The 2008-2009 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award Winners

April 10

The 2008-2009 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award winners include:

Patricia Casto

Calvert County Public Schools

Ms. Casto is a ninth-grade academic and comprehensive algebra teacher at Calvert High School and Huntingtown High School in Huntingtown, Md where she began her teaching career in 2004. From 1994 to 1996, she was a self-employed business consultant. She worked as a non-profit organization consultant from 1996 to 2004. From 2000 to 2008, she was the coordinator of the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries, where she worked directly with the seminary presidents and the Cluster board of directors of three seminaries located in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. In addition to teaching and working as a business consultant, she is also the founder of a county-wide literacy and GED program and the founder and program leader for the Summer Activities Festival in Teller County, Colo. She has also founded a women's investment club. In 1978, she graduated with a BS in business finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State. Ms. Casto earned her first MA in 1996 from Regis University in liberal studies and social science and her second MA from the College of Notre Dame in teaching secondary mathematics in 2003.

Yusef Chisholm

District of Columbia Public Schools

Mr. Chisholm is an instrumental music teacher at Hardy Middle School in Washington, D.C. where he has been since 2001. He began his music teaching career in 1989 at Ballou Senior High School. He joined Douglas Junior High as an instrumental music teacher in 1995 and in 1996 until 2001, Mr. Chisholm taught instrumental music at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington, D.C. In 1994, he received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. Under the leadership of Mr. Chisholm, the Hardy School Middle School band has performed at the Ronal Reagan Washington National Airport, the September 11 Six Year Anniversary Memorial Service and the East Coast Jazz Festival. He earned a BFA from the University of the District of Columbia in 1988.

Barbara Dennee

Fauquier County Public Schools

Ms. Dennee is a fifth-grade teacher at P.B. Smith Elementary School in Warrenton, Va. where she has taught since 2003. She began her career in 1989 as a preschool teacher at the Jack and Jill Preschool in Warrenton. From there, she was a student intern at Parkside Elementary School. From 2000 to 2002, she was an undergraduate practicum student with Spotsylvania Public Schools. Throughout her career, she has been an educator at the Museum of Long Island's Natural History at the State University of New York and an art and science instructor at EarthArt Private Tutoring program and Lord Fairfax Community College Summer Program. In 2006, Ms. Dennee was the recipient of the Washington Post Grants in Education and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Grant. She earned an associate degree in applied science from Suffolk Community College in Selden, N.Y. in 1997. From Mary Washington College, Ms. Dennee earned a BA in liberal studies in 2002 and earned an MS in elementary education in 2003.

Xu Duan

Queen Ann School - Prince George's County (Private School)

Mr. Duan is a high school chemistry teacher at Queen Ann School in Upper Marlboro, Md. teaching AP chemistry, honors chemistry and general chemistry. He also mentors the AP and honors chemistry teams participants in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Final Exam. He began his teaching career in 2000 as a teacher of general chemistry at The Bullis School in Potomac, Md. For six years beginning in 2001, Mr. Duan was on the summer faculty at the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. teaching honors chemistry, genetics and summer biology. Born in Beijing, but growing up in northeast China, he earned a BS in 1986 in biochemistry and microbiology at Hebei State University in China. Prior to his teaching career in the United States, he was a researcher, assistant director and education coordinator at the Beijing Biodiversity Conservation and Research Center in Beijing. In 2000, Mr. Duan earned an MS in conservation biology from the University of Maryland at University Park.

Jeffrey A. Florio

Manassas Park City Schools

Mr. Florio is a high school mathematics teacher at Manassas Park High School in Manassas Park, Va. He began his teaching career in 1980 at his own high school alma mater, Fairfield Senior High School in Fairfield, Ohio. In 1981, he moved on to teach and also coach wrestling at Connersville Senior High School in Connersville, Ind. until 1985. Mr. Florio assumed the lead math teacher, head football and head wrestling coaching positions at Lincoln High School in Cambridge City, Ind. in 1985 before moving to Virginia in 1988. He has been with the Manassas Park City school system since 1988 when he began teaching seventh-grade mathematics and was the eighth-grade team teaching leader. Mr. Florio was appointed department chair of high school mathematics in 1998 and has held that position since that time. He has been active as head varsity football coach and head varsity wrestling coach as well as having chaired and served on numerous school committees. He has served twice on the State Standards of Learning Content Committee in Algebra 2. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio in 1980 and in 2002, he earned a masters degree from George Mason University in Arlington, Va.

