Dover, Del.–October 28, 2003Rita Hovermale,a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher in grades 9-12 at Woodbridge High School in Bridgeville,has been chosen as Delaware’s Teacher of the Year for 2003-2004.Her selection marks the first time a teacher has been chosen from the Woodbridge School District.Ms. Hovermale becomes the fortieth Teacher of the Year since Delaware’s recognition program began in 1965.
As Lieutenant Governor John C. Carney, Jr., announced Hovermale as Delaware’s “top teacher,”every guest at the Sheraton Inn and Conference Center in Dover, including educators, administrators, legislators,former State Teachers of the Year and business leaders, burst into applause and provided a standing ovation forDelaware’s newest Teacher of the Year who has taught at Woodbridge High School for 17 of her 18 years in the teaching profession.
John M. Hassman, Principal at Woodbridge High School, was elated when Hovermale’s name was announced by Lieutenant Governor Carney.“Whenever you hear the words ‘Teacher of the Year,’ it conjures up an image of a teacher who is the ‘Best of the Best’ among state educators.When I heard Rita’s name announced, I knew that the judges had truly chosen the ‘best of the best.’”
“No one deserves this prestigious honor more than Rita,” said Kevin E. Carson, Ed.D., superintendent for the Woodbridge School District.“This is truly a great day, not only for her, but for all the students and staff at Woodbridge,the Bridgeville community and the State of Delaware.”
Hovermale received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from Shepherd College in West Virginia in 1979.After graduating from college, she began substitute teaching in order to supplement her income.She found teaching to be “…tremendously satisfying.” It was during this time that she found her true calling.She went back to school to earn her teaching certificate and in 1985 began teaching Home Economics atSussex Central High School in Georgetown. In 1986, she transferred to Woodbridge High School to teach high school special education.In 1990, Hovermale received a Master of Education degree in Reading from Salisbury State University in Maryland.Just one year later, in 1991, she began teaching Family and Consumer Sciences at Woodbridge.
In 2002, Rita earned National Board Certified Teacher status in Career and Technical Education and is one ofonly 159 National Board Certified Teachers in Delaware to have earned this national recognition since the program began in 1996-1997.
Rita has been extremely active in improving the quality of education in Delaware.She is the chairperson of the Woodbridge H.S. Improvement Team, the Career and Technical Department and the Fine Arts Committee.She is also a mentor to National Board Certified Teacher candidates, serves as a member of theEarly Childhood Education Advisory Board and is a Student Council advisor.
The newly-selected Teacher of the Year is also an extremely active member of the community.Hovermale serves as the organizational leader of the Bridgeville “Live Wires” 4-H Club;president of Sussex County’s 4-H Leaders Association; and sits on the Board of Directors for the annual Apple Scrapple Festival.Rita also served as chairperson for a community project to help create a community-built playground for Bridgeville’s children.The “Sanctuary for Kids” project raised more than $100,000 and successfully built a state-of-the-art playground which is still in use today.
When recently asked about how she feels about being a teacher, Hovermale stated, “Teaching offers a host of intangible rewards.Sometimes those rewards are not realized until years later when a student returns to say ‘thanks’ or someone signs up for your classbecause a friend or relative made positive comments about you.” Added Hovermale,“Inspiring qualified teachers to pursue a career with children, knowing that in the process they will become better parents,is my most gratifying reward. I know that with great parents and great teachers the future looks brighter for all of us.”
The process of selecting Delaware’s Teacher of the Year is very demanding and is designed to find that teacherwho is most representative of the entire teaching profession. Through in-class observations,portfolio reviews and consideration of finalists by a representative panel,the process finds that one person who will become this year’s Teacher of the Year for Delaware.
Delaware’s new Teacher of the Year now inherits an enormous task from outgoing Teacher of the YearSharon Crossen by representing all teachers in Delaware. Hovermale will address community groups, business leaders, legislators,and educational organizations in an effort to inform the public about the status of Delaware schools.She will also become Delaware’s entrant in the national program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School officers and Scholastic, Inc.
By action of the General Assembly, Hovermale will receive a $5,000 grant to use for the educational benefit of her students,as well two personal grants totaling an additional $5,000. The remaining 18 school district candidates will each receivea personal grant of $2,000.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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