La Plata’s Brooke Shnipes named finalist for Washington Post Teacher of the Year award

La Plata’s Brooke Shnipes named finalist for Washington Post Teacher of the Year award

When La Plata High School English teacher Brooke Shnipes graduated from college, her plan was to attend law school. After realizing her true passion was English, she visited New York City to explore a career in publishing. “I had hoped to move to New York City and spend my days reading manuscripts and socializing with up-and-coming authors,” she said. However, after her visit Shnipes realized she preferred to live in a smaller town and wanted a career in a field she could pursue both her passion and desire to pass on her love of English to others.

Shnipes is now in her ninth year of teaching at La Plata, a career choice she loves. “Teaching students to write on the college level and interpret literature confidently is pretty much all I think about,” she said. Her students both recognize and feel her enthusiasm toward teaching. Building their confidence to succeed is her number one priority. For her passion toward teaching and putting students first, Shnipes was recently named Charles County’s finalist for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year award.

La Plata Principal Douglass Dolan said Shnipes was a standout choice to nominate for Teacher of the Year. “Ms. Shnipes has emerged as a true leader in the building; she works well with all students, staff, and parents; has an unparalleled work ethic; and epitomizes the belief that educators are the difference,” Dolan wrote in a nomination letter.

Shnipes’ focus is consistently on what is best for students. As the English department chair, she leads by example and ensures her team is well supported. Her colleagues refer to her as dependable, trustworthy, driven and competent, and believe she embodies qualities of a role model teacher. Shnipes strives to deliver engaging lessons and curriculum to her students with humor, enthusiasm and a genuine concern for their academic and personal growth.

Shnipes enjoys working with students at all grade and ability levels, from those in honors English and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students in need of additional support. She also teaches English at the Charles County Evening High School Program and works with students enrolled in summer school. Dolan said Shnipes is willing to take on any challenge and enjoys working with a variety of students.

“Ms. Shnipes welcomes the opportunity to work with students across all readiness levels. Not only does this increase the validity of her leadership, but it also allows the most in-need students access to the most innovative and instructionally sound teaching. She is an example of an educator making a difference. Education needs more teachers like Ms. Shnipes,” Dolan said.

Amelia Crispell graduated from La Plata in 2018. Shnipes was her English teacher during both her freshman and junior years. Crispell said it was Shnipes who helped build her confidence and adjust to high school.

“In my freshman year, I was new to high school: quiet, shy, and unsure of myself. I was terrified of most things and most people, but I had one class everyday where I was unafraid. In English class, I could count on being both challenged as a student and valued as a voice of opinion. I can say with confidence that if not for the attentive and enthusiastic teaching of Ms. Shnipes, I would not have the ability to express myself in the way I do today,” Crispell wrote in a letter of support for Shnipes’ nomination.

Shnipes strives to not only support her students, but works hard to support the entire La Plata community. Last year, she founded the first Charles County National English Honor Society chapter at La Plata. Through the chapter, students work in a writing center to offer tutoring services. Student members also participated in a Letters from Santa program in which they answered letters from children in the community to develop creative writing skills. Shnipes makes time to serve as a cheerleading coach, class sponsor, school newspaper sponsor and oversees the Write Group creative writing club. Her dedication to La Plata students is endless.

In retrospect, Shnipes is glad she decided to pursue a career in education. She is currently working on her administration certification and is a go-to resource for teachers in need of advice. Her commitment to be a lifelong learner is something she demonstrates to her students each day.

“I never get tired of planning new and engaging activities to liven up a discussion or to draw in a reluctant participant. Now, I can look back to teachers that inspired me, and I think I was always meant to take this path,” Shnipes said.

As Charles County’s finalist for the Post Teacher of the Year award, Shnipes will be recognized by the Board of Education at its June 11 meeting.

Shnipes has been teaching at La Plata since 2010. Prior to joining CCPS, she taught for one year with Valley View School District in Pennsylvania. Shnipes has a bachelor’s degree in English from Lehigh University and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Scranton.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,108 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. 

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