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Teacher of the Year

Each year, City Schools celebrates its great teachers with the Teacher of the Year award. Through a competitive process that includes applications, essays, and recommendations followed by interviews and classroom observations of the finalists, the candidate pool is narrowed until the winner is announced by the CEO in a surprise classroom visit.

2023 Teacher of the Year

Jared Perry
Booker T. Washington Middle School

Grade 6 –8 Instrumental Music

Photo of Jared PerryJared Perry began his matriculation at Morgan State University earning an Instrumental Music degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching. He is proud to be serving the historic Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts and the surrounding community as the Band Director and Arts Team Lead. In addition, he works closely with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids program where he is a Brass Teaching Artist, Ensemble Director of the brass band, has led various ensembles, mentored teachers, and more as he is serving additional students across multiple schools throughout the district and outside of the state. For the past 6 years, students from UMBC have been visiting his classroom to observe him teach to help guide them as future educators. He attributes his positive influence as an educator to God, his wife (Danielle), family, friends, colleagues, and the wonderful students and parents that he has met and been blessed by over the years. 

Quote: “Which is bigger, the rearview mirror or the windshield? Keep looking and moving forward. Know where you've come from, but keep looking and moving forward.”

 – Darnell Perry, My father

Read the press release about the 2023 Teacher of the Year

Jared Perry named City Schools' 2023 Teacher of the Year

Kathryn Locke-Jones - FINALIST

Hampstead Hill Academy
7th Grade Language Arts

Photo of Kathryn Locke-JonesKat Locke-Jones believes that creating brave spaces for students means unlocking their authentic light to shine. Locke-Jones earned her English Education degree from the University of Delaware (2013) and her M.S. Ed from Johns Hopkins University (2015). Locke-Jones is cofounder of SL24 and Sean’s House, a mental health foundation focused on educating, assisting, and supporting students. As a BCPSS model teacher, she feels incredibly lucky to teach 7th grade ELA at Hampstead Hill Academy. When she’s not trying to be “the best worst dancer” in her classroom, she’s passionate about teaching students to write and tell their own stories.

Quote: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

 – Edith Wharton

Lena Tashjian - FINALIST

Baltimore City College
9th -12th Grade, English/Writing Center


Lena Tashjian photoLena Tashjian is an English teacher and the founder and director of the Baltimore City College High School Writing Center. She is an immigrant, an education activist, an intersectional feminist, and someone who is committed to teaching a culturally relevant and responsive curriculum. Ms. Tashjian designed and teaches a social justice literature course featuring African and African American literature with a focus on Baltimore-based authors and creators. She also works alongside her tutors to grow peer tutoring programs in Baltimore City Public Schools in an effort to create greater equity and close the achievement gap. 

Quote: The single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” 

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Leaha Thomas Charles-Pierre

The Historic Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle
8th Grade Science

Photo of Leaha Thomas Charles PierreLeaha Charles-Pierre is a dedicated middle school science teacher with 20+ years of experience in Baltimore City Schools. Leaha's goal is to inspire her students by motivating and empowering them to achieve their full potential and become lifelong learners. Leaha earned her B.S. in Health Science from
Alcorn State University and her master's in teaching from UMBC. She has served as a science facilitator, mentor, new teacher coach, teacher leader, curriculum writer, and on various committees just to name a few. She is passionate about promoting a love and respect for the field of science as a way of thinking and appreciation for the places it can take you.

Quote: "Education is not just about going to school and getting a degree. It's about widening your
knowledge and absorbing the truth about life.”

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today."

 – Malcolm X

Tia Hartzog

North Bend Elementary/Middle School
8th Grade, Language Arts and American History

Photo of Tia HartzogTia Hartzog is a devoted eighth grade Language Arts and American History teacher of 20 years at North Bend Elementary Middle School. Tia attained a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from American Intercontinental University and a B.S.Ed. from Canisius College. Tia is a BSLIC Teacher Improvement Fellow, determined to educate students and stakeholders in research based effective fluency instructional practices and progress. Tia was recognized as the AGAPE 2022 Teacher of the Year, and in 2017, she was recognized as the Metropolitan-Baltimore Association of Black School Educators Teacher of the Year. Tia is passionate about education and the role of education in the past, present, and future of her students who she affectionately refers to as “her kids.”

Quote: “Every child deserves a champion - an adult who will never give up on them, who understands
the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

 – Rita Pierson

Madelaine Hellman

William Paca Elementary/Middle
5th Grade, Special Education

Photo of Lainey HellmanLainey Hellman is a special educator proudly serving students and families at William Paca Elementary School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Government from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Johns Hopkins. She is a 2021 recipient of Baltimore Teacher Network’s Beacon of Light Award. Lainey is passionate about the use of evidence-based practices in the classroom and believes that literacy is an essential tenet of educational equity. She is her building’s Union Learning Representative and coaches Paca’s Special Olympics delegation. She was a Courtney Cass Catalyst Fund winner in 2022 to help increase student access to Special Olympics programming at her school. As a Special Education Instructional Lead, Multi-Classroom Lead and instructional coach through Opportunity Culture, and member of her school’s Instructional Leadership Team, Lainey is committed to ensuring that all students have access to high quality structured literacy programming rooted in research-backed principles on how students learn to read.

Quote: “Anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can’t get to any other way.”

