(March 27, 2015) The Worcester County Teacher of the Year will be announced tonight during the 28th annual banquet at the Clarion Resort Hotel on 101st Street in Ocean City.
The 14 candidates represent each school in the county. Two judging panels made up of representatives from colleges and universities in the area reviewed each teacher’s portfolio. The educator that received the highest combined score on their portfolios and a 20-minute interview will be revealed as the Worcester County Teacher of the Year. The winner will advance to the state competition.
“It is always important to help connect our community and state with one of the noblest professions, being a teacher,” said Barbara Witherow, coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs for Worcester County schools. “The banquet helps to recognize and elevate the program.”
This year’s theme is “Innovation,” which is inspired by the nominated teachers, who are constantly thinking of new ways and strategies to improve teaching their students in an ever changing world, Witherow said.
“Innovation is the driving force to improvement,” Witherow added.
After county awards are presented, the 24 teachers, representing each of the school systems in Maryland, will have their portfolios judged in the competition for Maryland Teacher of the Year. Once the judges choose portfolio winners, those finalists will move onto the interview stage and the top teacher will be unveiled in October during a gala.
“The winner’s role is to represent Worcester County at the state level and stand as ambassador to the other teachers in the county,” Witherow said.
Worcester County has earned the state title once, in 2007, when seventh grade English Language Arts teacher, Michelle Hammond, of Stephen Decatur Middle School, took home the honor.
Last year, Stephen Decatur Middle School chorus teacher, Brenna Johnson was named Worcester County Teacher of the Year. She will be the keynote speaker during the March 27 banquet.
Teachers nominated in Worcester County were selected by their peers or students because of their ability to inspire others, Witherow said.
The banquet honors current teachers while providing a reunion for retired teachers, who return each year to the ceremony, which began in 1988. There are 37 local sponsors this year, who provide gifts and donations to the event, winner and 14 nominated teachers.
The 2014 Worcester County Teacher of the Year candidates are:
•Paul Becker, Pocomoke High School: Becker teaches Technology, Communications, Issues and Impacts and Advanced Design. He sponsors the School Information Club and Warriors Communications, and is involved with athletics as head volleyball and assistant baseball coach. After earning his Bachelor of Science in Education and a certification in Technology Education from Salisbury University, he taught on Chincoteague Island and served as the director of the Lower Shore Family YMCA. In his free time, he enjoys playing volleyball, collecting toy trains, and spending time with his family. He is excited to be teaching at Pocomoke High School and hopes to positively influence students.
•Juliana Bobik, Showell Elementary School: Bobik graduated with a dual Bachelor’s degree in Elementary/Special Education from Saint Francis University and a Masters of Education in Elementary Reading and Mathematics from Walden University. Bobik has been teaching at Showell Elementary for seven years where she has taught special education, third grade, and is now teaching kindergarten. Bobik sets out each school year with a goal to meet all students’ needs both academically and developmentally so that each student is successful. She fosters growth and independence to build student self-esteem, pride and confidence. She believes that no matter how small the task, every accomplishment is significant.
•Joan Brittingham, Pocomoke Middle School: Brittingham graduated from Snow Hill High School, attended Frostburg University and Salisbury University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in music theory, piano and choral performance and theatre. Her love of music and creative teaching skills excite magic in her classroom. This is her sixth year teaching in Worcester County, currently inspiring music students at Pocomoke Middle School. Her “out of the box” thinking created the Pocomoke Gold Chorus, numerous performances, and the “WPMS” STEM News Team. She models a positive attitude to her school and community. Her roots to Worcester County inspire her to share the magic of music and learning with her students.
•Amie Bullock, Buckingham Elementary School: Bullock graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and later earned a Masters in Applied Educational Technology from Wilmington University. In her 17th year of teaching at Buckingham Elementary School, Bullock believes her responsibility as an educator is to develop positive relationships with her students and to customize learning opportunities that ensure a productive classroom environment where student engagement is evident. Currently, she is the Health and Wellness Site Coordinator at BES, an active member of the Behavior Strategic Planning Team, and facilitator of WCPS Online Professional Learning Community for Mathematics.
•Jack Cleveland, Snow Hill High School: Cleveland earned a Bachelor of Arts in radio, television and film with a minor in English from the University of Maryland and a Masters in Instructional Technology from Towson University. Cleveland began teaching at Snow Hill High School in 2004 and currently teaches English to ninth and tenth graders, as well as a seminar course focusing on analysis in Film Studies. He works with students in the After-School Learning Academy and serves in a leadership capacity on several school improvement teams. Cleveland creates a student-centered classroom where students maximize their potential under his positive supervision and instruction, encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
•Maria Graham, Pocomoke Elementary School: Graham earned a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from the University of Maryland. Also, she earned a Masters of Education, with a concentration in Mathematics K-5, from Walden University. Graham is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for 22 years. She is currently a third grade teacher at Pocomoke Elementary School. Graham is a member of the School Improvement Team and is a Professional Learning Community facilitator. She creates an environment that fosters learning by engaging her students in class discussions. She motivates her students to be responsible for their learning and helps them understand that perseverance is the key to success.
