From Staff Reports
OAKLAND — Derek J. Berger, a teacher at Northern Garrett High School, has been named the 2013-2014 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.
Berger teaches Advance Placement Physics, Earth Science and Engineering Design and Development. He has been employed with Garrett County Public Schools since 2003 and taught all nine years at Northern.
“Each day, I strive to develop and implement instructional strategies that not only impart knowledge, but also instill the values that I believe the students will need to lead meaningful and successful lives,” said Berger. “The most rewarding part about teaching is not found in the test scores or grades, but rather in the knowledge that my students are leaving the classroom with the tools they need to keep pace with the rapidly evolving global society and to enhance the quality of life for themselves and those around them.”
Berger graduated from Penn State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics and then received a Master of Arts in Teaching Secondary Education from Frostburg State University in 2004.
“I realized I didn’t just want to understand astronomy and physics, but I wanted to share my knowledge and ideas with other people,” said Berger. “Teaching would allow me to share my passion for the sciences, while interacting with students in hopes of sparking passion in them.”
Berger is also an accredited instructor in Project Lead the Way, a member of the Northern High Common Core Transition Team, a STEM Professional Learning Community Team Leader, a Northern class adviser and a mentor at the Pulsar Search Collaboratory Summer Institute.
“We need to shift the paradigm from viewing our current state as full of challenges, to one that instead is full of opportunities; opportunities to reach for and exceed the standards set out for us, and opportunities to show our students that each one of them has unique talents that, when applied, can enhance their lives and the lives of those around them,” said Berger in regard to the state of education.
The 2012-2013 Garrett County Teacher of the Year was Erin White, a theater teacher at Southern Garrett High School.
Teachers who are interested in being the Teacher of the Year are required to fill out a multiple-page application. The teachers are then chosen by a committee of approximately seven members.