The Baltimore Sun’s readers have voted on what’s the best in the region from antiques to veterinary practice. This year’s winners include people and businesses recognized for outstanding service and customer satisfaction over the last year. Several businesses stood out from the crowd despite the downturn in commerce due to the pandemic.
Winners of the Readers’ Choice ballot were selected by readers in May.
For more categories, go to baltimoresun.com/best.
Best School Principal
Cheyanne Zahrt, City Neighbors High School
5609 Sefton Ave., Baltimore. 443-642-2119. cityneighborshighschool.org
While Cheyanne Zahrt didn’t always want to be an educator, she felt like she was called to do so.
Zahrt, the principal of City Neighbors High School, cites the relationships she’s built with her students and their families as her reasoning for sticking with the field.
Beginning her career as a Teach for America Corps member, she was placed at Lake Clifton Eastern High School in 2002. Since then, Zahrt, now 43, has been with Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) for 20 years and at City Neighbors for 11 years.
“What made me stay in teaching for this long has been the students and their families,” Zahrt said.
Growing up in Nevada and going to college in Washington, she didn’t know anyone when she moved to Baltimore City and began working in BCPS. However, Zahrt, who lives in Waltherson, said her students and their families welcomed her.
While she cannot pinpoint one singular interaction with her students that has been the most meaningful, she said the yearly graduation ceremonies are particularly special. This year, Zahrt saw her 16th class of seniors walk across the stage and receive their high school diplomas.
Aside from the general excitement surrounding the day, she said this past graduation was especially meaningful because two of the graduating seniors are the children of students she taught 18 years ago at Lake High School.
As for the future, Zahrt said she’ll be at the school for at least five more years in her current role, a promise she made to one of the teachers on her staff who expressed apprehension about a possible departure.
Further, she said the teaching landscape has changed drastically since her start 20 years ago, specifically citing the emphasis on standardized testing and the impact of mobile technology on learning. And while this year has been challenging, she said the culture of City Neighbors is what helps them prevail through challenges.
“I think a lot of times successful schools have a strong school culture,” she said. “And that has to be at the forefront of the work that we do. And it’s a lot of work to create a culture where, you know, our motto at City Neighbors is kids are known and loved and inspired, and it takes a lot of work to create that culture. But we’ve worked really hard to have that be true to who we are as a school.”
— Caitlyn Freeman
Activist: April Watts, April Watts Enterprises LLC.
Kim Lane, Pigtown Main Street
Carol Ott, Tenant Advocacy Director at Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland
Kate Cook, Hands On HIIT
Clergyperson: Shea Strickland, Grace Fellowship Church
Walter Scott Thomas, New Psalmist Baptist Church
Louis A. Bianco, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen
Jeff S. Dauses, Immaculate Heart of Mary
College athlete: Angel Reese, formerly of Maryland
Jaia Alexander, Coppin State
Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
College professor: Gina Laupert, Towson University
Elgin Klugh, Coppin State University
Ernest Shaw Jr., Maryland Institute College of Art
Tasha Lewis, Loyola University
DJ: DJ Boobie
DJ Kenny K
Instagram account: @thebaltimorefoodie
Meteorologist: Justin Berk, Just In Weather LLC.
Ava Marie, WBAL-TV 11
Stevie Daniels, WMAR-2
Meg McNamara, WJZ-TV 13
Oriole: Trey Mancini
Personal trainer: Justin Inman, Dr. Baltimore Big House Fitness
Troy Harris, Unboxed Boxing and Fitness
Kate Cook, Hands On HIIT
Ashley Wilson, The BYDI Brand
Podcast: No Pix After Dark Podcast
No Class Podcast
The Real Spill Podcast
Baltimore Positive Podcast
Politician/government official: Gov. Larry Hogan
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott
Odette Ramos, Baltimore City Council, District 14
John A. Olszewski Jr., Baltimore County Executive
Radio host: Intern John, HOT 99.5
Priestly, Baltimore Mix 106.5
Francesca, Laurie DeYoung Morning Show 93.1 WPOC
#MrGotDatGlow Chee, 1500 Radio
Radio station: 98 Rock, WIYY-FM
WLIF Today’s 101.9
WJZ-FM 105.7 The Fan
Raven: Justin Tucker
School principal: Cheyanne Zahrt, City Neighbors High School
Dianne Kestler, St. Joan of Arc School
Charles Stembler, Calvert Hall College High School
Roz Cauthen, Baltimore School for the Arts
Sports talk show: Gerry Sandusky, WBAL talk-show
Big Bad Morning Show, 105.7 The Fan
Glenn Clark Radio
TV personality: Lowell Melser, WBAL-TV 11
Bob Turk, WJZ-TV 13
Rick Ritter, WJZ-TV 13
Christian Schaffer, WMAR-2
Twitter feed: @Charmcitytable
Visual artist: Juliet Ames, Broken Plate Co.
Ernest Shaw Jr.
Writer: Dan Rodricks, The Baltimore Sun