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News Release
For Immediate Release Contact:Dr. Darla Strouse, 410.767.0369 or
William Reinhard, 410.767.0486
Important news for the public NEWS RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (August 22, 2012)

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery today announced the names of seven finalists for 2012-2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

"Our gifted finalists exhibit a commitment to classroom excellence, and are helping to ensure that Maryland public schools prepare world-class students," said Dr. Lowery. "These teachers are ambassadors for our field, and deserve all the appreciation we can give them for the work they do every day for our children and our communities."

The finalists are: Patricia DiLeonardi, Carroll County; Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship, Cecil County; Kerrie Seberg, Charles County; Lisa Young, Howard County; Bernadette Scheetz, St. Mary's County; Katie C. White, Talbot County; and Christina Hammer-Atkins, Washington County.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents and higher education. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement. Oral interviews with the seven finalists will be conducted on Saturday, September 8.

The 2012-2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin's West in Baltimore on October 5. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

Presenting sponsors of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program are Comcast, the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, McDonald's Family of Maryland, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. Platinum sponsors are Bank of America, Lockheed Martin, Verizon-Maryland, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced next April. The winner will also spend the coming year as a speaker and advisor in Maryland. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be honored by the President at the White House next spring, participate in several national meetings and conferences, as well as in National Space Camp with fellow State Teachers of the Year.

Additional information on the seven finalists follows.

FINALISTS 2012-2013

Carroll County – Liberty High School
Patricia DiLeonardi, Social Studies

Patricia DiLeonardi, a social studies teacher at Liberty High School, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and received her Master of Arts in Teaching from Towson University. DiLeonardi began her teaching career at Liberty High School in 2001 as a substitute teacher. Since 2005, she has been a full time teacher. DiLeonardi is Nationally Board Certified. She is actively involved as a mentor with new teachers and student interns. DiLeonardi also serves as Student Government Advisor. DiLeonardi credits her mother and father, as well as many of her teachers, for her decision to become a teacher.

Cecil County – Rising Sun High School
Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship, English

At Rising Sun High School, National Board Certified Teacher Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship guides tenth and eleventh grade students as they develop critical thinking and inquiry skills through the exploration of literature and the processes of writing, speaking, and listening. Ms. Blankenship writes county curriculum, is a member of the School Improvement Team, participates in professional learning communities, facilitates school and county professional development, and mentors student teachers. A Summa Cum Laude graduate, Ms. Holmes-Blankenship earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English from Towson University in 1995 and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College in 2005.

Charles County – William A. Diggs Elementary School
Kerrie Seberg, 3rd Grade Inclusion Teacher

Kerrie received a Bachelor's Degrees in English and Biology from Cornell University in 2003 and a Master's of Science in Childhood Education from the State University of New York College at Cortland in 2007. She is currently completing a graduate certificate in Early Childhood Autism at John Hopkins University. Kerrie is a sponsor for Destination ImagiNation, chairperson for the Green Committee, a teacher mentor for the high school careers program and serves on the curriculum writing team. She has presented to the county on using technology in teaching and differentiation in literacy and math. In 2010, she was nominated for the "Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award".

Howard County Teacher of the Year – Atholton Elementary
Lisa Young, Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher
Lisa Young received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Towson University and an M.S. in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She began teaching in Alaska, becoming a leading advocate for use of the "Six+1 Writing Traits" and providing professional development throughout the school district. After moving to Howard County in 2003, she helped to pioneer this model, now used in elementary and middle schools throughout the county. Lisa continues to lead in writing, gifted education and environmental programs, and is currently preparing math curriculum that align with the Common Core standards. She serves as Maryland Green School Coordinator for Atholton Elementary and coaches a middle school girls robotics team.

St. Mary's County – Esperanza Middle
Bernadette Scheetz, Mathematics
Bernadette earned a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education from Pennsylvania State University in1994 and a Master's Degree in Educational Mathematics Grades 6-8 from Walden University in 2009. Bernadette has served as Mathematics Department Chair, Team Leader, Mentor and Professional Development presenter. She is also a team member of the Educator Effectiveness Academy Team, School Improvement Team and School Technology Team. She volunteers as a Board Member with a local swim team, and helps raise funds for community projects. Awards include the SMECO Outstanding Mathematics Teacher of the Year and the Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award for St. Mary's County for MSET.

Talbot County Teacher of the Year – Easton Elementary
Katie C. White, Title 1 Reading and Math Teacher

Katie White has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/Elementary Education from McDaniel College and completed her Master's in Reading from Salisbury State University. Katie has been teaching for nine years and has taught Language Arts in grades 3 and 6. She is now the Title I Reading and Math teacher at Easton Elementary. Katie is a member of the International Reading Council, Chairperson of the School Improvement Team, and serves on the County Equity Team, which trains system staff in Courageous Conversations regarding equity and race. She participated in the Educator Effectiveness Academy in 2011 and organized a Math night at the local Food Lion, which brought together 500 families to learn about everyday math skills. Katie is active in her community and serves as an adjunct professor at Salisbury University.

Washington County – Boonsboro Elementary School
Christina Hammer-Atkins, Grade 2 Magnet Teacher
Christina graduated in 1990 from the University of Toledo with a B.S. in elementary education, and in 2008, she completed her M.Ed. from Hood College. Christina is a magnet teacher coordinator, professional development leader, and presenter in the Tri-State Teachers' Conference. She has developed a school banking program and serves on various committees for the Board of Education and her school. In her community, Christina is an executive board member for the band boosters and an active PTA member. Christina has also organized the Backyard Habitat Certification for Pleasant Valley Elementary School and raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

Maryland Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maryland State Department of Education with major underwriting provided by corporations and other organizations. The program is an affiliate of the National Teacher of the Year Program. All Maryland local school systems participate and all 24 semi-finalists are engaged throughout their selection year, in learning and recognition programs and also as Advisors to the State Superintendent. Selection of the Maryland Teacher of the Year is made by a Blue Ribbon Panel of Judges that represent teachers, administrators, parents, and higher education. The Maryland Teacher of the Year goes on to represent teachers throughout Maryland and also competes for the title of National Teacher of the Year. Each year, the Maryland Teacher of the Year is named at a Teacher of the Year Gala. The year 2012 marks the 22nd anniversary of Maryland's Teacher of the Year Gala.

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