The Teacher of the Year Program hosted its annual Gala this past weekend on Saturday, November 16th at Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks. The event honors Maine educators that have been named County Teacher of the Year and Teacher of the Year with a banquet, reception, and awards ceremony.
The event featured remarks from 2019 Teacher of the Year Joseph Hennessey, an English Teacher at Piscataquis Community High School who is finishing his year-long designation as the 2019 Teacher of the Year. Commissioner Makin received a standing ovation as she urged all present to elevate the status of educators in Maine, as their work is the single most important assurance of a thriving democracy. Incoming 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker also addressed the audience, reminding the audience that the foundation of learning is built on relationships of trust and compassion. Ms. Whitaker was presented with a custom Maine licence plate from Maine’s Secretary of State, Mathew Dunlap, a tradition each year.
During the Awards ceremony, County Teachers of the Year were each provided with a crystal apple award, a County Teacher of the Year banner, totes filled with Maine products donated by Maine businesses (sponsored by Live and Work in Maine), in addition to free registration to the annual ACTEM Conference (provided by ACTEM).
In addition to the above awards, Semi Finalists, State Finalists, and the Teacher of the Year each received a hand thrown pottery bowl with their names on it (sponsored by Maine TOY Association and Maine State Board of Education). The Teacher of the Year was also given an IPad (provided by ACTEM).
2019 County Teachers of the Year: Androscoggin County, Shawn Rice; Aroostook County, Kim Barnes; Cumberland County, Heather Whitaker; Franklin County, Robert Taylor; Hancock County, Nell Herrmann; Kennebec County: Emily Bowen; Knox County, Thomas Gray; Oxford County, Linda Andrews; Penobscot County, Tracy Deschaine; Piscataquis County, Bobbi Tardif; Sagadahoc County, Charles Bingham; Somerset County, Katherine Bertini; Waldo County, Ashley Reynolds; Washington County, Jeanna Carver; York County, Ethel Atkinson.
Semi Finalists: Jeanna Carver, Tracy Deschaine, Thomas Gray, Ashley Reynolds, Shawn Rice, Bobbi Tardif, Robert Taylor, Heather Whitaker
State finalists: Thomas Gray, Robert Taylor, Heather Whitaker
2020 Teacher of the Year: Heather Whitaker
The event also includes keynote remarks and honors for many of the program’s partners and sponsors including Educate Maine, who administers the program, the Maine Department of Education, and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, and Pratt and Whitney.
The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that, each year, through a rigorous selection process, names an educator from each county as County Teacher of the Year, and names one educator as Maine Teacher of the Year. Any educator can be nominated by a member of their community for the Teacher of the Year Program. The nomination process begins in January each year.