Tal­bot schools honor Warfield, McKin­ney

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com

EAS­TON — Two re­spected mem­bers of the Tal­bot County Public Schools com­mu­nity were hon­ored at an an­nual gala that cel­e­brates the dis­trict’s finest teach­ers and sup­port staff.

Re­nee Warfield, an ESOL/ Span­ish teacher at Eas­ton High School, is the 2018 Teacher of the Year. Oliver McKin­ney, the school se­cu­rity of­fi­cer at St. Michaels Mid­dle High School, was named Sup­port Staff of the Year.

The cel­e­bra­tion, which fea­tured din­ner and en­ter­tain­ment by the Eas­ton High School War­rior Cho­rale, was held Thurs­day, April 12, at The Mile­stone in Eas­ton.

“Great en­ergy, lots of fun, ev­ery­body’s hav­ing a good time,” said Char­lene Gould, an ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant at the Tal­bot County Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter.

“Tonight is about ex­cel­lence. That’s what we’re cel­e­brat­ing here this evening

— ex­cel­lence achieved in a vi­tal and de­mand­ing pro­fes­sion,” Tal­bot Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Michael Gar­man said.

“Ev­ery year, it’s hard to choose the teacher of the year and sup­port staff of the year, but this year it was in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult,” said James Red­man, a TCPS cur­ricu­lum staff su­per­vi­sor. “This year’s nom­i­nees were fan­tas­tic.”

Warfield thanked her “bosses who say yes when some­times their good judg­ment thinks they should say no,” she said. “They have open minds, and they try things when I want to think out­side the box, and they’re will­ing to go along with me some­times when it’s scary.”

TCPS Su­per­in­ten­dent Kelly Grif­fith con­grat­u­lated Warfield and quoted a col­league who had nom­i­nated her: “She is some­one who al­ways puts the needs of oth­ers be­fore her own.”

Red­man in­tro­duced McKin­ney as “a young man who’s not only an as­set to St. Michaels Mid­dle High School, but a real hero to so many of us here in Tal­bot County. He’s a role model, men­tor and ma­gi­cian.”

“One of his col­leagues wrote that if it (were) pos­si­ble to as­sign ser­vice learn­ing hours to a staff mem­ber, Oliver McKin­ney would cer­tainly ex­ceed grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments,” Grif­fith said.

McKin­ney tu­tors stu­dents in the St. Michaels Li­brary af­ter school each day, Grif­fith said.

McKin­ney did not at­tend the cel­e­bra­tion be­cause of a death in his fam­ily. How­ever, as the au­di­ence cheered and jumped to its feet to give him a stand­ing ova­tion, Red­man video­taped the re­ac­tion, pan­ning the room with his cell­phone.

“That’s re­ally go­ing to lift his spir­its,” Grif­fith said. “That’s just awe­some. Thank you for be­ing his fam­ily to­day.”

“Both of these in­di­vid­u­als foster pos­i­tive and trust­ing re­la­tion­ships with stu­dents,” Grif­fith said.

There were 17 nom­i­nees for the two awards, “a record num­ber,” Red­man said. As each nom­i­nee was an­nounced, cheers went up from var­i­ous ta­bles in the din­ing room.

The four fi­nal­ists for 2018 Teacher of the Year were Warfield, Lenore Burkhardt, Eas­ton High School; Jen­nifer McGuckin, Chapel Dis­trict Ele­men­tary School; and Kris­ten Sto­vall, St. Michaels Ele­men­tary School.

Other Teacher of the Year nom­i­nees were Lyn­d­sey Basham and Kathy Re­gan of St. Michaels Ele­men­tary; Tish Bless­ing, White Marsh Ele­men­tary; An­drea Davis, Eas­ton High; Lesa Hughey, Terri Kearns and Woody Lam­bert of Eas­ton Ele­men­tary–Mo­ton; Kim­berly Keech, Eas­ton Mid­dle; and Ann Miller, Eas­ton Ele­men­taryDob­son.

The nom­i­nees and fi­nal­ists for 2018 Sup­port Staff of the Year were McKin­ney, Tasha Aikens, Deb­bie Phipps and Tif­fany Sweeney.

