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2020-2021 WCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced

Posted March 13, 2020

HAGERSTOWN, MD (March 13, 2020) – Superintendent of schools Dr. Boyd Michael and other WCPS staff today paid surprise visits on the five finalists for Washington County Public Schools’ (WCPS) 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year to inform them of the honor. One educator will be chosen to succeed 2019 Teacher of the Year, Josh Edwards from Clear Spring High School, and will be announced at the annual dinner and recognition at Fountain Head Country Club on April 22, 2020. The winner represents Washington County in the State Teacher of the Year program. The county program is a partnership with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Finalists for the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year:

  • Michael Bair – Drama teacher at Boonsboro High School: Michael is teaching in his 29th year in Washington County. He led the Boonsboro Drama program to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the America High School Theatre Festival in 2019 and was heavily involved in the planning process for a significant renovation and modernization of the Boonsboro High School auditorium. Michael says, “Teaching has always been about relationships, a shared experience, something that requires both teacher and student to believe they’re working toward a common goal. Everything begins and ends modeling the very behaviors that you want in your students.”
  • Kirsten Firmi – 8th Grade U.S. History teacher at Northern Middle School: Kirsten is in her 5th year for WCPS. She has been nominated for Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher of the Year in 2019 and 2020 and was chosen as a Master Teacher by the Maryland State Department of Education in 2018 and 2019. Kirsten’s community involvement has included work with the National Organization for Rare Diseases, on behalf of the local suicide prevention effort, a Veterans Day program and volunteering at the Robert Johnson Community Center. She says, “Teaching is a rewarding profession. Not only are you developing a positive community, building relationships and providing individualized learning experiences with your class, but each day has the possibility to develop into something amazing.”
  • Christine Hurley – Library Media Specialist at Springfield Middle School: Christine is in her 16th year in Washington County Public Schools. This is her third nomination for Teacher of the Year. Christine has previously been honored as an Outstanding Educator Using Technology, earned National Board Certified status and was nominated for the first-ever Maryland State Librarian of the Year in 2016. She has connections outside of school that include running a Little Free Library out of her home for neighborhood families, involvement in Scouts, a volunteer at the Children’s Literature Centre at Frostburg University and pioneering the first Girls Who Code group in WCPS at Springfield Middle. Christine says, “We are always seeking the best strategies, tools, resources and ideas to challenge children and help them meet their fullest potential. Books and technology are the tools I reach for most often.”
  • Kirsten Leatherman – 5th Grade teacher at Eastern Elementary School: This is Kirsten’s third year at WCPS. Outside of the classroom, she works with other staff members to develop kindness activities for the students, provides additional academic support for students and is involved in family involvement nights at Eastern. She says, “Students are able to make a difference big or small when they know how to use their voices. Outstanding teachers grow community culture as they motivate students to be the voice.”
  • Elizabeth McDonald – Biomedical Sciences teacher at Washington County Technical High School: Elizabeth is in her tenth year of teaching with WCPS. She is a previous Teacher of the Year finalist, a Project Lead the Way Certified Teacher and has earned and renewed certification from the National Board of Professional Standards in Adolescent and Young Adult Science. Outside of school, Elizabeth is involved in various roles with her church. She says, “I am honored to be someone who can provide structure, support and guidance in my students’ lives. I am proud to support them in developing solid work habits, responsible behavior, critical thinking skills and a growth-producing mindset. Just being a teacher is the reward for me.”