BERLIN – In the company of 350 colleagues and community leaders at the 21st Teacher of the Year Banquet in Ocean City, Amy Gallagher, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Stephen Decatur Middle School for the last six years, learned that she had earned the 2008 Worcester County Teacher of the Year title.
Gallagher’s understanding of the power of education and its impact on society developed shortly after graduating from Mount Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology.
“I decided to enter teaching following my work with juvenile offenders, which helped me to realize the one commonality among children in trouble with the law was a lack of value for education,” said Gallagher.
She decided to become a teacher, earning her Master of Arts in Teaching in 2001 from Salisbury University, enabling her to ignite a passion for learning in her students.
As a U.S. History teacher, Gallagher asks her students to approach her class with an open mind, ready to approach history in a new way – in a way that makes history relevant.
“U.S. history is more than a series of facts and dates,” she explained. “It is a collection of stories that help define our culture. Through my lessons which incorporate teaching strategies and activities that bring history alive, my students become actively engaged in learning while developing a deep interest in Social Studies.”
Gallagher believes that she must continually challenge herself professionally. In addition, she believes that the teaching profession needs to be championed by everyone who is passionate about it.
“By mentoring new teachers, continuing growth through professional development, using data to examine student growth and performance, and collecting outstanding samples of student work, the profession will strengthen and attract men and women who love teaching and learning,” she said.
Gallagher is the chair of the Professional Growth Services Committee for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society for Women Educators. She is also a member of the National Council for the Social Studies and the Worcester County Teacher’s Association. An adjunct faculty member for Salisbury University, Gallagher also serves on the Professional Development School (PDS) Coordinating Council – serving as a school level liaison between Stephen Decatur Middle School and Salisbury University.
Each of the 14 Worcester County Teacher of the Year candidates was judged by a panel of seven educators on a comprehensive portfolio and on a 20-minute interview. Gallagher earned the highest composite score from both components. Gallagher will continue to the state level where she will compete with 23 other candidates representing their Maryland school district for the title of the 2009 Maryland Teacher of the Year.
As the 2008 Worcester County Teacher of the Year, Gallagher has won gifts valued at approximately $4,000, including a new NCS Laptop Computer and an all-expense paid trip to an educational conference. Gift sponsors include A Perfect Face Day Spa, Barbely’s Restaurant, Barnes and Noble, Beach Club Golf Links, Creative Day Spa, Delmarva Shorebirds, Dunkin Donuts, Eastern Shore Lanes, Jolly Roger Park, Maryland Coast Pizza Hut, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Pocomoke River State Parks, NCS Technologies, Ocean City Chiropractic Clinic, Ocean City Golf Club, Ocean City Health & Racquet Club, Outback Steakhouse, Phillips Crab House, Rainbow Florist, and Shockley Management (Jiffy Lube).