Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) worked with the school systems of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties to select and honor 17 local educators with Outstanding Teacher awards for their leadership in the fields of mathematics and science.
This year, 10 math teachers and seven science teachers from schools in the three counties received awards. The teachers were chosen for their outstanding performance in the areas of creativity, rapport with students, enthusiasm for teaching, professionalism, and innovative teaching methods. Each teacher received a plaque and a cash award at a dinner held in their honor. Over the past 24 years, SMECO has recognized almost 340 local math and science teachers.
Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO, welcomed the award winners. He
said, “Our gifted honorees display a commitment to classroom excellence and are helping to ensure that Southern Maryland schools prepare world-class students. These teachers are ambassadors in their field, and they deserve all the appreciation we can give them for the work they do every day for our children and our communities.” He added, “Good teachers do more than teach. They inspire, motivate, and challenge their students. They teach skills that are important not only to employers and the economy, but also important to our future. They model behavior. They offer guidance. Good teachers make outstanding contributions to our community.”
Presenting the keynote address was Dr. Bradley Gottfried, president of the College of Southern Maryland since 2006. Gottfried said the United States needs more graduates from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in order to maintain the strength of its economy.
“In the US we teach our STEM graduates creativity. We don’t just teach them to mechanically solve a problem, but rather, to pull it apart and look at it from different angles. That is what you do every day,” Gottfried told the teachers. “You help students to think critically. Whether a student is going into science or math as a career, you are the ones who are promoting this creative type of thinking in our classrooms.”
SMECO’s Outstanding Mathematics Teachers of the Year are listed below.
- Justin Debbis, Mill Creek Middle School
- James Rodenhaver, Huntingtown High School
- Melissa Sydnor, Sunderland Elementary School
- Jason Miller, St. Charles High School
- Jeana Stanley, Theodore G. Davis Middle School
- Corrie Wutka, William A. Diggs Elementary School
St. Mary’s County
- Colby Gehrig, Chesapeake Public Charter School
- Dawn Millerick, Leonardtown Middle School
- Christine Stachelczyk, Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary School
- Mary Von Fricken, Esperanza Middle School
SMECO’s Outstanding Science Teachers of the Year are listed below.
- Doris O’Donnell, Dowell Elementary School
- Sara Wiles, Huntingtown High School
- Jennifer Elder, Arthur Middleton Elementary School
- Holly Fallica, General Smallwood Middle School
- Matthew Watkoski, Maurice J. McDonough High School
St. Mary’s County
- Guy Barbato, Leonardtown High School
- Michael Gallo, Margaret Brent Middle School
Enhancing the quality of life in southern Maryland is part of SMECO’s mission. The cooperative sponsors events for students to encourage them to excel in math, science, and technology. These events include the local MATHCOUNTS competition, the annual Southern Maryland Regional Computer Bowl, and the Elementary Math Challenge. So far this year, more than 800 students in SMECO’s service area have participated in these events.