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Caesar Rodney Teacher of the Year announced

Delaware News Desk
Dover Post
Dover Post

Beth Schmidt, a first-grade teacher at Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School, is Caesar Rodney School District’s Teacher of the Year.

Superintendent Kevin Fitzgerald said he is proud that the selection committee honored Schmidt.

“Inspired by her mother, a long-time elementary school teacher, Beth exemplifies the best qualities of being a teacher in the Caesar Rodney School District,” he said. “Her care and dedication to her students, school and community had made her a positive influence and a true asset in the classroom and to her peers.”

Schmidt is a graduate of the University of Delaware and received her master’s degree in literacy from Wilmington University. She is a Lighthouse Coordinator, organizing a school-wide leadership day involving numerous staff members and the Lighthouse students.

Schmidt is training in educator self-care to help the staff in strategies, like mindfulness, to use in their classrooms. She is very involved in her community, helping with school events such as Girls on the Run, Fifers Fall Festival and most recently a “care”-avan to reach out to Stokes students during the coronavirus pandemic. Each year, she gives a scholarship to a graduating senior who is pursuing a degree in education.

Schmidt said receiving the award was an honor. She highlighted a meaningful quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

“With every step on my journey of becoming Nellie Stokes Teacher of the Year and then Caesar Rodney School District’s Teacher of the Year, I was able to pause and reflect on who I am as an educator and a peer in the field of education,” she said.

“When I started this process, I took each step as it came, pouring my heart and soul into it just as I do in my classroom each and every day. To have made it to the top of the staircase and receive this award has been a dream fulfilled and a goal achieved,” she said. “I promise to represent the Caesar Rodney School District with honor, excellence and pride. I am thankful for all of the support of the teachers who stand beside me, my students in front of me and my administrators who stand with me. Together we are CR Strong! As always…It’s a great day to be a Rider!”

Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School Principal Darisa Everett praised Schmidt for her teaching excellence.

“Every day, she enters school with a smile and a charge to make every child feel special and loved,” Everett said. “It’s common to see many of her former students stop by her classroom daily to get a warm hug or a word of encouragement, because they are not just her students for a year, they are hers for a lifetime and she has a vested interest in their wellbeing.”

Choosing the district’s teacher of the year is a multi-step process. First, students, teachers, parents and administrators at each school building make recommendations. Then, building teachers vote for the top five teachers. Those nominees develop portfolios that are then reviewed and scored by a committee of parents, teachers and students from each school. From that process, one teacher in each building emerges as a candidate.

Each candidate makes a more in-depth portfolio, including educational history and professional development, awards and recognition, philosophy of teaching, community service and letters of support. Administrators, school board members, teachers, parents and students then independently read and score them.

Teams consisting of the district superintendent, principals, teachers and parents then conduct classroom observations and interviews with the finalists. Each team member awards an overall score for each candidate. After a discussion and review of all scores, the district’s teacher of the year is selected.

Beth Schmidt will now represent Caesar Rodney School District and compete against 19 other Teacher of the Year nominees for the honor of becoming Delaware’s Teacher of the Year. Gov. John Carney will announce that in October.

Teachers of the Year

  • Kenneth Begor – Fred Fifer III Middle School
  • Peggie Birch – Caesar Rodney High School
  • Amber Cahall-Lawrence – Star Hill Elementary School
  • Megan Dempsey-Byler – W. B. Simpson Elementary School
  • Nicole Fox – W. Reily Brown Elementary School
  • Amanda Johnson – F. Niel Postlethwait Middle School
  • Jennifer McCarthy – Dover Air Base Middle School
  • Jeani Preszler – Allen Frear Elementary School
  • Beth Schmidt – Nellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School
  • Mi Wang – McIlvaine Early Childhood Center
  • Brian Zambotti – Major George S. Welch Elementary School
  • Bonnie Zistl – John S. Charlton School