Dr. Richard H. Warren Jr.

Richard H. Warren Jr. holds three degrees from the university

Friday, January 10, 2020

Maryland’s 2019 public schools Teacher of the Year is joining the faculty at his alma mater, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

Richard H. Warren Jr. has accepted an offer to be the Hazel Professor of Education, a role that calls for him to teach and actively recruit students to become the next generation of teachers. 

“Dr. Warren will be dedicated to creating and sustaining a cohort program focused on educating African-American men to be K-12 teachers,” UMES Provost Nancy S. Niemi said. 

Warren’s appointment, Dr. Niemi said, shows the university is committed to “the goal of increasing the number of UMES graduates who will enter – and remain an integral part of Maryland’s and the region’s teaching force.” 

The Hazel Professorship faculty position honors the late Richard F. Hazel, a prominent Salisbury businessman and philanthropist who in 2004 made a $3 million donation to the university, among the largest single gifts from an individual in UMES history. Hazel asked that the money be used to support teacher training. 

“We need diverse and dynamic teachers who reflect what we see behind the desks in our classrooms,” Warren said. “I am excited to play a part in the solution to improve the teacher pipeline for our children, the forefront our work.” 

Warren, who is stepping down from his job as science teacher at Crisfield High School, starts work at UMES Jan. 27, the first day of the spring semester. 

“I will forever be grateful to Somerset County public schools, the Crisfield community and the Maryland Department of Education for supporting my growth and development as a teacher,” Warren said.

Warren was UMES’ December 2018 commencement speaker

“This new appointment is not only important to me,” he said, “but it is also important for the sustainability, suitability and success of the teaching profession.” 

Warren earned three degrees at UMES; a bachelor’s in exercise science in 2011, a Master’s in Teaching in 2014 and doctorate in education leadership in the spring of 2018. Five months later, he was named the Maryland Teacher of the Year. 

In addition to his classroom responsibilities at UMES, where he will be “integrating digital technologies into teaching, curriculum and instruction for science majors,” Warren will work off-campus supervising clinical experiences, serve as one of the spokespeople for the teacher education program and oversee data collection and analysis. 

He’ll also focus on recruiting high school and college students into the teaching profession and serve as chief liaison between UMES and school districts where student-teachers are placed to get hands-on experience in the classroom. 

In a December 2018 commencement address to fellow alumni, Warren talked about perseverance and his struggle to find a career path after earning his first degree in 2011. 

Warren told graduates that he accepted a long-term substitute teacher’s job with Somerset County public schools, a fortuitous decision that provided him clarity on what he wanted to do professionally. In the intervening years, he honed his skills as a front-line classroom educator teaching science to eighth-graders, which propelled him to the top of his profession as the state’s top K-12 educator at age 29. 

“If you like helping people, teaching is the best way to do it,” the Salem, N.J. native said. “If you want to be a teacher, when you are old enough, I will show you the way.” 

During an acceptance speech at the banquet in suburban Baltimore, Warren told peers he was “humbled to … represent some of the most devoted and dynamic teachers across the state of Maryland.” 

Retired education professor Karen Verbeke, who trained teachers at UMES for 25 years, said “a three-time alumnus of an institution – that simply doesn’t happen in ‘Teacher of the Year’ world.” 

Warren’s selection triggering a celebration that reverberated down the Chesapeake to Maryland’s southernmost municipality – and across the Internet. 

Warren told the Maryland Department of Education in a video that he is “a product of a teacher saving my life,” a message he repeated frequently before audiences during his year as the state’s roving teacher-ambassador. 

“At an early age, I was surrounding by gangs, poverty, drugs, a lot of criminal activity,” said Warren, now 30. “The only thing that kept me afloat was a caring teacher.” 

Dr. Patricia Goslee, a UMES education professor, taught Warren in the final course he needed to earn his doctorate. She said she has used his “Exit Portfolio” as a model she shares with other teachers-in-training.

Goslee also observed Warren in the classroom, where she said she “saw a teacher who was passionate about his students understanding biology. He taught each class as if it were the first class of the day with enthusiasm and rigor.”

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