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Honored Teacher Turns the Tables to Honor the Community

Mary Blanton.

Third-grade El Morro teacher Mary Blanton set up a web site and blog years ago, affording parents easy access into her classroom. Her infectious love of learning allows her to personally connect with students, from high achievers to the most challenged, as well as with her colleagues, where she serves as a mentor and spearheads the school’s participation in the national Read Across America literacy program.

Blanton even refers to her classroom, number 54, more affectionately as “Club 54.”

For this and more, Blanton was recognized Tuesday as the school district’s teacher of the year, El Morro principal Chris Duddy said during a school board meeting.

“Personally, Mary is a terrific mother and a valued community member,” said Duddy, noting that her three children “have been nothing but model students,” including Aiden, an El Morro fourth-grader, and high school sophomore Noah and senior Bryce, honored at this year’s Patriots Day Parade.

When it was her turn to take the podium, Blanton provided the audience, filled with colleagues and family members who filled all available seats, a glimpse of her character as she launched into her own eloquent paean to the school district and community.

“I am so humbled to be chosen among so many stellar employees,” said Blanton, going on to describe her fortunate work environment and satisfying career choice.

Blanton, an El Morro teacher since 1988, said people invariably tell her she is lucky to teach in a place of such physical beauty. Though she appreciates the town’s natural wonders, Blanton said her blessings stem from the district’s staff and parents. Heads nodded in agreement as she described the virtues of a caring community that pulls together in a crises, “when you really see the heart of this district.”

As she concluded her speech, the crowd erupted in a spontaneous standing ovation. In addition to her husband and sons, Blanton’s extended family also shared the moment with her, along with fellow staff and even students.

“I’m almost speechless at your speech,” said board member Theresa O’Hare. Board members persevered, though, expressing their admiration as well. Jan Vickers spoke of the warmth Blanton exudes and her success working full time while raising her children. Bill Landsiedel commented that “to be teacher of the year here in this high performance district is really something special.”

“It’s no wonder you are teacher of the year,” said board president Betsy Jenkins, adding that whenever she tells someone, “I love Mary Blanton,” the reply is always, “I know, I love her too!”

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