ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Annapolis High School physical education, health, and wellness teacher Mary Kay Connerton was named the 2023-24 Maryland Teacher of the Year by the Maryland State Department of Education.
The announcement was the icing on the cake in a six-month run for Connerton. She was named Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year in April and a finalist for the state award in September.
“I am humbled and honored that I have the privilege to represent the great teachers across our state and I promise to continue this mission of mine,” Connerton told the crowd shortly after the award was announced. “I can confidently say that serving as the next state Teacher of the Year will be one of the greatest honors of my lifetime.”
Four other AACPS teachers – Linda Adamson of Mayo and Jessup elementary schools (1993-94), Patricia Neidhart of Broadneck High School (1988-89), Josh Carroll of South River High School (2017-18), and Teresa Beilstein of South Shore Elementary School (2019-20) – have previously earned Maryland Teacher of the Year honors. Connerton will now compete for the National Teacher of the Year award.
Connerton, who has taught in Anne Arundel County Public Schools for nearly 14 years and at Annapolis High School for the last nine years, serves as the school’s wellness coordinator and is known as a fierce and relentless advocate for student and staff well-being. She created and leads the school’s Trauma-Informed Leadership Team and utilizes a whole-school approach to connect with teachers, administration, school counselors, social workers, and community partners. She also leads monthly counseling groups such as yoga sessions for specific student needs and facilitates professional development for teachers that focuses on the health and wellness of students.
At the county level, Connerton has been instrumental in the creation of a curriculum for the Stretch Your Wellness class available to students throughout the school system.
As she accepted the award, Connerton focused on the importance of her work and also thanked her many supporters who were in the audience, including several of the people whose lives she impacts most daily.
“So I thank you – my students, three of whom are here tonight, my incredibly supportive colleagues, my visionary leaders of Anne Arundel County, my beloved friends and family – for extending your hands and believing in my mission of creating access for all to the tools needed to create a healthy mind and body,” Connerton said. “Because when we address the whole student – the whole individual – everyone thrives.”