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Finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year announced

Jennie Merrill MomentWJeanne Merrill, teacher at Severna Park ElementaryState Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery today announced the names of seven finalists for 2015-2016 Maryland Teacher of the Year including one from Anne Arundel County, one from Howard County and one from Queen Anne’s County.

“Maryland teachers are among the nation’s finest, and the work of these outstanding finalists represents the sparkling creativity and energy found in classrooms through the State,” said Dr. Lowery. “Maryland’s teachers offer our students world-class instruction, providing a passport to their future success.”

The finalists are: Jennie Merrill, Anne Arundel County; Stephanie Geddie, Howard County; Barbara Sutherland, Queen Anne’s County; Ryan Kaiser, Baltimore City; Amanda Portner, Frederick County; Stephanie Marchbank, Allegany County; and Sally Irwin, Washington County.

Merrill is a teacher at Severna Park Elementary School. Geddie is at Laurel Woods Elementary and Sutherland is at Kent Island High School.

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.

“I am beyond excited to be selected to represent Anne Arundel County as a state finalist,” Merrill said this morning after learning of the honor in a phone call from Anne Arundel County schools superintendent George Arlotto. “This is one of the greatest honors I could ever ask for as a teacher, and I am so proud to be a part of something so special. I have the pure joy of doing what I absolutely love to do every day knowing that I play some small part in the betterment of the lives of children. No teacher could ask for anything more!”

Merrill was named AACPS’ 2015 Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in April. She is just the third elementary school teacher in the last 16 years to win the county award, and the seventh since the program’s inception in 1986-87.

The 2015-2016 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on Oct. 9. 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.

Jodie Zepp, a teacher at Mt. Hebron High School in Howard County, is the current Maryland Teacher of the Year.

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 and participate in several national meetings and conferences.

Below is additional information on the three finalists from Anne Arundel, Howard and Queen Anne’s counties.

Anne Arundel County – Jennie Merrill, Grade 5, Severna Park Elementary School

Jennie, a Nationally Board Certified teacher, earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 1999 and her Master’s Degree in Instructional Systems and Design from UMBC in 2005. Jennie served as Intermediate Team Leader, DI Mentor and Professional Development presenter. She is a member of the Educator Effectiveness Academy Team, School Improvement Team and S.T.E.M Team. She volunteers at her school’s annual variety show and as secretary of the Annapolis Striders Running Class. Awards include Severna Park P.T.A. Teacher of the Year, AA County Exemplary Program Award, Wal-Mart District Teacher of Year, and Severna Park Community Trustee Award.

Howard County – Stephanie Geddie, Kindergarten Instructional Team Leader, Laurel Woods Elementary School

Stephanie earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Alabama State University in 1997 and a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2011 by completing a dual certificate program in Leadership in Family, School, & Community Collaboration and Administration & Supervision. Stephanie facilitates the Classroom-Focused Improvement Process and has served on numerous school teams, including School Improvement and Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports. Stephanie is co-founder of Building Blocks Network, a parent outreach program, and has been a teacher mentor to UMBC student interns. Awards include the 2015 Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher, HCPSS Special Education Advisory Committee, and Baltimore Ravens’ 2014 Teacher of the Year nominee.

Queen Anne’s County – Barbara Sutherland, Biomedical Sciences — Chemistry, Biology, Career Technology, Kent Island High School

With a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of New England and an M.A. in Instructional Systems Development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Barbara Sutherland started a career in education after working five years in the biomedical field. Barbara’s belief that all students have the capability to learn and contribute motivates her to hold high academic standards in her Chemistry, Biology, and Career Technology Education courses as well as foster community service within her school. Developing the school’s Biomedical Sciences Program, advising to the school’s National Honor Society Chapter, and providing tutoring beyond the school day exemplifies Barbara’s leadership style: leading by example.

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