A year spent growing, learning: 2011 as Maine’s Teacher of the Year

Headshot of Shelly Moody
Shelly Moody, Maine's 2011 Teacher of the Year

By Shelly Moody

During the holiday season, I took time in my classroom to talk with my students about the things we have to be thankful for at school and in our lives. As I reflected on 2011, I realized I had much to be thankful for last year.

As Maine’s 2011 Teacher of the Year, I was given the amazing opportunity to travel and connect with teachers from around the country.

In January, I flew to Dallas and met 54 teachers who changed my life. These teachers not only represent their states; they represent what is innovative and best about education.

I spent the last year growing and learning with them as we gathered in Washington, D.C., in May to use our voices as advocates for the profession and at the International Space Camp in July when we took on the role of learners and challenged our thinking about teaching and learning.  This fall, I gathered with my cohort for a final time to create videos about why we teach.  It’s been the people that I met in 2011 that I am most thankful for, as they have helped me to become a better educator.

In addition to my travels around the country, I was grateful for the chance to connect with veteran and preservice teachers in our state through presentations, conferences and school visits. Our schools are filled with dedicated, passionate, and innovative teachers who deserve to be celebrated for the job they do everyday on behalf of Maine’s learners. In my presentations with preservice teachers, I continue to be inspired by their energy and commitment as they join the teaching profession. I am fortunate to work in a state surrounded by teachers who give their best every day on behalf of their students.

I will always be thankful for the support of my family and friends who encouraged me to treasure the last year. I am particularly grateful for the students and faculty at Williams Elementary School for not only nominating me for this honor, but also for supporting me as I ventured beyond the walls of my classroom. My students kept me grounded by reminding me that in addition to being a mom, my most important role is that of a fourth-grade teacher.

I began 2011 as a teacher who cared about her students and advocated for their academic and social needs.  One year later, I see myself with new eyes.  I realize that through this journey I have become an advocate for educators and learners.  I am grateful to the leaders and policymakers in our state such as Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen and our Speaker of the House Robert Nutting, who took time out of their busy schedules this year to visit my classroom. The best way to understand the role and influence of a teacher is by spending time immersed in the climate and culture of a classroom.

At the start of 2012, a new journey began for Alana Margeson, our 2012 Teacher of the Year. As Alana becomes familiar with her role as Maine’s new Teacher of the Year, it’s the perfect time to celebrate our educators by nominating a deserving teacher for the 2013 Teacher of the Year. I encourage parents and administrators to give a teacher in their local school the gift of a journey celebrating what is best about teaching and learning in the state of Maine. (Download a nomination form from the Maine DOE website; they’re due Feb. 29.)

The Chinese proverb “the journey is the reward” best reflects my feelings about the last year.  I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to spend a year celebrating a profession that makes a difference in the lives of learners every day.

Shelly Moody, who teaches at Williams Elementary School in Oakland, was Maine’s 2011 Teacher of the Year. She can be reached at smoody@rsu18.org.

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