The Washington Post today announced the winners and finalists of the 2021 Teacher and Principal of the Year Awards. Each year, The Post presents these awards to encourage excellence in school leadership and contribute to the improvement of education in the Washington metropolitan area.

The Post’s 2021 Teacher of the Year is Philip Arnold, a Computer-Aided Design Architecture and Engineering teacher at the Career and Technology Center in Frederick, Maryland. Arnold’s passion is infectious and his students pick up on his attitude towards learning and achieving. When schools ceased meeting in-person in March of 2020 because of the pandemic, he started making personal phone calls to check on his students and their families. Arnold creates a dynamic learning environment that maximizes opportunities of his students; often tackling real-world topics and current global problems through project-based learning. Through his leadership, dedication and encouragement, his students have competed and won awards for their work in designing a prototype for a presidential library, creating a design for a local library, and engineering solutions to support water access for a school in Ethiopia. The awards and accolades received by his students reflect his dedication entirely to serving as a mentor of excellence.

The Post’s 2021 Principal of the Year is Denise Lancaster, principal of Howard County’s Deep Run Elementary School in Elkridge, Maryland. During her tenure at Deep Run, Lancaster ensures that teams work collaboratively around student-centered goals. She consistently uplifts integrity, fairness, and transparency through her clear communication and effective decision making that centers on student well-being. At the onset of virtual learning, Lancaster quickly realized that students needed not only academic support, but social emotional community support to ensure equity in access to learning. Lancaster has established over 36 official community partnerships to support the needs of the community. These programs include Blessings in a Backpack, Free Bikes for Kids, School Supply donations from local churches, Dreambuilders Desks, and numerous connections with local businesses. Lancaster’s career is a testament to her devotion, tenacity, and ongoing commitment to the community she serves.

The honorees will receive a $7,500 monetary award, profile in The Washington Post, feature spot in a ½ page Washington Post ad and signature trophy.

Among the award winners are more than 35 principal and teacher finalists. The standout educators were chosen by their school systems for their exceptional work and unwavering commitment to students in the Washington area.

2021 Teacher of the Year Finalists

Emily Davis (Brooklyn Park Middle School, Anne Arundel County), Peter Kerwin (Huntingtown High School, Calvert County), Brian Kuhn (St. Charles High School, Charles County), Gary Cameron (Blow Pierce Public Charter School, D.C. Charter Schools), Brianna Greenlee (KIPP DC Honor Academy, Washington, D.C.), Howard Brewer (Transition Support Resource Center, Fairfax County), William Snyder (George Mason High School, Falls Church), Sarah Bern (Coleman Elementary, Fauquier County), Niklas Berry (Oakland Mills High School, Howard County), Megan Mullally (The Woods Academy, Private), Kim Jackson (Riverside High School, Loudoun County), Patricia Smith (Weems Elementary School, Manassas City), Kelly Burcher (Manassas Park Middle School, Manassas Park), Catherine Miller (Wheaton Woods Elementary School, Montgomery County), Jennifer Rea (Esperanza Middle School, St. Mary’s County), Nina Passmore (Rocky Run Elementary School, Stafford County)

2021 Principal of the Year Finalists

Patrick J. Bathras (Severna Park High School, Anne Arundel County), Beth Morton (Plum Point Elementary School, Calvert County), Debra Calvert (William A. Diggs Elementary School, Charles County), Allison Artis (KIPP DC Quest Academy), D.C. Charter Schools), Amy Goodloe (Rocky Run Middle School, Fairfax County), Beth Banks (Bradley Elementary School, Fauquier County), Tracy Hillard (Urbana Elementary, Frederick County), Shontel Simon (Forest Grove Elementary School, Loudoun County), Dr. Zella H. Jones (Weems Elementary School, Manassas City Public Schools), Elizabeth Thomas (Quince Orchard High School, Montgomery County), Janet Fowler (Greenview Knolls Elementary School, St. Mary’s County), Keana Sirmans Butler (Park Ridge Elementary School, Stafford County)