Ta­mara Forte named QA’s Teacher of Year

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­times.com

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.”

PHOTO BY HAN­NAH COMBS

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.

PHO­TOS BY HAN­NAH COMBS

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.

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