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Press Release: Finalists Named For The 2014-2015 Maryland Teacher Of The Year

Statewide Winner To Be Announced In October

For Immediate Release                                       

Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486, Dr. Darla Strouse, 410-767-0369

Baltimore, MD (August 28, 2014)

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery today announced the names of seven finalists for 2014-2015 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

“Our finalists represent the creative and thoughtful work taking place in classrooms each day from one end of our State to the other,” said Dr. Lowery.  “Maryland’s education system is highly regarded because we simply have the nation’s best teachers, providing our students with world-class instruction that is a path to future success.”

The finalists are: Kelly O’Hara, Cecil County; Erin Doolittle, Frederick County; Jody Zepp, Howard County; Jane Lindsay, Montgomery County; Anna Breland, Somerset County; Bridget Whited, Talbot County; and Courtney Leard, 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.

The 2014-2015 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on October 10. 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. 

Maryland has had a history of national success with its Teacher of the Year Program.  Sean McComb, the current National Teacher of the Year, is Maryland’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year.  He is the third Maryland educator to receive the national honor since 2006.

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 BGE, Lockheed Martin, Maryland Public Television, NTA Life 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 2014-15 finalists follows:

Cecil County/Kelly O’Hara/Elkton High School – Social Studies, Grades 9-12
Kelly O’Hara is an alumna of Elkton High School where she now teaches. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History Secondary Education from Salisbury University in 2005 and a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Administration I certification from McDaniel College in 2011. Kelly has developed her skills as a teacher-leader by serving as School Improvement Team Facilitator, Internal Coordinator for her school’s Middle States reaccreditation process, and Lead Teacher of the social studies department. She has presented professional development at the national, state, and local level. Kelly writes curriculum, supervises student teachers, and mentors new teachers.

Frederick County/Erin Doolittle/Hillcrest Elementary School – Pre-Kindergarten
Erin Doolittle is a cornerstone of her school community at Hillcrest Elementary, a Title 1 school with the highest percentage of English Language Learner students in the state. As a pre-kindergarten teacher and the “welcome wagon” to the world of education, Erin works tirelessly to ensure success for her students and families by connecting them to vital resources, visiting each family at their home, and volunteering at Judy Center events and family nights. Erin earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education in 2003 and M.S. in Reading Specialization in 2011, both from Hood College. As an advocate for early childhood education, Erin collaborates with child care professionals and presents at conferences and professional development events.

Howard County/Jody Zepp/Hammond High School – Psychology & Government,
Grades 10-12

Jody Zepp received her B.A. in political science from McDaniel College, and her M.A. in political science from the Maxwell School, Syracuse University. As the 2014 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher for Howard County, she believes that “students can talk about a future only when they can see one.” Zepp received the Class Nobel Educator of Distinction for two consecutive years as well as three Howard County Council Honorary Resolution Awards for coaching the EconChallenge Maryland State Champions and C-SPAN Documentary winners. Zepp has increased minority enrollment in advanced placement courses and has increased passing ratios for minority students on both college and state exams.

Montgomery County/Jane Lindsay/John Poole Middle School – English,
Grades 6-8

Jane Lindsay, 8th grade English teacher, department chair, and Leadership Team member is also the Marion Greenblatt Education Award recipient. She began her career-long passion for teaching reading and writing at the elementary level before moving to middle school. She holds a B.A. in Education from The Catholic University of America and an M.S. in Special Education from Johns Hopkins University. Mrs. Lindsay thrives on the challenges of helping students think critically about literature, media, and their own writing.

Somerset County / Anna Breland / Crisfield Academy & High School – World Languages,
Grades 8 – 12

Anna Breland ignites her students’ interest in learning foreign languages by incorporating intercultural experiences, technology and hands-on activities to empower students to be college and career ready. Mrs. Breland collaborates with foreign language teachers and participates in professional learning communities in order to ensure high-quality education for her students. She facilitates school professional development, is a member of the School Improvement Team and mentors teacher interns. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education, from Minsk State Linguistic University and is currently working on an ESL certification.

Talbot County/Bridget Whited/St. Michaels High School – Art, Grades 9-12
Bridget Whited is a published sponsor of the National Art Honor Society, a member of the CARE Team, Teacher Evaluation Committee and School Improvement Team and facilitates Equity PD to colleagues. She has a BS degree in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership at the University of Massachusetts.  She is recognized for her community artwork involving ALL students and her ability to also include those students with disabilities in Advanced Placement Studio Art. Her Art room incorporates all subjects including STEM and Common Core infusion.  Bridget received consecutive Artist in Residence Grants to provide hands on learning focused on community outreach and the importance of the visual arts in education.  

Washington County/Courtney Leard/Fountaindale School for the Arts and
Academic Excellence – 2nd Grade
Courtney Leard develops integrated curriculum for the Common Core State Standards.  She presents at state and international conferences and facilitates school-based Professional Learning Communities. Her passion for learning is evident in her environmental partnerships, volunteer work, and the organization of after-school learning academies for students to explore STEM and the Arts. She has been a recipient of Governor O’Malley’s Schoolshed Stream Restoration Grant, Boeing’s Educator in Space Grant, and an Honorable Mention for the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. She received her undergraduate degree from Mary Baldwin College and post-graduate studies from Grand Canyon University.

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