Wicomico Middle instructor named Wicomico County’s Teacher of the Year

Salisbury Independent
Posted 4/16/24

SALISBURY — Debbie Reynolds, a 7th grade World History teacher at Wicomico Middle School, was named the 2024-2025 Wicomico Teacher of the Year April 11 in an announcement at the Teacher of the …

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Wicomico Middle instructor named Wicomico County’s Teacher of the Year


SALISBURY — Debbie Reynolds, a 7th grade World History teacher at Wicomico Middle School, was named the 2024-2025 Wicomico Teacher of the Year April 11 in an announcement at the Teacher of the Year Spring Celebration held at Venue 54 in Delmar, Md.

Reynolds, 31, has taught history at Wicomico Middle for seven years, during which she was the first recipient of the McCain Foundation’s Rising Star Award for outstanding second-year teachers (2019). She got her start as a student in Wicomico County Public Schools, attending Pittsville Elementary and Middle, Prince Street Elementary, Bennett Middle and James M. Bennett High, graduating in 2010.

“This sounds cliché, but I have been working toward becoming Wicomico Teacher of the Year since 2010, when I was a senior at James M. Bennett High School. Ever since then, I have thought endlessly about how I could successfully represent the very county which educated me,” Reynolds said in her written prompt packet. “As teachers, we have the duty to represent and advocate for our students when they want to be seen, heard, and valued. That is exactly what I plan to do” as Wicomico Teacher of the Year.

Reynolds attended Salisbury University, receiving her bachelor’s degree in History (2015) and Master of Arts in Teaching (2017). She began teaching with Wicomico County Public Schools in August 2017, and has spent all seven years at Wicomico Middle. She is a member of Kappa Delta Phi, the prestigious national educational honor society. She was featured in the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt podcast Teachers in America, which highlights the stories of educators from around the country. She is currently working toward National Board Certification.

Following the announcement of her name on Thursday evening, the Board of Education presented her with the traditional engraved golden apple award that it gives only to the Wicomico Teacher of the Year.

“We are thrilled that Debbie Reynolds of Wicomico Middle School now represents all of Wicomico’s 1,400 teachers as the 2024-2025 Wicomico Teacher of the Year,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Micah Stauffer said. “We’re proud that she is not only an excellent teacher, but one of our outstanding graduates. She will represent her school, Wicomico County Public Schools, and its students and teachers very well in the Maryland Teacher of the Year Recognition Program.”

The Maryland Teacher of the Year Recognition Program includes Maryland State Board of Education recognition in May and the Maryland Teacher of the Year Gala in October, as well as a host of activities throughout the next year. 

The school district includes three former Maryland Teachers of the Year working in the school system: Aaron Deal, April Todd and Bonnie Walston (now retired). The past four Wicomico Teachers of the Year, Tara Martens (2023-2024), Rebecca Mathews (2022-2023), Dustin Thomas (2021-2022) and Hemalatha Bhaskaran (2020-2021), were state finalists for Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Top Teachers Recognized

Over the past few months, the 25 teachers who are 2023-2024 semifinalists participated in a public speaking challenge called the Fishbowl, completed a written prompt packet, and interviewed with a blue-ribbon panel of judges. Scores from all three activities were compiled to determine the four teachers with the highest scores. These teachers were announced April 11 as the finalists.

2024 Finalists for Wicomico Teacher of the Year:

West Salisbury Elementary: Dr. Harlan Eagle, Physical Education & Health
Wicomico Middle: Debbie Reynolds, 7th Grade World History
James M. Bennett High: Jared Cooper, Physics
Salisbury Middle: Rachel Thompson, Math

Debbie Reynolds, the highest-scoring finalist, was named the 2024-2025 Wicomico Teacher of the Year.

2023-2024 Semifinalists for Teacher of the Year:

Beaver Run Elementary: Kristen Eck-Sweigert, Kindergarten
Bennett Middle: Amy Davidson, 7th Grade Social Studies
Charles H. Chipman Elementary: Jennifer Hare, Prekindergarten 4
Delmar Elementary: Amanda Taylor, 4th Grade
East Salisbury Elementary: Montine Garcia-Miller, Special Education

Fruitland Intermediate: Megan Franco, 4th Grade
Fruitland Primary: Linda Stanley, Kindergarten
Glen Avenue Elementary: Lyndsay Greenan, 2nd Grade
Mardela Middle & High: Kelly Wells, Math
North Salisbury Elementary: Donna Gregory, 5th Grade
Northwestern Elementary: Melissa Hileman, 5th Grade

Parkside High: Tammy Donaway, 9th Grade English
Pemberton Elementary: Vanessa Stein, Reading Specialist
Pinehurst Elementary: Ashlie Webster, 2nd Grade
Pittsville Elementary & Middle: Lindsay Smack, Physical Education & Health
Prince Street Elementary: Meredyth Croteau, Math Intervention

Westside Intermediate: Theresa DeLizza, 3rd Grade
Westside Primary: Mary Hammond, Prekindergarten
Wicomico High: Tangela Ames-Parker, Business Education
Willards Elementary: Lauren Hudson, Kindergarten
Special Programs: Beth Kaplan Wolff, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). She is a teacher at the English Language Support Center.

Meet all of these amazing educators in a Teacher of the Year Semifinalists program that highlights each one. The program aired on PAC 14 and is available to view at anytime on the YouTube Channel for Wicomico Schools: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gCp42bfDb0

Rising Star Award

In connection with the Wicomico Teacher of the Year Recognition Program, the McCain Foundation recognized math teacher Ashley Jones-Purnell of Wicomico High School as the winner of the 2024 Rising Star Award for outstanding second-year teachers. In addition to the winner, the finalists for this award were Kira Fischer (Wicomico Middle) and Abigail Howeth (Fruitland Intermediate).

Friend of Education Award

Also announced on Wednesday evening were the 2024 recipients of the Friend of Education Award, Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates and the Salisbury Wicomico Arts Council.

Sponsors of the Wicomico Teacher of the Year Recognition Program

Businesses, organizations and individuals in our community have generously supported the Wicomico Teacher of the Year Spring Celebration, the highlight of the Wicomico Teacher of the Year Recognition Program. Wicomico County Public Schools and the Wicomico County Board of Education gratefully acknowledge for their support:

Wicomico County Education Foundation
McCain Foundation
Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships
Wicomico County Education Association
Association of Public School Administrators & Supervisors
Wicomico Retired School Personnel Association

Pro Coat LLC
Kind SBY
Dr. Carolyn Elmore
Pipino Audio Visual

Career & Technical Education: Horticulture, Interactive Media, Culinary Arts, High-Performance Manufacturing, Masonry, Welding

Vernon Powell Shoes
ACME Markets
Brew River Seafood House
Etch-Art Awards

Johnson’s Seed & Feed
Kitty’s Flowers
Kuhn’s Jewelers
Market Street Inn
Mission BBQ

Pat’s Pizza & Pasta
Sam’s Club
Erick Sahler Serigraphs
Sonya’s Florist
Williams Market

DiCarlo Digital Copy Center
DelmarvaNow.com (The Daily Times)
Independent Newspapers / Salisbury Independent
PAC 14
Wicomico Youth & Civic Center

Jen Seay Campbell
Dustin Thomas
Buck Burton
Susan S. Jones
Stephanie McCoy

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