An inside look at Maine’s 2016 County Teachers of the Year

Earlier this month seven Maine educators showcased their educational philosophy, passion, teaching methods, leadership style and more for the State review panel as part of the 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year selection process.

The 2016 Maine County Teachers of the Year
  • Michael McCartney of Aroostook County has been teaching for ten years and told the panel he creates a stable environment for students by simply listening. He said that by simply listening, teachers could cure a student’s loneliness.
  • Morgan Cuthbert of Cumberland County is a 15 year educator whose interest is in a transformational classroom where the teacher and student connect to community.
  • Selina Warren of Franklin County has been teaching for six years. Her passion is nature and nutrition education. She said students are less connected to nature and students are missing out because they are always ‘plugged-in’ to their electronics.
  • Rebecca Tapley of Hancock County has been teaching for 15 years. She discussed the growth mindset versus fixed mindset, saying growth is the key to success, and applies to everything.
  • Andrew Forster of Kennebec County has been a teacher for 27 years. He told the panel that a highly creative mind is developed through the arts, and students benefit greatly from music as it produces energy and action in the brain.
  • Cherri MacInnes of Penobscot County has been teaching for 26 years. She said teachers empower students and it can be done through infectious enthusiasm.
  • Tamara Ranger of Somerset County has been teaching for 16 years. She told the panel that given the right conditions, any child can learn. The concept of a growth mindset opens learning.

Following the candidates’ presentations, the 2016 County Teachers of the Year answered a series of impromptu questions ranging from leadership to policy.

The presentations were held on the University of Maine campus in Orono. “You know to teach is from the heart,” Dean of Education Tim Reagan started the day by telling the teachers. He went on to quote Nelson Mandela, saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Talya Edlund, Maine’s 2016 Teacher of the Year told the group about her experience over the past year. She said she has not only gained a deeper understanding of the profession, but has also been able to appreciate better the type of teacher she aspires to be (a great one).

The Maine Department of Education’s Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome told the candidates their work and passion, and the TOY program elevates the profession.

Emcee Skip Crosby, the 2014 Androscoggin Teacher of the Year and State finalist told the seven, “What does it mean if we are not chosen? It means you are all amazing and the real winners are our students.”

County Teachers of the Year portfolios

Others joining the presentation were County Teachers and TOYs from 2007, 2013, 2015 and 2016. The review panel will review and score each candidate’s portfolio. The field of seven will then be narrowed to three finalists by August 22. The review panel will conduct site visits and personal interviews before making its final decision in the selection of the 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year.

For more information about Maine’s Teacher of the Year Program visit here, or contact Program Director Dolly Sullivan at or call 631-3385.