Jed Frei

Falls Church City Schools

Mr. Frei has been a third-grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Falls Church, Va. since 2002. He began his career in 1999 as a third-grade teacher at Redding Elementary School in Redding, Conn. where he taught until 2001. Mr. Frei was the community director at The George Washington University from 2001 to 2002. Mr. Frei was a certified peer mediator at the University of Connecticut from 1997 to 1999. He is a peer counselor at the Whitman Walker Clinic and has held several volunteer positions with organizations such as Big Buddy and Food and Friends. He earned a BS in elementary education in 1998 and earned a masters in education from the University of Connecticut in 1999.

Patricia Herr

Loudoun County Public Schools

Ms. Herr is a teacher of physical science at Smart's Mill Middle School in Leesburg, Va. In 1989, she began her professional teaching career at Ashburn Elementary School teaching fifth grade until 1994, when she transferred to Ball's Bluff Elementary School to teach the same grade level. She moved to Smart's Mill Middle School when the school opened its doors in 2004, teaching civics before moving to her current position. Ms. Herr is currently an adjunct professor at George Mason University, a position she has held since 2003. She has a lengthy list of additional professional activities, which include curriculum writing at the Virginia Department of Education, working as an Educational Specialist and Ocean Summit Attendee at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and hosting "Teachers from South Africa" in 2003-2004 to name a few. She is the author of "Inquiry Based Learning Using Natural Objects" published in 2003 by Corwin Press. In 1975, Ms. Herr earned a BS in psychology, social sciences, philosophy, political science and sociology from Frostburg University in Frostburg, Md. She earned her masters degree in education in 1991 from Marymount University in Arlington,Va. In 1999, she earned her Certificate in Technology Education and a National Board Certification in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2004 from George Mason University in Arlington.

Kelly Horan

Howard County Public Schools

Ms. Horan is a teacher of biology and chemistry at Reservoir High School in Fulton, MD. She began her teaching career in anatomy, physiology and chemistry in 2005 at Charles B. Aycock High School in Pikeville, N.C. Since 1999, she has also held positions of instructor and choreographer for the colorguard of marching bands at high schools in Raleigh and Four Oaks in North Carolina and at her present school, Reservoir High. Ms. Horan is also a co-chair on the Student Recognition Committee, which encourages and directs "Student of the Month" nominations, as well as organizing and directing Honor Roll celebrations. She is the lead teacher of Academic Intervention, which encourages student and teacher participation in after-school programs. Ms. Horan earned a BA in biology in 2001 from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and an MA in teaching from the same university in 2004.

Nancy T. Kelley

Frederick County Public Schools

Ms. Kelley is a kindergarten teacher at Middletown Primary School in Frederick County, Md where she has been since 2006. She began her career as a first-grade teacher at Waverley Elementary School in 1982. In 1986, she taught second and third-grade at South Frederick Elementary School until 1990. She went on to teach the same grades at Liberty Elementary School until 1994. Ms. Kelley taught kindergarten at Ballenger Creek Elementary from 1995 to 2006. She has been nominated for Disney's American Teacher Award, the Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teaching Award and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Teaching Award. Ms. Kelley also served as the secretary and volunteer coordinator for the Jefferson Area Food Bank and is the monthly newsletter coordinator for a Boy Scout troop. From Hood College, she earned a BA in early childhood education in 1982 and earned an MA in special education in 1985.

Ann P. Kulakowski

Manassas City Public Schools

Ms. Kulakowski is a teacher of Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry at Osbourn High School in Manassas, Va., where she has been since 1996. She began her teaching career in 1994 as a substitute teacher for Manassas City Schools. She serves on several professional leadership committees, including positions of Geometry Standards of Learning Acceleration Teacher, American Mathematical Exam Coordinator, lead mentor for the Osbourn High School Beginning Teacher Induction Program and co-creator and co-coordinator of the Osbourn High School tutoring program, to name a few. Ms. Kulakowski is also very active in several community organizations. She earned BS in mathematics, as well as a secondary teaching certificate in 1996 from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. In 1998, she earned a masters degree in education with a math concentration from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Beth Lepp

