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Chambersburg Area Middle School teacher wins countywide teacher of the year honor

October 15, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Michael Ocker, a sixth-grade math teacher at Chambersburg Area Middle School, has helped rewrite the school's math curriculum, raise math test scores and even wears the school's Cougar mascot costume at events.

On Tuesday, he added another hat -- honorary people greeter, a title bestowed upon him as the 2008-09 Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year for Franklin County.

The announcement was made live to the students of the middle school over CAMS's closed-circuit television, with Chambersburg Wal-Mart General Manager Bill Graham presenting Ocker with the award and a $1,000 check to the school, along with that greeter's badge.

"I'm a football coach at heart, and I like to bring those team practices into the classroom," Ocker said after accepting the award. That helped explain how he and the other teachers in his team helped raise PSSA math scores, he said.

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"Understanding an award like this isn't won alone, I feel it is important to recognize the team of teachers I work with daily," said Ocker, listing language arts teachers Regina Shreiner, Sharon Kuhns and Heather Brindle, and science teacher Susan Burke. He and the others also teach social studies, he said.

Ocker, 31, of Shippensburg, Pa., is starting his third year at CAMS. He began his career teaching at Cornell Abraxas for a year, followed by four years in the Northern York School District. His brother, Brad, is an assistant principal at Chambersburg Area Senior High School.

"He's been a role model for me throughout," Michael Ocker said of his brother.

CAMS Principal Kurt Widmann listed some of the reasons Ocker was nominated for the award, including serving on the Education Specifications Committee for the Faust Junior High and CAMS renovation projects; raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; and working with the CAMS student government.

Ocker also is working towards his master's degree and is active in professional development programs, Widmann said.

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