POLAND  — A special education teacher at Whittier Middle School in Poland is Maine’s teacher of the year.

The award was presented by Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen to seventh- and eighth-grade teacher Shannon Shanning during a school assembly on Monday.

Bowen said great teachers “deserve our appreciation for engaging our kids in school and providing them with the best possible learning tools to succeed.”

Shanning will represent the state at a national gathering in Dallas, a ceremony in Washington with the president, and other events and conferences. The other finalists were Kathy Bousquet from Central School in South Berwick and Beth Switzer from Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York.