Twenty-eight Harford County teachers were honored recently for their efforts to educate young people, and the evidence that those efforts have paid off could be seen — and heard — during the Harford County Education Foundation’s annual “Tools for Schools Breakfast” fundraiser.
Supporters of the foundation, including local elected officials, business leaders and event sponsors, could check out a “Showcase of Knowledge” — displays of career and technology education projects conducted by high school students — dance, jazz and vocal performances by high school ensembles, as well as student art projects such as floral arrangements, place mats and self portraits created by elementary school pupils.
More than 200 Harford County Public Schools students were represented, either in person or through their creations, during the foundation’s 15th annual Tools for Schools Breakfast last Friday in the Richlin Catering and Events Center in Edgewood. The HCEF also recognized 28 teachers, who had been nominated by colleagues at their schools, as “Everyday Heroes” during the breakfast, for which tickets were sold out.
About 420 tickets were sold for the event which is the HCEF’s largest annual fundraiser. This is the first year that student displays such as the Showcase of Knowledge have been part of the breakfast, according to foundation leaders.
“It celebrates education and learning and showcases that talent that our students bring every day,” Deb Merlock, foundation president, said.
Supporters of the foundation can see where their contributions go, through displays of student work, such as Showcase of Knowlege and the artistic performances, Kirstie Durr, an HCEF board member, said.
“It fosters a connection that they might not otherwise get,” Durr said.
Guests made their way around to the high school student displays in the Showcase of Knowledge, set up on both sides of the banquet room. Visitors could see displays such as fire and rescue by Bel Air High School students, carpentry and cosmetology by Harford Technical High School, homeland security and emergency preparedness by Joppatowne High School and agriculture and natural resources management by North Harford High School students, who are also members of the school’s Future Farmers of America chapter.
“It was really nice to have their involvement in this [event] as we celebrate the teachers,” said HCPS Superintendent Sean Bulson, who chatted with several Harford Tech students, including two wearing construction helmets.
“I’m just amazed at what some of the students are doing,” Bulson added.
North Harford senior Emily Boling, junior Megan Thomas and their fellow students ran a display about the activities of students in FFA and the school’s Natural Resources and Agricultural Science magnet program. Both students reflected on teachers who are their personal everyday heroes.
Natural resources teacher Laura O’Leary, who also coaches the school’s Envirothon team, is “just amazing,” Boling said.
Boling, 17, of Bel Air, is specializing in veterinary science through the NRAS magnet program and is researching ways to conserve sand tiger shark populations for her senior Capstone project. She credits the North Harford community, which she described as “so welcoming,” for helping her overcome social anxiety.
“I’m a completely different person,” said Boling, who is the FFA chapter’s junior adviser. “I can talk to people now — I was terrified for the longest time.”
Thomas, 16, of Edgewood, said Erika Edwards, a plant science teacher and FFA faculty adviser, is her personal everyday hero. Edwards has been her coach for a number of FFA competitions, Thomas noted.
Thomas said she is specializing in plant science through the magnet program and is currently studying how pollination by bees affects crop yields.
“I feel like she always is trying to do the right thing for us,” Thomas said of Edwards. “She’s always pushing us to do better.”
“I think she’s the main reason our chapter is so good,” added Boling, who noted the school FFA chapter has more than 100 members.
The Harford County Education Foundation, based in Bel Air, raises money to support educators working at schools in low-income areas of Harford County through initiatives such as delivering $10,000 worth of classroom supplies to the schools before the start of the current school year, or operating its Tools For Schools Resource Center, which any Harford teacher can visit four times a year and pick up supplies free of charge, according to Merlock, who noted teachers “save hundreds of dollars” on classroom supplies.
“Our job is to help level the playing field with the money that we raise,” said Durr, the board member.
The Education Foundation honored the following 28 HCPS teachers as Everyday Heroes during the breakfast:
- Karrie Bandy, fifth grade teacher, Havre de Grace Elementary School
- Emily Cox, third grade, Roye-Williams Elementary School
- Katherine Dobbs, health education, Aberdeen High School
- Megan Heller, English, creative writing and journalism, Havre de Grace High School
- Nicole Henfey, first grade, William S. James Elementary School
- Brenda Hinton, second grade, Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary School
- Marie Hoppenstein, art, Churchville Elementary School
- Jessica Kehl, art, Edgewood High School
- Jayme Kregar, second grade, George D. Lisby Elementary School at Hillsdale
- Mai-Ly Kwashnak, art, North Harford Elementary School
- Kelly Marecki, first grade, Norrisville Elementary School
- Felicia Martin, instrumental music, Prospect Mill Elementary School
- Patricia Massetti, science, North Harford High School
- Kristina McGee, second grade, Bakerfield Elementary School
- Lauren McHugh, reading specialist, Church Creek Elementary School
- Kelly McLean, third grade, William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School
- Michelle Messina, eighth grade language arts, Magnolia Middle School
- Shannon O’Connor, fifth grade, Bel Air Elementary School
- Sarah Palmere, fifth grade, North Bend Elementary School
- Angela Pawlicki, special educator, Fallston Middle School
- Jennifer Rampolla, kindergarten, Magnolia Elementary School
- Dawn Rose, reading specialist, Fountain Green Elementary School
- Tina Sample, first grade, Ring Factory Elementary School
- Stephanie Sauter, media specialist, John Archer School
- Zach Stachowiak, fourth grade, Deerfield Elementary School
- Betsy Steinen, kindergarten, Emmorton Elementary School
- Lisa Strickler, fifth grade, Forest Lakes Elementary School
- Michelle Watson, algebra I and geometry, Joppatowne High School