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Six vying for teacher of the year

March 20, 2011

Six people have been named finalists for Washington County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, the school system announced Friday. A selection committee narrowed the field based on an interview process and observing the teachers in the classroom.

The six finalists for 2011-12 Teacher of the Year are as follows:

David Herbert, Smithsburg Middle School, seventh-grade math teacher. Herbert has 13 years of teaching experience, with 10 years in Washington County. This is his third teacher of the year nomination. Herbert has served on committees studying math and instructional technology. “It is essential to nurture a love of learning. If students love and are energized by the learning process, the sky is the limit,” he said.

Jaclyn Chaney, Fountaindale School for the Arts & Academic Excellence, fifth-grade magnet teacher. Chaney has been teaching for WCPS for 10 years. She is part of the magnet team that presented a portfolio that earned one of five Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education (EGATE) Awards in Maryland for Fountaindale. In addition, she was nominated for an EGATE teaching award. She also is involved in numerous professional- development activities to enhance her own knowledge and skills, and to help others to further their careers in education. “It’s a powerful moment when a learner opens up to new ideas and challenges, when they discover new talents, strengths and possibilities,” Chaney said.

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Kimberly Janifer, North Hagerstown High School, English teacher. Janifer has taught for WCPS for 11 years and is now teaching English in the International Baccalaureate program. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and English Department leader at North High. “My reward is the knowledge that I have prepared a student for life beyond high school,” she said.

Rebecca Leverett, Rockland Woods Elementary School, fifth-grade enrichment teacher. Of her 20 years in teaching, Leverett has taught at WCPS for 18 years. She was a teacher of the year nominee in the early part of her career in San Antonio, and has been a WCPS Teacher of the Year finalist twice. Leverett is the coordinator for the 24 Game for Washington County, and is very active in her church and other community endeavors. “We as teachers accept all students who walk through our doors and do our best to instill in them a love of learning,” she said.

Katharine Long, Western Heights Middle School, social studies teacher. Long has taught for WCPS for five years and now serves as Social Studies Department leader and member of the School Improvement Team at Western Heights. She has opened her classroom to observations from high school and college students pursuing a career in education. Long was part of a select group of Western Maryland educators in the three-year Gilder Lehrman Teaching American History grant. “I ensure that each of my students feels safe and respected within the walls of our classroom, thus enabling them to focus on learning and sharing positive experiences through education,” she said.

Tonya Meadows, Boonsboro Middle School, technology education teacher. Meadows is in her 17th year of teaching, with 10 of those years working for WCPS. She was named the Middle School Technology Education Lead Teacher in the county. Meadows is active outside the classroom at Boonsboro Middle and Smithsburg Elementary schools, and in the community as chairperson of the Smithsburg Pride Days Committee, project leader with 4-H and various roles at her church. “I want my students to learn that respect, hard work and dedication will get them wherever they want to be,” she said.

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