Three York County teachers are semifinalists for Pa. Teacher of the Year

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

Out of thousands of eligible teachers in Pennsylvania, three York County educators have reached the semifinalist stage for the Department of Education’s 2019 Teacher of the Year Award.

Dover Area High School Spanish teacher Cherie Garrett is one of three York County teachers who are semi finalists for the 2019 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Award

Dallastown Area High School Spanish teacher Cherie Garrett, Spring Grove Area High School physics teacher Brian Hastings and Hanover Public vocal music teacher Debra Smith are three of the 31 public school teachers still in the running for the accolade.

Teachers are nominated by parents, students and fellow teachers and are narrowed down by the state Department of Education and the National Teacher of the Year organization.

All three expressed their excitement.

Garrett, a teacher of 20 years at Dallastown, said she was “extremely proud” of reaching the stage, especially after receiving the 2018 Foreign Language Teacher of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association last October.

“I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to not only represent the world language teachers in Pa., but possibly all of the teachers in the state,” she said.

Hastings, a teacher of 21 years at Spring Grove and an adviser in the district’s acclaimed Rocket club, said he was honored for being merely nominated, but “(a)dvancing to the semifinals is just an amazing feeling.”

Spring Grove Area High School physics teacher Brian Hastings is a semi finalist to be named PA Teacher of the Year, Thursday, March 15, 2018.

He thanked district and school administrators for their support of his ideas, and district superintendent David Renaut expressed mutual appreciation.

“Brian’s dedication to his students is outstanding,” Renaut said in a statement. “Not only does he share his knowledge with students of all ages, his passion has inspired numerous students to pursue careers in rocket science and further their studies at prestigious universities.”

Debra Smith, a music educator for over 30 years at Hanover Public School District, is a semi finalist for the 2018 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Award.

Debra Smith, a music educator of more than 33 years in Hanover Public School District, said her reaction was “one of disbelief” upon hearing of her semifinalist placement for the 2019 honor.

When she’s not busy teaching students in fifth through 12th grades at Hanover Public Schools, she’s directing Hanover Middle School’s school play and musical, as well as directing music for Hanover High School’s musical productions.

“I work with many amazing teachers and am humbled and honored to reach this point,” she said in a statement via email.

About a dozen finalists are expected to be named in April, with the final honor to be handed out in December.

— Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez at or on Twitter @EducationYD.