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Elissa Streaker, 2001-02 winner as a special education/English teacher at Gateway School.

She now lives at Carroll Lutheran Village and has been retired for about ten years.

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Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: My job pretty much consumed my time. I was at Gateway, which is the alternative school, and I was a Service Learning Fellow. I worked to develop the program at Gateway so students would get their service learning hours. Gateway became a National Service Learning Leader school, so I went to conferences all over the nation and did presentations with some other teachers and students.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: I'm a professional grandmother and I play bridge. I read and I'm active in the church.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: I can't say that it made any major impact. After that, I piloted a program so that the students would not be suspended from school. It was called extended time out. Primarily the idea was that the students served an in-school suspension rather than going home [during a suspension] and not doing anything educationally.

Susan Adami, 2002-03 winner as a fifth-grade teacher at Hampstead Elementary

She is now a classroom teacher 4/5 split [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] classes at Hampstead Elementary.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: I was with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation arranging speakers in Carroll County, my husband and I were part of a track development club, Excel in the North Carroll Area, along with professional associations. I helped to write and update science curriculum, and worked on committees for mathematics education. I had two sons in Middle School and High School in Carroll County.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: I am Nationally Board Certified in mathematics, along with memberships in professional associations. I work on school activities at Hampstead. With the roll out of Common Core and student learning objective's I do not have the time to devote to the activities that I did in years past. I find myself coming earlier to school and staying later than I have in the past. I guess that has become the community volunteer work.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It was an honor that showed me the value of the teachers we have in Carroll County. We have many dedicated teachers who strive to have their students reach the highest standards. I was part of the Teacher Advisory Council that made some of the changes that we now have in the school calendar that allow professional time to complete work. Teaching is not the kind of job where you can close the door and do paperwork. Most importantly the award showed me that the State of Maryland greatly appreciates the work that teachers do. I was able to meet with State and Congressional Senators to discuss topics in education such as testing. Teachers in Carroll County are very seldom given the opportunity to feel appreciated.

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Carroll County students have some of the highest test scores in the state, due to the hard work and high standards of the dedicated teachers in the county. The only difference between the other teachers and me is that someone took the time to write a letter about my efforts.

Kevin Giffhorn, 2004-05 winner while a mathematics teacher at Liberty High School

He is still at Liberty High teaching mathematics.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: When I won, I was the advisor for the "It's Academic" Team and also a member of the Liberty High Small Learning Communities program.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: I am now on the Liberty High National Honor Society faculty panel and a member of the Advanced Placement Professional Learning Community.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It definitely opened many doors. I was awarded a Japan Fulbright Scholarship and met with educators all over in Japan for three weeks. Additionally, with one of the prizes I won, I piloted the interactive technology program for Carroll County and am proud that every school has some form of interactive technology (whiteboard, tablet, student clickers) at this time. With the attention I got from being the [Carroll County Teacher of the Year], I was asked to serve on the board of directors for the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics and was named the Maryland High School Math Teacher of the Year in 2011. I also spent several weeks one summer at NASA and even went on a weightless flight with other educators.

Recently I launched a software company focusing on student productivity within the classroom, specifically in linking smartphones, tablets, and computers into a cloud-based eNotebook that is always available.

April Sexton, 2005-06 winner as a science teacher at Shiloh Middle School

She is still teaching seventh grade life science at Shiloh Middle School.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: The activities I was involved in when I was Teacher of the Year [include] member of the School Improvement Team, teacher in charge of Ecology Club, chaperone for Ski Club, coached my daughter's rec. soccer and rec. softball team in the county, [and I] wrote science curriculum for the county. I was working on my National Board Certification, member of the Teacher Advisory Committee, and presented at a regional science conference in Baltimore.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: Member of the Character Education committee, [Junior Varsity] softball coach at Westminster High School, member and Registrar of the Board of Directors for the Westminster Jaycees Girls Softball League, teacher in charge of Ecology Club, Sunshine Committee co-chair (social committee), earned National Board Certification, earned ESOL certification, member of the Teacher Advisory Committee (I was rotated off the committee and then asked to be on it again last year for another three years), teacher in charge of earning Green School re-certification, presented at the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education conference.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: Winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year changed and/or impacted my life in a variety of ways. I have met many interesting and fascinating people throughout the experience. I have developed friendships both professionally and personally throughout the state. This has allowed me to network with colleagues not only in the county but across the state as well. I was able to attend many different social and educational functions associated with being Teacher of the Year. I was able to utilize various forms of technology in my classroom thanks to technology that was donated to the school as part of being Teacher of the Year. Just the label of Teacher of the Year seems to have earned me respect and notoriety within the county. Even though it has been several years since I was Teacher of the Year, people still recognize that I was Teacher of the Year and bring it up from time to time.

Kenneth Fischer, 2006-07 winner while a science teacher at Winters Mill High School

He is now the Principal of Manchester Valley High School.

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Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: Coach Cross County, Paramedic at Sykesville and Mount Airy Fire Departments, School Improvement Chairperson, Department Chairperson, Assistant Outdoor Track Coach, and playing guitar.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: Taking my daughter to gymnastics, playing with both of my daughters, playing guitar.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It was an amazing experience that I wish so many deserving teachers could experience. I made lifelong connections with teachers around Maryland. I met many politicians and advocated for the importance of treating teachers well.