 – Faith Ringgold

Sandra Knutson

Hamilton Elementary/Middle
1st-5th Grade Gifted & Advanced Learning (GAL)


Sandra Knutson photoSandra Knutson believes that learning is a treasure. This is evident throughout her 33 years of teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools. Throughout this time, she has learned and given the gift of learning to hundreds of students and families. Sandra graduated from the University of Rhode Island and holds two masters. One from Loyola University and one from Johns Hopkins University.  She has pursued course work in instructional technology and gifted education.  Sandra has served as a classroom teacher, a professional developer, a curriculum writer, summer school programs developer, and has developed a robust GAL program at Hamilton Elementary Middle School. She has reputable partnerships within the Baltimore Community, that gives her students opportunities to engage beyond the classroom. Sandra is passionate about establishing connections that enrich students’ lives and give them opportunities to explore the world through many lenses. This treasure chest of knowledge gives her the resources to guide the next generation of students to take risks, and advocate for the riches of knowledge.

Quote: “Don’t worry about mistakes.  Making things out of mistakes is creativity."  

 Peter Max

Maggie Phenicie

Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW)
6th Grade English and Drama

Photo of Maggie PhenicieMaggie Phenicie is in her tenth year of teaching. She holds a bachelor’s in English from Franklin & Marshall College and a master’s from Johns Hopkins. Currently, she is an English multi-classroom leader, teaching 6th grade and supporting teachers at The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. At BLSYW, she also serves as Gifted and Advanced Learning liaison, English department chair, and hiring committee lead. She serves as a teacher partner for the Walters Art Museum, Lyric Theater, and Telluride Film Festival. In the classroom, she’s passionate about independent reading, improv, creative writing, and using humor to connect with and engage students. 

Quote: "The only way we will survive is by being kind. The only way we can get by in this world is through the help we receive from others. No one can do it alone."

 – Amy Poelher 

Genesis Rosales

Baltimore Design School
10th Grade Spanish

Photo of Genesis RosalesGenesis Rosales is a dedicated high school educator who is passionate about creating a dynamic and inclusive learning environment for her students. As a queer Afro-latinx teacher at Baltimore Design School, she teaches 10th-grade Spanish and incorporates hands-on activities and interactive notebooks to make learning engaging and fun. Beyond the classroom, Genesis serves as a World Language Ambassador for the district recruiting team, actively recruiting new educators to join the profession. In her free time, she also serves as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) advisor for Alpha Phi Fraternity at two universities. Her commitment to education and DEI initiatives makes her a strong contender for Teacher of the Year.


Quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

 – Maya Angelou

Catherine VanNetta

BARD High School Early College
9th-12th Grade Mathematics

Photo of Catherine VanNettaCatherine VanNetta earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Towson University and her doctorate in mathematics curriculum and instruction at the University of Maryland. Dr. VanNetta is a Model teacher with eighteen years of public school teaching experience. She also has a decade of post-secondary teaching experience in both mathematics and teacher education at the University of Maryland and the Community College of Baltimore County. In her current position at Bard High School Early College, she is a new teacher mentor, sponsor of the Math Contest Club, and host of the Math Resource Room. Dr. V was a 2021 Teacher of the Year semi-finalist. In her teaching, she seeks to affirm learners’ identities as “doers” of mathematics by creating a responsive classroom culture built around student ideas.

Quote: The most productive classrooms are those in which students work on complex problems, are encouraged to take risks, and can struggle and fail and still feel good about working on hard problems.

 – Jo Boaler

Meet Ms. Dewdney

Berol Dewdney

2022 Teacher of the Year

Meet Ms. Thomas

Sidney Thomas

2021 Teacher of the Year

Meet Mr. O

Wyatt Oroke

2020 Teacher of the Year

Meet Mr. K

Kyair Butts

2019 Teacher of the year

Past Winners of the Teacher of the Year Award
  • 2022 Berol Dewdney**
    Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School
  • 2021 Sidney Thomas*
    Holabird Academy
  • 2020 Wyatt Oroke**
    City Springs Elementary/Middle School
  • 2019    Kyair Butts
    Waverly Elementary/Middle School 
  • 2018    LaQuisha Hall*
    Carver Vocational-Technical High School
  • 2017    Justin Holbrook* 
    Roland Park Elementary/Middle School
  • 2016    Sia Kyriakakos**
    Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • 2015    Ryan Kaiser**
    The Mount Washington School
  • 2014    Elizabeth Barletta
    Barclay Elementary/Middle School
  • 2013     Ketia Stokes*
    Green Street Academy 
  • 2012    Bradley Nornhold
    KIPP Ujima Village Academy
  • 2011    Margaret May
    Mount Washington Elementary School
  • 2010    Brian Rainville
    Maree Garnett Faring Elementary School
  • 2009    Nicholas Greer*
    Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
  • 2008    Kristin Covaleskie
    Northwood Elementary School
  • 2007    Leah Waller
    Maree G. Faring Elementary School
  • 2006    Andrea Jackson
    Northwood Elementary School
  • 2005    Dennis Jutras
    Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
  • 2004    Catherine Gearhart
    Roland Park Elementary/Middle School
  • 2003    Monica Carr
    Liberty Elementary School
  • 2002    Camille Basoco
    Baltimore School for the Arts
  • 2001    Linda Eberhart**
    Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School
  • 2000    Melanie Rasmussen
    The William Baer School

* Maryland State Teacher of the Year Finalist
** Maryland State Teacher of the Year Winner