Governor, Ed Commissioner announce 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year semi-finalists, partnership with Educate Maine

Teacher of the year semi-finalist Suzen Polk-Hoffses, kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School, with Governor LePage and Millbridge student Juan Castillo.

Teacher of the year semi-finalist Suzen Polk-Hoffses, kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School, with Governor LePage and Millbridge student Juan Jose Castillo.

AUGUSTA – On Thursday, six Maine teachers were named as semi-finalist candidates to become the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year. Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen honored the talented group of educators from around the state in a State House ceremony. Also recognizing the semi-finalists were Steven Pound, chair of the State Board of Education; Tanna Clews, executive director of Educate Maine; and the 2013 Maine Teacher of the Year, Shannon Shanning.

The 2014 Maine TOY semi-finalists candidates are among 14 teachers who were nominated and announced in February. A distinguished panel of teachers, principals and business community members made the semi-finalist selections.

The semi-finalists are:

  • Susan Carpenter O’Brien, George B. Weatherbee School, Hampden, Grade 5
  • Christiane Cullens, Mount Desert Island High School, Grades 10-12, English
  • Mary Graziano, Hartland Consolidated School, Grade 4
  • Karen MacDonald, King Middle School, Portland, Grade 6 & 7, English language arts
  • Suzen Polk-Hoffses, Milbridge Elementary School, kindergarten
  • Cynthia Raymond, Hall-Dale Middle School, Farmingdale, Grade 7, English language arts

“The best teachers are mentors and challenge our students to be innovative, creative and engaging,” said Governor LePage. “These teachers want to make a difference in the lives of students, and often times they do. Each of you has set a shining example of being a great teacher. Maine is very lucky to have you.”

The semi-finalist candidates will undergo an intensive selection process — which includes a school visit, a professional portfolio review, and an oral presentation — before the pool is narrowed to three finalists. Those finalists will then sit for an interview before the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year is selected. The review panels consist of legacy Teachers of the Year, principals, Maine Department of Education staff, and members of professional education organizations and the business community. The 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year will be announced at a surprise all-school assembly in September.

The 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year will be the 49th educator to receive the honor. Shannon Shanning, a special education teacher at Whittier Middle School in Poland, is the 2013 Maine Teacher of the Year. She is available to speak to schools, community groups and others. More information about Mrs. Shanning and her primary topics of discussion can be found on the Maine Teacher of the Year website.

In addition to the six semi-finalists, the other nominees included: Anne Carney, St. Albans Consolidated School; Kerri LeSieur, Biddeford Primary School; Joshua Pietras, Penquis Valley High School; Susan Ray, Sacopee Valley Middle School; Laurie Rodrigue, Cony High School; Nancy Sargent, Oxford Canal School; Marsha Snyder, Thornton Academy; Tracie Wagenfeld-Hallissey, Willard School.

At the ceremony, Commissioner Bowen announced that his department recently entered into a partnership with Educate Maine, a business-led education group, to manage the Maine Teacher of the Year program.

“Educate Maine has proven itself a very effective ally in promoting rigorous standards and effective teaching practices with the powerful voice of the businesses who are members of that organization,” Bowen said. “We appreciate their support of the teaching profession and look forward to their work in further bolstering what is already considered one of the more rigorous teacher of the year programs in the country. In addition to promoting good teaching, we share their vision for making the program a professional development opportunity for teachers across Maine.”

Educate Maine Executive Director Tanna Clews said, “Educate Maine is thrilled to be administering the Maine Teacher of the Year program. We are excited to showcase and highlight exceptional teachers in the state.”

Hannaford Supermarkets generously underwrites the cost of the Maine Teacher of the Year program. Bangor Savings Bank reimburses the winner’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on official duties. The program is managed by the Educate Maine in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, with special thanks to the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association for their support and advice.

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