Eighty-three students enrolled in teacher preparation courses in 14 colleges, high schools, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools across Maine gathered at Thomas College last month for Maine’s first-ever Educators Rising Conference!
The conference was planned primarily by Thomas students who are part of Maine’s first Educators Rising Chapter. A national, community-based movement, Educators Rising is an organization with a presence in all 50 states that seeks to cultivate a new generation of highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path from high school to college and into their teaching careers. Educators Rising provides “Grow Your Own” programming through Educators Rising curriculum, standards, micro-credentials, chapters, conferences and other activities.
The Thomas Educators Rising Chapter Chair, Abby Bolvin, opened the conference by welcoming her fellow pre-service peers to the conference, and reviewed logistical details, including room locations, photo tips, and conference hashtag #EdRising22.
Dr. Monte Selby, principal at Vinalhaven School and a talented musician, engaged the aspiring educators with an entertaining musical keynote address that stressed the importance of building strong relationships with students, and some tips on how to forge authentic, trusting connections. After the keynote, students chose from a wide variety of breakout sessions to attend. The session topics were selected by the Educators Rising Chapter students.
Bolvin explained that having the option to be part of the conference planning was a significant learning experience for her and her fellow Educator Rising Chapter members. They initially came up with a list of 50 session topics that they wanted to learn more about, and eventually narrowed it down to the topics on the program, which included classroom management, talking about controversial topics, what to expect in your first year of teaching, assessments, innovative math practices, and more.
During a delicious lunch catered by Thomas College, the students heard from Pamela Thompson, Professor and Chair of Thomas’ Education Department, and the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova. Thompson stressed the importance and impact of teachers, and Stoyanova shared, “we are not just teaching how to read to understand and write to show understanding, we are engaging learners to be global citizens—to offer them a glimpse of what it looks like to own their education, their futures, their voice, and do something with it.”
Tammy Ranger, 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year and the Director of Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways at the Maine Department of Education presented Maine’s first “Preservice Teacher of the Year” awards. Earlier this year, all Maine preservice teachers were were invited to apply for the award. The top three preservice teachers were selected from a pool of over 20 applications from students in teacher preparation programs throughout Maine. “The future of the education profession in Maine certainly looks bright” said Ranger, commenting on the passion, creativity and commitment demonstrated in the preservice teachers’ application packets.
Students Mohamed Kilani (Bowdoin ’21) and Ivy Robinson (University of Maine Machias ‘22) were named Preservice Teachers of the Year, and Chelsea Whiting-Puckett (Bowdoin ’22) was named a runner up. The selection committee, made up of Maine State and County Teachers of the Year, said the following about these promising teachers:
“Kilani’s work with anti-racism, bridging intercultural relationships, and restorative practices is remarkable. All students (and colleagues) will benefit from the classroom culture he creates.”
Ivy is a voracious learner—soaking up wisdom and practices from every teacher she works with. Her willingness to learn and improve her practice will only make her a better teacher year after year.
Chelsey’s robust and honest English and social studies classes reflect her commitment to inclusion, representation, and equitable learning environments for all students.
As part of being named Preservice Teacher of the Year, both Kilani and Robinson were awarded $1,000 each to help jumpstart setting up their classroom, and runner up Whiting-Puckett was awarded $200.
Special thanks to the Peter and Paula Lunder School of Education at Thomas College, the Maine Association for Middle Level Educators (MAMLE), Educate Maine, UNUM, and representatives from the Maine Department of Education for making this event possible.
To learn more about Educators Rising, visit the national website or reach out to Tamara Ranger (email@example.com) at the Maine Department of Education.