Educators Honored at Unique Teacher of the Year Tailgate Gala

The Maine Teacher of the Year Program hosted a unique celebration this year to honor its 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year and the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year. With COVID-19 health protocols in mind, the innovative team of people behind Maine’s Teacher of the Year Program planned a safe, in-person tailgate event this year in place of the traditional indoor evening gala.

Hosted in Lewiston at an outdoor event at Geiger, a longtime supporter of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, the celebration featured lunch provided by Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Green Ladle Food Truck, a socially distanced awards ceremony, and remarks (both in-person and recorded) from partners, supporters, and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker. Event attendees included the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year and Maine’s 2021 Teacher of the Year Cindy Soule, who were each accompanied by members of their family.

The event was made possible by the impeccable planning of Educate Maine and the program’s generous sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine State Lottery, Unum and the Silvernail Family.

Staff from the Maine Department of Education, including Commissioner Pender Makin, were also present, along with Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap. Honoring an annual tradition, Secretary Dunlap graciously presented Maine’s signature license plate to the 2021 Teacher of the Year.


Representatives from the Maine Teacher of the Year Association, legacy County and Maine Teachers of the Year, and members of the Maine State Board were also there to celebrate and honor their fellow awardees.

Attendees adhered to state COVID-19 safety requirements by keeping socially distanced and wearing face coverings. Additional protocols were implemented to ensure a safe event for all. As was stated by several speakers at the event, in a year that has been very different in many ways, all were grateful for the opportunity to come together, in-person, to celebrate and honor Maine’s outstanding teachers!