Howard County Teacher of the Year Stephanie Geddie added another honor to her shelf of teaching accomplishments today. The Maryland State Department of Education announced that Geddie is one of seven finalists for the 2015-2016 Maryland Teacher of the Year Award.
"It was one thing to find out that I was the Howard County Teacher of the Year this spring," Geddie said. "But to be amongst some of the most dedicated teachers in the state — it's an honor."
The Laurel Woods Elementary teacher thanked her school's PTA and administrators, as well as her fellow teachers, for helping her to become a finalist.
"They've all been a part of my journey," Geddie said.
This is the fourth year in a row that the county has had a state Teacher of the Year finalist. If chosen as the winner, Geddie will succeed fellow Howard County teacher Jody Zepp, who is currently serving as the 2014-2015 Maryland Teacher of the Year. Zepp is a social studies teacher at Long Reach High School.
Geddie's kindergarten students were among the first people to find out about their teacher's status as a finalist. Superintendent Renee Foose made the announcement and presented Geddie with flowers during a visit to her classroom today.
"We're only eight days into the school year, so we're still building our relationships," Zepp said about her students. "But they were excited. They smiled and cheered. I told Dr. Foose that they're already ready for first grade after only eight days in the classroom with me."
Geddie has taught kindergarten at Laurel Woods Elementary in North Laurel for the past five years and previously taught second grade at Talbott Springs Elementary for 12 years. She earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Alabama State University in 1997, and more recently a master's degree in leadership in family, school and community collaboration, as well as administration and supervision, from Johns Hopkins University.
Colleagues know Geddie for her ability to build relationships with students and parents.
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"I've never seen anyone so masterfully engage parents and really equip them to support kids at home," Laurel Woods Principal Susan Brown said earlier this year.
In 2011, Geddie and a co-worker organized a group at Laurel Woods called the Building Blocks Network that worked to improve parent access to school resources.
"The Building Blocks Network was the groundwork that we laid for our Title I nights, where we now bring parents in and equip them in all the grades to support kids," Brown said.
In 2014 Geddie was a Baltimore Ravens' Teacher of the Year nominee, and she currently serves on the Howard County Public School System Special Education Committee.
A panel of judges from various Maryland education organizations selected Maryland Teacher of the Year finalists based on "a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement," according to an MSDE press release.
The press release also said that the winner, to be announced at a gala dinner in Baltimore on Oct. 9, will receive, "cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association."
The 2015-2016 Maryland State Teacher of the Year winner will go on to compete for the 2016 National Teacher of the Year Award.