In a surprise all-school assembly today, Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Skowhegan Area Middle School’s Jennifer Dorman was selected from nearly 400 nominees as Maine’s top teacher
SKOWHEGAN – A 20-year veteran special educator in Somerset County schools committed to supporting her students succeed despite their challenges has been selected as the 2015 Teacher of the Year.
In a surprise assembly at MSAD 54’s Skowhegan Area Middle School (SAMS) on Thursday, Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Jennifer Dorman had been chosen from a field of 376 nominees as Maine’s top teacher.
Dorman came into the school’s auditorium expecting to attend a student fundraising kick-off. Instead, she was met with the near deafening applause of hundreds of proud students and colleagues, as well as local and State education and business leaders, legacy Teachers of the Year and her beaming family.
The seventh-and eighth-grade special education and reading intervention teacher is described by her colleagues as “the epitome of what teaching is.” In supporting her nomination, fellow teachers, parents and SAMS Principal Zachary Longyear all cited Dorman’s constant compassion and commitment to the betterment of her students, colleagues and school.
“Jennifer Dorman is all about kids, just as every teacher should be,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Instead of making excuses for why her students can’t succeed, she sets high expectations and helps even those with the most significant struggles pursue their potential. In Mrs. Dorman’s classroom, all students are guaranteed access to the life-changing opportunity they deserve from our education system. I congratulate her and thank her and so many other great Maine teachers for the positive role they play in our children’s lives and our state’s future.”
In her application, Dorman, of Farmington, admitted she wanted to be a teacher from her first day of Kindergarten and used to play “school” in her family’s garage. As a student, she faced adversity and says the skills and confidence her teachers once fostered in her she now strives to develop in her own students.
“For many past and present students, my classroom is their safe place, and I am the one that encourages them, just as my own teachers once empowered me,” she wrote. “I feel fortunate to be a teacher. I am using what teachers once taught me to improve the lives of my own students.”
Dorman has been especially effective in closing achievement gaps by tailoring instruction and intervention approaches to the unique learning and life needs of the children she works with. On average each of the past three years, her students have gained more than three grades of reading growth.
This year’s selection was the first that began with an online public nomination process and included recognition at the county level. In addition to Dorman, the other 2015 state finalists included Skip Crosby, Spanish teacher at Poland Regional High School and 2014 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year; Sarah Reynolds, fourth grade teacher at Cascade Brook School in Farmington and 2014 Franklin County Teacher of the Year; and Vicky Grotton, prekindergarten teacher at Glenburn School and 2014 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year.
As the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year, Dorman will travel throughout the state to advocate for teachers, students and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life.
Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education. Funding is provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Geiger, Hannaford and Unum with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.
The Teacher of the Year program has no cost to taxpayers at the local or State level. Bangor Savings Bank reimburses the winning educator’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which also include a national forum with other state winners, a week at a NASA Space Camp and a visit to the White House.