Tamara Forte named QA’s Teacher of Year
GRASONVILLE — Twice nominated Teacher of the Year finalist for Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, Tamara Forte went home with the award of Teacher of the Year Friday night, April 22.
Forte is a kindergarten teacher at Church Hill Elementary School. The 12th Annual Awards Gala for Queen Anne’s County Public Schools was held at the Prospect Bay County Club and recognized the five Teacher of the Year 20162017 finalists and other outstanding members and support staff of QACPS.
“Our gala is one of the most enjoyable nights I have each year,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carol Williamson. “The event has taken on the tone of a redcarpet Acadmemy Awards, and I am so excited to be here and be a part of this event. There is nothing like being in a room full of people focused on celebrating.
“Every day in Queen Anne’s County, miracles are taking place. Minds are challenged, enlightened
and excited. Students are fortunate to have books, laptops, and interactive boards all at their fingertips, but miracles are worked by the teachers. We must continue to give our teachers and staff the tools and training to develop the minds of our most valuable resources, our children.”
Williamson also acknowledged Fred McNeil, former teacher and board member, for suggesting 12 years ago that all teachers be recognized. “Any one of the five individuals [nominated] would be an amazing representative of our county,” she said.
An emotional Forte said, “I am amazed to be surrounded by such talent. Queen Anne’s County Schools continually shows how much they love their teachers and my heart is truly grateful for such support.
“Thank you all for your positive energy. I accept this award in honor of all educators who tell students they can, when others tell them they can’t, and all those teachers who make sure [those same students] have lunches and clean clothes.
“Every struggle, every hardship, and all the sleepless nights are worth it,” she said.
As Teacher of the Year, Forte will receive a new car from Hertrich Ford to use during the year as she represents Queen Anne’s County across the state.
Forte is a graduate of Susquehanna University and holds a Master of Arts in Education. She has taught kindergarten for 11 years, the last eight of those at Church Hill Elementary. Inspiring students in and out of the classroom, she is also a hospital teacher and T-ball co-coach.
Supporters of Forte said she truly lives by the motto, “advocate for success and nothing less” and “love what you teach, but more importantly, love who you teach.” This past year, Forte was actively involved in implementing Super Hero Family Fun Day, an event to raise awareness for childhood cancer and funds for a children’s play home at A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital.
Greg Pilewski, assistant superintendent, and Brad Engel, supervisor of student services, co-hosted the awards ceremony. Taking the evening’s events in a new direction this year, a short video of the TOY finalists in their classrooms, produced by Jeff Straight and Geneva Harrison, was shown at the beginning of the ceremony. The finalists were each introduced by a former Queen Anne’s Teacher of the Year. The 2105-2016 finalists were: David Cherry, fifth-grade teacher at Matapeake Elementary; Barry Conner, eighth-grade science teacher at Sudlersville Middle; Tamara Forte, kindergarten teacher at Church Hill Elementary; Marsha MacNeal, eighth-grade math teacher at Centreville Middle; and Nicole Zimmerman, sixth-grade language arts, reading, history and media communications teacher at Stevensville Middle School.
Leading up to the Teacher of the Year announcement, awards were given to the 20152016 outstanding employees of the year. Winners included: Janet Hewitt, Sudlersville Elementary School, receiving Secretary of the Year; James Fisher, Bayside Elementary and Stevensville Middle schools, Outstanding Bus Driver of the Year; Shelly Girvin, Kent Island High School, Para Educator of the Year; Rosella Search, Queen Anne’s County High School, Outstanding Sodexo Employee; and Jeannie Nickens, warehouse, Outstanding Operations Employee.
Other winners included: Alilison Hall, Grasonville Elementary School, Outstanding Educational Specialist; Jennifer Reed, Stevensville Middle School, Outstanding Student Services Award; and Diane Wright, central office, Outstanding Support Employee. Bonnie Brady was awarded Community Volunteer of the Year for her work at Church Hill Elementary School.
Coach/Advisor of the Year went to Tracey Nicholson, freshman class and Student Government Association advisor at Kent Island High School. Nicholson, in addition to her advising capacity, also organized and led two blood drives and started the Veterans Dog Race held at KIHS. Dr. Angela Holocker, Matapeake Middle School, received the Outstanding Leadership Award.
Shellee Wong of Kent Island High School was named Outstanding New Teacher of the Year.
Teacher of the Year 20152016 Barbara Sutherland said it was hard to believe the year had passed so quickly.
“This has been the most rewarding year as an educator,” she said, “and has enhanced my confidence as an education advocate. I have had the opportunity to see that our school system is one of the best in the state and that is thanks to all of your efforts.”
“All students deserve to grow, flourish and bloom. We need to speak up and be the squeaky wheel until each student succeeds in our classrooms,” Forte said. “Every child deserves a champion, insist they become the best they possibly can be.”
Tamara Forte, 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year for Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, accepts the award at the Annual Awards Gala, Friday, April 22, 2016.
From left, Dr. Carol Williamson; Teacher of the Year Tamara Forte, Church Hill Elementary; Dr. Lloyd Taylor, principal Church Hill Elementary; and board member Tammy Harper.
Superintendent Carol Williamson and Sodexo Employee of the Year Rosella Search, Queen Anne’s County High School.
From left are John Lischner, principal of Sudlersville Middle School; Dr. Carol Williamson; Teacher of the Year finalist Barry Conner of Sudlersville Middle School; and board member Annette DiMaggio.
From left, Superintendent Carol Williamson; Jeannie Nickens, Outstanding Operations Employee, Warehouse; and Supervisor of Transportation Margaret Ellen Kalmanowicz.