Dr. A-Worden

Maya Preuss, Outgoing In-Depth Editor

Every teacher hopes to leave a lasting impact on their students, and earlier this year, English Department Chair and English teacher Dr. Thomas Worden was recognized for just that. 

Not only did he discover that he had been nominated by his former student Rina Torchinsky (‘18)  for the Philip Merrill award from the UMD, but he also received a check for $500. 

“It was just one of those moments in my life where you just never know who you’ve influenced in what way, and it certainly is the biggest award I’ve ever received,” Worden said. 

The Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honors 19 of UMD’s most successful seniors along with two influential educators in each of their lives, one from the university itself and one from their kindergarten through senior year of high school. The recipients were invited to spend a day at the campus, where they engaged in a workshop to strengthen collaboration between the university and each respective K-12 schools.

Torchinsky is currently a digital news and graphics intern at National Public Radio (NPR) and the news and data editor for The Diamondback, the UMD’s independent student newspaper. Later this year, she will be graduating with a degree from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

“Worden’s feedback and kindness throughout the semester-long process has been invaluable to the maturation of my critical thinking and writing skills,” Torchinsky wrote on the University of Maryland website. “His approach to teaching is one of the reasons why I’m so comfortable thinking freely and creatively.” 

Along with the money that Worden received as part of his prize, a CESJDS student will also receive a $1,000 scholarship to attend the UMD in the future.

“That’s an award that takes care of the scholar who wins the award, as well as all the people behind it and the people in the future,” Worden said. “I’ve never seen anything [like it].” 

After being part of the JDS community for over two decades, Worden has not only influenced Torchinsky but many other students as well. Senior Eve Murdock was in Worden’s English class for her last two years of high school and has learned a lot from him. 

“I will take away the need to be confident in myself and believe in what I’m doing instead of always doubting myself,” Murdock said. “He is a very driven and confident person, and I will take away those characteristics in my life past high school.” 

With this award, Worden was able to fully recognize how much of an impact he has had on past and current students during his career at JDS. 

“That day was so inspiring to see all those people who are going to go out and do big things and really change the world,” Worden said. “It was really meaningful, and to be a part of that was just really rewarding in a way that I’ve never felt before.”