Maria Topliff has been named the 2014 NCVPS Teacher of the Year. NCVPS is proud of her excellence in teaching as well as the leadership she has exhibited during her tenure with NCVPS. Please join us in congratulating her.
Topliff graduated from George Mason University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She also earned her master’s degree in Multicultural Literature and Transitional Languages. She taught five years at Northwoods Park Middle School and one year at Dixon Middle school in Onslow County, North Carolina. She now teaches full-time with NCVPS’s Occupational Course of Study (OCS) program, where she teaches OCS Blended English 2, and she is also one of the instructional leaders for American history.
Topliff’s top priority is making a difference in the lives of her students. “I believe that teachers have far more influence in our students’ lives than we can imagine.” She believes that healthy students create a healthy society and that teachers should go beyond just educating them. “Teachers should instill in students the desire to be successful and reach for their dreams. We need to not only educate our students’ minds but their hearts, also, so that they can become healthy contributing members of our community.”
Topliff pays tribute to her mother, who was a great source of inspiration for her. When her mother passed away in 2005 from cancer, Topliff expresses how lost she felt. “Thankfully my Grandmother, Gilda Campbell, picked me up and put me back together. She has been my voice of reason, my mentor, my confidant, my friend, and my biggest cheerleader. Throughout my career she has listened patiently to every story, every frustration, every complaint, and every celebration. She really is the rock that I lean on, and I am amazed at how big her heart is.”
Teachers often find that teaching online makes them a better classroom teacher, and Topliff is no exception. She credits the NCVPS program, staff, and fellow online teachers as the source of her professional growth. “It is the reason I have been able to grow and really hone my craft as a teacher. I would not be the educator that I am today without this unwavering support.”
NCVPS’s commitment to students has greatly impressed her. “Our students have become enthusiastic about learning. They are excited to get online and see what our teachers have in store for them. NCVPS is completely student centered, and the success that they have attained illustrates our student-driven philosophy.”
“I want the education community to know that if we remain united, we can overcome any obstacles,” Topliff says. She believes the song “Lean On Me” is the perfect metaphor for teacher success. “The collaboration that NCVPS is already famous for has helped so many in our community to grow. NCVPS is proof that online education is not only important but essential, and the reason that it works is because we lean on each other.”
Topliff would like to tell her former students to never give up. “Life will test you with many trials and tribulations, but this shouldn’t stop anyone from attaining their own success. If a person has the right attitude and isn’t afraid to work hard they can achieve anything.”
Topliff will now advance to the National Online Teacher of the Year competition where she will represent NCVPS. This was the sixth year for the NCVPS Teacher of the Year award. The previous three winners were finalists for the National Online Teacher of the Year Award. NCVPS’s Leslie Fetzer was 2012 national winner.
NCVPS would also like to congratulate all of the teachers who were nominated by their peers for the Teacher of the Year award: Teryn Odom (World Languages), Jan Kerley (Art), Jessica Ludders (English), and Darlene Schaefer (Credit Recovery). The NCVPS staff was incredibly impressed with all five nominees’ presentations, and the staff is proud and grateful to have them as teachers in the NCVPS family.
The NCVPS selection process for the Teacher of the Year program is divided into four phases beginning with the call for nominations. From there, nominees participate in a blind selection process that starts with answering a series of initial questions on instructional philosophy and student-centered instruction. The selection committee then narrows the field to five finalists who complete a portfolio of responses and showcase examples of their work that demonstrate their approach to teaching and their beliefs about instruction. The five finalists are then interviewed by the committee before the final selection is made.