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2009 Achievement Award Recipients

Helen Niedung Chris Weller
Deborah Brown
Class of 1972
Helen Niedung
Class of 1954
Chris Weller
Class of 1962

Deborah Brown

DEBORAH McALLISTER BROWN (72).  Debbie has worked as an educator for 33 years, and on June 10 was named "Vice Principal of the Year" of the Charles County Public Schools.  (Debbie's award was presented by Deputy Superintendent Ron Cunningham, who was Debbie's Social Studies teacher at Surrattsville!)

Debbie was nominated for this award by Marvin Jones, principal of her current school, Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School in Waldorf.  In his nomination, Principal Jones cited Debbie for her quality leadership skills, for demonstrating energy, compassion and enthusiasm in her job and for always ensuring that student needs come first.  "She embodies and personifies, in the truest sense of the word, the title of vice principal," Jones wrote in his nomination letter.

Debbie began her career with the Charles County Public Schools in 1977, teaching second grade at Arthur Middleton Elementary School.  During her tenure at Middleton Elementary, Debbie received the Outstanding Supervising and Cooperating Teacher award in 1997 and was recognized as an exemplary employee in 1997-98 by the Charles County Board of Education.  Debbie was also the “teacher in charge” whenever the principal and vice principal were not in the building.  She held the position of team leader for four years.  Debbie taught second grade for 24 years at Middleton until she was appointed Vice Principal at Indian Head Elementary School in 2000.  After six years at Indian Head Elementary School, Debbie was named Vice Principal of Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary.

Debbie is also very active in her community.  She is a member of the Alpha Eta Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society of Women Educators and recently served as the President of the chapter.  Debbie is also very active in her church.  She has served on many committees, is a choir member, served on the Board of Directors and is a lay reader.

Debbie received her bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in education from the University of Maryland, College Park.   Prior to that, Debbie was a pure Hornet, having attended Tanglewood for grades 1 - 6, Surrattsville Junior for grades 7 - 9, and Surrattsville High for grades 9 -12.

Helen Niedung

HELEN BOVBJERG NIEDUNG (54) has been Professor of Voice at Edison State College in Ft. Myers, FL since 1980, as well as being Director of Music at the Edison Congregational Church in Ft. Myers and maintaining a large “Helen Niedung Studio of Voice” in Cape Coral, FL.  In 2008, Helen received the Florida State Music Teachers Association’s highest honor, the  “Excellence in Teaching Award” (for Voice).  Through the years, she has had countless student winners in various vocal competitions.

Helen received her BM and MM degrees at the Eastman School of Music and did post graduate studies, with a German scholarship, at the Music Conservatory in Stuttgart, and this led to her first full-time engagement as leading lyric soprano with the opera company in Ulm.  Helen has sung over 460 performances of 35 roles in opera houses throughout Germany and in Denmark.  In addition to opera and operetta, she has sung numerous concerts and recitals in Europe and the US, including appearances with renowned orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Eastman-Rochester Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony, New Orleans Philharmonic, Philharmonica Hungarica, Hamburger Sinfoniker and Tivoli Concert Orchestra in Copenhagen

Helen's many honors include two Rockefeller grants for study in Germany and in Rome, winning the International Voice Competition in Toulouse, France, and being the soprano winner of the first New Orleans Philharmonic Oratorio Soloists Competition.

A member of several arts organizations, she currently serves as First Vice President of Calusa Musicale, a local club of the National Federation of Music Clubs, which sponsors an annual Junior Music Festival and provides scholarships to talented music students.  She also serves as Scholarship Chairman for the Southwest Florida Music Teachers Association; a position she has held for the past 20 years.  For several years, she was also Scholarship Chairman for the “Friends of the Opera Club”, of which she is a Charter Member, and which gave students the opportunity to experience opera performances at the Florida Grand Opera in Miami.

Helen has noted that, without Mrs. Jean Moorehead, her music teacher at Surrattsville from grades 7-12,  none of the above would have happened.  Helen adds that Mrs. Morehead was my her mentor and "guiding light" and that Mrs. Morehead convinced Helen's parents that she needed to follow her dreams of becoming a professional singer rather than following her parents dreams of her becoming a government employee with a nice, safe job.


Chris Weller

CHRIS WELLER (62).  After graduating from Surrattsville, Chris attended the University of Maryland at College Park. 
She was a four-year varsity letter winner in basketball and also participated on the Terps swimming and lacrosse squads. Following graduation, she taught and coached at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, and returned to Maryland for her master’s degree in 1973 and became an assistant for two seasons under head coach Dottie McKnight. In 1975, the Weller dynasty began as Chris was elevated to head coach, a position she held for over a quarter of a century while averaging nearly 20 games per season.
Her colleagues at College Park have commented that her "contributions to the growth of collegiate women’s basketball are documented with the best known coaches in the game."

The following are some of Chris's many accomplishments during her coaching career:

  • One of a very small handful of college coaches, men’s or women’s, to coach 25 seasons or more at the same institution.
  • Only the fifth NCAA Division I coach to earn at least 400 victories at a single institution.
  • Coached the Terrapins to the Top 10 nationally nine times, the Top 25 on 14 occasions, and the No. 1 ranking in the nation during much of the 1992 season.
  • Guided the Terps to three Final Fours, eight Elite Eights, ten Sweet 16 appearances, and eight ACC titles.  (Chris' Terps won the first ever ACC tournament championship in 1978.)

Chris' players also experienced great personal success. Her Terrapin program produced five Olympians, three Kodak All-Americans, 28 athletes who participated on national teams and at least four professional players
Also, since 1980, all but one of Chris's athletes who finished her eligibility earned a diploma, serving as a tribute to Chris’s high expectations for her student-athletes both on and off the court.

During her career, Chris was named the ACC Coach of the Year, the American Sports Foundation’s National Coach of the Year, the 1992 Naismith National Coach of the Year, and the Basketball Writer's Association of America National Coach of the Year

Chirs's basketball knowledge and coaching expertise extended beyond the confines of Cole Field House. She was an assistant coach for the U.S. National Jones Cup Team in 1985 and the head coach of the U.S. Select Team in 1986, 1992 and 1994.

Chris also dedicated herself to the growth of women’s basketball in the state of Maryland, promoting the formation of the Maryland Coaches’ Association. Nationally, Weller served as the long-time chairperson of the WBCA Legislative Committee and served as the EAIAW Basketball committee chairperson. She was also a member of the Kodak All-American Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.