(April 3, 2015) Snow Hill Middle School’s Cassidy Hamborsky was named Worcester County Teacher of the Year during the annual award’s banquet last Friday at the Clarion Hotel in Ocean City.
After Barbara Witherow, coordinator of public relations for Worcester County Schools and facilitator of the Teacher of the Year Program, opened the envelope revealing the winner, Hamborsky made her way to the podium as those in attendance cheered. She received hugs from several people along the way.
“I look forward to representing Worcester County and spreading our message of innovation and personalizing education so our kids can grow up to be whatever they want to be,” Hamborsky said while fighting back tears.
Hamborsky has been teaching for nine years at Snow Hill Middle School, where she is currently a seventh grade English Language Arts teacher. In addition, she mentors university interns, is a member of Snow Hill’s improvement team, teaches after school and summer academies and mentors at-risk middle and high school students.
A Teacher of the Year video provided a nice touch to the event and played while attendees finished their dinner. In the video, Hamborsky talked about the change she sees in her students from the first day to the last and how important it is to make an impact on them.
Hamborsky thanked her mom first, since she was nervous, the school board and county commissioners, and Witherow for making everything comfortable and organized and her husband for always pushing her to be the best.
This year’s banquet theme of “Innovation,” which was inspired by the nominated teachers, was a hot topic at the banquet.
“I am partial to this year’s theme,” said Worcester County Schools Superintendent Jerry Wilson. “Innovation is essential and leads to progress and growth.”
Last year’s Teacher of the Year, Brenna Johnson, agreed.
“When I first heard about innovation, I took one extra minute to think,” she said. “It’s about getting excited, having a creative and fresh new look. We need to ignite students and bring passion into the classroom.”
Worcester County 2011 Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Sills, echoed Johnson’s notions.
“As teachers we are constantly looking for innovative ways to teach our students,” Sills said.
Senator Jim Mathias presented Hamborsky with citations from the state senate and house, recognizing her and the other teachers in the room by saying, “the most valuable asset to our children is our educators.”
Jim Bunting, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, was also there to give accolades and presented Hamborsky with a commendation signed by the commissioners.
“Every teacher in Worcester County is a winner,” Bunting said.
About halfway through the ceremony, 2008’s Worcester County Teacher of the Year, Amy Vadella, along with dozens of former winners recognized Witherow for her years of dedication to Worcester County schools. Witherow will retire this June after serving the school system for 12 years.
“On behalf of the former Worcester County Teachers of the Year, we wish you much love, luck and happiness in your retirement,” Vadella said.
Hamborsky earned top honors among 14 candidates who each represented a school in the county.
Two judging panels made up of seven representatives from colleges and universities in the area reviewed each teacher’s portfolio. Hamborsky received the highest combined score on her portfolio and a 20-minute interview.
She will now represent Worcester County in the state competition, going up against 24 teachers, each representing a school system in Maryland.
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.
The banquet honors current teachers while providing a reunion for retired teachers, who return each year to the ceremony, which began in 1988. There were 37 local sponsors this year, who provided gifts and donations to the event, winner and 14 nominated teachers.