ELKTON — Josie Perry, a social studies teacher at Rising Sun High School, was named the 2019 Cecil County Public Schools Teacher of the Year on Tuesday night during the annual banquet dinner.
The Singerly Fire Company Banquet Hall erupted with applause after associate superintendents Carolyn Teigland and Joe Buckley announced that Perry had been selected for the annual honor.
“I am just blown away that I was chosen to represent out of 1,300 educators in the county,” Perry said. “It is an absolute honor and privilege.”
Perry shared that her path to becoming a teacher was not a cut and dry story like other educators who have known what they’ve wanted to be all their lives.
“I could start by saying that I grew up wanting to be a teacher, I played school with my stuffed animals, but that’s not the truth,” she said. “I’m not a typical teacher and my career is a reflection of that reality. When I was a kid, my career choices would vary from doctor to meteorologist to archaeologist to any other ‘-ologist.’”
But three months into college, she discovered that teaching was her “thing.”
“I think those seeds were planted long before I made it to college, I really do. It started when I was in kindergarten at North East Elementary. I was only 4, yet Ms. Paulus knew my parents believed in me and my ability to master kindergarten in spite of my classmates being a year older. I remember Ms. Meeks at Gilpin Manor holding me as I cried on the playground because the dandelions reminded me of my grandfather who had just passed away. At Cherry Hill Middle School, Ms. Asplen … showed me how totally cool social studies could be. She also showed me that a teacher can really love what she does. At Rising Sun High School, Señora Nichol, my Spanish teacher allowed me to ramble on for what felt like days at times about everything from Pablo Picasso to elephants in Africa. Then, there was Tom Clark … He taught me how to laugh and not take Shakespeare so seriously, and I just loved him for it,” she recalled.
Perry said her parents were her biggest fans at home, and her teachers were her biggest fans at school. Together, those individuals fostered a supportive environment for Perry as a student — something that she tries to replicate in her own classroom now that she is a teacher herself.
“The greatest gift those teachers gave me was letting me know that they truly cared about me and they wanted me to do well,” she said. “As the old adage goes, ‘They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’”
Perry will go on to compete for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year in October.
In addition to the opportunity to compete with other educators in the state this fall, Perry will also receive a $3,000 cash award, an iPad, a deluxe overnight stay at a county bed-and-breakfast inn of her choice, the opportunity to attend the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) conference, a reserved parking space at her school, and a $1,000 partnership grant from the Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council (BEPAC).
Perry was selected to be Teacher of the Year from a pool of 16 CCPS educators who were nominated by principals, parents and colleagues.
This year’s nominees included Perry; Jennifer Barry, of Elkton Middle; Sarah Bitel, of Perryville High; Morgan Cooper, of Perryville Middle; Tahiya Cooper, of North East Elementary; Catherine Edgecomb, of Perryville Elementary; Sara Evans, of Rising Sun Elementary; Stephanie Hartman, of Elk Neck Elementary; Amy Holmes, of Bainbridge Elementary; Afton Kreush, of Bohemia Manor Middle; Shanea Mifflin, of Elkton High; Tabitha Orner, of Bay View Elementary; Wendy Reyes, of Holly Hall Elementary; David Rhoades, of Elkton Middle; Lia Smith, of Thomson Estates Elementary; and Kelly Strawbridge, of Gilpin Manor Elementary.