BETHEL – Crescent Park School kindergarten teacher Mary Merrill beamed broadly after being named Tuesday as Maine Teacher of the Year in Wal-Mart’s 10th annual program.

Merrill was chosen by the Phi Delta Kappa International professional education association as one of the nation’s top educators in the retail giant’s program, according to a press release from Oxford Wal-Mart Supercenter store manager Shannon McFarland.

“I’m speechless,” Merrill said after a short ceremony at the school with family and peers present.

Representatives from Phi Delta Kappa and the Oxford Wal-Mart also gave Merrill and the school a $10,000 educational grant from the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Foundation.

Last year, Merrill won the Oxford Wal-Mart’s local Teacher of the Year award and a $1,000 donation to the school.

Alyssa Bouchard and Tammy Gordon, Oxford Wal-Mart employees, recommended Merrill. Gordon’s son, Lucas, is a former student of Merrill’s. Bouchard’s daughter Skylar was in one of Merrill’s classes.

Tuesday’s recognition placed Merrill in the running for Phi Delta Kappa’s national Teacher of the Year award, to be named in November, McFarland stated.

“Since the Teacher of the Year program began in 1995, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has honored more than 25,000 teachers nationwide, and donated more than $18.5 million to local schools,” the press release stated.

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