Mainers finalists for top teaching award in math, science

GARDINER – Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome announced today that four of Maine’s top teachers are finalists for the nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science educators.

Tome was joined Friday by Anita Bernhardt, Maine DOE’s standards and assessment coordinator, and Michele Mailhot, the Department’s mathematics specialist, in congratulating the state’s finalists for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching during a ceremony at the Maine Science Teachers Association conference in Gardiner.

The honorees include educators Robin Kennedy from Sebasticook Valley Middle School, Lisa McLellan from Windham High School, William O’Brien from Camden Hills Regional High School and Amy Troiano from Westbrook High School.

Kennedy, of Sebasticook Valley Middle School in Newport, is a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher who works to connect science to the everyday lives of her students while helping them develop their problem-solving skills. She serves on the board of the Maine Science Teachers Association and previously ran Maine’s Challenger Learner Center student programs, which inspire passion for space and earth science in the state’s youth.  

McLellan, of Windham High School, is a chemistry and physics teacher whose own love of science is infectious to her students. She goes beyond her required course load to help engage students in science exploration, running an advanced laboratory technique independent study and coaching the Science Olympiad and Science Bowl Teams.

O’Brien, of Camden Hills Regional High School, is Maine’s sole mathematics finalist and teaches in the community where he grew up. He is known for supporting all students, no matter their struggles with math, so that they can be successful. Additionally, O’Brien serves as a Deputy Chief Examiner for the International Baccalaureate, writing and assessing their math examinations.

Troiano, of Westbrook High School, is a biology teacher and Science Department Chair with a relentless passion for her subject and the development of her students. She serves on the board of the Maine Science Teachers Associations, and helps her colleagues throughout the state by leading workshops through the Sebago Education Alliance and the Governor’s Academy for STEM Leadership.

“Each of these outstanding Maine educators is deserving of this national recognition,” said Chief Academic Officer Tome. “Math and science are the foundations of innovation, and helping Maine kids develop proficiency and passion in these subjects is critical to the future success of these students and our state’s economy. We are fortunate to have them in our schools.”

The National Science Foundation will select two winners from each state to be recognized next spring in Washington, D.C. where they will participate in professional development with their peers and receive a $10,000 award.

The award alternates each year between honoring teachers of grades K-6 and 7-12, with the 2013 awards for educators for grades 7-12. Winners serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

For more information about the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and other initiatives of the Maine Department of Education to recognize excellent educators in the state, visit www.maine.gov/doe/recognition.

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