Return to Headlines

Prince Street Elementary’s Dustin Thomas Named 2021-2022 Wicomico Teacher of the Year

Prince Street Elementary School’s Dustin Thomas, 36, a teacher of Physical Education, Health and World Music, was named the 2021-2022 Wicomico Teacher of the Year May 6, 2021 in an announcement at the Teacher of the Year Celebration held on top of the Downtown Parking Garage.

TOY Dustin Thomas

Mr. Thomas is a 2003 graduate of Wicomico High School. He earned an associate’s degree from Wor-Wic Community College, and received his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and master’s degree in Applied Health Philosophy from Salisbury University. He has been a Physical Education teacher for Wicomico County Public Schools since 2011, initially at Glen Avenue Elementary and at Prince Street Elementary since 2014.

This is not the first time that Mr. Thomas has been recognized as an outstanding teacher. He has been recognized with the McEducator Award and the Wicomico Schools’ Extra Mile Award, and as Elementary Wellness Coordinator of the Year and Hertrich’s Cash for Class Community Choice Winner. While coaching Nothin’ But Net, writing curriculum, and volunteering at community benefit races, he started Futsol. As founder of Rhythm and Roots and creator of a World Music class, he and his scholars have been recognized by local, state, and national organizations. 

“I am very proud to announce the name of Prince Street’s Dustin Thomas as our 2021-2022 Wicomico Teacher of the Year,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donna Hanlin, who made the announcement with Board of Education Chairman N. Eugene Malone Jr. “Mr. Thomas has been creative and innovative and effective in the classroom and beyond, extending his scholars’ experiences and expectations. He will be a wonderful representative of Wicomico teachers in the Maryland State Teacher of the Year Recognition Program.”

Wicomico Teacher of the Year Dustin Thomas represents the outstanding staff of Prince Street Elementary and the nearly 1,300 teachers of Wicomico County Public Schools. For the next year, he will represent Wicomico County Public Schools in the Maryland Teacher of the Year Recognition Program, which includes Maryland State Board of Education recognition in June and the Maryland Teacher of the Year Gala in the fall.

Wicomico is proud to have three former Maryland Teachers of the Year working in the school system on behalf of students: Aaron Deal, Bonnie Walston and April Todd. The 2020-2021 Wicomico Teacher of the Year, Hemalatha Bhaskaran of James M. Bennett High, was Wicomico’s most recent state finalist for Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Those honored at the 2021 Wicomico Teacher of the Year Celebration were:

  • All the 2021 semifinalists
  • The 2020 semifinalists, finalists and 2020-2021 Wicomico Teacher of the Year
  • Recipient of the 2021 Rising Star Award for outstanding second-year teachers: Khloe Imes of Pemberton Elementary
  • The 2020-2021 Friend of Education: The Optimist Club of Salisbury

The Celebration was held on the top level of the Downtown Parking Garage to take advantage of the Downtown Salisbury views and to hold the event outdoors at a time when indoor events are still strictly limited. There were advantages to the unique setting: Schools decorated reserved spaces for their Teacher of the Year semifinalists and Rising Stars, and after the announcement of Teacher of the Year at 6 p.m., a festive “ride by” parade took place on the streets below the parking garage so that the teachers could watch.

 

Top Teachers 2021

The Wicomico Teacher of the Year Recognition Program spotlights not just the year's most outstanding teacher, but all Wicomico educators who demonstrate outstanding leadership, a commitment to excellence, dedication to teaching the children of the community, and professional achievement. Many teachers were nominated. After rating reviews by administrators and supervisors, these 27 semifinalists were selected for 2021:

 

Beaver Run Elementary: Kristina Powell, Grade 1

Bennett Middle: Dawn Littleton, Art

Charles H. Chipman Elementary: Patricia Sims, Kindergarten

Choices Academy: Donna Chalmers, Online Lab Instructor

 

Delmar Elementary: Lisa Littleton, Grade 2

East Salisbury Elementary: Kirsten Biddle, Grade 3

Fruitland Intermediate: Anna Krider, Special Education

Fruitland Primary: Kelsey Murphy, Grade 1

 

Glen Avenue Elementary: Jenna Purnell, Grade 4

James M. Bennett High: Ann Schuchart, Family & Consumer Sciences

Mardela Middle and High: Patricia Baer, Geometry & Algebra

North Salisbury Elementary: Christy Tawes, Grade 3

 

