Dover, Del. - October 26, 2004 Kathleen Thomas, a Marketing Education teacher at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden-Wyoming, has been chosen as Delaware's Teacher of the Year for 2004-2005. Her selection marks the first time a teacher has been chosen from the Caesar Rodney School District. Ms. Thomas becomes the forty-first Teacher of the Year since Delaware's recognition program began in 1965.
As Governor Ruth Ann Minner announced Thomas as Delaware's "top teacher," nearly 400 guests at the Sheraton Inn and Conference Center in Dover, including educators, administrators, legislators, former State Teachers of the Year and business leaders, provided a standing ovation for Delaware's newest Teacher of the Year who has taught in the Caesar Rodney School District since she began her teaching profession in 1983.
Kevin R. Fitzgerald, Ed.D., Principal at Caesar Rodney High School, was elated when Thomas' name was announced by Governor Minner. "If there is ever a person that truly exemplifies a Teacher of the Year, it is Kathleen Thomas. She is one of those people that have contributed to making a good school a great one and a great school district a superior one. There is no finer representative for the State of Delaware than Kathleen." Added Dr. Fitzgerald, "Tonight, the school, the district and the community are so proud that the 'Best of the Best' among state educators is from Caesar Rodney High School."
"This is such a wonderful honor for a wonderful person," said Harold E. Roberts, Ed.D., superintendent for the Caesar Rodney School District. "Kathi is the consummate educator who has committed her life to her students and ensuring that each of them is successful, not only in school but in life." Added Dr. Roberts, "I know that Kathi will be an outstanding ambassador of all of the excellent teachers in our state."
In 1979, Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Wesley College in Dover. In 1983, she began substitute teaching in the Caesar Rodney School District. Two years later, in 1985, she began her journey with Caesar Rodney High School, teaching Marketing and Distributive Education in grades 9-12. In 1990, Thomas received a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership from Wilmington College. In 2002, Thomas earned National Board Certified Teacher status in Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood/Career & Technical Education and is one of only 208 National Board Certified Teachers in Delaware to have earned this national recognition since the program began in 1996-1997.
Kathleen has been extremely active in improving the quality of education in Delaware. She is president of the Delaware DECA State Advisory Board; member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals; member of the Association for Career and Technical Education; Field Assessor for Mark-Ed Consortium, National Curriculum Design; and member of the National Education Association, Delaware State Education Association and Caesar Rodney Education Association.
The newly-selected Teacher of the Year is also an active member of the community. Thomas works on a number of civic activities such as bringing joy to children through Project Angel (children whose parents are incarcerated), highway clean-up (DELDOT), and holiday caroling at a local nursing home. She is also involved in numerous fundraising projects including Coins for Kids (Muscular Dystrophy, John Hopkins University) and the American Lung Association. Thomas also raised more than $4,000 to support the families of New York City firefighters who were killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She was also instrumental in entering a contest called Teen Safe Driving, sponsored by Georgia-Pacific and NASCAR. As a result, Caesar Rodney High School was named the National Teen Safe Driving Champions.
When recently asked about why she wanted to be a teacher, Thomas stated, "One of my first childhood memories is of an important event that occurred in the history of education in 1961-the first day of desegregation in the Milford School District. My dad was the principal at Lakeview Elementary." Added Thomas, "Our family dinner-time discussions centered on educational issues: the need for integration, mandatory kindergarten, student testing, heterogeneous vs. homogeneous grouping, school climate, and standards. I was in training to be a teacher, but didn't realize it at the time; it was just part of my life."
The process of selecting Delaware's Teacher of the Year is very demanding and is designed to find that teacher who 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 Year Rita Hovermale by representing all teachers in Delaware. Thomas 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, Thomas 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 receive a personal grant of $2,000.
Thomas will also receive an educational technology package valued at approximately $14,000 from the SMARTer Kids Foundation. The package includes a SMART Board™ interactive whiteboard, floor stand and software; an NEC VT465 portable projector from NEC Solutions America, an AlphaSmart® Palm OS laptop; creative-learning software from Immersive Education; and a 32-pad Classroom Performance System from eInstruction Corporation.
The new Teacher of the Year will also receive a Dell laptop computer; a $1,000 grant for educational/classroom use from Harcourt Assessment, Inc.; grants from the Delaware State Education Association, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce and Delaware Professional Standards Board; a State of Delaware Teacher of the Year license plate from the Division of Motor Vehicles; free graduate-level courses from Delaware's higher education institutions; a gold watch from the Delaware State Teachers of the Year Association and lunch in the Senate Dining room in Washington D.C. with Senator Thomas R. Carper.
Other organizations that will make presentations to the newly-selected Teacher of the Year include: the Delaware Chief School Officers Association; Delaware Association of School Administrators; Delaware School Boards Association; University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Wesley College; Delaware Association of Student Councils; and the Future Educators of America.
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
Other Press Releases