SMECO worked with the school systems of Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties to select and honor 20 educators with Outstanding Teacher awards for their leadership in the fields of mathematics, science, technology, and engineering.
Receiving awards this year were eight math teachers, eight science teachers, and four STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers from schools in four counties. 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 receives a plaque and a cash award. Over the past 29 years, SMECO has recognized almost 420 local math and science teachers.
“Traditionally, we would present the awards to the SMECO Outstanding Techers at a dinner held in their honor. And we’re disappointed that we won’t be able to host a reception for them because of the COVID-19 outbreak,” explained Sonja Cox, SMECO president and CEO. “Because of the pandemic, we are living through an evolution. The changes in our society that are taking place right now highlight the importance of education and how teachers who are visionary, focused, innovative, and dedicated are so vitally important to our students and our future.”
Cox added, “The teachers we are recognizing know that just presenting information to a group of students is not how they learn. Students acquire skills because good teachers take the time and effort to develop their students’ understanding. They create experiences, provide feedback, and reinforce their students’ ability to acquire knowledge. When their students graduate and join the workforce, SMECO benefits from the solid background these educators provide, and we are proud to acknowledge the good work these teachers have accomplished.”
SMECO’s Outstanding Mathematics, Science, and STEM Teachers of the Year are listed below.
- Kristen Craft, Calvert High School
- Kimberly Hawkins, Patuxent High School
- Jessica Minnich, Windy Hill Middle School
- John Phillips, Northern Middle School
- Stacey Read, Mill Creek Middle School
- John Taylor III, Patuxent Appeal Campus
- Willanette Thomas-Lohr, Huntingtown Elementary School
- Shane Wines, Calvert High School
- Laura Buzzell, Lackey High School
- Lolita Cariaso Kiorpes, North Point High School
- Donna Day, Theodore Davis Middle School
- Victoria Farrell, Piccowaxen Middle School
- Nicole Joly-O'Brien, JC Parks Elementary School
- Deanna Wheeler, JC Parks Elementary School
Prince George’s County
- Danita Matthews, Gwynn Park High School
St. Mary’s County
- Lynsey Hayden, Dynard Elementary School
- Heather McLearen, Chesapeake Public Charter School
- Dorothy Nelson, Spring Ridge Middle School
- Kristen Pearce, Esperanza Middle School
- Lindsey Toothacker, Benjamin Banneker Elementary 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, nearly 1,100 students in SMECO’s service area have participated in these events.