OAKLAND – Shelly Moody looked out at the crowd of students, teachers and parents, and told them that being named the 2011 Maine Teacher of the Year was an honor.

But not just for her.

“This is really about all of us; it’s not about me,” Moody said. “I couldn’t do this without the school. I’ve learned so much from all of you.”

Moody, 34, of Oakland, was announced as the state’s top teacher Friday morning at a surprise assembly in the Williams Elementary School gymnasium.

In addition to the school community, the crowd included Education Commissioner Angela Faherty, Superintendent Gary Smith; the 2010 award recipient, Kevin Grover; plus Moody’s family.

“Shelly Moody is a quiet leader who, without knowing it, makes those around her better,” Faherty said. “Her enthusiasm, her commitment to children and her professionalism are contagious.”

Moody cited her mother, a teacher for 25 years, as a key inspiration, and praised everyone else who helped her along her way. She encouraged everyone to accept challenges from their teachers.

“I teach because I get to watch you grow — just like seeds planted in a garden,” she said to her students. “And I get to watch you bloom.”

Moody has been a teacher for a decade, in grades 3, 4 and 5 in Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18. She’s now a third- and fourth-grade “looping” teacher at the elementary school, meaning she teaches the same students for two consecutive years.

The school has 235 students in grades 3 to 5 and 50 staff members.

The annual selection process started with 13 nominees from schools across the state; they were scored by a panel of teachers, administrators and former award recipients. Moody and four other semifinalists were then closely reviewed by a team that spent a day at each school in the spring.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, Kathy Harris-Smedberg, the school’s principal, kicked things off by asking audience members to raise their hands if they thought the morning assembly, which had been falsely billed as an anti-bullying talk by the school resource officer — was actually about something else.

Everyone’s hands shot up.

Another teacher, Valerie Glueck, called Moody “an amazing teacher and an amazing person.

“She sometimes makes me mad, because she makes me think about my teaching all the time — in the best way possible,” Glueck said.

Faherty noted that Moody creates an individual learning plan for each of her students and is “nurturing,” while holding them to high expectations.

“She creates magic every day and she’s tireless and an inspiration to me and to everyone in our great profession,” Faherty said.

Andrew Poulliot, a former student of Moody’s who attended the assembly, called her “the most energetic, exuberant, fast, encouraging and inspiring teacher that I have had yet.”

Moody inspired him to write poetry and read new books, he said, and motivated him to “follow my dreams.”

“Whenever Mrs. Moody would walk through the door, the clouds would disappear and we felt a certain sort of magic,” Poulliot said.

Grover, a teacher in Falmouth who was Maine’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, presented Moody with a gift-wrapped box that contained — nothing. Grover said he thought a lot about that and decided it was the best thing he could give.

“There is nothing to prepare Mrs. Moody for this year,” Grover said. “What she needs, she already has. She has you — for support, when she comes back to school.”

As teacher of the year, Moody will travel around the country, speaking to other groups and schools. Moody also enters the running for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year, an award that will be announced in April at the White House.