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Teacher of the year brings the world to her students

April 23, 2013

The term “globalization,” as it is currently understood, has not been around all that long. Today, we don’t flinch if our X-rays are read, real time, by a doctor in India. But a decade ago it would have been the stuff of fiction.

It is fitting in several ways that Japanese language teacher Ayako Shiga was named Washington County Teacher of the Year for 2013-14. The Boonsboro teacher was honored Wednesday during a ceremony at Fountain Head Country Club before an audience of 170 people.

Shiga is indeed a credit to her profession, engaging students in what used to be called once-in-a-lifetime activities, such as a trip to Japan and participation in the Japan Bowl, a linguistic and cultural competition.

We say used to be, because the globe is shrinking.

Today, the best jobs routinely send men and women to Japan, China or Dubai. American cities have always been melting pots, but today it is common to hear many different languages across suburbia.

And along with the requirements of globalization, a second language is becoming a more necessary tool for students who enter ever-tougher fields of competition for jobs. The difference between winning and losing a position might turn on the ability to speak a second or third language.

Finally, we appreciate teachers such as Shiga who encourage their students to expand their horizons, literally and figuratively.

Randi Stavrou, the Boonsboro junior who nominated Shiga made a strong point when she said that “a lot of kids in Boonsboro, before they graduate ... usually just stay in Boonsboro. They don’t get out and get to experience things and see the world. And (Shiga) gave a lot of us that opportunity.”

It is an opportunity we strongly support, and hope will become a more common experience for our young people.

Along with Shiga, we also salute the other finalists for Teacher of the Year: 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.

And with them, of course, our appreciation extends to all teachers who work tirelessly to see that our children get the opportunity to which they are entitled. We also thank the Teacher of the Year judges who take the time each spring to make a very difficult decision based on interviews and hours of classroom observation.

All told, it is an educational network of which we can all be proud, individually and systemwide.

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