and grow.  She earned her Masters of Education in Teaching and Learning with Technology from Salisbury University. Michelle is certified not only as an English teacher but also as a Library Media Specialist and serves as the school’s Technology Support Facilitator. During the very challenging 2020-2021 school year, she provided a professional development session entitled, “Technology Tools for Hybrid Learning,” and was considered the ‘go-to’ person for teachers and staff who were learning new and innovative methods of teaching.

Dawnella Dill, Century High School

Carroll County – Dawnella Dill, Century High School, English, Grades 9-12

Dawnella Dill is a true champion for both students and teachers.  She believes that collaboration, inclusion, and compassion are keys to success for everyone.  She earned a Master’s Degree from Indiana Wesleyan University (2000) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University (1997).  Currently she teaches students English and AP Language and Composition at Century High School.  Dawnella is the Health, Human, and Social Sciences Academy Leader, a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, and a member of the School Improvement Team.  She is the co-sponsor of the class of 2023, and the Chairperson of the Social Committee.

Mary Spence, Elkton High School

Cecil County – Mary Spence, Elkton High School, English Language Arts, Grades 9-12

Mary Spence believes in empowering students by focusing on equity and community. She has Master’s (2000) and Bachelor’s (1996) degrees from Bob Jones University. Currently an English Language Arts teacher, she plays an integral role in Restorative Practice and Equal Opportunity Schools initiatives designed to promote student success and build school culture and community. Mary is a member of the school improvement team, serves as English Language Arts Department head, and coordinates professional development at her school. She supports teachers county-wide through the Cecil County Teacher Leadership Network, an organization designed to provide teacher-driven professional development.

Alexis Eaton, Dr. James Craik Elementary School

Charles County – Alexis Eaton, Dr. James Craik Elementary School, Grade 4

Alexis Eaton fosters relationships with students through mutual respect and ensures that her classroom is a place where every student feels safe, loved, and accepted. She earned a Master’s Degree from American College of Education (2018) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Towson University (2009).  She is the fourth-grade inclusion teacher, team leader, math team coach, and education association representative. Additionally, she writes county curriculum, collaborates with a museum to develop historical learning activities for community events, facilitates and leads professional development on curriculum, instruction, and differentiation, and is leading a county-wide collaborative site for teachers.

Amy Stoops, Hurlock Elementary School

Dorchester – Amy Stoops, Hurlock Elementary School, Grade 2

Amy Stoops is an energetic, devoted, and passionate teacher. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Elizabethtown College (2015) and a Master’s Degree from LaSalle University (2018). She demonstrates a passion for providing a memorable elementary school experience for all students through her leadership with PBIS, the House System, and multiple extracurricular events, fulfilling her desire to be a schoolteacher, not just a teacher. Ms. Stoops, previously named Dorchester County’s First-Class Teacher of the Year in 2016, loves spending time connecting the school staff and community through the coordination of monthly volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity.

Jennifer Perez Ryan, West Frederick Middle School

Frederick County – Jennifer Perez Ryan, West Frederick Middle School, English, Grades 6-8

Jennifer Ryan earned a Bachelor of Science from Frostburg State (1999).  She completed a Master’s equivalency from Frostburg State and University of California (2016). Over 21 years, Ryan has taught History, English, and English Learners and has provided professional learning for teachers in those areas. She has served as a Team Leader, Department Chair, and Mentor. Ryan was a founding member of the FCPS Racial Equity Committee and is a curriculum writer for Social Studies and equity.  Ryan was awarded the FCPS All Star Award and Frederick Center Ally of the Year award for work with LGBTQ+ students.

Lindsay Krisher, Southern Garrett High School

Garrett County – Lindsay Krisher, Southern Garrett High School, Computer Science, Grades 9-12

Lindsay Krisher is a dedicated teacher who is passionate about diversifying the field of computer science. She earned her Master’s degree in Education from Frostburg State University(2019) and Bachelor’s degree from Clarion University(2013). Her computer science program is the 3-time recipient of the College Board Female Diversity Award. Mrs. Krisher made significant contributions to the launch of the AP Computer Science Principles course and exam through her work with the College Board and is a mentor for multiple robotics teams. In addition to her teaching career, Mrs. Krisher serves her community as a foster/adoptive mother and advocate for vulnerable children.