•Cassidy Hamborsky, Snow Hill Middle School: Hamborsky earned two Bachelor of Science degrees in Education, as well as a Masters of Education in Reading Instruction from Salisbury University. In her ninth year at Snow Hill Middle School, Hamborsky currently teaches seventh grade English Language Arts. She believes building positive student relationships is instrumental in successfully engaging young minds. Hamborsky strives to create an active learning environment with high expectations where students feel safe. She is a mentor teacher to university interns, a member of her school improvement team, a teacher for after school and summer academies, and a mentor to at-risk middle and high school students.
•Pamela Lipka, Berlin Intermediate School: Lipka graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Towson University and earned a Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Hawaii. She teaches fifth grade at Berlin Intermediate School and as a National Board Certified Teacher, Lipka believes that students need to discover how to learn. Her class enjoys meaningful activities that require subject knowledge and collaboration as students work to solve real-world problems. Lipka is currently a member of the school improvement plan team and a student mentor. She also serves as the PDS Site Coordinator, a mentor teacher, and a seminar instructor for Salisbury University.
•Peter Mundrick, Stephen Decatur Middle School: Mundrick graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, with a major on saxophone and minors on bassoon, voice and piano. He has participated in graduate work at both Salisbury and Villanova Universities. In his 18th year of teaching at Stephen Decatur Middle School, Mundrick directs the concert bands, orchestra, jazz bands and beginning band. A former president and vice president of the Eastern Shore Band Directors Association, he is currently vice president of the Eastern Shore Orchestra Directors Association. Mundrick believes in creating a classroom atmosphere where students feel safe exploring their musical talents.
•Tammy Proctor, Worcester Technical High School: Proctor has been teaching for eight years, all of which have been at Worcester Technical High School. Certified to teach World History, U.S. History, British Literature and Special Education, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mid-Level Education, a Masters in Special Education, and an additional Masters in Administration from Wilmington University. She has earned post-graduate certification from MSDE and Wilmington University to teach history, English and the severely disabled. Proctor is a SkillsUSA advisor and a mentor teacher. She believes student learning is enhanced when content is implemented through differentiation and presented in multiple styles.
•Jason Pylypczuk, Stephen Decatur High School: Pylypczuk attended Salisbury University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Masters in the Arts of Teaching degree. Pylypczuk began teaching in 2006 and has taught all eight years at Stephen Decatur High School. He is currently educating students about United States Government. He is a junior varsity head coach for the SDHS golf team and a club sponsor for the Stephen Decatur Lifesavers. Also, he has served as a mentor teacher for Salisbury University interns who strive to become teachers. Pylypczuk stresses the importance of government because it helps prepare students for future challenges.
•Jamie Tellish, Snow Hill Elementary School: Tellish earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Penn State University. She has been teaching for six years, four of which have been at Snow Hill Elementary School with her second grade students. She is a PBIS and a SIAC team member, a PRTI team leader and a mentor teacher to Salisbury University interns. Tellish believes that as successful readers, her students are able to use their interests to guide their learning. Through the use of technology, she believes her students have opportunities to explore and discover the wonders of the world around them.
•Alicia Wallace, Ocean City Elementary School: Wallace graduated from Stephen Decatur High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a minor in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESL), and later earned a Masters of Education from Salisbury University. In college she studied Spanish in Mexico, Cuba and Spain. She began teaching in 2006 and is an ESL Teacher at Ocean City Elementary School. She believes parent involvement is an integral part of student success. Her Spanish fluency enables her to be an effective liaison between school and Hispanic families. Wallace strives to enrich her students’ English acquisition by incorporating technology, music and movement into her classroom.
•Patricia “Trish” Wright, Cedar Chapel Special School: Wright is currently in her tenth year of teaching at Cedar Chapel Special School. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Therapeutic Recreation) with a minor in Human Services Counseling, as well as a Master’s of Science in Special Education at Old Dominion University. Wright is a Special Olympics coach for track and field, downhill skiing and kayaking. She believes her responsibility as a special educator is to enable students to become successful communicators, therefore increasing independence with academic and real world skills. She creates a classroom environment that fosters communication and independence.