|Release Date: 10/17/2011||
Contact: Charles Herndon, 410-887-6111
Phyllis T. Reese, 410-887-5908
Parker's selection is the first time a Baltimore County educator has ever taken the state's top teaching honors. The surprise announcement at Martin's West banquet hall in Woodlawn came during a gala and celebration of the teaching profession often referred to as "The Oscars of Maryland Education."
Flanked by Baltimore County Superintendent Dr. Joe A. Hairston and Windsor Mill Principal Deborah Phelps, Parker, 28, took to the stage amid raucous applause and cheers from a large Baltimore County schools delegation that included Board of Education President Lawrence Schmidt, Deputy Superintendent Renee Foose, and dozens of others. Addressing the crowd of more than 1,000 of the state's educational and political leaders, Parker spoke of his faith in education, literacy, and children.
"Teaching was the way that I could use the knowledge of my heritage, the love of English content, and the universal need that I saw to make a difference," Parker said. "Looking back over my brief but expansive teaching career, I can't help but smile. I get opportunities to impart passion, wisdom, content knowledge, and love I have to students.
"We are so proud of Joshua Parker and this wonderful accomplishment," said Dr. Hairston. "He is a shining example of the quality of teachers we have across Baltimore County and across Maryland, and he will represent both our school system and the state well. His dedication to children, his passion for learning, and his boundless energy exemplify what it means to be a first-class educator."
For the next year, Parker will crisscross the state and nation representing Maryland's 80,000 public school instructional staff. As the state's 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year, he receives $9,000 in cash awards, a week at National Space Camp, a four-day trip to the Teacher of the Year conference in Dallas, additional forums and conferences in Washington, D.C., and Princeton, N.J., a Smart Board and materials from SMART Technologies valued at more than $15,000, a 2012 Honda Civic from the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association valued at more than $25,000, and many other gifts and prizes.
He will also be honored by President Barack Obama at the White House next year, and he will compete in the National Teacher of the Year adjudication to be announced in April.
During Friday's ceremony, Parker was applauded by dignitaries ranging from Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot to Dr. William E. Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and former State Superintendent Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick.
Parker, a native of Dayton, Ohio, now becomes the most visible teacher in the state, and one of the most prominent in the nation. Last year's Maryland Teacher of the Year, Michelle Shearer of Frederick County, went on to win the national Teacher of the Year honors, the second Maryland school teacher in five years to win the nation's top teaching accolade.