Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) recently awarded 22 educators with Outstanding Teacher awards for their excellence in the fields of mathematics, science, technology, and engineering. SMECO collaborated with school systems in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties to select and honor the recipients.
The awards ceremony recognized nine math teachers, eight science teachers, and five CTE-STEM (career technical education, science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers from schools in three counties. The awardees were chosen for their outstanding performance in the areas of creativity, rapport with students, enthusiasm for teaching, professionalism, and innovative teaching methods. Each teacher received a plaque and a cash award. SMECO has recognized 480 local math and science teachers in the past 32 years.
Scott White, chairman of the SMECO Board of Directors, expressed his gratitude to the teachers for their dedication to their students and the community. He said, “As educators, you know that STEM skills are coveted by many businesses, including SMECO. You are enabling the next generation of innovators by not only teaching science and math, but by developing soft skills that so many people need—skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.”
White also praised the awardees for teaching important values beyond the classroom. He said, “They display a commitment to classroom excellence and are helping to ensure that Southern Maryland schools prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators. They teach skills that are important not only to employers and the economy, but also important to our future.”
Apart from the Outstanding Teachers awards, SMECO sponsors other educational programs in partnership with local school systems, such as the MATHCOUNTS competition for middle school students, the annual Elementary Mathematics Challenge, and the scholarship awards for Southern Maryland high school seniors. SMECO also takes students to Washington, D.C., for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour.
The list of SMECO’s Outstanding Mathematics, Science, and CTE-STEM Teachers of the Year are as follows:
- Heather Finamore, Northern High School, Mathematics
- Athena Lewis, Northern Middle School, Science
- Jennifer Murphy, Mill Creek Middle School, Mathematics
- Anne Piccoli, Calvert Elementary School, Science
- John Rossi, Northern High School, Science
- Melaney Sanchez, Mount Harmony Elementary School, CTE-STEM
- J. Noell Wilson, Mount Harmony Elementary School, Mathematics
- Jimmy Yurko, Patuxent High School, CTE-STEM
- Karena Bennett, Maurice J. McDonough High School, Science
- Erin Lewis, Matthew Henson Middle School, Science
- Sarah Ochoa, Mary H. Matula Elementary School, Science
- Taenika Penny, Theodore Davis Middle School, Mathematics
- Carol-Ann Smith, Thomas Stone High School, CTE-STEM
- Ashley Sparks, Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, Mathematics
- Diane Sumler, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, Mathematics
- Lynda Wyatt, John Hanson Middle School, CTE-STEM
St. Mary’s County
- Diane Dyer, Evergreen Elementary School, Mathematics
- Elizabeth Dyson, Leonardtown High School, Science
- Jessica Johnson, Leonardtown Middle School, Mathematics
- Abbey Liverman, Chopticon High School, Mathematics
- Erica Samuel, Leonardtown Middle School, CTE-STEM
- Naomi Thompson, Esperanza Middle School, Science
SMECO’s Outstanding Teacher awards reflect the importance of STEM education in Southern Maryland and the crucial role played by educators in preparing future leaders and innovators. The teachers’ commitment to their students and the community serves as a source of inspiration for future generations of learners.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of STEM skills in the modern workforce, making it even more critical for students to develop these skills early on. STEM teachers are vital in bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, equipping students with the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce.
The SMECO Outstanding Teacher Awards recognize the exceptional contributions of teachers in this regard, honoring them for their innovative teaching methods, dedication to their students, and commitment to their profession.
SMECO’s partnership with local school systems and its support for educational programs demonstrate its commitment to the community and its investment in the future of Southern Maryland. Through its initiatives, SMECO empowers students to become the next generation of leaders and innovators, fostering a culture of learning and innovation in the region.
The Outstanding Teacher awards are a testament to the hard work and dedication of Southern Maryland’s educators, highlighting their invaluable contributions to the community and their impact on the region’s future.