By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(June 4, 2020) Pocomoke Middle School teacher Christina McQuaid has been named the 2020 Worcester County Teacher of the Year, Worcester County Public Schools announced Monday evening.
McQuaid, an English-language arts teacher, has been teaching at Pocomoke Middle School for eight years and is currently in her 17th year of teaching. The Virginia native was stunned by the news the news.
“I was very overwhelmed, very surprised and very proud, [and] humbled because there are so many great candidates in Worcester County and very talented and dedicated staff a person could ask to work with,” she said.
McQuaid said she knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was five years old.
“I’ve just been blessed enough to have amazing teachers in my life,” she said. “And it was really important to both my parents that I pursue higher education because they did not have that advantage and I just knew this is what I wanted to do.”
As a child, McQuaid admitted she was not as interested in reading, and even struggled with the subject. However, excellent teachers helped motivate her to become a better reader and realized she wanted to do that with her own students.
“Over time, I discover that what I enjoy doing is [helping] the students to find that book that is going to get them hooked, that makes them lifelong readers,” she said. “I’ve just honed in on that ability to make that a goal.”
Several of her former students, colleagues and parents congratulated her for her new title. Gina Russell, who was the 2019 Teacher of the Year recipient, told her it would be an “amazing experience as a Worcester County Public Schools ambassador.”
Russell, who would have been the keynote speaker for the Worcester County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Gala, will instead provide her speech during the September school kickoff.
Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor congratulated and introduced all 14 nominees for the award in a video on Monday.
“Just because we cannot be together in person to celebrate our teachers, it doesn’t mean we can’t gather together here on social media in the thousands of homes in our region,” he said during the video. “Tonight, we have seen just a glimpse of the incredible professionalism, enthusiasm and just overall passion for teaching from the 14 incredible educators who have been named their schools’ Teacher of the Year.”
McQuaid will go on to the state level competition, where she will be honored by the state board of education at its meeting in July.
“Congratulations, once again, Christina,” Taylor said. “I know you will represent all of us well.”
McQuaid had many people she wanted to thank for this honor.
“I just want to thank Mr. Taylor as superintendent and the Board of Education … being chosen by them is definitely one the proudest moments of my life,” she said. “I wanted to thank Mr. [Matthew] Record, my principal, because he is incredibly supportive of everything that we strive for.
“The thing that touched me the most [Monday] night was all the student messages that I got,” McQuaid continued. “And I just wanted to thank them, too. I got beautiful messages from past parents and students and they had me crying.”
But most importantly, she wanted to thank her parents and husband for supporting her all these years.
“My parents have been wonderful,” she said. My husband – he’s a teacher as well – also works for the county. And they’ve been so supportive. My mother passed away just a few weeks ago, but she would have loved this. My father’s been with us this whole time and he’s incredibly proud. It’s just been a wonderful experience.”