McDaniel alumnae recognized among Maryland’s top teachers
Three McDaniel graduates are among Maryland’s 24 teachers of the year, recognized for excellence in teaching and leadership in their respective counties.
McDaniel has a strong tradition of producing top teachers. The 2012-2013 Maryland Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year finalist Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship received her master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction from McDaniel in 2005, and 2010-11 Maryland Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer, a 1996 graduate of McDaniel’s Deaf Education graduate program, was named the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.
This year’s top teachers with McDaniel connections are:
Nicole Heinlein, Carroll County Teacher of the Year, received her ESOL certification from McDaniel College in 2012. A third grade STEM and English-language arts teacher at Carrolltowne Elementary School, she serves as the School Improvement Team Chairperson, a STEM representative for the Maryland State Educator Effectiveness Academy, third-grade team leader and school liaison for Education That is Multicultural.
For Heinlein, who also supervises future teachers in their classroom internships, the best part about teaching is helping students believe in themselves as they confront challenging tasks.
“I love when you see the light bulb turn on in a student’s head,” she said.
Cecil County Teacher of the Year Kelly O’Hara M.S.’11 is an alumna of Elkton High School where she now teaches social studies. O’Hara, who received her master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction with an Administration I certification from McDaniel College in 2011, has presented professional development at the national, state and local levels as well as served as School Improvement Team Facilitator, Internal Coordinator for her school’s Middle State’s reaccreditation process and lead teacher of the social studies department.
She recently took her government class to Washington, D.C., to meet Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and led her students to collaborate with the science classes to fix up the school’s outdoor classroom – moments she describes as some of her favorite as a teacher.
Jody Zepp ’94, Howard County Teacher of the Year, teaches psychology and government at Hammond High School. As the 2014 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher for Howard County, she believes that “students can talk about a future only when they can see one.”
Zepp, from a family of teachers that includes former McDaniel professor Ira Zepp, received the Class Nobel Educator of Distinction award for two consecutive years as well as three Howard County Council Honorary Resolution Awards for coaching the EconChallenge Maryland State Champions and C-SPAN StudentCam Documentary winners. She has also increased minority enrollment in advanced placement courses while increasing passing ratios for minority students on college and state exams.
“That I am able to teach and reach students, at all levels, who might otherwise fall through the ‘cracks’ is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of teacher contribution and accomplishment,” she said.