Poland teacher named 2013 Teacher of the Year

Shannon Shanning, seventh and eight grade special education teacher at Whitter Middle School in Poland, is named Maine's 2013 Teacher of the Year.
Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presents Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year award to Shannon Shanning, seventh- and eighth-grade special education teacher at Whittier Middle School. Click here to view more photos from this event.

POLAND – Shannon Shanning, a seventh- and eighth-grade special education teacher at Whittier Middle School, was named the 2013 Maine Teacher of the Year in front of students, colleagues, family and other distinguished guests Monday. In keeping with Maine tradition, Shanning was not informed ahead of time that the “all-school assembly” was called to honor her.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presented Shanning with the award – the first awarded to a special education teacher as far back as program records indicate. Bowen also read a letter of congratulations from Governor Paul LePage.

After receiving the award, Shanning addressed her family, colleagues and students in the auditorium. “I have the pleasure of working with the finest educators, and at Whittier Middle School we don’t limit that to just teachers….It’s all of the staff, community members and students.

“I can’t think of a place I would rather be,” Shanning continued. “I love my job so much. I am looking forward to the journey and the year ahead.”

“Great teachers like Mrs. Shanning deserve our appreciation for engaging our kids in school and providing them with the best possible learning tools to succeed,” Commissioner Bowen said.

Shanning is a resident of Poland. She received bachelor’s degrees in community health education and special education from the University of Maine at Farmington.

Shanning’s nominating committee wrote, “Shannon provides an environment of high engagement, challenge, and support that inspires students to become more confident, capable, and productive learners.” This is demonstrated by her remarkable ability to embed learning in real-world experiences and connect students to the school and greater community.

The selection process began in February of this year with eight nominees from elementary, middle and high schools across the state. A district-wide nominating committee prepared the application packet to nominate Shanning for the 2013 Teacher of the Year recognition. Nomination packets were scored by a group of educators, administrators, business partners and past Teachers of the Year to determine the semi-finalists. The semi-finalists then underwent review by a team who spent a day at each of their schools last spring. During the summer, the semi-finalists compiled professional portfolios and gave a scored teaching demonstration to graduate students at the University of Maine. Those with the highest scores were named state finalists and interviewed by past Teachers of the Year to make the final determination.

In addition to Shanning, the 2013 state finalists were Kathy Bousquet,  a grades two and three looping teacher at Central School in South Berwick, and Beth Switzer, a fourth grade teacher at Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York.

Monday’s ceremony was attended by several past Maine Teachers of the Year. Also in attendance were: Tap Fitzgerald, of Hannaford Supermarkets, which gives financial support to the Teacher of the Year program; Yellow Breen, of Bangor Savings Bank, which gives financial support to the Teacher of the Year’s school district for substitute teacher costs; Mary Ella Jones, RSU 16 School Board chair; other school officials; town officials; local legislators; former students; Maine Department of Education staff; Maine State Board of Education members; and members of Shanning’s family.

State Board of Education member Dr. Lynda Doyle explained one of the selection committee’s primary reasons for choosing Shanning for this honor. “There’s more depth to her than her teaching,” Doyle said. “She cares about all of you, and you know it. She spends time, she’s respectful and she loves you. When we interviewed you, we saw that you love her, too.”

Shanning will go on to compete in the selection process for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in April 2013 at the White House.

The nomination process for the next Teacher of the Year begins this November. Those interested in nominating a teacher should contact their school principal or visit the Maine Department of Education website at: www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

The Teacher of the Year program is managed by the Maine Department of Education in collaboration with the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association. The program is fully funded by Hannaford Supermarkets, and Bangor Savings Bank is reimbursing the winner’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on official duties.

View more photos from the 2013 Teacher of the Year announcement assembly on the Maine DOE’s flickr page.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education website: http://www.maine.gov/doe.

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