Belvedere Elementary School's Martha Gardner, a fifth-grade teacher, was named Anne Arundel County's Teacher of the Year on Monday.
The announcement came during the 26th annual Excellence in Education Awards, presented by Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by Comcast and the Anne Arundel Community College Foundation.
Gardner, a 32-year teaching veteran, said she was honored for the award. She will now represent the county school system in the Maryland Teacher of the Year competition. She also won $1,000 from Comcast and two round-trip tickets on Southwest Airlines, according to a press release.
“I am so blessed to work with a group of people who make children their top priority and never put themselves in front of that,” Gardner said in the release.
Belvedere Elementary's principal, Susan Errichiello, said the award couldn't have been given to a better teacher.
"She's one of those people who makes you think differently, and truly, sincerely loves what she does," Errichiello said. "You don't meet many peolpe like that anymore. It's been a pleasure working with her."
Each of Gardner's fifth-grade students write letters to 21-year-old versions of themselves. The letters are saved and and mailed back to them 11 years later in the hopes that her then-former students will still learn something from her, she said.
She also is active with the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis, where she has worked on more than 25 productions and led the effort to build a $2-million theater.
Gardner was among five finalists chosen for the award, three of whom were from Broadneck-area schools. The other finalists were:
- Raven Bishop, an art teacher at Severn River Middle School
- Mikki Loiselle, a fifth-grade teacher at Pershing Hill Elementary School
- Julie Olson, a music teacher at Nantucket Elementary School
- Scott Rundle, a math teacher at Broadneck High School
"Along with the finalists, a total of 50 educators across the county were honored at Monday's ceremonies, including:
- Ferhat Avsar, Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School
- Wylma Bagshaw, Oakwood Elementary School
- Michael Barnhart, Glendale Elementary School
- Sherryl Barton, Broadneck Elementary School
- Mary Jo Bedsworth, Lake Shore Elementary School
- Barbara Bollino, Marley Middle School
- Patricia Brett, Monsignor Slade Catholic School
- Terrilyn Broderick, Glen Burnie High School
- Allyson Cabradillia, Millersville Elementary School
- Kimberly Cahill, Odenton Elementary School
- Elaine Cechak, Broadneck High School
- Michelle Colaric, Belvedere Elementary School
- Kelly Dillon, Mayo Elementary School
- Brenda Duerr, Community Based Services
- Sherrita Evans, Frank Hebron-Harman Elementary School
- Keri Farrish, Central Elementary School
- Nellie Fastige, Arnold Elementary School
- Amanda Finnis, Severna Park Elementary School
- Donald Foderaro, North County High School
- Christopher Graulich, Riviera Beach Elementary School
- Catherine Hayo, Arnold Elementary School
- Catherine Hellie, Archbishop Spalding High School
- Sabra Hill, Severna Park High School
- Sarah Jester, Northeast High School
- Sandi Lemoncello, Marley Elementary School
- Sharon Mabbott, Southgate Elementary School
- Monica Mantegna, Lindale Middle School
- Laurie Marlow, Severna Park Middle School
- Thomas Mawhinney, Windsor Farm Elementary School
- Emily Miller, Annapolis Middle School
- Michael Miller, Old Mill High School
- Brenda Osborne, MacArthur Middle School
- Mary Rathlev, Severn River Middle School
- Sheri Rinehuls, Severna Park Elementary School
- Kellie Schell-Ramey, Waugh Chapel Elementary School
- Mark Schrader, Southern High School
- J. William Sturgis, Crofton Middle School
- Kimberly Terry, Manor View Elementary School
- Paula Wagner, Mary Moss Academy
- Julie Weber, Severna Park Middle School
- Carrie Weimer, Pasadena Elementary School
- Kimberly Wilcox, Richard Henry Lee Elementary School
- Katie Williams, Linthicum Elementary School
- Barbara Wood, Linthicum Elementary School