Amy Mangold, a special education teacher at John Archer School in Bel Air, was named Harford County Public Schools Teacher of the Year during the 23rd annual banquet Wednesday evening.
Mangold has spent 14 years with HCPS. She works with children between the ages of 3 and 6 at John Archer. She also spent three years teaching at Edgewood Elementary School.
"I have received so many well wishes over the past week, and truthfully, if my name had not been called, I truly felt like a winner," Mangold said. "This has been an amazing experience and has had me reflect on my role as an educator and a person in a way I have never been able to reflect before."
She was one of five finalists for the top teaching honor in Harford County. Mangold and her colleagues – Michael Brogley, a social studies teacher at C. Milton Wright High School, Jessica Harcarik, a health teacher at Southampton Middle School, Kristina Powell, a vocal and general music teacher at Bel Air Elementary School, and Kelly Sayre, a third-grade teacher at Red Pump Elementary School – were honored during the banquet at The Bayou Restaurant in Havre de Grace.
The winner's name, as it has been in prior years, was revealed in a surprise announcement. HCPS Superintendent Barbara Canavan and Board of Education President Nancy Reynolds revealed the name.
Mangold acknowledged her fellow finalists, saying "you have changed my perspective on teaching" and that "I am truly inspired by all of you."
She also thanked the faculty, administrators and staff at John Archer for their support, and she gave a special shout-out to paraeducators, who support teachers and students in and out of the classroom.
"The second-best part of teaching is working with paraeducators," Mangold said, noting the best part is working with students.
She said her students have taught her many things, but the three that stick out are perseverance, to expect the unexpected and to "put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time."
"I accept this honor on behalf of the hard-working educators in Harford County," she said.
Mangold, 36, lives in Abingdon, where she grew up. She is a 1998 graduate of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. Her 6-year-old son, Tyler, and her parents, Steve and Beth Connor, of Abingdon, attended the banquet with her.
Steve Connor is a travel manager, and Beth Connor is a retired teacher with 31 years of working in private education and Baltimore County Public Schools. She was her daughter's third-grade teacher at St. Stephen School in Kingsville.
Beth Connor said after the banquet that her daughter "just loves" teaching. Steve Connor encouraged people to observe her classroom.
"She's amazing, she really is," he said.
The finalists were escorted to their tables by a current or former student, and each student spoke about the impact the teachers have had on their lives.
The students who spoke about the other finalists were Courtney Boseck, a ninth-grader in Brogley's class; Tyler Goins, an eighth-grade student of Harcarik; Tara Ford, a senior at Bel Air High School who is a former student of Powell, and Amanda Snyder, a third-grader who has been Sayre's class for second and third grades.
Gabriella Reeves, a 6-year-old kindergartner, talked about how much she enjoys school and being in Mangold's classroom.
Gabriella has multiple disabilities, according to her father, Andrew, and her speech was delivered through a recording device she uses to communicate. The voice on the recorder was that of Gabriella's 9-year-old sister, Liliana.
Andrew Reeves, a Bel Air resident, said this year is Gabriella's first at John Archer; the family moved to Harford County from North Carolina.
"Since she's been in Miss Amy's class, she started walking, she's been communicating with us more... I like to think that her dedication and love for her students has allowed Gabbi to blossom into the special little girl that she is," Reeves told the banquet audience.
Mangold will represent Harford County at the Maryland Teacher of the Year program – that winner will be announced in the fall. As Harford's Teacher of the Year, her gifts include a free one-year lease of a 2017 Toyota RAV4 from Jones Junction, a Dell laptop computer, a television from NTA Life, a watch from Saxon's Diamond Centers and a custom-made ring from Jostens, in addition to gift certificates from many local businesses and a $1,200 prize from HAR-Co Credit Union, according to a news release from the school system.
The credit union is a major sponsor of the Teacher of the Year program and banquet, along with The Bayou.