STEVENSVILLE — Rhonda Moore, a first grade teacher at Matapeake Elementary School, was named Teacher of the Year April 20 at Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville. The announcement culminated an evening of recognitions for more than 20 employees exemplifying outstanding service to Queen Anne’s County public schools.
“It’s about our children, not about book learning,” said Dr. Andrea Kane, Superintendent of Schools for Queen Anne’s County.
The winner of each category must not only demonstrate excellence in their position but lend to the overarching goal of molding good people and productive citizens, she said.
“It comes from students learning to get along with their peers and respecting one another. It comes from interacting with the person who serves food in the lunch line … you can’t teach that out of a book,” Kane said.
Moore began her teaching career at a Head Start program in Pennsylvania. She said the atmosphere of that initial program taught her the universal respect to which Kane referred.
“The bus driver was as important as the teacher. The custodian was as important as the principal … all of these people interacting with the children and valuing how we have a part in teaching the whole child together, that impression continued through my career,” Moore said.
Moore was an avid reader as a child. Although she dreamed of being an artist, one of her first memories is of conducting class on the front porch of her family home in Franklin, Pa. Her stuffed animals were the students.
Her first experiences in a classroom setting did not measure up to the fun of those days on the front porch. “I did a lot of crying in first grade … I missed my mom,” Moore said.
Her first grade teacher who was patient and kind, helped draw her out of her shell. Later it was a high school trigonometry teacher that reinforced the importance of connecting and interacting on a level deeper than curriculum.
“Maybe it wasn’t about teaching,” Moore said of her trig teacher Mr. Fagley. “But he inspired me to be a better person.”
Moore holds a Master’s of Science in Curriculum from McDaniel College and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Clarion University.
She began her 18-year tenure in Queen Anne’s County as a third grade teacher at Bayside. She moved to Matapeake when it opened in 2004 and has been a first grade teacher there for the last 10 years. She holds and has held a variety of positions outside the classroom including First Grade Team Leader and a member of the School Improvement Team. She has worked in curriculum development for both math and reading.
Ultimately it is a love of learning and children that keeps her in the game, she said.
“I love it as much now, maybe more, than I did when I started,” Moore said. “Watching the children get as excited about learning as I am, keeps me going.”
As teacher of the year, Moore will be invited to represent the county at workshops and events throughout the year.
“I’ve always been the person that ends up speaking on behalf of the group,” she said. “I’m excited to be the voice for teachers in front of the State Board of Educators and the General Assembly.”
Moore also will receive for her use over the next year, a new Ford from Hertrich of Easton. This will come in handy with her commute from Pasadena where she currently lives with her husband Bill, an engineer at Community College of Baltimore County. She will get to help select the model based on her lifestyle, said General Manager Greg Starkey. Starkey said it has been the Hertrich Group’s privilege to recognize outstanding teachers in Queen Anne’s County for the last six years.
There were five finalists for Teacher of the Year, narrowed from a field of 40. The contenders first are nominated and then must go through a process including a formal application and essay, followed by an interview in front of an 11-person committee of community members.
It is an extensive process, not for the faint of heart, said Heather Fullerton of Centerville Middle School, who has been a finalist four times in her 19-year career. Rebecca Berberich of Stevensville Middle School, Amber Wright of Kent Island High School and Amy Bauer of Centreville Middle School were the other three finalists.
Awards announced previously but presented at the ceremony include Dannan Jones, Outstanding New Teacher of the Year; Shana Corder, Coach/Advisor of the Year; Jennifer Dryer, Outstanding Educational Specialist; Robert Willis, Outstanding Student Services; Kevin Kintop, Outstanding Leadership, Jolene Gottleib, Outstanding Support Employee; Ronnie Valentine, Outstanding Bus Driver; Carmine Cianchetta, Outstanding Operations Employee; Courtney Taylor, Sodexo (food service) Employee of the Year; Jennifer Burke, Secretary of the Year; Donna Bryant, Para-Educator of the Year; and Robert Healy, Community Volunteer of the Year.
ABC2 News, WMAR Baltimore, anchor Jamie Costello was Master of Ceremony for the program, now in its 15th year.