Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School eighth-grade social studies teacher Heather Carnaghan, a 13-year teaching veteran, was named the 2017-18 Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year at tonight’s 32ndannual Excellence in Education Awards.

The surprise announcement was the culminating moment at the event, presented annually in partnership by Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. Lauren Rimando, who teaches middle school math at Annapolis Area Christian School, was named Independent Schools Teacher of the Year.

“What I walk into a room with is years and years of building up to that moment,” Carnaghan told the crowd minutes after her name was announced. “I just want to say that the years and years and years that I have worked with educators like everyone in this room is what made it possible to be in this spot.”

A National Board Certified Teacher, Carnaghan is the first charter or contract school teacher to win the award, which has been given annually since 1987. She will compete for Maryland State Teacher of the Year, an honor that will be announced next fall.

Forty-eight educators from public and private schools were recognized during the event. Other finalists for this year’s Public Schools Teacher of the Year honor were: Cherryll Clacks, the Triple-E teacher at Van Bokkelen Elementary School; Katherine Gardner, a physical education teacher at Marley Elementary School; Pamela Klink, a culinary arts teacher at the Center of Applied Technology – South; and Marlene Kramer, an art teacher at Southern High School.

Christine O’Neill of St. Mary’s Elementary School was the other finalist for Independent Schools Teacher of the Year.

Called “the teacher that parents hope and dream of for our children” by one parent, Carnaghan believes that the culture of a school is a key in student success. Therefore, she spends significant time mentoring students and staff to build a great sense of community. In her four years at Monarch, Carnaghan has taught kindergarten, third grade, and eighth grade.

“In each grade level, she has consistently demonstrated her effectiveness as a teacher through her strong example, tireless work ethic, and high expectations for her students, fellow staff members, and herself,” Monarch Principal Donna O’Shea wrote in her nomination of Carnaghan.