Sylvia Hennessie was at a loss for words Friday morning after being surprised with a new car outside of Guilford Elementary School in Columbia.
Hennessie, a kindergarten team leader at Guilford Elementary, who was named one of Howard County’s Teachers of the Year in March, received a two-year leased Ford EcoSport from the Apple Ford Inc. Columbia dealership.
“It’s really hard to put into words,” she said. “It’s amazing and crazy at the same time. I am very grateful and I am at a loss for words.”
Hennessie was joined by her husband Brad and their two daughters, Audrey, 6, who is a first-grader at Guilford Elementary, and Nora, 3.
Hennessie, who has been teaching at Guilford since 2015, was honored as a Teacher of the Year for her ability to create a nurturing and academically challenging atmosphere for learning and building connections with students, the school system said in a March news release.
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The long-standing partnership between Apple Ford and the school system was “enhanced” Friday morning, with Apple Ford providing the vehicle for the Teacher of the Year, said Mary Schiller, the manager of the school system’s partnerships.
The company, which has been a longtime supporter of Howard schools, also added a new discount program for all school system staff. The program provides an opportunity for staff to receive discounts toward a car purchase or repairs at the dealership, Schiller said.
Chip Doetsch, president of Apple Ford, said this is the company’s way of expressing thanks for all the hard work the teachers and staff of Howard schools do every day.
Apple Ford will continue to provide apprenticeships and internships for Howard high school students and participate on the Superintendent's Program Innovation Advisory Board and the Automotive Technology Career Academy Advisory Council.
Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said the partnership provides more recognition to the annual Teacher of the Year program.
“It shines a light further on the excellence of our teachers,” he said.
This was the first year Howard schools named two Teachers of the Year. Greg Murach, a math teacher at Mt. Hebron High School, also received the honor but is the school system’s candidate for Maryland Teacher of the Year which can come with benefits including “participation in state-sponsored functions, opportunities to network and advocate for teachers throughout the state and nation, cash and other awards,” according to a release.