A Fairfax County Latin teacher whose students have won top honors in state and national competitions during the four years she has been at W.T. Woodson High School has been named Virginia Teacher of the Year for 1983.

Maureen O'Donnell was selected from among 21 candidates in the contest, according to S. John Davis, state superintendent of public instruction, who made the annoucement yesterday. She will represent Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition in the District of Columbia next spring.

Davis described O'Donnell as a combination "drill sergeant, mother superior and cheerleader." She is credited with increases in the number of Latin classes at Woodson from three to ten, and in the number of Latin students from 60 to more than 300.

Last May, O'Donnell received an honorary degree from Yale University, and at that time was termed "a force in Latin at the national level," and was commended for her "tireless brilliance and devotion" to her profession, Davis said.

In September, she was selected by a panel of Fairfax County educators as 1982-1983 teacher of the year there.

The State Department of Education said she is noted for her enthusiasm and ability to motivate, her fast-paced and creative teaching, and her determination that all her students will enjoy success in Latin and leave her classes as better people than when they entered.