Tiffany Doster, a fifth-grade teacher at Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, has been named one of seven finalists for the 2010-2011 Maryland Teacher of the Year award.

“We are extremely proud of Ms. Doster for being named a finalist for the most prestigious award for educators in the state,” said Prince George’s Superintendent of Schools William R. Hite Jr., in a statement. “Ms. Doster is an example of the outstanding caliber of teachers serving students in Prince George’s County Public Schools.”

Doster joins Mark S. Howell of Charles County, Matthew Kinloch of Howard County, Lisa Mullen of Harford County, Doris L. O’Donnell of Calvert County, James Schafer of Montgomery County and Michelle Shearer of Frederick County as a finalist.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick praised all the finalists as being part of the reason the state is ranked No. 1 in the country for public education.

“This year’s talented finalists demonstrate unwavering dedication to the academic achievement of all Maryland’s students. They are masters in their field and an important reason Maryland education has been ranked number one in the nation for the second consecutive year,” said Grasmick in a statement. “These educators, unequivocally, deserve our gratitude and acknowledgement, as well as our respect.”

Doster was nominated by her colleagues last school year while teaching fourth grade at James Ryder Randall Elementary School in Clinton, not only because of her excellence as a teacher, but also for her involvement in extracurricular activities at the school. She chaired the Social Studies Department, was a mentor teacher, helped to develop the school’s discipline and school improvement plans, coached after-school cheerleading and raised over $16,000 through a Jog-A-thon program she created.

Doster has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in human resource development from the University of Maryland in addition to holding an advance professional certificate in reading instruction. She’s currently pursuing National Board certification.

Before coming to Prince George’s County, she began her career in education as a substitute teacher for New Brunswick Public Schools in New Jersey. After completing the Provisional Teacher Program at the College of New Jersey, she started teaching full time in 2002. In 2004, she relocated to Maryland where she began her six-year tenure at Randall Elementary.

Doster, along with the other finalists, now faces an oral interview on Sept. 11. The winner will be announced at a gala reception on Oct. 8 at Martin’s West in Baltimore. The winner will receive cash, travel opportunities, new technology equipment and a new car donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. The winner will also be honored by President Obama at the White House next spring.

Despite the pending results, Verjeana M. Jacobs, chairwoman of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, is already proud that Doster was able to achieve such an honor.

“This is an incredible honor for Ms. Doster and for Prince George’s County Public Schools,” said Jacobs in a statement. “She is one of our best and brightest, and is making great things happen for students. The Board of Education wishes her the best of luck as she competes with other outstanding educators across the state for the honor of Maryland Teacher of the Year.”