Lauren Byrd, Hickory Elementary School

Harford County – Lauren Byrd, Hickory Elementary School, Grade 1

Lauren Byrd is a 17-year veteran teacher who is committed to student success both inside and outside of the classroom. She believes the best learning happens through meaningful relationships built with students and families. Lauren, who currently teaches first grade at Hickory Elementary School, holds a master's degree from Loyola University as a reading teacher and a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Juniata College. She has partnered with the Instructional Technology Team and English/Language Arts Department to work on pilot programs, curriculum teams, and teacher leadership committees to help serve the students and teachers of Harford County.

Amy Woolf, Oakland Mills Middle School

Howard County – Amy Woolf, Oakland Mills Middle School, Science/Biology, Grade 7

Amy Woolf is committed to equity and to celebrating the diversity of all of her students. She has been a proud teacher at Oakland Mills Middle School in Columbia, Maryland. Amy Woolf is a science teacher whose focus and passion is Biology and she shares her own passion with all of her students.  Amy has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Dickinson College and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. She is a member of the School Leadership Team, works on the school’s Restorative Justice Committee, is one of the co-directors of the school musical and is the moderator of the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

Caren R. B. Saunders, Kent County High School

Kent County – Caren R. B. Saunders, Kent County High School, Social Studies/Psychology/TAM CTE, Grades 10-12

Caren Saunders is a staunch advocate for public education and believes that learning is inherently beautiful, unending, and emancipatory. She has both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from the University of Virginia (1997) and currently teaches Psychology, AP Psychology, and Teacher Academy of Maryland CTE courses. This is her tenth year serving as the yearbook adviser, and she takes great pride in helping the yearbook staff tell the story of each unique year. She has taught Government, World History, AP U.S. History, AP Computer Science Principles, and even one semester of Aerobic Conditioning. Above all, she encourages students to harness their inner curiosity.

Joseph D. Bostic, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School

Montgomery County – Joseph D. Bostic, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Math, Grade 8

Joseph Bostic, a Marian Greenblatt Master Teacher Award winner, is described as a passionate educator committed to the academic and socio-emotional well-being of his students.  He believes each student can be successful, and encourages them to believe in themselves.  He coordinates college resource fairs, serves on the school instructional leadership team, and provides a mathematics website for students and families.  He has Master’s degrees from North Carolina A&T (2007) and University of Phoenix (2011), and a Bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee University (2006).  He is a mathematics teacher and content specialist at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.

Adrin Leak, DuVal High School, English

Prince George’s County – Adrin Leak, DuVal High School, English, Grade 10

Adrin N. Leak attended The Ohio State University, where she earned a B.A. in English, another B.A. in Psychology, a Masters Degree in Education and graduated Summa Cum Laude. After graduation, she returned home to proudly serve Prince Georges County Public Schools as an English teacher, Professional Development Lead Teacher, Engagement and Technology Liaison, and the Coordinator for the Aerospace Summer Bridge program for Duval High School.  She later earned her Administrator 1 licensure from Loyola University. In addition, Mrs. Leak has served the state of Maryland as one who vets Curriculum. Her mission is to close the educational opportunity gap for all students.

Stephanie M. MacKenzie, Sudlersville Middle School

Queen Anne’s County – Stephanie M. MacKenzie, Sudlersville Middle School, English, Grade 8

Stephanie is a strong advocate for mental health awareness, empathetic teaching, and civic responsibility.  She received her Administrative Certification from Johns Hopkins University (2019), a Master’s Degree from Wilmington University (2012), and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesley College (2010).  She teaches English Language Arts and is also the Service Learning Coordinator, actively presenting students with opportunities to learn empathy and practice civic involvement.  Currently participating in multiple committees, including Equity, Social Emotional Learning, and Title I Engagement, she won QACPS New Teacher of the Year, NHD History Teacher of the Year, and QACPS’ Spirit Award for coaching competitive cheerleading.

