CCPS TOTY named state finalist
Cecilton’s Highfield continues county run of success
— Cecil County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Anne Highfield received a “sweet surprise” on Tuesday morning when she learned she was one of seven state finalist for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Highfield, who teaches fourth grade at Cecilton Elementary School, said she was “dumbfounded” when Superintendent D’Ette Devine and several other central administrators showed up in her classroom to deliver the news.
“I guess I hadn’t thought that far ahead because I was just thrilled to be representing Cecil County as teacher of the year,” she said, noting that the finalists weren’t supposed to be announced until September, which added to her surprise.
Highfield, who is in her 27th year with the county school system, was named county teacher of the year during a banquet in April.
She is the fifth CCPS teacher to be named a state finalist in the last six years.
The other finalists for Maryland teacher of the year are Katrina Griffin, Anne Arundel County; Athanasia Kyriakakos, Baltimore City; Donna Miller, Calvert County; Michael Williams, Montgomery County; Tamara Forte, Queen Anne’s County; and Christy Briggs, Wicomico County.
The winner will be announced at a banquet in Baltimore on Oct. 7. and will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities and a new car valued at more than $25,000. The winner will then go on to compete for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which will be announced in April.
Superintendent D’Ette Devine said she was delighted to receive a phone call from State Superintendent Karen Salmon informing her that Highfield was a state finalist.
“We are exceptionally proud of our state finalist history and Anne will be an excellent representative of Cecil County as she progresses to the next level of the process,” Devine said in a statement. “Her love of teaching and her studentcentered focus are apparent in all that she does.”
Highfield, who grew up in Oil City, Pa., and graduated from Slippery Rock University, is currently in her sixth year at Cecilton Elementary. She started with CCPS as a media specialist, holding that job for about six years before becoming a fifth-grade teacher and then an instructional support teacher. Before coming to Cecilton, Highfield spent 10 years as an instructional coach, going into classrooms and mentoring teachers.
But this year’s award isn’t the first for Highfield. In June 2015, she was named the 2015 Maryland History Teacher of the Year.
For Highfield, the best part of teaching is building relationships with students and using their natural curiosity to encourage learning. She tries to plan many hands-on activities with her students, such as through a rain garden she created at Cecilton in 2013. Each year, her students tend to the garden and learn about the Chesapeake Bay and the surrounding ecosystem.
Her time as county teacher of the year will further help her create these kinds of lessons, Highfield said, noting she’s particularly excited about a three-day trip to Smith Island in October that all the county teachers of the year were invited to attend. During the trip, she and the other teachers will learn about the Chesapeake Bay and get a chance to try crabbing and studying oysters, Highfield said.
“It’s a lot of things I can bring back to the classroom,” she said.
The next step in the teacher of the year process for Highfield is an interview next month before attending the banquet in October. Highfield said she is particularly excited for the banquet because one of her brothers plans to fly in from Oregon to attend.
“I’m really excited about it,” she said. “I’m really excited just to celebrate teaching in Maryland.”
A pickup truck sustained heavy damage after a collision with a Cecil County Public Schools bus at a Colora intersection.
Anne Highfield, center, a fourth grade teacher at Cecilton Elementary School, was named one of seven state teacher of the year finalists on Tuesday.