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Boonsboro High's Japanese language teacher named Teacher of the Year

In her speech, Ayako Shiga talked about how proud she was of her students in the National Japan Bowl

April 17, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Ayako Shiga, left, was named winner of the Washington County Teacher of the Year by Superintendent Clayton Wilcox Wednesday evening at Fountain Head Country Club. Shiga teaches at Boonsboro High School.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Ayako Shiga, the Japanese language teacher at Boonsboro High School, was named Washington County Public Schools’ 2013-14 Teacher of the Year on Wednesday night.

“I truly feel honored to accept this award on behalf of all the teachers — hard-working, wonderful teachers of Washington County Public Schools. Thank you very much,” Shiga told the crowd of about 170 people at the Fountain Head Country Club.

Shiga, 35, of Chambersburg, Pa., was one of five finalists for the award, which is sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Shiga has more than 10 years of teaching experience, with nine of those years in Washington County, according to a school system news release.

Standing with the other four finalists in front of the audience when the announcement was made by Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, Shiga quietly made her way up to the podium to accept her award while people back at her table whooped in celebration.

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Shiga told the crowd her students think it’s “bad juju” to prepare a speech, but she had prepared one just in case, even though she didn’t think she would win.

Shiga learned English as a second language, starting in middle school in Tokyo, she said after the ceremony.

During her speech she talked about the pride she had as she watched her students recently compete in the National Japan Bowl, a language and culture competition.

“As a language teacher, I find that it is my privilege to show students how learning a new language can open the door to a new world,” she said.

She was nominated for teacher of the year by Randi Stavrou, a junior at Boonsboro High School.

“She does so much for her students,” Stavrou said after the ceremony.

“She cares and she gives us great opportunities,” like the Japan Bowl and a trip to Japan last year, Stavrou said.

“A lot of kids in Boonsboro, before they graduate, they usually just stay in Boonsboro. They don’t get out and get to experience things and see the world. And she gave a lot of us that opportunity,” Stavrou said.

As she returned to her table, Shiga was congratulated and had her picture taken several times, including with her fiance Travis Amsley.

Then she went outside to see the dark blue Honda Accord she gets to use for a year, courtesy of Hagerstown Honda. Shiga can trade the Honda in every 2,500 miles for another Honda vehicle if she wishes, said Donna Long, the chamber’s director of operations.

Shiga also received a plaque; a spa package from H&M Designs; and a technology makeover package valued at around $5,000 for her class or school.

The other finalists for teacher of the year were Beth Hoffman of North Hagerstown High, Sally Irwin of Washington County Technical High, Tameron Marriner of Rockland Woods Elementary, and Matt Tack of Fountaindale Elementary.

Hoffman, a 10th grade English teacher, has been teaching for more than 12 years, with three of those years for the local school system. She was named North High’s “Most Unforgettable Teacher.”

Irwin, a Project Lead the Way biomedical science teacher, was a Teacher of the Year finalist in 2012, and was nominated for the honor in 2010 and 2011. She has taught in Washington County for more than nine years.

Marriner, a kindergarten teacher, has spent 24 of her more than 25 years teaching in Washington County.

She was a Teacher of the Year finalist in 2008 and 2010.

Tack, a fifth-grade magnet teacher, has been a teacher for more than eight years, with seven years teaching in Washington County. In 2012, he received an Outstanding Educator Using Technology Award from the Maryland Society for Educational Technology.

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