“You are all elite in your cho­sen field here in Tal­bot County,” Gar­man said. “I know that (the word) ‘elite’ has got­ten a bad rap lately, but we want peo­ple who are the elite in their field, ‘the choice or the best of any­thing in a group.’”

“You all didn’t ar­rive here this evening by do­ing what you needed to do just to get by,” Gar­man said. “You all put in the ex­tra time, the ex­tra ef­fort and the ad­di­tional work re­quire­ments to be the best be­cause it takes time to get to the elite level.”

Warfield ex­pressed her grat­i­tude for her col­leagues. “I want to thank the in­cred­i­ble fac­ulty I work with ever y day,” Warfield said as she was over­come with emo­tion. “Half of the great ideas I have are in­spired by other peo­ple’s.

“I hope I rep­re­sent the county well, be­cause the peo­ple who were nom­i­nated along with me are won­der­ful pro­fes­sion­als, and they deser ved it as much as I did.”

Among the at­ten­dees were Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Tal­bot, and Del. Chris Adams, R-37B-Wi­comico, who pre­sented ci­ta­tions from the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates to each of the eight fi­nal­ists on be­half of the Tal­bot County del­e­ga­tion, which in­cludes State Sen. Ad­die Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, who could not at­tend.

“I can’t re­mem­ber my text­books, but I re­mem­ber my teach­ers,” Mautz, a grad­u­ate of St. Michaels Mid­dle High School, said. “And, un­for­tu­nately, they all re­mem­ber me.”

Also on hand was Dr. Darla Strouse, who su­per­vises the state Teacher of the Year awards as the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of Part­ner­ship De­vel­op­ment & Recog­ni­tion, and Pat Pap­ineau, gen­eral man­ager of the Her­trich Fam­ily of Au­to­mo­tive Deal­er­ships, which spon­sors the Tal­bot County Teacher of the Year and Staff of the Year pro­gram, and has pro­vided new cars for the win­ners to drive dur­ing the school year.

2017 Teacher of the Year Katie Fox of Til­gh­man Ele­men­tary School and Sup­port Staff of the Year Tonya Hay­man of Eas­ton Mid­dle School each gave one last speech, although Hay­man re­minded the au­di­ence, “I still have four months to go.” She was the first to re­ceive the now-an­nual award for sup­port staff.

“You have fos­tered a pos­i­tive and trust­ing re­la­tion­ship with stu­dents and staff,” Hay­man told the nom­i­nees. “So I say to you, don’t judge each day by the har­vest you reap, but by the seeds that you have planted. Sup­port staff, you rock.”

Fox, who was a state fi­nal­ist, served the com­mu­nity with “grace and grit,” Red­man said. “She re­minded us all that ev­ery child needs a cham­pion.”

“When I think back to a year ago when I was stand­ing here, and then I fast for­ward to this (evening), I have to tell you, if I thought I was ded­i­cated to chil­dren be­fore, it pales in com­par­i­son to my pas­sion now,” Fox said.

“Tonight, I can see I’m not alone in this fight,” Fox said.

Quot­ing Win­ston Churchill, Fox said, “The pes­simist sees the dif­fi­culty in ev­ery op­por­tu­nity; an op­ti­mist sees the op­por­tu­nity in ev­ery dif­fi­culty. I’m con­fi­dent our stu­dents are in the hands of those that will seize ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for them.”

“Re­la­tion­ships is what it’s all about,” Grif­fith said. “Peo­ple want to talk about school safety ev­ery day. School safety is re­la­tion­ships. Build­ing those re­la­tion­ships and know­ing our kids and know­ing what we need to do help them in ev­ery as­pect of their life — that’s what school safety is all about, and that’s what we do.”

“It takes a big heart to shape the lit­tle minds and souls of our chil­dren,” Grif­fith said. “Our best teach­ers are those who show where to look but do not tell you what to see.”


Eas­ton High School teacher Re­nee Warfield learns that she is the Tal­bot County Public Schools Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019.

Oliver McKin­ney is TCPS 2018 Sup­port Staff of the Year.


Tal­bot County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Re­nee Warfield gets a big hug from Su­per­in­ten­dent Kelly Grif­fith at the awards gala on April 12.

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