Westminster High School health teacher Kellie Hurst was recently named the Maryland Health Teacher of the Year for 2013-14 by the Maryland Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD). (Photo courtesy Carroll County Public Schools / October 31, 2013)

Westminster High School health teacher Kellie Hurst said she enjoys teaching health and wellness because it is a subject that isn't properly promoted in American culture.

"I want to see the kids reach toward and strive toward self-actualization and our culture just doesn't promote it much," she said.

Hurst was recently recognized for her work in the classroom on Oct. 18, when she was named the Maryland Health Teacher of the Year for 2013-14 by the Maryland Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MAHPERD).

"I was ecstatic," Hurst said of receiving the award.

The award is presented to a teacher who serves as a role model epitomizing personal health and fitness, enjoyment of activity, sportsmanship, and sensitivity to the needs of students, according to a news release from Carroll County Public Schools.

Other criteria include, utilizing various teaching methodologies, planning innovative learning experiences, and conducting a balanced and sequential curriculum.

"Kellie prides herself on creating a positive, productive learning environment and inspires her students to think critically about issues which have immediate relevancy to their lives," Assistant Supervisor of Health Education Dawn Rathgeber said in a statement.

Rathgeber nominated Hurst for the award.

Hurst is the first Carroll County teacher to receive the award since Ashley Boumel, now the health teacher at Sykesville Middle School, in 2011.

Hurst, who serves as the chairperson for the Carroll County high school health professional learning community, recently expanded the health program at Westminster and two other high schools by introducing an Honors Health 3 course.

Hurst said 100 students at Westminster have signed up for the course in its first year.

She has been a health teacher for 14 years, including the last six years at Westminster High.

Hurst wasn't the only Carroll County teacher to be recognized recently by MAHPERD.

Three teachers received the Simon McNeely Award, which is presented to teachers who demonstrate outstanding teaching, service, and innovation in health, physical education, recreation or dance.

Teachers who received this award include, Michael Golden, a physical education teacher at Oklahoma Road Middle School, Jessica Reid, a health teacher at Eldersburg Elementary School, and Connie Wuenschel Tumulty, a physical education teacher at Taneytown Elementary School.

Hurst also received the Simon McNeely Award in 2011