Chamber honors eight as outstanding teachers


One student said her teacher "makes sure people pass his class." Another said her teacher takes time for his students in and out of the classroom. A colleague called one teacher "tenacious."

These three and five others were the winners last night in the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce's 16th annual Outstanding Teacher Awards honoring the best in the county's public schools.

Jill Kartalia, the chamber's director of administration, said 169 nominations were received, although only 144 returned the required paperwork in order to be accepted.

About 440 people, including 137 nominees, their families, colleagues, students, and public school and chamber officials attended last night's awards banquet at Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers.

Susan White-Bowden, a Finksburg author and former television news reporter and anchor, was the keynote speaker.

The eight winners each received $300 cash and an engraved plaque. A committee from the Carroll County public school system will choose one of the eight as its Teacher of the Year in two weeks, Kartalia said.

The winners were:

Michelle Becker, a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Linton Springs Elementary. She established a mentoring program with Century High School students who spend an hour four days a week with at-risk Linton Springs pupils.

"I use philosophical concepts to allow students to build self-esteem and feel in control of their decisions," she wrote. "Children take responsibility for their choices, challenges, consequences and successes they may celebrate."

Becky Waldeck of Cranberry Station Elementary. A parent wrote that Waldeck "did a wonderful job with a very diverse group of students."

"I believe a teacher's main priority is to inspire children to learn," Waldeck wrote. "Every child - no matter what his life circumstance - has special interests, talents or abilities. This is how you reach them."

Katy Snook of Gateway School. "The word quit is not part of her vocabulary," her nominator wrote. "Because she won't quit, she won't allow her students to quit, either."

Snook rewards her middle school pupils regularly for showing good character traits and other positive behavior. She also encourages community service and incorporates other subjects into her language arts and reading classes.

Nancy D. Miller of Westminster High School. She was noted for helping students connect real-world situations with daily lessons. She also is aware of each student's individuality.

"She does an exceptional job of working with our low-ability level students in U.S. Government class," wrote her nominator.

Thomas McHugh of Century High. Called an "absolute wonderful teacher" by one of three nominators, McHugh also applies his lessons to real-life situations.

Working on his doctorate, he said he is passionate about learning and making sure his students master their lessons.

Teresa McCulloh, Hampstead Elementary. Her nominator said she recognizes pupils when they score 100 and encourages their thoughts and feelings in discussions.

"I have always taught with the philosophy that all children can learn," she wrote.

Stan Gilmore, Francis Scott Key High. Two nominators described his approach of drawing upon students' prior knowledge of a subject.

"I teach skills that will enable students to be successful in other academic classes, as well as the world at large upon their graduation," he wrote.

Kevin Giffhorn of Liberty High. Nominators described him as "a wonderful teacher and a nice guy," and "extremely sharp, witty and understanding." The first day of the school year, he gives each math student a new pencil "because everyone makes mistakes and with an eraser, you can fix them," he wrote.

The chamber also presented three teachers with $300 scholarships for their continuing education. The recipients were: Nancy Mays of Sandymount Elementary, Betsy Morton of Piney Ridge Elementary and Denise Barnes Walker of Westminster High.

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