County Recognizes Teacher Of Year; SD Middle’s Ridgely Wins Honor

County Recognizes Teacher Of Year; SD Middle’s Ridgely Wins Honor
Worcester County Teacher of the Year Jaimie Ridgeley, center, is pictured with Superintendent Lou Taylor, right, and members of her Stephen Decatur Middle School leadership team, from left Assistant Principal Mark Shipley, Principal Lynne Barton and Assistant Principal Theresa Torpey. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY — At an awards banquet Friday night, Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) announced Jaimie Ridgely of Stephen Decatur Middle School as the 2023 Worcester County Teacher of the Year.


Honorees pictured last Friday night included, front from left, are Kristina Salvarola, Snow Hill Middle; Carli Dixon, Pocomoke Elementary; Elizabeth Singer, Showell Elementary; Kristin Morris, Cedar Chapel Special; Dawn Davis, Snow Hill Elementary; Jaimie Ridgely, Stephen Decatur Middle; and Chris Adkins, Snow Hill High; back, from left, Wendy Macrides, Ocean City Elementary; Stephen Zubko, Pocomoke Middle; Michelle Bradley, Pocomoke High; David Wells, Berlin Intermediate; Brittany Tracy, Stephen Decatur High; and Michaela Hatlee, Buckingham Elementary. Not pictured was Silviya Gallo, Worcester Tech.

During its annual Teacher of the Year celebration, Worcester County Board of Education President Todd Ferrante made the announcement following a program honoring all 14 school-level teachers of the year and their commitment to providing a high-quality education to the young people of Worcester County.

“I am so proud of both Jaimie and all of the incredible teachers we have honored this evening,” said Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor. “Jaimie will be a fantastic representative not only for her school, but our entire school system as she progresses to the state-level program. Her passionate advocacy for building student literacy is to be commended.”

A National Board Certified teacher, Ridgely prioritizes writerly identity exploration, joy, and agency in her Enrichment and Technology Education classes at Stephen Decatur Middle School. She believes community, voice, choice, and reflections are the cornerstones of building a student-centered classroom.

“Writing has transformational properties for both writer and reader. When one discovers their voice and their ability to capture their ideas with words, then they hold the power to make a difference in the world. When students learn that their words can have a lasting impact, then they become aware of the value of their gift,” Ridgely said in her portfolio. “In

this way, teaching students to write well becomes an act of service to the world, one writer at a time.”

Ridgely has earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Salisbury University, where she also serves as an adjunct professor. With over 21 years of teaching experience, Ridgely also serves on her school improvement team, is a peer mentor and professional learning facilitator, and Worcester LEAD teacher. She also dedicates time afterschool to stoking the interests of her students through programs like her Book Club, Dungeons & Dragons, and tutoring sessions.

Ridgely was one of four finalists announced during the program, who were in the running for the prestigious title. The other outstanding finalists were Michelle Bradley of Pocomoke High School, Silviya Gallo of Worcester Technical High School, and Wendy Macrides of Ocean City Elementary School.

Ridgely was selected by a panel of judges representing experts in the field of education, community leaders, and the current reigning 2022 Worcester County Teacher of the Year. All candidates were judged based on a rigorous set of criteria in alignment with both the state and national level Teacher of the Year programs, which include instructional abilities, collaboration, building connections with our community, leadership and innovation both in and out of the classroom, and the ability to articulate their education beliefs and advocate for how to better this field.

Brief bios for the other individual school’s teacher of the year winners can be found below:

Chris Adkins earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Salisbury University in Physical Education and a Master’s Degree in Athletic Administration from Ohio University. He has taught for fourteen years, with ten years at Snow Hill High School. Mr. Adkins teaches Physical Education/Health and serves as Athletic Director. He believes in cultivating a supportive, positive, and inclusive culture and strives to be a servant leader for his school community. Adkins has coached wrestling for 18 years and golf, football, softball, and volleyball during his time at Snow Hill High School. He participates in the LEAD Cohort at SU, led the Safety School Improvement Team, and established the “Do One More” initiative.

Michelle Bradley, a proud graduate of Worcester County Public Schools and Salisbury University, is currently enrolled in Salisbury University’s educational leadership program. In her seventh year, Bradley serves as an AP calculus, AP statistics, and algebra teacher, department chair and instructional coach at Pocomoke High. She is the cofounder and advisor of LEAD (Leadership, Education, and Awareness about Disabilities). Her leadership is showcased in her many roles: Mu Alpha Theta advisor, Math SIT lead, new hire and intern mentor, and a member of the instructional leadership team, innovation team, and PBIS team. These positions allow Bradley to advocate for student belonging for all.

Dawn Davis of Snow Hill Elementary earned two associates degrees from Wor-Wic Community College. She also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early childhood and Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Salisbury University. She has been teaching for 12 years, with eight years in Pre-K. She strives to create an environment that students can enjoy learning and feel loved and safe. She mentors university interns and new colleagues, she is a part of PAC and the math committee and is the Pre-K team leader.

