Stoops, Turley are top teachers 2020-2021

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CAMBRIDGE — Amy Stoops of Hurlock Elementary was named Dorchester County Public Schools Teacher of the Year 2021-2022 in a ceremony at the Hyatt Resort on Tuesday. She was joined by First Class Teacher of the Year is Nathan Turley from Choptank Elementary School, and finalists in both categories.

The limited the number of guests, for health reasons, but not the enthusiasm of participants and their friends and families in the audience. “Finalists, in our eyes, you’re Number 1,” Superintendent W. David Bromwell said in introductory remarks. “Congratulations to all of you.”

For Ms. Stoops, it’s familiar territory — after her rookie year in the county, she was chosen as First Class Teacher. Now, she will represent Dorchester at the next level, when Maryland educators choose the state’s top teacher. In the meantime, she feels she is exactly where she was born to be. “Teaching has always been in my blood...[It is] simply my everything as it has been my life dream for so long,” she said in a statement from DCPS. From New Jersey, she earned a B.S. from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, a Masters from LaSalle University, and has been teaching in Dorchester County Public Schools for six years.

Ms. Stoops said of her students, “They inspire me, challenge me, and drive me to be the best version of myself, so I can give everything I can to them.” She didn’t forget her colleagues, either — Ms. Stoops credits the Hurlock Elementary team with much of her classroom success, saying, “I have been lucky to work alongside the best coworkers who teach me new things each and every day. I would not be half the teacher I am today without my Hurlock Elementary staff family.” The First-Class Teacher of the Year is an award acknowledging the exceptional promise of a first-year teacher. Last year’s winner, Hannah Abt, spoke at the event, saying, “The first year of teaching is a year of learning...Each of you is more than deserving of this title.” Mr. Turley earned the honor as the general music and band teacher at Choptank Elementary. He has a BA in Music, a BS in Music Education, and a Minor in Computing.

He said the most important thing he has learned this year is how to be adaptable. “Teaching in 2020-21 has required taking what I know about teaching music and adapting it so that it is meaningful to the students,” he said, as all of his lessons are conducted virtually. Originally from western Pennsylvania and a graduate of Slippery Rock University, Mr. Turley sees teaching as an act of service. He says, “I serve my students by giving them music as an outlet for their thoughts or feelings, whether by listening to it or making it with instruments.”

First-Class Teacher of the Year Finalists Lauren Hilderbrand, Sandy Hill Elementary Megan Rhoades, Maple Elementary Nathan Turley, Choptank Elementary

Ashley Tyler, Cambridge-South Dorchester HS Samantha Zapach, North Dorchester HS

Teacher of the Year Finalists Christopher Baker, DCTC Linda Barnes, North Dorchester HS Kaitlin Carroll, Vienna Elementary Jessica Dulin, Mace’s Lane MS Jennifer Grubbs, North Dorchester MS Ronda Herman, Maple Elementary Katelyn Lust, Sandy Hill Elementary Thomas Schappert, Cambridge-South Dorchester HS Robert Sorrells, Choptank Elementary Amy Stoops, Hurlock Elementary Jessica Suggs, South Dorchester President of the Board of Education told the finalists, “Your schools and your parents are proud of you.”