7 finalists chosen for Maryland Teacher of the Year

Katrina GriffinW 214x300Seven finalists are in the running for 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year including one from Anne Arundel County, one from Calvert County and one from Queen Anne's County.

The finalists are: Katrina Griffin, Anne Arundel County; Athanasia Kyriakakos, Baltimore City; Donna Miller, Calvert County; Anne Highfield, Cecil County; Michael Williams, Montgomery County; Tamara Forte, Queen Anne’s County; and Christy Briggs, Wicomico County.

“Maryland teachers rank among the nation’s best, and the work of these exemplary finalists represents the exceptional creativity and energy found in classrooms through the State,” said Karen Salmon, state superintendent of schools “Maryland’s classroom educators offer our students world-class instruction, providing a passport to their future success.”

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 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on Oct. 7. 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.

Anne Arundel County's Griffin teaches German at North County High School to grades 9-12. She is the 2016 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year and a national Foreign Language Teacher of the Year finalist. As a nationally recognized leader in her field, she is a prolific presenter on topics such as as student engagement and STEM and is passionate about creating interdisciplinary connections for students. She is the Treasurer for the American Association of Teachers of German, an AP College Board Consultant, and the department chair for World and Classical Languages at her school. Katrina earned a master's in German at Middlebury College in 2007, and bachelor or arts degrees in International Politics and German at Penn State University in 1999.

Calvert County's Miller teaches science at Windy Hill Middle School to seventh and eighth graders. She received a master's degree in curriculum and instruction in 1996 and Administrative I Certification in 2009 from McDaniel College as well as her bachelor's degree in biology from Houghton College in 1982. She won the SMECO Outstanding Science Teacher award and is a Maryland Master Teacher who engages students in science and engineering practices to build conceptual understanding. She infuses real world science applications from her work as a NASA Goddard STEM coordinator and Northrop Grumman Teacher Fellow. Her passion for teaching transcends her classroom as she leads teachers in applying innovative and technology-based lessons that build student success in 21st century skills.

Queen Anne's County's Forte is a kindergarten teacher at Church Hill Elementary School For 12 years, Tamara has been an advocate for student success. She graduated summa cum laude from Susquehanna University with a bachelor's in elementary education and English in 2005 and earned a master's in education in the Diverse Classroom from Gratz College in 2011. Tamara is a Washington College Student Supervisor, a Student Mentor, an Extended School Year teacher, a Home Hospital teacher, and a curriculum writer. She and her students positively impact the world daily by holding clothing drives, fundraising for hospitalized children, and helping first responders in need.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in 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 and participate in several national meetings and conferences.