Carli Dixon earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Salisbury University, while she also was a member of the University’s Women’s Soccer team. She is currently working on her Masters of Education in School Counseling. Dixon is in her sixth year of teaching and currently teaches Kindergarten at Pocomoke Elementary School. She strives to create a culture and environment through the formation of trusting relationships in which students want to learn and have fun. She willingly supports her school and community by teaching Afterschool Academy, Summer Academy, as well as coaching youth soccer and refereeing high school sports.

Silviya Gallo, an immigrant from Bulgaria, has received a Maryland Regent Scholarship from Wor-Wic, a Bachelor and Master of Science in Mathematics Secondary Education from Salisbury University. This “Most Promising Mathematics Educator” Awardee teaches Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering and Architecture, GIS, Geometry and Precalculus at Worcester Technical High School. Her love for learning, technology and innovation inspired the creation of Worcester Tech Laser Shop and has ignited the same passion in female students to pursue studies in STEM. Gallo has taught Robotics at Showell Elementary and Berlin Intermediate and is leading the Summer STEM Academy at Worcester Tech.

Michaela Hatlee earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Salisbury University and is currently working towards her Masters in Reading Instruction. Hatlee has completed six years in Worcester County Public Schools, where she has taught both Pre-K and Kindergarten. She is a member of the WCPS Apple Vanguard Team and a mentor teacher to university interns. Every day is a fresh start in Hatlee’s Pre-K classroom at Buckingham Elementary with understanding and humility at the forefront of her philosophy.

Wendy Macrides has been an educator for 25 years and is in her 18th year of teaching at Ocean City Elementary School. She teaches fourth grade Math, Science, and Writing in a Special Education Inclusion setting. Her passion for teaching is evident as she focuses on the individual strengths of her students while making authentic personal connections. Wendy received a bachelor of science degree from Salisbury University and earned a master’s in education from Walden University. In addition, Wendy facilitates an after-school STEAM academy, “Fly Like a Girl” and serves as an active Session Elder and chairperson of the Mission Ministry for Buckingham Presbyterian church in Berlin.

Kristin Morris earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Salisbury University and received her master’s degree in School Counseling from UMES. This is her seventh year in Worcester County, currently teaching middle school special education at Cedar Chapel. Her love for her students transports beyond the classroom by coaching Special Olympics skiing and basketball as well as attending the Torch Run each year. Making connections and having fun with each student, daily, is her personal philosophy for student success. Morris believes every student has something to contribute. She is also the Head Cheerleading Coach at Salisbury University.

Kristina Salvarola is dedicated to leadership, advocacy and student success. She has obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Education, is currently completing her Masters of Education in Administration from University of Phoenix. In 2022 she completed the Academy for Leadership in Education at Salisbury University as a Worcester County representative. She is a leading member on her School Improvement Team at Snow Hill Middle, mentors rising educators, and supports the district to advance existing curriculums. She is an advocate for student’s families and the empowerment of her fellow educators. Inspiring students to reach their highest potential, her passion for students is evident in her classroom culture.

Elizabeth Singer has earned a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a concentration in STEM from North Carolina State University and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Salisbury University. She has been teaching for 11 years, seven years were spent at Snow Hill Elementary and the last four years have been spent teaching fourth grade at Showell Elementary. She is a member of her school improvement team, mentor to Salisbury University students, team leader, and has been part of various county-wide committees. She creates a classroom focused on student ownership of learning and real world experiences and connections.

Brittany Tracy is an educator who is invested in growing learners. She takes pride in building long-lasting, meaningful relationships with students to help them achieve their personal, academic, and career goals at Stephen Decatur High School. Brittany earned a Master’s degree from Wilmington University (2012) and a Bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University (2010). She is a Worcester LEADS teacher charged with developing and executing strategic projects to improve student and teacher outcomes. Additionally, she is a mentor to students and interns, a co-advisor of the Leo Club, a member of the STAR Committee, and a lead teacher in one of the School Improvement literacy initiatives.

David Wells from Stephen Decatur High School, attended University of Maryland Eastern Shore earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education. This is his 19th year teaching in Worcester County Public Schools where currently he is a special education teacher at Berlin Intermediate School. He serves on the School Improvement Team and has begun the Athlete Academy after school program for student athletes. Wells strives to create a positive and fun learning environment for all students. He believes that a teachers impact on a child is immeasurable, therefore, providing a positive and caring attitude is essential for success.

Stephen Zubko graduated Magna Cum Laude from Misericordia University earning a Bachelor’s in History/Secondary Education and is currently completing a Master’s in History from Liberty University. Zubko has been an educator for 12 years and has spent the last seven teaching both Foreign Language and sixth grade Social Studies at Pocomoke Middle School. He strives to build rapport with all his students, and to challenge each student to think critically about the past. Moreover, he has started the Pocomoke Leadership Basketball Team, and through his tenure has been involved in both After-School and Summer School Academies.