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Finalists Named For The 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher Of The Year

Statewide Winner To Be Announced In October


Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486, Dr. Darla Strouse, 410-767-0369

BALTIMORE  – Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, today announced the names of seven finalists for 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

“Maryland teachers rank among the nation’s best, and the work of these exemplary finalists represents the exceptional creativity and energy found in classrooms through the State,” said Dr. Salmon.  “Maryland’s classroom educators offer our students world-class instruction, providing a passport to their future success.”

The finalists are: Katrina Griffin, Anne Arundel County; Athanasia Kyriakakos, Baltimore City; Donna Miller, Calvert County; Anne Highfield, Cecil  County; Michael Williams, Montgomery County; Tamara Forte, Queen Anne’s County; and Christy Briggs, Wicomico County.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents and higher education. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement.

The 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on October 7. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

Ryan Kaiser, a teacher at The Mount Washington School in Baltimore City, is the current Maryland Teacher of the Year.  Maryland has had a history of national success with its Teacher of the Year Program.  Since 2006, Maryland has had three of its State Teachers of the Year selected as National Teachers of the Year.

Presenting sponsors of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program are Comcast, the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, McDonald’s Family of Maryland, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems and NTA Life.  Platinum sponsors are BGE, Lockheed Martin, Maryland Public Television, and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year will go on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced next April. The winner will also spend the coming year as a speaker and advisor in Maryland. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be honored by the President at the White House next spring and participate in several national meetings and conferences.

Additional information on the seven 2016-17 finalists:                            

Anne Arundel County – Katrina Griffin, North County High School, German,Grades 9-12

Katrina is the 2016 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Teacher of the Year and a national Foreign Language Teacher of the Year finalist. As a nationally recognized leader in her field, she is a prolific presenter on topics such as as student engagement and STEM and is passionate about creating interdisciplinary connections for students. She is the Treasurer for the American Association of Teachers of German, an AP College Board Consultant, and the department chair for World and Classical Languages at her school. Katrina earned a Master’s in German at Middlebury College in 2007, and B.A. degrees in International Politics and German at Penn State University in 1999.

Baltimore City – Athanasia (Sia) Kyriakakos, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical Senior High School, Art, Grades 9-12

Passion, resilience, perseverance, are the outcomes of the relationships Ms. Kyriakakos builds with her students. Athanasia Kyriakakos earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2000, her teaching certification from Central Connecticut State University in 1995 and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1991. While teaching in Baltimore, she has been a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, an SLO ambassador and a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Teacher Leaders program. As a world-renowned artist, she represented Greece in the 50th Venice Biennale, and received a Fulbright scholarship.

Calvert County – Donna Miller, Windy Hill Middle School, Science, Grades 7 – 8

Donna received a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction in 1996 and Administrative I Certification in 2009 from McDaniel College as well as her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Houghton College in 1982. She won the SMECO Outstanding Science Teacher award and is a . Maryland Master Teacher who engages students in science and engineering practices to build conceptual understanding. She infuses real world science applications from her work as a NASA Goddard STEM coordinator and Northrop Grumman Teacher Fellow. Her passion for teaching transcends her classroom as she leads teachers in applying innovative and technology-based lessons that build student success in 21st century skills.

Cecil County – Anne Highfield, Cecilton Elementary School, Grade 4

A committed advocate for public schools with 26 years of teaching experience, Anne Highfield has served a variety of educational roles including library media specialist, instructional coach, and MSDE Master Teacher. She enjoys hosting classroom visitations for new teachers and facilitating professional development for her school, county, and state. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History selected Anne as the 2015 Maryland History Teacher of the Year. She earned Bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Library Science from Slippery Rock University in 1990, and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College in 1997.

Montgomery County – Michael Williams, John F. Kennedy High School, Social Studies/History, Grades 9-12

Michael WIlliams is committed to education, equity, and issues of social justice. He earned Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University (2003) and Northwestern University (1994) and a bachelor’s from Howard University (1992). Currently a Social Studies Resource Teacher, he is one of the founders and coordinators of the Minority Scholars Program, a student-driven initiative that tackles the opportunity/achievement gap and has spread to 16 Montgomery County Public Schools.  He is a youth soccer coach with a penchant for developing young leaders, as well as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher alumnus who has won multiple awards including the MLK Humanitarian Award (2014).

Queen Anne’s County – Tamara Forte, Kindergarten Teacher, Church Hill Elementary School

For twelve years, Tamara has been an advocate for student success .  She graduated summa cum laude from Susquehanna University with a B.A. Degree in Elementary Education and English in 2005 and earned a M.A. Degree in Education in the Diverse Classroom from Gratz College in 2011.  Tamara is a Washington College Student Supervisor, a Student Mentor, an Extended School Year teacher, a Home Hospital teacher, and a curriculum writer. She and her students positively impact the world daily by holding clothing drives, fundraising for hospitalized children, and helping first responders in need.

Wicomico County – Christy Briggs / 6th Grade ELA, Bennett Middle School

Christy has been teaching for 19 years. She obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Salisbury University and is National Board Certified. Christy has been an ILT Chair, facilitator for after school professional development and mentor teacher. Throughout her career, her love of literacy has inspired her to implement a student book club, an annual Family Read In and an after school reading program.  Through her leadership in school partnerships, she planned the Back to School Carnival and Hope for the Holidays outreach program to support her school community. Her passion is to inspire her students to become life-long readers.


2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year


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