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Brenna Johnson named Wor. County Teacher of the Year

(April 4, 2014) County educators and university professors crowned Stephen Decatur Middle School’s Brenna Johnson Teacher of the Year during the annual Worcester County Teacher of the Year banquet last Friday.

Newly crowned Teacher of the Year Brenna Johnson hugs colleague Barbara Witherow after accepting her award at the 2014 Worcester County Teacher of the Year banquet last Friday at the Clarion Resort Hotel on 101st Street. (Clara Vaughn | Ocean City Today)

Amid hugs, tears and applause from a packed house in the Clarion Resort Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom, Johnson made her way to the stage to accept the award.

“I’m so honored and humbled to have been chosen,” she said after Board of Education President Bob Rothermel presented her with the trophy. “I feel like I’m at the Grammys.”

Johnson has been teaching for 10 years, seven of which she’s spent with Stephen Decatur Middle School. In addition to leading students in chorus and drama, the Eastern University graduate also coaches All Shore Chorus and chairs the District Choral Festival.

Johnson thanked school administrators for supporting her innovative ideas, her husband for an attentive ear and the crowd for its support in her speech.

Riding the high-flying kite theme of the 2014 banquet, Sen. Jim Mathias commended the newly dubbed Teacher of the Year for providing “a great flight and a great life to many, many children.”

He presented her with a citation from the state senate, recognizing Johnson as for her dedication and commitment to “the most important asset, and that’s our children.”

“I’ll be able to stand here tonight and read this proclamation because of teachers and those that put up with me when I was trying to soar against the wind,” Mathias said. “My congratulations to you, Brenna, and as well to each and every teacher in the room.”

President of the Worcester County Commissioners Bud Church was also there to give accolades to the newly crowned Teacher of the Year.

“Many, many people move into our county because of our school system. It’s one of the top-rated school systems in the country and it’s because of young ladies like this,” he said. “The commissioners are very, very proud of the job that you do, not only for our students, but for Worcester County.”

He presented her with a commendation signed by the county commissioners declaring their pride in both Johnson and the entire group of Worcester County educators.

Johnson earned top honors among a pool of 14 candidates, each named Teacher of the Year at their own school in the Worcester County Public School system. She will go on to represent the county in the Maryland Teacher of the Year contest, among the state’s 23 other school districts.

Worcester County last earned the state title in 2007, when seventh grade English Language Arts teacher Michelle Hammond, of Stephen Decatur Middle School, took home the honor.

Students, colleagues and other members of the community nominate Teachers of the Year potentials at the school-level during American Education Week in November, said Barbara Witherow, coordinator of public relations and special programs for Worcester County schools. Each nominee has the chance to create a portfolio, which a selection committee at each school uses to select their candidate to run for Worcester County Teacher of the Year.

A panel of six judges, most from regional colleges and universities, evaluated those 14 portfolios while another panel assessed the nominees based on interviews to arrive at Johnson as the 2014 Teacher of the Year.

In addition to entering the Maryland Teacher of the Year contest, she will fill a variety of rolls that come with the title, Witherow said.

Last year’s winner, Karen Eure, a 25-year Kindergarten teacher at Snow Hill Elementary School, welcomed new teachers at the start of the school year; attended the spring reception, when new teaching interns visit the schools; went on a science trip to a local island to study the environment and take that knowledge back to her classroom; and participated in a Teachers of Promise mentor program, to name a few things.

“I just hope that when I now move on the to next level (the Maryland Teacher of the Year competition) that I can share Worcester County’s passion for our students and our love of teaching with the other teachers that I’ll get to meet,” Johnson said. “I hope that I bring you pride over the next year.”

The Worcester County Teacher of the Year Banquet is a tradition dating back to 1988. It recognizes current teachers while providing a reunion for retired educators.

It had 33 local sponsors this year, who provide donations, gifts and certificates to recognize the 14 schools’ Teachers of the Year.

Clara Vaughn, Ocean City Todayhttps://www.oceancity.com/OceanCityToday
Clara discovered journalism as a freelance reporter for her hometown newspaper, the Eastern Shore News, in 2008. She spent her summers reporting from the courtroom to the marsh as a general assignment reporter for the News while finishing her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. In 2011, she earned a Virginia Press Association Award for her health, science and environment writing package. After a stint in press relations, Clara returned to school, earning a Master of Journalism degree from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2012. She traveled overseas and landed as a reporter and copy editor at Ocean City Today in May of 2013.

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