Stafford County Public Schools

Ms. Lepp is a reading specialist at Garrison Elementary School in Stafford, Va. Each year, she designs a reading theme for her students that lasts from fall to spring. Her teaching career began in 1994 as a substitute teacher with the Stafford County Public Schools. She became a classroom teacher with Garrison Elementary in 1995, instructing first and second grades over the years. She is active in many professional education-related organizations and committees and after-school clubs. Ms. Lepp earned a BS in psychology and PK-6 elementary education from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va. in 1995. She earned a masters degree in education in 2000 from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

Wesley McCune

Alexandria City Public Schools

Mr. McCune is a music teacher at John Adams Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. In 1975, he began his career as a music faculty member at Hollins University (Va.). From 1978 to 1980, he was an artist-in-residence in Pittsylvania County, Va. through the Virginia Arts Commission. Mr. McCune served as the chairman of the music department at Chatham Hall from 1981 to 1984. He also served as a faculty member at West Virginia University and St. Mary's Academy in Alexandria. He has been the recipient of the Whole Village Awards from the Virginia Education Association, the Excellence in Education Awards from the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and countless other awards and recognitions. Since coming to Alexandria City schools in 1989, Mr. McCune has established Orff-Schulwek, a music and movement educational program as well as opera education programs. He earned a BA in music from Illinois Wesleyan University and an MA in music from Ohio University.

Gwen McWhorter

Montgomery County Public Schools

Ms. McWhorter is a mathematics resource teacher at A. Mario Loiederman Middle School in Silver Spring, Md. She holds the leadership positions of co-facilitator of Math Department Professional Development, Gradebook Advisor, Edline Superuser, Semester Exam Coordinator and Maryland School Assessment Practice Test Coordinator. She began her career in 1999 at North Bethesda Middle School as the mathematics, alternative and computer applications teacher. In 2003, Ms. McWhorter became a mathematics resource teacher at Parkland Middle School. She is co-author of "Understanding Inservice Teachers' Psychological Processes and Professional Intentions: The Role of Graduate School" which was presented at the American Educational Research Association. Ms. McWhorter earned a BS degree with "high honors" with an academic concentration in mathematics from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa. in 1999. In 2003, she earned a masters degree in human development from the College of Education at The University of Maryland in College Park.

Ward John Merritt

Arlington County Public Schools

Mr. Merritt is a second-grade teacher at Randolph Elementary School in Arlington, Va. where he began his teaching career in 1995. He has held several leadership positions at Randolph Elementary School including second-grade team leader, Randolph Curriculum and Assessment Committee co-chair, and Randolph's gifted and talented teacher. He has also served as a Youth Experiencing Success (Y.E.S.) mentor. Mr. Merritt was awarded the Randolph Elementary School Teacher of the Year award in 2008. Mr. Merritt earned a BA from Amherst College, Ma. in 1985 and a masters of education from Lesley College/Shady Hill School (Ma.) in 1995.

Michelle Ohanian

Fairfax County Public Schools

Ms. Ohanian is an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher and department chair at Mountain View Alternative High School in Centreville, Va., where she has been since 2004. She began her teaching career in 1996 at Patterson High School in Baltimore teaching Spanish. In 1998, she was an ESOL teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. She was an ESOL teacher and department chair at Franklin Middle School from 2000 to 2002. She was also a staff editor and contributor to the Journal of the Virginia Writing Project from 2002 to 2004. In 2003, Ms. Ohanian was a middle and high school ESOL instructional support teacher at the Fairfax County Public Schools ESOL office. She earned the School and Community Impact Award from the Fairfax County ESOL office in 2007. Ms. Ohanian earned a BA in legal studies with a concentration in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts in 1990. In 1996, she earned a masters in education in curriculum and instruction with specialization in ESOL from George Mason University.