Antonina "Toni" Wallace, 2007-08 winner as an early childhood teacher at Carrolltowne Elementary

She teaches Early Childhood Special Education to children ages 3-5 at Carrolltowne Elementary School.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: In school, I was a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, team leader. Out of school, I was teaching religious education at church

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: Instructional Leadership Team, team leader [inside of school] and leading Confirmation group at church [out of school].

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: I don't know that the award changed my life, but it did impact my life. Winning the award gave me a wonderful opportunity to meet other teachers throughout the state of Maryland, teachers I would never have met otherwise. Winning the award also gave me an opportunity to participate in meetings and discussions with other teachers and local leaders. During these meetings I was able to speak to the importance of early intervention, and give a voice to the area of early childhood special education.

Scott D'Orazio, 2009-10 winner as an instrumental music teacher at East Middle School

He is Assistant Principal at Red Line Area Senior High School in Red Lion, Pa.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: When I won the award, I was at East Middle School. The award was in April and I moved to Manchester Valley the next school year. That was the first year Manchester valley opened. At East Middle, I had really good students, that's why I won, and great colleagues. I've always said from the beginning that good teachers don't make themselves, they're made by those who work with them and around them. It takes a team of teachers to be successful with students. One person can't do it alone. I was highly involved as band and orchestra director. I tried to provide a lot of extra activities for my students, such as jazz ensemble and clarinet choirs.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: As an assistant principal, I've got my hands in a little bit of everything. I'm not in the music classroom as much. It's more of the school management and supervising teachers and building master schedules. What I really miss about being in the classroom is the individual relationships you build with those kids and working in a subject matter they care about and are interested in. Being a building administrator comes with rewards, too.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It really was a great honor. It just makes you realize that what teachers do really does make a difference to parents and students. It's really rewarding to know that they see that and they recognize that. It's just reassuring to know that teachers are appreciated by their students and they are appreciated by the parents.

Sharon Lilly, 2010-11 winner as an English teacher at Century High School

She is Assistant Principal at North Carroll Middle School.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: When I won the award, I was an English and Journalism teacher at Century High School in Sykesville. I taught AP Language and Composition, ninth- and tenth-grade English, and Newspaper Production. I was the class advisor for the class of 2010, the Quill and Scroll Journalism Honor Society Advisor, Century Scroll Newspaper sponsor, and English Department Chair. I was also a reader for Advanced Placement Exams for College Board and an Maryland State Department of Education item reviewer for the English High School Assessment exam.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: As an assistant principal, I am involved with all the committees at my school, supervising extracurricular activities as part of my regular duty day, so I don't have time to pick up a lot of extra after school and weekend activities as I did when I was a teacher. I am involved in Maryland Association for Secondary School Principals and have attended several of their workshops and conferences and am part of the planning committee for the annual state principal's conference. I serve on county committees when asked, such as the Middle School Sub-committee.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: I'm not sure I would have become an administrator if I hadn't won Teacher of the Year. It seemed like the highest honor I could achieve, and let me know that I was doing the right thing in the classroom. The recognition, and the feedback I received from my students' AP scores and High School Assessment scores which told me my students were in fact learning made me feel like I could have a greater impact on students by sharing best practices with other teachers and helping them become more effective with students in the classroom. I went from classroom teacher to Academic Facilitator, and administrative position where I still was allowed to teach two classes a year to assistant principal over the next few years. Being Teacher of the Year also allowed me to gain a larger perspective on teaching outside of Carroll County. I formed relationships with other teachers in other counties who I still talk to; we can compare the way our schools do things and talk about trends in education. It gave me a sense of Maryland and why our state is No.1 in education, and also helped me value all the positive programs we have in place in Carroll County to help students succeed.

Aaron Geiman, 2011-12 winner as an agriscience teacher at North Carroll High School

He is still at North Carroll High teaching agriscience.

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Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: Member of Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association Executive Board, curriculum for Agricultural Science Education Master Teacher, National Association of Agricultural Educators Public Policy Committee Chair and National Teach Ag Campaign Mentor Teacher.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: Maryland Agriculture Teachers Association President, Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education Master and Mentor Teacher.

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It gave me more confidence, exposed Agricultural Education and Career and Technical Education to a wider audience and exhibited the rigorous and relevant nature of 21st century career and college preparation.

Patricia DiLeonardi, 2012-13 winner as a social studies teacher at Liberty High School

She is still teaching social studies at Liberty High School.

Q: What activities were you involved in, inside or outside of school, when you won the award?

A: I was the [Student Government Association] Advisor, History Club Advisor, Social Committee Chair, AP PLC member in school. Out of school, a member of St Joseph's Music Ministry.

Q: What activities are you involved in now?

A: All the same, plus Teacher Advisory Council (Carroll County); Teacher Advisory Board (Maryland)

Q: How did winning Carroll County Teacher of the Year change or impact your life?

A: It has been a defining moment in my education career. I was able to spend a year with 23 of the most dynamic, committed individuals in the profession of education. I received an inside view of how education works outside of Carroll County and was able to share and grow from my interactions with these amazing teachers. I also gained the opportunity to see how education is guided from the top through my interactions with Dr. Lillian Lowery and others from the Maryland State Department of Education. It is a view that most teachers rarely get to see, let alone participate in. I felt empowered and very humbled that I was able to be the voice for teachers all over as we met and discussed issues that were pertinent in education today. I thought once my year was over, my connections to the [Teacher of the Year] world would go away, but fortunately that was not the case. I am blessed that I have a strong bond with the 23 other 2012 Teachers of the Year and we continue to share, communicate and grow. It was an amazing year.

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