When you ask Talya Edlund’s students what they think of their third grade teacher, you will hear words like, “stupendous, epic, amazing, and fantastic.” When you ask the principal of Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth of this 15 year veteran educator, you hear the term “top-tier educator.”
It is these qualities and more that earned Talya Edlund the title of 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor bestowed to her in a surprise assembly at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth on Monday.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Education Rachelle Tome announced Edlund had been selected as the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year of three finalists saying, “Talya Edlund embodies those exemplary characteristics we have seen in all of the stellar educators identified as 2015 County Teachers of the Year. With her ‘think out of the box” approach to problem solving, tenacious attitude for overcoming challenges, zest for staying at the cutting edge of her craft, and uncanny insight into the needs of her students and colleagues, she is the teacher we all want our children to have and the colleague we hope to work with. Talya is a true inspiration and role model.”
At the ceremony, Tome read a congratulatory letter to Edlund from Governor Paul R. LePage who wrote, “Through your teaching, you foster a sense of self-reliance, a love for learning, an independence, and endless encouragement for students.”
Ed Cervone, Educate Maine’s executive director says, “We have a wonderful opportunity to highlight and showcase Maine’s exemplary teachers. The goal is to build a statewide network of teacher leaders and Talya Edlund exemplifies innovative student-centered teaching and high-quality instructional practices.”
In her application for Maine’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, the third-grade educator wrote she chose to become a teacher based on the inspiration of a French tutor and studying languages early on in life. “I learned that teaching is a language. That language is not always precise and it is rarely ever the same, but teaching is dynamic and good teaching is always relevant.”
This year’s selection began with an online public nomination process and included recognition at the county level. In addition to Edlund, the other 2016 state finalists included Brenda LaVerdiere, fourth grade teacher at Academy Hill School in Wilton and 2015 Franklin County Teacher of the Year and Mia Morrison, English teacher and media interventionist at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft and 2015 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year.
As the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, Edlund 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, careers 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, Dead River, Geiger and Hannaford 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 away from the classroom on their official duties, which also includes a national forum with other state winners, a week at NASA Space Camp and a visit to the White House.