Appreciation for our teachers, this week and always

This Teacher Appreciation Week, I had the honor on behalf of the Department and the LePage Administration of recognizing the first-ever Maine County Teachers of the Year.

Maine students are being inspired each day by the effective, engaging educators we are fortunate to have in so many of our classrooms and the 16 teachers named this week are among the best of the best.

I look forward to recognizing one of them as Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year this fall, though I believe all of them are certainly more than deserving of that distinction. I also want to thank Hannaford, Geiger, Bangor Savings Bank, Unum, the Maine Board of Education, Educate Maine and the Maine Teacher of the Year Association for their tireless support of the Maine State Teacher of the Year Program.

As I often say, there is no greater calling than preparing our children with the skills they’ll need to be successful after they leave our schools. Yet as teachers know, theirs is a calling that is increasingly becoming more challenging, given the changing needs of students and our commitment to centering our entire education system around each individual’s learning styles and speeds.

What makes the 16 teachers named Tuesday, and so many others across our state, great is that they believe in every single child they teach. They do not concede that demographics define destiny but instead inspire students and instill them with the skills and confidence they’ll need to overcome any challenges. They are also committed to constantly improving their craft, finding innovative, imaginative ways to excite and empower kids. Because they never stop learning, neither do the children in their classrooms.

Maine teachers deserve to know they are valued, respected and trusted, not just on Teacher Appreciation Day, but on all days of the year. Through our expanded Teacher of the Year program, we can come together as a state to show our thanks for their incredible commitment to our children and our communities.

Congratulations to the following honorees. You can learn more about each of these talented teachers and how they put students first on the Maine Teacher of the Year website at www.mainetoy.org. To them and all of you, keep up the great work!

2014 County Teachers of the Year:

Aroostook: Kara Beal, Valley Rivers Middle School, Fort Kent
Androscoggin: Gordon “Skip” Crosby, Poland Regional High School, Poland
Cumberland: Sarah Brokofsky, Westbrook Middle School, Westbrook
Franklin: Sarah Reynolds, Cascade Brook School, Farmington
Hancock: Andrea Beardsley, Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
Kennebec: Daniel Crocker, Hall Dale Middle School, Farmingdale
Knox: Kristi Todd, Union Elementary School, Union
Lincoln: Cordelia “Cory” Chase, Boothbay Regional Elementary, Boothbay
Oxford: Jeffrey Bailey, Mountain Valley High School, Rumford
Penobscot: Victoria Grotton, Glenburn School, Glenburn
Piscataquis: Dyan McCarthy-Clark, SeDoMoCha Middle, Dover-Foxcroft
Sagadahoc: Eric Varney, Morse High School, Bath
Somerset: Jennifer Dorman, Skowhegan Area Middle School, Skowhegan
Waldo: Phyllis Frkuska-Heeren, Drinkwater Elementary, Northport
Washington: Ann Luginbuhl, Charlotte Elementary, Charlotte
York: Kate Smith, Central Elementary, MSAD 35, South Berwick