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Teachers of year named in Washington County

April 25, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

"If you don't got a teacher, you won't learn. If you do have a teacher, you'll get smarter and smarter."

One of Gwen Pangborn's kindergartners at Smithsburg Elementary told her that one day, and she repeated the words Wednesday before a crowd of 250 who watched as she was honored as Washington County Public Schools teacher of the year.

Pangborn said she was humbled and thrilled by the award, and that she and her peers should be touched by the student's words.

Julie Baker, a teacher at Maryland Correctional Training Center's academic and vocational program, was named the private school teacher of the year during the event at Fountain Head Country Club.

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Marty Mattare, a professor at Frostburg State University at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown; Sally Shearer, who teaches at Hagerstown Business College; and Teresa Angle, who teaches at Hagerstown Community College, also were honored during the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Educators of the Year Awards Banquet.

"We believe in our teachers and in our students," said Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, who thanked all of the night's nominees.

Representatives from the Washington County Commissioners and Board of Education were in the audience.

Pangborn taught fifth-graders at Fountaindale Elementary School before taking a 10-year break from teaching to raise her three sons. Her sons, husband and mother were with her Wednesday night.

Pangborn said that as her boys enrolled in kindergarten she volunteered in their classes and decided to return to education as a kindergarten teacher.

"Students at that age are just so open," she said. "They're really eager to learn."

Pangborn and Baker each received keys to new cars they will be able to drive for the next year.

Baker said she was shocked to win the top honor for private school teachers Wednesday, saying that the correctional institution is the "red-headed stepchild" of education. She teaches reading, math, computer literacy and other subjects to inmates without GEDs or high school diplomas.

Students are required to complete a certain amount of classroom time, but most often stay for more, she said.

Before going to MCTC, Baker taught at two Washington County Public Schools. She has been teaching at the prison for about 23 years.

Last year's public and private schools educators of the year - Nancy Souders and Victoria Oliver - spoke during the event.

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