McDaniel alum Mary Kay Connerton named 2024 Maryland Teacher of the Year
Update as of 10.13.23: Mary Kay Connerton has been named the 2023-24 Maryland Teacher of the Year! Connerton, who earned McDaniel’s Administrator 1 Certificate in May 2019, teaches at Annapolis High School in Anne Arundel County.
Update (10.13.23): Mary Kay Connerton, who earned McDaniel’s Administrator 1 Certificate in May 2019, has been named the 2023-24 Maryland Teacher of the Year! Connerton teaches at Annapolis High School in Anne Arundel County. She will now compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced April 2024.
McDaniel College has a tradition of producing top educators, including Maryland Teachers of the Year. Michelle Shearer M.S. ’96, who was the 2010-11 Maryland Teacher of the Year, also was named the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Rhonda Holmes-Blankenship M.S. ’05, who was a 2013 finalist for National Teacher of the Year, was named Maryland Teacher of the Year for 2012-13. Jody Zepp ’94 was the 2014-15 Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Four of Maryland’s Teachers of the Year have ties to McDaniel’s graduate programs in Education. Lauren Stevens M.S. ’09 of Manchester Valley High School in Carroll County; Mary Kay Connerton of Annapolis High School in Anne Arundel County; Laura Moore of Waverly Elementary School in Howard County; and Alisha Swann M.S. ’20 of Esperanza Middle School in St. Mary’s County.
McDaniel has a tradition of producing top educators in Maryland with more than 30 alums since 2010 recognized as County Teachers of the Year and three as Maryland Teachers of the Year.
Read more about our 2023-2024 Maryland Teachers of the Year:
Lauren Stevens M.S. ’09 is the Carroll County Teacher of the Year. She has taught biology and anatomy at Manchester Valley High School in Carroll County for the past six years and has been a teacher for 19 years. She frequently creates curricula recognized as exemplary by the state of Maryland. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington College and earned her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Administration from McDaniel.
“McDaniel has been critical in my growth as a teacher. I have learned so much about equity throughout my master’s education; not taught as separate classes but woven into every part of our coursework,” Stevens says.
She has been recognized as a finalist for Teacher of the Year three previous times and was recognized as outstanding at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Teachers Awards in March.
“There are so many absolutely amazing teachers in Carroll County, many of whom taught me, so this award is humbling and such an honor. It serves as a reminder that teaching is all about learning and believing,” Stevens says. “Teaching is one of the most important professions a person can choose to be a part of — because we constantly believe in growth and learning, fostering both in all of the individual students we teach, no matter what they bring to the table.”
The Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year is Mary Kay Connerton. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, Cortland and earned McDaniel’s Administrator 1 Certificate in May 2019. She is also a certified yoga instructor, which she brings into the classroom to teach mindfulness to her students.
She is the wellness coordinator and teaches physical education and health at Annapolis High School, where she has spent eight of her nearly 13 years of teaching. She created and leads the school’s Trauma-Informed Leadership Team, and organizes counseling groups for students and professional development in the area of health and wellness for teachers.
“Truthfully, I did not anticipate that I was going to win. I was in such awe,” she said at the award announcement. “This process was just a beautiful journey. It’s taught me a lot about myself professionally and personally, and I just felt so incredibly honored to be standing with so many gifted teachers.”
Laura Moore is the Howard County Teacher of the Year. She is a second grade teacher at Waverly Elementary School, where she has taught for the past 10 years. She is a current graduate student at McDaniel, working toward her Administrator 1 Certificate. She has National Board Certification and holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Richmond, a master’s in Elementary Education and a Doctor of Education in Mind, Brain, and Teaching from John’s Hopkins University.
At Waverly, she is a team leader for the second grade, a math committee leader, and diversity, equity, and inclusion liaison. Additionally, she serves as an adjunct professor at Bowie State University teaching elementary mathematics to future educators.
“I feel so honored to be recognized for doing something that I love,” Moore says. “Teaching is my true calling, and I am blessed to teach in such a supportive and loving community! I’m also fortunate to be earning my Administrative Certificate from McDaniel, and I am excited about what the future holds from what I’ve learned there!”
Alisha Swann M.S. ’20 is the St. Mary’s County Teacher of the Year. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Elmira College and earned a master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel. She also earned an Administrator I Certificate from McDaniel in May 2021.
“McDaniel College was the steppingstone I needed to further my knowledge and understanding of school systems and methods to better serve my students,” she says. “Throughout my tenure as a student at McDaniel, I learned alongside an amazing cohort of fellow educators. We encouraged each other, helped one another, and have witnessed one another succeed in various arenas within our teaching careers.”
On receiving the St. Mary’s County Teacher of the Year award, Swann says, “I stand as a representative for so many amazing teachers and serve as a reminder of the hard work, dedication, and love we pour into our students. We teachers leave an indelible mark on this world, and this award highlights this fact. Being a Teacher of the Year means I am responsible for being a light to everyone around me and speaking up for the well-being and success of our students, educators, and communities.”
She teaches eighth grade English language arts at Esperanza Middle School and will soon transition to being an instructional resource teacher at Spring Ridge Middle School. She has worked as a teacher in St. Mary’s County public schools for the past eight years.