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Teacher of the Year

April 18, 1997

One of the nicest stories local newspapers can do is the one that chronicles the success of someone born and raised locally. Too often, it seems, the achievements of long-time local residents are not celebrated because their deeds are too familiar to seem remarkable. Thank goodness that's not the case with Delores Finney, Washington County's Teacher of the Year for 1997.

Finney, a 28-year veteran of the Washington County school system who teaches at Hancock Elementary School, says proudly that she's a product of the local school system and that her children (and grandchildren) have also learned in local classrooms.

Barbara Stouffer, Finney's principal at Hancock, describes Finney as a modest educator who doesn't call attention to herself. Sandy Jackson, a third-grade teacher and one of those who nominated Finney, describes her as a good person, always ready to help someone else, as well as a good teacher.

But despite 28 years on the job, it hasn't become a dull routine for her, Stouffer said, adding that Finney is always willing to try something new and innovative in the classroom. Finney reveals why in the biographical sketch she wrote after being nominated, saying that "Nothing can compare to the sparkle in a child's eye when they grasp a new idea or concept."

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That's the heart of what makes a successful teacher - the ability to keep students excited about a subject by finding a way to overcome all the distractions children face today, and celebrating those successes when the breakthroughs come.

Finney was one of 12 finalists for the annual award, co-sponsored by the Washington County Board of Education and the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce. It is one of the best things this county can do for education, for two reasons.

The first is that it is good to recognize excellence, to show students, parents and just plain taxpayers that there are teachers out there who go above and beyond what's required, for the kids' sake. The second is that it encourages teachers to look at who among them is doing a great job, and celebrate that. Congratulations, Delores Finney, and thanks for all you do.

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