Maine Teacher of the Year Gala

“Everyone remembers at least one of their teachers.” That’s what Senator Susan Collins told those at the Maine Teacher of the Year Gala Saturday evening in Bangor. She recalled her second grade teacher Mrs. Winslow who inspired the Senator’s love for reading.

2016 Teacher of the Year Talya Edlund (left) and 2015 Teacher of the Year Jennifer Dorman (right)

That was just one of many stories shared throughout the evening as the 2015 County Teachers of the Year and the 2016 Teacher of the Year were honored at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Jennifer Dorman, 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year served as emcee for the evening.

Jennifer shared stories of her travels throughout the year representing Maine educators in a variety of venues. She even spoke of when she started her career. “I first began teaching when I was six playing school in the family garage. I made the neighborhood kids memorize the names of the first 16 Presidents.”

Educate Maine’s Executive Director Ed Cervone recognized the County Teachers of the Year as ambassadors and recognized the nine other former Maine Teachers of the Year. Those in attendance dated back to 1984 while the honor goes back in Maine to 1954.

Maine’s Acting Education Commissioner, Bill Beardsley spoke to all honorees saying, “Each of you truly reflect and personify our Maine teaching profession at its very best.” While holding up a fragment of a mirror, Beardsley reflected on the power of teachers to shine the light into the lives of their students building aspirations and empowerment for all.

He also honored Edlund in reading Governor Paul LePage’s Proclamation declaring Nov. 14, 2015, as Talya Edlund day in Maine.

Following the presentation of the Governor’s Proclamation, Martha Harris, Chair of the State Board of Education, presented each of the semi-finalists and state finalists with an engraved silver bowl, on behalf of the Board of Education.

Acting Education Commissioner Bill Beardsley and Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome with Senator Susan Collins

Cape Elizabeth’s Cove Pond Elementary School’s third grade teacher Talya Edlund told her colleagues, “Student curiosity is free; it’s a powerful resource and available to a teacher anytime…work toward more time to wonder and be curious.”

Ronald Bancroft, Educate Maine Board Chair, encouraged the Teachers of the Year to use 2016, “…to find your voice but take a moment to bask that you have done something special.”

The Teacher of the Year program does not attempt to single out any individual as the best teacher in Maine; rather the County and State Teachers of the Year represent the thousands of excellent educators in Maine. In sharing their experiences as Teacher of the Year, 2014 York County Teacher of the Year, Kate Smith recently wrote how she found her voice during this journey, and 2014’s Teacher of the Year, Karen MacDonald shares Time for Teachers to Stop Being Humble.

Maine’s 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.

The Teacher of the Year program has no cost to taxpayers at the local or State level. 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 Maine Teacher of the Year participates in several national forums, attends at NASA Space Camp for a week and visits to the White House. The teacher also has the opportunity to seek the nomination for National Teacher of the Year. 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.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.maine.gov/doe/toy/. For more information about Educate Maine, visit www.educatemaine.org.  For more information about the 2015 County Teachers of the Year, visit http://www.mainetoy.org/.