(March 29, 2013) Karen Eure, a 25-year kindergarten teaching veteran at Snow Hill Elementary School, was named Worcester County’s 2013 “Teacher of the Year” last Friday during a banquet at the Clarion Hotel in Ocean City.
“I am stunned and amazed to be here representing the most wonderful group of teachers anywhere in the country,” Eure said. “You are the ones who make this the best job in the world.”
Every year, the state of Maryland charges each of its 24 school districts — 23 counties, plus Baltimore City — with selecting a top teacher to serve as a candidate alongside teachers from other districts in the contest for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
At each of the county’s 14 public schools, a selection committee of administrators is formed to receive nominations for that school’s best teacher. Following a review, the committee selects one nominee to represent the school at the county level.
All 14 candidates were present at last week’s culminating event, along with their families and colleagues, not knowing which one of them would be named the winner following an intensive selection process earlier this year. A panel, consisting of former county teachers as well as education professionals from local universities, made the selection based on a 1,200-point rubric involving work samples as well as in-person interviews.
Before Eure’s name was announced, 2012 Teacher of the Year Tony Bevilacqua delivered the evening’s keynote address, in which he encouraged teachers to not lose sight of how profound an impact their dedication can have.
Bevilacqua cited a recent study by famed Harvard University economist Raj Chetty, “which suggested that if a student, in their K-12 experience, can have just one teacher that is a top five percent teacher – in other words, a Worcester County teacher – that the impact of having such a high quality teacher translates to an additional $9,000 in earnings per year.”
“It literally puts dollar signs on good lesson plans, which is something that we as teachers tend to forget,” Bevilacqua said. “The study proves that what we do is an investment in our children and our communities.”
Bevilacqua noted that he had worked in several other school districts, but always saw working in Worcester as a step up, and applied for jobs in the county several times before he was given a position. Elsewhere, he said, many teachers “had forgotten that what they do is an art form.”
Worcester County Board of Education President Bob Rothermel echoed the sentiment.
“John Steinbeck is credited as saying, ‘I’ve come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist, and that they are as few in number as any of the other great visual artists,’” Rothermel said.
Eure was presented with the award by County Commissioner Virgil Shockley, two of whose children Eure has taught during her tenure.
“Karen has a special place in my heart,” Shockley said. “She’s probably one of the most caring, loving individuals that I have ever met.”
“We deeply, deeply appreciate everything that you do for Worcester County,” Commission President Bud Church said to all of the teachers in attendance. “Not only do you educate our children, but you make this place safe for our children. You make our community proud, you make people want to buy homes, and make people want to live here.”
Eure also received formal commendations from the Maryland State Senate and House of Delegates.
“You read so many things about the world today, about what’s not right,” said Sen. Jim Mathias. “But I can tell you that I believe in tomorrow, in a brighter day, because of our children, our teachers, and their inspiration.”