Northwestern Elementary: Nadia Peterson, Grade 1

Parkside High: Brittany Wolske, Biology

Pemberton Elementary: Shelly Gilmore, Prekindergarten

Pinehurst Elementary: Jodi Moore, Reading Intervention

 

Pittsville Elementary and Middle: Jessica Smith, School Library Teacher & Media Specialist

Prince Street Elementary: Dustin Thomas, Physical Education, Health & World Music

Salisbury Middle: Katie Serenyi, Grade 7 Math

West Salisbury Elementary: Angel Wright, Grade 2

 

Westside Intermediate: Kristen Ballard, Special Education

Westside Primary: Danielle Thompson, Kindergarten

Wicomico High: Stephanie McCoy, CTE Interactive Media

Wicomico Middle: Lillian Hoffman, Band Director

 

Willards Elementary: Mary Lynn Mather, Kindergarten

Birth to Five: Pamela Mills, Special Education

English Language Support Center: Beth Kaplan Wolff, ESOL

 

In April, semifinalists interviewed with a blue-ribbon judging panel, participated in a public speaking challenge called a “fishbowl,” and completed a writing prompt. Scores from each of these steps as well as the evaluations were compiled to determine the four top-scoring teachers, who were announced as the finalists:

  • East Salisbury Elementary: Kirsten Biddle, Grade 3
  • Northwestern Elementary: Nadia Peterson, Grade 1
  • Prince Street Elementary: Dustin Thomas, Physical Education, Health & World Music
  • Wicomico High: Stephanie McCoy, CTE Interactive Media

Dustin Thomas, the highest-scoring finalist, was named the 2021-2022 Wicomico Teacher of the Year.

 

Top Teachers 2020

 

Also celebrated at this year’s Wicomico Teacher of the Year event were the semifinalists from 2020. These 2020 semifinalists would have been celebrated and the finalists and winner named at the Teacher of the Year Banquet on March 26,, 2020, but the banquet was never held due to schools being closed as part of the pandemic response. In May 2020, Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin was able to surprise four of the semifinalists during a WBOC DelmavaLife interview with the news that they were the finalists for 2020-2021 Wicomico Teacher of the Year. The four finalists gathered on Zoom a day later, again on DelmavaLife, and celebrated the naming of JMB’s Hemalatha Bhaskaran as the Teacher of the Year.

 

The 2020 finalists, in addition to Mrs. Bhaskaran for the high school level, were:

Primary: Chelsey Mangum, Prekindergarten 3 Year Olds, Beaver Run Elementary

Intermediate: Kelly Hamilton, Thinking and Doing (TAD) Program, North Salisbury Elementary 

Middle School: James McCrobie, 6th- to 8th-Grade Social Studies/STEM, Salisbury Middle

 

The 2020 semifinalists were:

Bennett Middle: Cindi Ashcraft, Special Education

Charles H. Chipman Elementary: Susan Biddle, Kindergarten

Choices Academy: Devin Smith, High School Math

Delmar Elementary: Katherine Diven, 4th Grade

 

East Salisbury Elementary: Breonna Hopkins, 3rd Grade

Fruitland Intermediate: Staci McGowan, Physical Education & Health

Fruitland Primary: Kellie Harvey, Music

Glen Avenue Elementary: Renee Peshoff, 2nd Grade

 

Mardela Middle and High: Kelly Wells, High School Math

Northwestern Elementary: John Cox, 3rd Grade

Parkside High: Allison Zaczkiewicz, Health Education & Teacher Academy of Maryland

Pemberton Elementary: Heather McDonough, 4th Grade

 

Pinehurst Elementary: Heather Cherry, 4th Grade

Pittsville Elementary and Middle: Sherree West, 4th Grade

Prince Street Elementary: James “Matt” McMurdo, 5th Grade

West Salisbury Elementary: Freda Morris, Prekindergarten

 

Westside Intermediate: Chris Okerblom, Physical Education & Health

Westside Primary: Danielle Thompson, Kindergarten

Wicomico High: Stephanie McCoy, CTE Interactive Media

Wicomico Middle: Jason Hussey, Social Studies

Willards Elementary: Jeffrey Thamert, 2nd Grade