Jon Logan Webster, Crisfield Academy & High School

Somerset County – Jon Logan Webster, Crisfield Academy & High School, Social Studies Grade 10-12

Logan Webster is committed to empower his students to use their voice as active citizens. He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Salisbury University (2020) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Goucher College (2014). Logan serves as chair of the Social Studies Department responsible for facilitating professional development and the implementation of curriculum. At his school, he established the Student Government Association, junior varsity soccer team, and Andrea Joyner Memorial Walk. Logan also serves as a member of the Parent Advisory Committee, PBIS committee, a founding member of the Equity Committee, and the assistant Varsity Soccer Coach.

April Ryan, George Washington Carver Elementary School

St. Mary’s County – April Ryan, George Washington Carver Elementary School, Visual Art, Grade PreK-5

April Ryan is an advocate for her students and for art education. She attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art (2009) and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree (2010). As an elementary art teacher, April strives to enhance her students’ creativity while making sure they feel loved, represented, and safe in her classroom. April is viewed as a leader in both her school and district and one who is passionate about arts education and also about removing biases and racial/gender stereotypes from the classroom. She is a member of both the Maryland and National Art Education Association.

Lauren Greer, St. Michael Middle High School

Talbot County – Lauren Greer, St. Michael Middle High School, CTE/Science, Grades 9-12

Lauren Greer is a Career and Technology Biomedical Science teacher who empowers her students to recognize their individual strengths and talents. She earned a BS Degree in Environmental Science from Gettysburg College (2006) and received a MAT in Secondary Earth Space Science Education from Towson University (2010). Lauren is the PBIS Coach, Green Schools Committee Chair, Co-Advisor of the National Technical Honor Society, Biomedical Engineering Society faculty advisor, a member of the school’s Equity Team as well as a digital leader for her school. She contributes to science curriculum writing as well as leads school-based and county-based professional development opportunities.

Caroline E. Schlegel, Smithburg High School

Washington County – Caroline E. Schlegel, Smithsburg High School, Spanish, Grades 9-12

Caroline Schlegel is a master Spanish educator committed to students, professional development, and advocacy. She holds both a master’s degree (2016) and a bachelor’s degree (2008) from Salisbury University. As the 2019 Maryland World Language Teacher of the Year, she understands that language and culture are the keys to making connections across complex ideas around cultural proficiency. Caroline is the School Improvement Team Chair and Washington County Spanish curriculum author.  She believes professional development is integral in sustaining quality programs and she has presented across the nation on building a community of practice to connect and lead teachers through collaboration.

Dustin Thomas, Prince Street Elementary

Wicomico County – Dustin Thomas, Prince Street Elementary, Physical Education & Health, PreK-5

Dustin Thomas has taught Physical Education and Health in Wicomico County for 10 years and has earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Health Physiology. Mr. Thomas gives back to his community by coaching, volunteering at local charity races, founding the Rhythm and Roots drum program, and creating a World Music class. Dustin has been awarded the McEducator Award, Extra Mile Award, Wellness Coordinator of the Year, and Hertrich’s Cash for Class Community Choice Award. Dustin and Rhythm and Roots scholars have earned local and national recognition from WMDT, WBOC, Inspire One magazine, SHAPE Maryland, Hip Hop Public Health and the NBC Today Show.

Aarti Sangwan, Worcester Technical High School

Worcester County – Aarti Sangwan, Worcester Technical High School, Physics, Pre-Engineering, Computer Science, Grades 9-1

Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Master’s degree in computer science, Aarti Sangwan was honored with a Maryland Governor’s citation for her work in education. She also earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from Salisbury University and was a “Teacher of Promise” awardee which identified – in college - her academic skills. Aarti believes that scientific literacy empowers individuals to be effective problem solvers and life-long learners. Her passion towards scientific discovery has led her to teach AP Physics, Pre-Engineering, Bio-Medical and Computer Sciences at Worcester Technical High School. She also coaches Science Olympiad, the SkillsUSA Team Engineering Challenge, and she established the Girls Coding Club.