From left, Teacher of the Year Karen Carty, Support Employee of the Year Peggy Brown and Promising Educator Award winner Katelyn Boardman pose for a photo during Kent County Public Schools' annual awards ceremony Monday, April 25 in the Kent County High School auditorium.
WORTON — Teaching may not have been Karen Carty's first career, but her move into education six years ago has shown it to be her true calling.
Carty was celebrated for her work Monday evening, April 25 when she was named the 2021-22 Kent County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. She is a science teacher at Kent County Middle School.
Carty spoke about how teaching is a second career for her. She said that once she started in the classroom, she knew it was the right fit.
"I absolutely love teaching," Carty said. "So every day, I just show up and do my best."
This year's ceremony, which included the Support Employee of the Year and Promising Educator awards, was held in the auditorium at Kent County High School.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Couch celebrated the work of everyone in Kent County Public Schools, saying that teaching is the profession that launches all other careers.
"You see the potential in every student who walks through your door," she told the educators in the audience. "You recognize every child has a unique set of skills and talents to share with the world. And you do whatever it takes to reach students and prepare them for the world ahead."
Nivek Johnson, Kent County Board of Education vice president, announced the Support Employee of the Year.
"Our 2022 Support Employee of the Year — this person is dear to my heart — is none other than Miss Peggy Brown of Kent County Middle School," Johnson said in making the announcement.
Brown began working in Kent County Public Schools in 1969. She retired in 2010 and returned to the school system two years later. She is currently an instructional assistant at Kent County Middle School.
"I just want to thank Kent County Public Schools for seeing something in me to allow me to come back and work with the many boys and girls that I strive each day to try to help them to become their best," Brown said.
The Promising Educator Award went to Katelyn Boardman, a special education teacher at Rock Hall Elementary School. The honor goes to a teacher still in their first few years in the classroom.
Taylor Hudson, last year's Promising Educator Award winner, made the announcement.
Boardman, who is in her first year of teaching, thanked her coworkers at Rock Hall Elementary Schools and her students.
"I just want to say thank you to everybody, especially my Rock Hall family. You've helped make it all possible," Boardman said. "I love what I do."
As part of Kent County Public Schools' annual awards cycle, each building names a Teacher and Support Employee of the Year.
In addition to Carty, the Teachers of the Year for each school are:
• Brett King, CTE engineering, Kent County High School
• Erin Legg, second grade, Galena Elementary School
• Lori Receski, special education, Rock Hall Elementary School
• Courtney Spiering, fourth grade, H.H. Garnet Elementary School
Kent County Board of Education President Joseph Goetz announced Carty as the school system's winner.
"It's not lost upon us all as to what you do for our students in Kent County Public Schools as well as your fellow colleagues," Goetz said in recognizing the slate of honorees. "And I just want to thank you all for what you do."
Carty will now go on to compete for the Maryland Teacher of the Year award.
"She will have amazing opportunities to work with some of the very best educators from across this state and take part in a number of different activities over the summer as well as through next school year," said Dan Hushion, supervisor of human resources and the emcee for the April 25 ceremony.
Joining Brown in being recognized for their work as support employees are:
• James Cornelius Jr., custodian, Rock Hall Elementary School
• Christine Cox, cafeteria manager, H.H. Garnet Elementary School
• LaKesha Hoxter, secretary for the Office of Student Services, Central Office
• Laura Johnson, instructional assistant, Kent County High School
• Stephanie Krastel, secretary, Galena Elementary School
During the awards ceremony, Dr. Couch highlighted the important role of support employees, calling them "the backbone of our school system."
"It takes sacrifice, dedication, love and patience to be an instructional assistant, a technology assistant, a secretary, a bus driver, a food service worker or a custodian," Dr. Couch said. "It does not matter what job title you have in the school system, each one of you is an educator in your own way and you are a blessing to the staff and students of Kent County Public Schools."
Also nominated for this year's Promising Educator Award were Alix Murphy and Rebeka VanSant. Both at Galena Elementary School, Murphy teaches special education and VanSant teaches first grade.
"Congratulations to all the honorees," Hudson said before announcing Boardman as this year's winner.
A number of awards were provided to this year's winners by local businesses and organizations, including Chesapeake Bank and Trust Co., Church Hill Theatre, Evergrain Bread Co, Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne's, Molly's Restaurant, Shore United Bank and Waterman's Crab House. Hertrich Ford of Elkton provides the Teacher of the Year winner with a vehicle.
The Kent County High School Jazz Band, led by Dr. Keith Wharton, provided music for the ceremony.
Kent County High School Principal Kris Hemstetter closed out the evening, saying it was an honor to be standing with educators who put their work "at the intersection of passion and also purpose."
"Thank you for being here for this wonderful celebration of educators," Hemstetter said. "As the principal of Kent County High School, I want to give a huge KCHS shout-out to the honorees this evening, their families and this school community that supports them. We have the greatest educators at Kent County Public Schools and we could not do it without you."
Kent County Public Schools honored staff members Monday, April 25 at its annual awards ceremony, held this year in the Kent County High School Auditorium. This year's honorees are from left, front row, Alix Murphy, Katelyn Boardman and Rebeka VanSant, middle row, Peggy Brown, James Cornelius Jr., Christine Cox, Laura Johnson and Stephanie Krastel; top row, Courtney Spiering, Erin Legg, Karen Carty and LaKesha Hoxter.