OCEAN CITY — The 2013 and 26th annual Worcester County Teacher of the Year (TOY) is Karen Eure, a kindergarten teacher at Snow Hill Elementary School (SHES).

“I am stunned and amazed to be here to represent the most wonderful group of teachers anywhere in the country,” said Eure after the award was announced Friday. “You are the ones who make our job the best job in the world.”

Eure has been teaching at SHES since 1987 and has “enjoyed the ever-changing world of kindergarten for 25 years.” She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Early Childhood Education from Mary Washington College. Eure earned her Masters of Education with a concentration in reading from Salisbury University.

All of the TOY candidates from across the county received an enormous amount of praise from gathered Board of Education members and elected officials. However, County Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who represents the Snow Hill area, had some personal compliments for Eure.

“Karen has a special place in my heart. She’s probably one of the most caring, loving individuals that I have ever met,” he said. “She’s taught two of my kids, both ended up being valedictorians by the way.”

There is still a scrapbook, Shockley added, in his home with pictures of his daughter and Eure on the last day of school.

While Eure received many accolades, her fellow TOY candidates and her profession in general was also well lauded during the ceremony.

“Teachers touch the future by preparing our young people with the skills they need to become our future leaders,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson. “Teachers, more than any other profession, create the world we live in.”

Tony Bevilacqua, 2012’s honoree, underlined the obvious differences he has seen in Worcester compared to other school districts in the other states he’s taught in.

“Parents I came to know in these places expressed their apprehension in their school systems,” he said. “They missed parent teacher conferences, they screened phone calls and they avoided visiting PTA meetings and school events. In order to speak with a parent, house visits became standard operating procedure.”

In Bevilacqua’s words, many teachers in other states “have forgotten this profession is an art form.”

“It takes a lot of talent to design a creative and engaging lesson plan,” he added.

But while some districts may have gone astray with a fence between educators and parents, Bevilacqua was adamant the culture is different in Worcester.

“Worcester County is number one because the people in this room, the employees of public schools, dedicate their lives to education,” he asserted.

It’s a unique but highly positive atmosphere, Bevilacqua said, and one that he’s glad he works in every day. There aren’t any hard feelings that it took him years of teaching to be hired by Worcester, he joked, noting that as a rookie educator he wasn’t ready for the high bar set by the county.

“Worcester County only hires the best, most dedicated, most professional teachers and I wasn’t one of them when I applied,” said Bevilacqua.

State Senator Jim Mathias (D-38B) also had kind words for all Worcester teachers and especially this year’s TOY nominees whom he believes are the kind of educators that make a lifelong impression on students.

“Certainly all of us can close our eyes for a moment and remember that special teacher, that special moment that made us believe in ourselves,” he said.

As Teacher of the Year, Eure will serve as an ambassador for Worcester County and will visit educational conferences and Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) events among other duties. Additionally, she will represent the county in the statewide competition.