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Baltimore County's McComb Named Finalist for Nation's Top Teacher

Maryland's Teacher of the Year joins educators from Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania as finalists for the national title.

Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts teacher Sean McComb with Gov. Martin O'Malley in October when he was named Maryland's Teacher of the Year. Photo courtesy of BCPS
Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts teacher Sean McComb with Gov. Martin O'Malley in October when he was named Maryland's Teacher of the Year. Photo courtesy of BCPS
By Marge Neal 

Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts teacher Sean McComb on Wednesday received some news that puts him one step closer to winning education's equivalent of an Olympic gold medal.

The professional development teacher has been named one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The other finalists are Dorina M. Sackman of Florida, Ryan Devlin of Pennsylvania and Melissa Ann Porfirio of Virginia.

McComb was named Baltimore County's Teacher of the Year in May and in October was selected from 24 jurisdictional winners to serve as Maryland's Teacher of the Year.

All state winners are then considered for the National Teacher of the Year honor, with the winner announced by the president each April.

Until this year, McComb was an English teacher and led the school's Advancement Via Individual Determination program. In recognition of his outstanding teaching abilities, McComb this year was named professional development teacher at Patapsco, according to Baltimore County Public Schools spokeswoman Diana Spencer.

In his new position, McComb coordinates professional development opportunities for his fellow teachers and serves as a mentor. He also continues to teach one AVID class, according to Spencer.

McComb, 30, was scheduled to visit the White House Wednesday to talk about student opportunities for higher education with other educators and First Lady Michelle Obama, according to a statement from the school system.

"I feel blessed and greatly honored to be selected as a finalist," McComb said in the statement. "It has been a wonderful honor to represent my incredible colleagues at Patapsco, as well as the dedicated and hard-working teachers throughout BCPS and across the state of Maryland."

Schools superintendent S. Dallas Dance called McComb "an extraordinary educator who cares deeply about teaching students and collaborating with colleagues."

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery cited some numbers to make clear how impressive McComb's honor of being named a finalist is.

"There are more than 7.2 million teachers in the U.S. and more than 60,000 in Maryland public schools alone, which puts Sean's accomplishment in perspective," she said in the statement. 

Maryland teachers have won the national title twice since 2006. Kimberly Oliver, an elementary school teacher with Montgomery County Public Schools, won the honor in 2006 and Frederick County Public Schools high school chemistry teacher Michelle Shearer was the nation's top teacher in 2011.

If he is named the nation's top teacher, McComb will spend the 2014-15 school year traveling nationally and internationally as an advocate of public education and the teaching profession, according to a statement from the Council of Chief state School Officers.

McComb, an eight-year educator, received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his classroom duties at Patapsco, McComb has also coached tennis and track. He also serves as an adjunct instructor at Towson University's School of Education.

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