MSDE Education Bulletin, October 13, 2016

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     October 13, 2016                | MSDE Home | Newsroom | | School Improvement |


Athanasia Kyriakakos, an art teacher at  Baltimore City’s Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, last week was named the 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, made the announcement at the 26th Annual Teacher of the Year Gala.  The event attracted scores of educators and dignitaries, including Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, Rep. John Sarbanes, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, and State Board President Andrew Smarick.

Sia Kyriakakos, with her student Billy Summers

Sia--as she’s known to her colleagues--has been teaching in the Baltimore schools since 2011 and at Mergenthaler since 2014. Born in the U.S., her rich and varied background includes a decade of living in Greece as a child. She spent time teaching in Connecticut studying and teaching at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, and held teaching positions in both Greece and Sweden. It was during her time in Connecticut, just after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, that she found her passion: connecting students to the possibilities of art.

Each day, Sia works to expose her students to the world outside the school.  “I believe in them and teach them to believe in themselves,” she said.  “This is my greatest contribution to education.  Every child who comes into my classroom learns through the journey of art that they can succeed in anything.”

Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford congratulated Maryland’s new Teacher of the Year.

“Maryland’s success and our economic future is directly tied to the strength of our educational system, and great teachers make all the difference,” said Governor Hogan.  “I congratulate Sia, and celebrate her outstanding work along with all of the finalists. They are having a positive effect on the lives of our children and are helping change Maryland for the better.”

Lt. Governor Rutherford said Sia’s teaching has illuminated new worlds for her students.  “Sia provides her students with many gifts, and they leave her classroom with new ideas to make Baltimore and Maryland a better place to live,” he said.  “Her principal calls her an advocate, ambassador and leader.  But Sia says, quite simply, she’s a teacher.”

Sia describes her work as a collaboration with her students. “I give my students a toolkit of strategies to help them reach their potential in art and also in their lives,” she said.  “Together, we become cultural ambassadors and break the boundaries of poverty, the restrictions set upon them by the adversity of living in an urban environment -- and we do it all through art.”

Dr. Salmon said Sia not only believes that every student can learn and succeed; she does everything in her power to make it happen.

“Sia uses every tool in her toolbox, finding new ways to engage her students,” Dr. Salmon said.  “It is clear that they respond to her creative methods.  One of her former students wrote that Sia opened her eyes and gave her hope in the future. I cannot think of a better description of great teaching.”

Selecting Ms. Kyriakakos for the award was not an easy task for the judges.  The other outstanding finalists were: Katrina Griffin, Anne Arundel County; Donna Miller, Calvert County; Anne Highfield, Cecil  County; Michael Williams, Montgomery County; Tamara Forte, Queen Anne’s County; and Christy Briggs, Wicomico County.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from key Maryland education organizations representing principals, teachers, school boards, teacher unions, parents and higher education. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of national criteria that include teaching philosophy and results, community involvement, knowledge of general education issues, and suggestions for professional and instructional improvement.

The 2016-2017 Maryland Teacher of the Year was announced at Martin’s West in Baltimore. The winner receives cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association.

Ms. Kyriakakos is the second Baltimore City teacher in a row to receive Maryland Teacher of the Year honors.  She succeeds Ryan Kaiser, a teacher at The Mount Washington School. Maryland has had a history of national success with its Teacher of the Year Program.  Since 2006, Maryland has had three of its State Teachers of the Year selected as National Teachers of the Year. 


Six Maryland public schools last month were selected as recipients of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2016 National Blue Ribbons.

The schools are:

  • Arnold Elementary School, Anne Arundel County
  • Pasadena Elementary School, Anne Arundel County
  • George Washington Carver Center for Arts & Technology, Baltimore County
  • Hereford High School, Baltimore County
  • North Harford Elementary School, Harford County
  • White Marsh Elementary School, St. Mary’s County

Now in its 34th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on fewer than 8,500 schools.  On Nov. 7 and 8, the Department will formally recognize the 279 public and 50 private schools at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Education Secretary John King said the new National Blue Ribbon Schools stand “as shining examples for your communities, your state, and this nation.”  He added that the newly honored schools are “proof that we can prepare every child for college or a meaningful career.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap. The award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools flag gracing a school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence.

A Few Words from State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon

State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon


State Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Karen B. Salmon

Let me add my congratulations to our newest Maryland Teacher of the Year: Athanasia Kyriakako from Baltimore City’s Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School  Her enthusiasm for her work and her students is inspiring.  I really want to be in her classroom.

It is always a joy to go to the Maryland Teacher of the Year Gala.  Every teacher I met at this year’s event was worthy of statewide recognition.  It is no secret why Maryland schools are so highly regarded: our teachers are simply spectacular.

We wish Sia the best in the national competition. Congratulations to all of our local Teachers of the Year, and thank you for everything you do for our students!

* * *

September saw the release of a great deal of assessment data.  First, the second year results of the PARCC State Assessment were released, and are now available on On average, our Mathematics scores showed improvement, while our Reading/English Language scores held steady.

This is a more difficult test than the old Maryland School Assessment, and it assesses students on a far higher set of learning standards.  Our goal is to better prepare students for life after high school graduation, and these results begin to give us a roadmap for improvement.  Our schools and our teachers will use the data to inform what they do in the classroom.

Meanwhile, two college readiness exams released data -- with differing results.  Maryland’s graduating seniors saw big improvement on the ACT as more students took the exam. Maryland student results on the SAT mirrored the rest of the nation, registering a slight decline in scores. The College Board also announced that this is the final year for the “old” SAT; a new assessment is already being introduced.

* * *

We appreciate Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford joining Deputy State Superintendent Sylvia Lawson; Arlene Lee, executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children, and students from Anne Arundel’s Rolling Knolls Elementary School as we celebrated Walk Maryland Day last Wednesday.

The event, co-sponsored by the Governor’s Office for Children, University of Maryland Extension, and MSDE, put a focus on everyday fitness activities that can lead to a lifetime of good health.  The event also highlighted #Commit2Ten, a campaign designed to get Americans -- including students -- to engage in 10 more minutes of physical activity each day.  (See for additional details.

Video Highlights

Athanasia 'Sia' Kyriakakos of Mergenthaler Vocational Technical HS in Baltimore City wins the 2016-17 Maryland Teacher of the Year

Winning Moment

Watch as Athanasia 'Sia' Kyriakakos of Mergenthaler Vocational Technical HS in Baltimore City wins the 2016-17 Maryland Teacher of the Year! See the announcement and the inspiring moments that follow.

Walk Maryland Day

Walk Maryland Day

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford visits Rolling Knolls Elementary in Annapolis for 'Walk Maryland Day' -- highlighting the importance of physical fitness in Maryland schools.


October 17- 21 - Maryland College Admissions Campaign

October 20 - ESSA External Stakeholder Committee Meeting, Baltimore

October 24 - Maryland State Board of Education Retreat, Baltimore

October 25 - Maryland State Board of Education Meeting, Baltimore

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Baltimore City Teacher Named Maryland Teacher of the Year

Walk Maryland Day Celebrated Statewide

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