Seeking outstanding educators for 2015 Teacher of the Year

Maine’s students are our future, and it is teachers who prepare them with the skills they’ll need to achieve success.

Each year, the Maine DOE Teacher of the Year program gives us an important opportunity to come together as a state to say ‘thank you’ to our most deserving classroom leaders – like current Teacher of the Year Karen MacDonald, an English language arts teacher at Portland’s King Middle School who is ensuring education is the great equalizer for her students, many who are new to our great country.

While Mrs. MacDonald is just beginning her 2014 Teacher of the Year journey that will bring her to communities across Maine, the White House and even NASA Space Camp, we are already seeking nominations for the 2015 honoree.

For the first time since our Department launched this recognition program in 1954, the public is being invited to join principals and superintendents in going online to directly submit teachers for consideration for the prestigious statewide distinction.

Nominations can be completed through Feb. 28 at www.maine.gov/doe/toy. To encourage more submissions, the process has been simplified to require only the most basic information about the nominator, the nominee and their school, as well as a short overview of what makes the nominee an extraordinary teacher. To be considered, a teacher must hold at least a four-year degree and be employed by a Maine public school – including a public charter school or publicly-supported secondary school.

Also new this year, award administrator Educate Maine will pilot a county-level Teacher of the Year recognition to celebrate teachers from each of the state’s 16 counties who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and nurturing the achievement of all students.

The 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected from the 16 county honorees, who will be whittled down to eight semi-finalists and then four state finalists before I’ll announce the ultimate winner at a surprise school assembly in the fall.

In an effort to create greater awareness and participation in the Maine Teacher of the Year process and support for educators, Educate Maine has also engaged Chambers of Commerce throughout the state in supporting the program.

“Involvement in the Teacher of the Year program is a natural fit for businesses and chambers across the state,” explained Chris Hall, president and CEO of the Portland Region Chamber.  “We realize that quality education is key to a strong economy and a great teacher in every classroom is key to improving student achievement.  We all need to do what we can to support educators.  When we talk about ‘teacher accountability,’ we better make sure that recognition is part of the accountability system.”

We agree, and it is why we are so proud to continue this program into its fifth decade as part of our larger commitment to prepare and support effective educators. We want to thank Educate Maine for their energy in making Teacher of the Year even more meaningful in Maine, our new supporters in the chamber community and longtime partners Hannaford, Geiger, Bangor Savings Bank, the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

More importantly, we want to thank Maine’s excellent educators for all they do each day to put students first. Let us know who they are, by nominating one today at www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

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