Alana Margeson, an English teacher at Caribou High School, was named 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year on Thursday in a surprise assembly at the school that included students, colleagues and family members.

Jennifer Pooler, coordinator of the Teacher of the Year program for the Maine Department of Education, presented the award to Margeson.

Margeson, who lives in Stockholm, brings enthusiasm, energy and a natural, positive outlook to her classroom, Pooler said.

Colleagues who nominated her said “she engages students in debate, inquiry, research and discussion in a safe environment that encourages taking risks, thinking ‘outside the comfort zone’ and ‘a-ha moments.’ “

“We owe our thanks and gratitude to you and the thousands of Maine teachers who dedicate themselves every day to providing the best possible learning experiences for our children,” Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said in a prepared statement.

Finalists for the 2012 award were Tim Eisenhart, a mathematics teacher at Westbrook High School, and Ingrid Stressenger, a fourth-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth.