Finalists announced for Orioles as part of MLB, Target, People “All-Star Teachers” program

Major League Baseball, Target, and People recently announced the 90 finalists in the “Target Presents People All-Star Teachers” campaign, which celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities. The three finalists for the Baltimore Orioles are Brian Raska, Dr. Catherine Thorson and Thomas Arentz.

Fans are encouraged to visit to vote on their favorite stories through June 29. One winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week activities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on July 15 on FOX.

Brian Raska taught adapted physical education to students with special needs for two years in Arlington, VA before moving to Woodbridge, VA where he has been teaching elementary physical education for the past three years at Minnieville Elementary School. For the last two years, Raska has served as team leader for the school’s specialists. The 2013 Dale City Teacher of the Year helps his students understand that playing sports is not just about winning and losing, but about health and wellness throughout their lives. Through several creative games he has devised, such as “Cholesterol Tag,” an activity that teaches students about heart health, Raska has combined education and exercise. He has also worked with stakeholders at the school to increase students’ physical activity and educate them on healthier food choices. With his help, Minnieville Elementary School has twice earned the Gold Award (highest achievement) in the Nutrition and Physical Activity Scorecard program, which rates school performance in nutrition and physical activity. Raska not only teaches because it is his job, but also because he wants to improve the lives of the students through improving their health.

Dr. Catherine Thorson of Annapolis, MD has spent her career serving students in poverty and aiding her pupils in rising above challenges to find success. During her 11-year career, Thorson has procured funding for an outdoor classroom and a sports and academic after-school program as well as helped in the process for her school, Georgetown East Elementary School, to acquire iPads and enlist a local artist to construct an outdoor art piece, all while ensuring quality academic instruction. A high achiever, she holds two master’s degrees and an Ed.D. Degree in Education. Thorson was awarded her county’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Excellence Award acknowledging her commitment to her English Language Learners. She has also earned teaching certificates in Elementary Education, Biology, and ESOL, but her most outstanding quality is her commitment to ensuring that all her students are happy, healthy, and academically successful.

Baltimore native Thomas Arentz, an English and Latin teacher at Sparrows Point High School, has impacted students through guidance and support over his 16-year career. Arentz has sponsored several extracurricular activities including Student Council, Future Educators of America as well as the Class of 2008. Along with his career at Sparrows Point High School, Arentz also teaches evening classes at the Community College of Baltimore County. He is supportive of his children’s athletic teams, coaching both of his son’s baseball and soccer teams, and is also a dedicated member of his church, having taught Sunday school and vacation bible school for several years. He is the Council President for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rosedale, MD and is currently studying Educational Leadership at Towson University in hopes of becoming an administrator to continually impact his student’s lives in a new way.