Wyatt Oroke, a teacher at City Springs Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City, was named the 2020-2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year on Thursday night.
Oroke has taught at City Springs in East Baltimore since 2015, and currently teaches seventh and eighth grade English, while also serving as a team leader, girls volleyball and boys basketball coach, and in a number of other roles in the school and his community. Oroke has received recognition for his teaching, including awards from the Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland State Senate, the Orioles and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
State Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon made the announcement during a live special hosted in partnership by the Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland Public Television, celebrating Maryland educators and their commitment to excellence in education, according to a Maryland Department of Education news release. The special also marked 30 years of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program, with Gov. Larry Hogan commending Maryland’s educators by video message.
“Teachers inspire and give us hope for the future, embracing both creativity and innovation to keep learning alive during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Salmon said. “Mr. Oroke ignites a passion for learning among his students, and we are excited to celebrate his commitment to educating and mentoring students to help them reach their fullest potential.”
Oroke is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (2013) and Hopkins' School of Education (2015).
He will go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced in April. He will spend the coming year as a speaker and adviser in Maryland, and will join other state winners from across the United States in virtual national meetings and events hosted by the National Teacher of the Year Program. In addition, he will be honored in a spring White House ceremony.
All finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers. retired school personnel, school boards, teacher unions, parents and higher education. Finalists were selected based on a set of national criteria that included student achievement, teaching philosophy, academic results, community involvement, and knowledge of education issues. Both written applications and oral interviews determined the selection of the Maryland Teacher of the Year.
The other finalists were Caitlin Fregelette, Calvert County; Jena Ehmann, Carroll County; Chelsea Jones, Cecil County; James E. Ball, Charles County; Christine Hurley, Washington County; and Hemalatha Bhaskaran, Wicomico County.
Oroke will receive cash awards, technology equipment, and a 2021 car..
“I want to thank all of those educators that have stood by my side over the years, pushing our scholars to the greatness that we know that they belong to,” Oroke said. “It is because of you that I am able to stand here today. Thank you for everyone that has ever poured passion, heart and love into our scholars across the State. Our scholars are worth it, and you are worth it.”