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6 top county schoolteachers honored After a school year of low morale, a night of pride for educators


'TC When does a crowd of 470 remain orderly, look clean-cut and follow directions?

When they're schoolteachers, of course. Not just any teachers, but those nominated for the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Teacher Awards.

The past school year has been marked by low morale for most of the 1,300 teachers because of furloughs (which were later rescinded) and criticism in the news media.

But Monday night, the teachers beamed among their families, co-workers and students at a dinner featuring filet mignon and tortellini and shrimp salad at Friendly Farm in Westminster.

"Stop apologizing for being a public schoolteacher," Superintendent R. Edward Shilling told them, adding that it was advice he has often given the staff.

Of the 134 teachers nominated this year, a committee of business people and retired educators chose six for special honors.

Friendly Farm and other businesses helped pay for and organize the banquet and provide the $350 cash awards for the winners:

* Dorothy T. Gerhold of Westminster, who teaches grades four and five at Winfield Elementary School. She has taught in Carroll since 1978, and previously in Baltimore County from 1965 to 1971. She also teaches in the adult education program.

"Teaching is something you do without expecting immediate rewards," Gerhold said Monday night after receiving her award.

In her application, she wrote, "I like to watch what the students do in their spare time to find out where their talents lie, and then capitalize on those talents."

* Richard W. "Dick" Thompson of Baltimore, who has taught grade seven language arts at West Middle School since 1973, and has directed the Carroll County Summer Enrichment Program since 1985.

"I show students I care by my actions," wrote Thompson, who has on occasion provided his own "scholarships" by giving savings bonds to students who "need an extra boost or who are at risk."

He has always commuted from Baltimore -- even before Interstate 795 was built -- because he likes teaching in Carroll, he said.

* Marti P. Tomko of Manchester, who teaches physical science and geology at North Carroll High School. She has taught since 1975, first in Baltimore, then in Carroll County since 1981 at North Carroll Middle, New Windsor Middle and Francis Scott Key High School.

"Science is a process, not something memorized from a book, and I believe that students leave my class feeling they can be successful in a class that has historically been intimidating," Tomko wrote.

"I hope I make it practical," Tomko said Monday about her subject matter. "It's too dangerous not to."

Tomko said her students often question environmental practices after taking her classes.

* Henry A. Adami of Millers, who teaches life skills in the special education department at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. Adami has taught for 16 years in Carroll schools, and coached track and cross country.

"I make a special effort to say something positive to students, and to try to be very encouraging and understanding, especially when working with a student who is really having difficulty grasping a concept," Adami wrote in answer to questions posed to nominees.

* Judith Mears Guynn of Taneytown, who teaches music and chorus in the Northwest Middle School and Taneytown Elementary Annex.

She has taught in the school system since 1977, and before that spent one year teaching in Nigeria.

Guynn has her students learn to play two songs on the guitar, recorder and piano.

"Each student is encouraged to challenge themselves by picking a song that may be slightly difficult for them, knowing their grade will reflect not only their mastery of the material, but also the difficulty level," she wrote.

* B. Jeanne Henderson of Eldersburg, who teaches grade three at Carrolltowne Elementary.

Henderson has taught at the school since 1988, after 18 years of experience in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.

Among her teaching methods are to dress up as a calculator or as Vanna White to play "Concentration" with students and having children tutor each other.

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