Finalists Announced for the 2016 Teacher of the Year Awards April 20th, 2016

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with Washington County Public Schools, is proud to recognize men and women who serve in a teaching capacity and who work to ensure educational excellence in Washington County. Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, join us as one top public school teacher will be named the Teacher of the Year from Washington County Public Schools. The winner will go on to represent Washington County in the Maryland State Teacher of the Year awards program. The State winner is then entered in the competition for National Teacher of the Year, an esteemed position. The National Teacher leaves the classroom and spends the year as a teacher ambassador, speaking nationally and internationally. The 2016-2017 nominees include:   Kyle Dingle - Maugansville Elementary School - 5th Grade Kyle has taught for ten years in Washington County and is a cross country coach at Williamsport High School. In the community, he is involved in Labor of Love of Washington County and Young Life of Washington County. Kyle says, "I really believe each of my students is wired differently and I love to celebrate their unique styles and learning preferences. My hope is that by knowing my students well, I can leverage their strengths to work on their weaknesses." Virginia Durham - Fountaindale Elementary School - Kindergarten Virginia has taught for WCPS for 17 years. She was the first staff recipient of Fountaindale's STARS honor and has completed the first two rounds of the National Board Certified Teacher process. In school, Virginia is a member of the Fountaindale Alumni Scholarship Committee, has served on the PBIS team and School Improvement Team and started a running club and organized a Fountaindale 5K.Outside of school, she has been involved in Girls On the Run, Big Brothers Big Sisters and has volunteered for Baskets for Education. Virginia says, "I am an ardent believer in educating the whole child. It is my responsibility to establish a supportive relationship with child and family. I need to discover their interests, preferred learning styles, weaknesses, goals, motivations and even what makes them laugh." Sarah Hamilton - Boonsboro High School - English Teacher Sarah has taught in Washington County Public Schools for 12 years and is receiving her second nomination for Teacher of the Year. She has also twice been named Faculty Member of the Month at Boonsboro High. Sarah's extra involvement in school includes serving as advisor to the Student Government Association, advisor to the Boonsboro Library and Art Magazine and as a class advisor. Outside of school, she's involved in the Penn State Alumni Association and the Humane Society of Washington County. Sarah says, "If I want to make a difference in my students' lives, I have to show them that I care and that I want them to enjoy education. I have to do that every day, no matter how rigid my lesson may be." Kimberly Janifer - North Hagerstown High School - English Teacher Kim has taught for 15 years in Washington County Public Schools. Her career also includes experience at Hagerstown Business College and Shippensburg University. Kim is a past Teacher of the Year finalist, received a 2016 Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education Award, earned National Board Certified Teacher status and completed certification as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. She is also English Department Leader at North High. Kim participates in numerous professional development programs and opportunities, including a county curriculum task force and the School Improvement Team, AVID program and International Baccalaureate program at North High. In the community, she volunteered with HEAL for the 2015 Color Splash Run. Kim says, "My role is to guide my students and to facilitate their learning, and my students' role is to investigate, take chances, discuss and explore new ideas. Teaching is not about the disbursement of facts, but about instilling life-long values into our learners." Elizabeth McDonald - Washington County Technical High School - Science Teacher Elizabeth has taught for 12 years, with five of those years for WCPS. She has earned status as National Board Certified Teacher and Project Lead the Way Certified Teacher in Biotechnical Engineering. Her career accomplishments include founding the Science National Honor Society and co-chairing the STEM program at Williamsport High School and serving as a Science Department Lead Teacher and Professional Development Specialist for Secondary Science in Prince William County, Virginia. In the community, Elizabeth is active at Zion United Church of Christ in Hagerstown. Elizabeth says, "I focus my effort on creating an engaging, learner-centered environment in which students are supported in exploring, taking intellectual risks, expressing their ideas and developing as critical thinkers and lifelong learners." Robert Waugh - Pleasant Valley Elementary School & Williamsport Elementary School- Physical Education Health Teacher Bobby has taught for seven years in Washington County Public Schools. In addition to teaching physical and health education at Pleasant Valley and Williamsport elementary schools, he is the Health and Wellness Coordinator at both schools. Bobby coached track and field at North Hagerstown High School from 2009-2013, where he is a past Herald Mail Coach of the Year, and has coached bocce at North High since 2009. He extends his school role to the community by presenting and hosting after school and weekend programs and physical activities for students and families. Bobby's community activities also include the Washington County Elementary Cross Country Run and Junior Olympics. Bobby says, "I teach my students lifetime fitness activities they can use forever, for themselves and with their families and friends. The teachers and I also work together to ensure that the students engage in physical activity throughout the day, knowing that more active students perform better academically and display better behavior." The Winner will receive the use of a car for ONE YEAR, courtesy of Hagerstown Honda. Group and Individual registration now open, and the deadline is Monday, April 18, 2016. For more information, visit