Nominations sought for 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year

AUGUSTA – Nominations are now open for the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year.

For the first time since the Maine Department of Education recognition program launched in 1954, the public is being invited to join school and district leaders in going online to directly nominate educators for the prestigious statewide distinction, the winner of which serves as an advocate for Maine’s teachers, students and education system. Previously, only school principals and superintendents could put forth a candidate for consideration.

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.

“Maine’s students are our future, and it is teachers who prepare them with the skills they’ll need to achieve success,” said Acting Education Commissioner Jim Rier. “The Teacher of the Year program provides us an important opportunity to come together as a state to say ‘thank you’ to our most deserving classroom leaders. We hope more people join us this year in extending their appreciation by nominating the educators in their communities who are engaging and exciting Maine kids in innovative, imaginative ways that are best preparing students for college, career and civic life.”

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 the ultimate winner is announced by the State’s Education Commissioner at a surprise school assembly in the fall.   The Maine Teacher of the Year then participates in the National Teacher of the Year program, which includes attending a forum with other state winners in Washington, D.C. and Space Camp at NASA’s headquarters.

“Our goal in making the changes to the program is to honor and recognize more teachers, increase the public awareness and engagement in the Teacher of the Year program as well as simplifying the initial nomination process,” says Tim Hussey, CEO of Hussey Seating and chair of the Educate Maine Board of Directors.

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,” said 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.”

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education that since 2013 has been administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education attainment. Funding for the program is generously provided through Educate Maine by Hannaford, Geiger and Bangor Savings Bank with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The current Maine Teacher of the Year is Karen MacDonald, an English language arts teacher at Portland’s King Middle School.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

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