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McDaniel master’s alumna is named Maryland Teacher of the Year

McDaniel College
October 9, 2012

For the second time in three years, a McDaniel master’s graduate has been named Maryland Teacher of the Year. Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship, an English teacher at Rising Sun High School in Cecil County, was named Oct. 5 as the 2012-13 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

“Great education begins with outstanding teaching, and Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship is an exemplary educator,” said Maryland State Board of Education president Charlene Dukes. “Her work, and that of all of our local Teachers of the Year, is heartwarming and inspiring. With teachers like these, Maryland students are in great hands.”

Holmes-Blankenship teaches 10th and 11th grade students, helping them develop critical thinking and inquiry skills through the exploration of literature and the processes of writing, speaking, and listening. She writes county curricula, is a member of the School Improvement Team, participates in professional learning communities, facilitates school and county professional development and mentors student teachers.

The path to becoming Maryland Teacher of the Year was not always smooth for Holmes-Blankenship, who said she didn't always believe that education was important for her. She is from a large, working class family for whom economic and academic successes were elusive and credits several of her teachers with her transformation from a girl contemplating dropping out of school to a girl desiring to go to college. She worked and borrowed her way through, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from college.

Holmes-Blankenship graduated summa cum laude from Towson University in 1995, with a B.S. degree in English, and also holds a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College in 2005. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.

Two years ago, Michelle Shearer, a graduate of McDaniel’s Deaf Education master’s program, was named Maryland Teacher of the Year and went on to be named National Teacher of the Year. The 2012-13 finalists included another McDaniel alumna, Katie C. White of Talbot County.

Holmes-Blankenship will spend the coming year as a speaker and adviser in Maryland. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be honored by the President at the White House next spring, participate in several national meetings and conferences, as well as in National Space Camp with fellow State Teachers of the Year.