A Spotlight on Ohio’s Teacher of the Year Candidates


By: Julia Simmerer

OTOY_2018-3.jpgEvery year, the state of Ohio recognizes educators with the distinguished Ohio Teacher of the Year award. The mission of the Ohio Teacher of the Year program is to honor, promote and celebrate excellence in teaching and the teaching profession. We recognize and use this network of exemplary teachers as leaders in school improvement initiatives and for the recruitment, preparation and retention of quality teachers. We also invite the Ohio Teacher of the Year to apply for the National Teacher of the Year award as Ohio’s recognized candidate.

There are two phases of recognition; the regional award and the state award. This year, Ohio recognizes 10 regional awardees. Five of them are finalists that a panel of education and community stakeholders from across the state are considering for the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year.

Here is some information about all 10 outstanding teachers:

  • Mr. Mark Suter teaches high school computer tech courses at Elida High School and is the director of Grit9.com, a small business run by students that provides web design and other tech services. His classroom is a mix between a mad scientist’s laboratory and a startup company. “Always a student, sometimes a teacher,” he promotes risk-taking and trust through modeling.
  • Mr. Jay Welenc conducts instrumental music ensembles at the Toledo School for the Arts and teaches Music Theory/Music Business, Introductory Piano/Music Theory and career-tech primer courses. For 15 years, he has sparked the growth of the ensembles and the music curriculum.
  • Mrs. Rachael Murdock (a finalist) teaches Advanced Placement English and serves as lead teacher at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton. She is a National Board Certified educator and a strong advocate for equity in urban education.
  • Ms. Bobbie Foy is a valued member of Medina High School as the art teacher for the last 19 years. She has amazing enthusiasm and works tirelessly to develop innovative activities that meet the needs of her students.
  • Mr. Jonathan Juravich (a finalist) strives to cultivate creativity, ingenuity and enthusiasm in his art classroom and throughout the school at Liberty Tree Elementary. He also reaches out to the greater community by developing programs for the Columbus Zoo, festivals and through his work as a leader in the Ohio Art Education Association.
  • Mr. Daniel Scarmack is the Woods Technology teacher at Hubbard High School. He has a master’s degree in 21st Century Teaching and Learning and takes pride when students truly see satisfaction in their work.
  • Mr. Kiel Gallina is an intervention specialist with Lake Local Schools. He promotes student involvement in their learning and strives to lead by example both in and out of the classroom.
  • Ms. Patty Couts (a finalist) is a strong advocate for positive classroom climate in her kindergarten class at Indian Valley Local Schools. She strives to use research-based reading strategies while promoting understanding of how children from poverty best learn.
  • Ms. Megan Large always wanted to be a teacher, and she has dedicated herself to the profession and her students at Bloom Vernon High School. She gives her all while setting high expectations for her students.
  • Dr. Matthew Luginbill (a finalist) is a kindergarten teacher at Cuyahoga Heights Elementary and makes it a point to say that he doesn’t ever plan to leave. His passion for education and his students is evident when he uses hands-on learning and some very innovative strategies.

I encourage you to read more about these regional Teachers of the Year. Their stories are truly inspirational. Soon, the Department will announce which of these outstanding educators is the 2018 Ohio Teacher of the Year.

Julia Simmerer is senior executive director of the Center for the Teaching Profession at the Ohio Department of Education, where she oversees the implementation of policies and programs that support Ohio’s teacher and leader corps. You can learn more about Julia by clicking here.

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