Ben Peterson

St. Mary's County Public Schools

Mr. Peterson is a teacher of physical education and a sports coach at Leonardtown Elementary School in Leonardtown, Md., where he has been since 1987. Mr. Peterson began his career in 1979 with the Mormon Trail Community Schools in Garden City, IA as a physical education teacher, basketball, softball, and track coach. In 1982, he was a classroom teacher of the fourth and sixth grades as well as a physical education teacher with the United Community Schools in Boone, Iowa. He took the position of elementary school teacher and coach of several school sports teams with the Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa in 1983. Mr. Peterson has over 25 years experience as a physical education teacher and is active in many professional and community organizations. In 1978, he played professional football for the Chicago Bears. He earned a BS in health and physical education from Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa in 1978 and earned an Advanced Professional Certification (APC) in physical education K-12 from the state of Maryland.

Lisa Racine

Prince William County Public Schools

Ms. Racine is a history teacher at C.D. Hylton Senior High School in Woodbridge, Va. teaching world history, U.S. history humanities, 20th Century U.S. history and archaeology. She also is chairperson of the Social Studies Department, one of the largest departments at the school. She has been honored for her work as a teacher many times and is affiliated with several professional education-related organizations. She began her career in 1985 with the Santa Paula Unified School District in Santa Paula, Calif. as a high school history teacher and taught world history in the summer of 1987 in the Ventura Unified School District in Ventura, Va. In 1988, Ms. Racine was a teacher at Lake Braddock High School in Fairfax, Va. teaching world history, US history and US Government. At Garfield High School in 1990, she taught ninth-grade world history and 11th grade U.S. history. Mrs. Racine is a graduate of The University of California at Santa Barbara where she earned a BA in history in 1984 and earned her teaching credentials at the same university in 1985. She continued on to earn a masters degree in education in curriculum instruction in 1996 from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Julia Rice

Anne Arundel County Schools

Ms. Rice is a kindergarten teacher at Germantown Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, Md where she has taught since 2006. She began her teaching career in Fredericksburg, Va in 1982. After teaching in Virginia, Ms. Rice moved to Charleston, S.C. where she was hired at a magnet public school. While in Charleston, she became a graduate presenter and consultant for a math curriculum training program and helped develop the county's early childhood curriculum. Ms. Rice also designed a school-wide environmental education program. She became an adjunct professor in the early childhood department of the College of Charleston. For the last 16 years, she has worked as a national consultant in the British philosophy and New Zealand's methodology in balanced literature. After studying, instructing and mentoring in several countries abroad, Ms. Rice returned to Virginia to teach in Fairfax County at a McLean "gifted" school teaching first-grade. While in the Fairfax County School system, she was recruited by Princeton Regional Schools. In 2000, during her time in Princeton, she was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship to Japan. In addition to teaching at Germantown Elementary School since her return from Japan, Ms. Rice teaches graduate courses in the local area and in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. the course of her career. Over the course of her career, she has been awarded three Teacher of the Year awards. Ms. Rice earned her BA in 1982 and earned her MA in early childhood education from the College of Charleston in 1989.

Natalie Stephenson

Prince George's County Public Schools

Ms. Stephenson is a language arts instructor at Kenmore Middle School in Landover, Md. She is also an English Department adjunct instructor at Montgomery College in Rockville, Md. Her career began in 2000 when she held the position of adjunct instructor in the English and Communications Department at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md. in 2000. In 2002, she began the role of teacher mentor in the county's public schools and has spent summers as a summer school language arts instructor at her current school. She belongs to numerous education-related and community organizations and has won many education-related awards. Ms. Stephenson earned a BA in english in 1990 and in 1992 earned a masters degree in education in English/secondary Level from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y. She is currently attending Trinity University in Washington, D.C. and expects to earn a masters degree in education in administration in the spring of 2008.

Vera Young

Charles County Public Schools

Ms. Young is an English teacher at Westlake High School in Waldorf, Md. She has been employed with Charles County Public Schools since 1987. She began her career as a long-term substitute at Lackey High School in 1987. In 1990, Ms. Young accepted a position at McDonough High School where she taught English for five years. In 1995, Ms. Young transferred to Westlake High school where she continues to teach ninth-grade English and Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. She has also been an instructor for the Governor's Academy for the past three years. She is an integral part of the School Improvement Team and a team leader for the ninth-grade English team. Because of her dedication to teaching, Ms. Young was a semifinalist for the Maryland Teacher of the Year in 2005 and has been featured in Who's Who Among High School Teachers at least 15 times. In 1983, Ms. Young earned a BA in English from St. Mary's College of Maryland. She earned an MS in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College in 1995.


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