SALISBURY — Kristin Cashman, a Salisbury Middle School Reading/English/Language Arts (RELA) teacher who dedicates herself to breaking down the “apathetic wall” that can stand between students and success, was honored as the 2013-14 Wicomico Teacher of the Year March 21 at the annual Wicomico Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Commons at Salisbury University.
“If we are unable to break down the ‘apathetic wall’ surrounding students (from the lowest achieving to the gifted student), we will have a hard time closing the achievement gap, holding teachers appropriately accountable, keeping quality teachers around, and heightening parental involvement and support,” wrote Cashman in her Teacher of the Year writing prompt.
Sometimes apathy develops because a student isn’t challenged enough. Cashman said she sets the bar for each student individually.
“At the beginning of the year, I look at each student and recognize that each is at a different height academically. I imagine the bar exactly one foot higher than each of their heads. I want each of my students to figuratively grow at least one academic foot by the end of the school year. This is a constant reminder that one bar height does not fit all students, but all students can grow that one academic foot when instruction is properly delivered.”
Building positive relationships with students involves much more than teaching them in the classroom, Cashman said.
“I use different strategies to build these relationships. I take my tough boys outside and show them I can throw a football like a quarterback,” she said. “I attend student concerts and sporting events. I give up many planning periods and lunch times to connect with my students. I parent, console, joke with, and push all of my students. This may be the No. 1 factor behind my success as a teacher. I have broken down many ‘apathetic walls,’ but there are so many more that have yet to be conquered.”
The new Teacher of the Year will begin her year in style, arriving at Salisbury Middle School at 8:45 a.m. Friday chauffeured in a classic 1949 Buick provided for the occasion by Wicomico music teacher and auto enthusiast Buck Burton. Cashman will then be paraded through the halls of the school, after which there will be a celebratory assembly starting at approximately 9:15 a.m. She will be featured, along with this year’s three finalists and 24 semi-finalists, in a "Working Together for Children" Teacher of the Year special airing soon on PAC 14.
Cashman works actively and eagerly with students of all ability levels in the classroom, serves on the school’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Incentives & Supports) Committee, and is a mentor for education students from Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Salisbury University, and began working for Wicomico County Public Schools in 2007 when she was hired as a RELA teacher for Salisbury Middle School. She had previously taught grades 4 and 5 in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
As Wicomico Teacher of the Year, Cashman represents the outstanding staff of Salisbury Middle School and the county’s more than 1,250 teachers. Later this year, she will represent Wicomico County Public Schools in the Maryland Teacher of the Year contest. Wicomico is proud to have two former Maryland Teachers of the Year, Bonnie Walston and Aaron Deal (honored when he was teaching at Salisbury Middle), working in the school system on behalf of students.
This year 133 teachers were nominated, and 83 moved forward with the selection process. After rating reviews were completed by administrators and supervisors, the 28 semi-finalists were selected.
The other semi-finalists for 2013-14 Wicomico Teacher of the Year included:
Beaver Run Elementary: Beth Keyser, Grade 2 teacher;
Charles H. Chipman Elementary: Emmajane Olinde, kindergarten teacher;
Delmar Elementary: Heather Spicer, Prekindergarten teacher;
East Salisbury Elementary: Tammy Adams, Grade 4 teacher;
Fruitland Intermediate: Christy Briggs, Grade 5 teacher;
Fruitland Primary: Tamara Filippelli, Grade 2 teacher;
North Salisbury Elementary: Mary Lee Winters, Band teacher;
Pemberton Elementary: Megan Franco, Grade 2 teacher;
Pinehurst Elementary: Theresa Spicer, Grade 3 teacher;
Pittsville Elementary: Kate Garland, Grade 4 teacher;
Prince Street Elementary: Bonnie Wood, Grade 5 Reading teacher;
Westside Primary: Nicole Williams, Grade 1 teacher;
Westside Intermediate: Kimble Messick, Grade 5 teacher;
West Salisbury Elementary: Meeka McCoy, Grade 2 teacher;
Willards Elementary: Kellianne Thomas, Kindergarten teacher;
Wicomico Early Learning Center (WELC): Laurie Freese, Prekindergarten-3 teacher;
Bennett Middle: Mary Laurenzano, Grade 6 Math teacher;
Mardela Middle: Nathan Davidson, World History teacher;
Pittsville Middle: Rhonda Churchill, World Languages teacher;
Wicomico Middle: Dr. Bettina Postles, Grade 7 Science teacher;
James M. Bennett High: Marc Garlock, Psychology teacher;
Mardela High: Kory Shiles, Physical Education teacher;
Wicomico High: Christina Murray, History teacher; and
Choices: Tonya Wilson, English teacher;
Each year at the Wicomico County Teacher of the Year Awards Banquet, Wicomico also honors a "Friend of Education" who has generously supported Wicomico schoolchildren and schools. This year’s recipient of the Friend of Education Award was Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore Inc., represented by President Jayme Weeg and Rick Tilghman, President of the Board of Junior Achievement Eastern Shore.