Four Maine teachers were announced today as the State Finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year program. Eighth grade social studies and English Language Arts teacher Heather Anderson from Aroostook County, ninth grade humanities and social studies teacher Matthew Bernstein from Cumberland County, fourth grade math, writing, and science teacher Ashley Bryant from Oxford County, and high school social studies teacher Emily Albee from Penobscot County were all selected to move forward in the Teacher of the Year process and were chosen from the 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year.
“I am in awe of the work of all of Maine’s educators and their commitment to their students and Maine schools. Maine’s teachers make possible the daily miracle that is public education,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “I couldn’t be prouder of these four Teacher of the Year State Finalists for representing the best qualities of Maine’s amazing educators. They exude optimism for public education, a commitment to their profession and to building relationships across their communities, and the energy and drive to make education wonderful for all their students, and for all students in Maine. Congratulations to each of you for this very well-deserved honor.”
One of the four State Finalists will be named the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine. The announcement will be in October after the final stages of the selection process are complete. Maine’s Teacher of the Year serves as an advocate for the teaching profession, Maine schools and students, and represents Maine in the National Teacher of the Year program.
Each educator was nominated by a member of their community for their exemplary service in education and dedication to their students. They were selected by a distinguished panel of teachers, principals, and business community members from a pool of hundreds of other nominated teachers in their communities. The Maine Department of Education, Educate Maine, the Maine State Board of Education, and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association made the announcement about the finalists.
“Maine is fortunate to have so many outstanding educators working to ensure the social, emotional and academic well-being of our students,” said Dr. Jason Judd, Executive Director, Educate Maine. “These State Finalists are exemplary models of the vibrant teaching that goes on in Maine classrooms. Congratulations to them and to their districts. We look forward to working with them as they continue their journey as teacher leaders and ambassadors for the profession.”
“The quality of Maine schools is propelled by the strength of our teaching workforce and these state finalists embody all that we look for in the profession – talent, hard work, dedication, and strong beliefs that all Maine students deserve a high quality and supportive education,” said Maine State Board of Education Chair Desjardins. “Congratulations to all!”
“Maine educators exemplify professionalism, compassion, and commitment to their students, families, and communities,” said Heather Whitaker, 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year and Co-President, Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA). “Our finalists, who represent teachers from across the state, are leaders in the field. We are eager to learn from their expertise as we work together in our shared commitment to Maine public education.”
More information on the State Finalists and the Maine Teacher of the Year program:
Caribou Community School, Caribou
2022 Aroostook County Teacher of the Year
“I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to collaborate with other amazing educators, to reflect on my own teaching practices, and to shine a light on the incredible educators in Aroostook County and in the great state of Maine.”
Heather Anderson teaches 8th grade social studies and English Language Arts at Caribou Community School, part of RSU 39, where she believes that strong relationships are the building blocks of positive school experiences and success for students. By fostering mutual respect, actively listening, sharing interests, and providing guided choices, Anderson works hard to celebrate her students’ strengths and pinpoint students’ needs both individually and collectively. Recently, in response to mental health needs she witnessed during the 2021-2022 school year, Anderson worked collaboratively with her co-teacher and strived to build engaging units that focused on overcoming difficulties through resiliency. She is currently working with her humanities team to bring awareness to social issues through a middle-school-read project and the implementation of a new Civil Rights Team in her district. Anderson partnered with her community to bring in programs from her local mental health agency to supplement her curriculum and provide students with educational opportunities and coping strategies. Anderson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in psychology, from the University of Maine and also holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of New England as well as two endorsements, for Teaching Principal and Early Elementary. She is the 2022 Aroostook County Teacher of the Year and, as a lifelong learner, is always looking for new opportunities to grow as an educator.
Casco Bay High School, Portland
2022 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year
“I’m extremely humbled and grateful for this recognition and, even more so, for the opportunity to work with inspiring colleagues, families, and students and for the guidance I’ve received throughout my career from so many in my community. The recognition I am receiving currently is only possible because of how much others have done, and continue to do, to support me and because I have the gift of working with incredible students.”
Matt Bernstein is a 9th grade humanities social studies teacher at Casco Bay High School in Portland, Maine. Bernstein has a Bachelor of Arts in History with a European History concentration from Bowdoin College where he was also a Bowdoin Teacher Scholar. He is the 2022 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. Bernstein’s pedagogy is centered around student voices and student activism. He believes that the purpose of education is to help students find their way of contributing to a more equitable world. Bernstein is also passionate about creating opportunities for students to experience joy and belonging at school on a daily basis and, to that end, he believes in cultivating meaningful relationships with students, often through his work as a 9th grade crew advisor, that are grounded in deep listening and holistic support. Bernstein has served as a team leader, crew team leader, and is currently a professional learning community coach where he facilitates ongoing professional learning with his colleagues. He is also a member of the Portland Public Schools Social Studies Vertical Content Team, collaborating with teachers across the district and local experts to develop Wabanaki Studies curriculum. Bernstein also embraces opportunities to deepen his knowledge and practice. He was recently named a 2022 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar, participating in a seminar entitled “Teaching the Holocaust through Visual Culture.” While not teaching, Bernstein is playing or coaching soccer and basketball, reading a book, or trying to determine where to find Portland’s best slice of pizza.
Sacopee Valley Middle School, Hiram
2022 Oxford County Teacher of the Year
“Being recognized as a finalist for Maine Teacher of the Year is an honor. As a member of the Sacopee Valley School district, of which I was a student myself and am now lucky enough to teach in as a professional, I am endlessly proud and thankful for the supportive and collaborative nature of this community.”
Ashley Bryant teaches fourth grade math, writing, and science at Sacopee Valley Middle School, part of Maine School Administrative District #55 located in Hiram, Maine. Bryant, a Maine native, graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in English and from the University of Southern Maine with a Masters of Science Degree in Education. Bryant spends each summer teaching -pre-kindergarten, preparing and engaging with the youngest of public school learners. She is the 2022 Oxford County Teacher of the Year. As a lifelong learner, Bryant continuously seizes professional development opportunities to best serve her students and community. In 2013, she became a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early Adolescence English Language Arts; she cites the experience as one of the most beneficial opportunities of her career to build on her strengths and identify and improve on areas for growth. Bryant believes all students should feel welcomed, safe, and represented at school which is why she co-advises the school’s Civil Rights Team and supports the inclusion of Social Emotional Learning. Personally connecting with and caring about each individual student has a significant impact on readiness to learn so she makes building positive relationships a top priority. Professional development about Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and fair and equitable grading also influence Bryant’s craft. If she’s not at school or collaborating with other educators, she’s reading, exercising, or at a beach with her husband and their daughter.
Hampden Academy, Hampden
2022 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year
“I continue to be honored and grateful to serve as the 2022 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year, working with a tremendous and talented cohort of 15 other county teachers. To be included as 1 of the 4 finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year energizes me to continue to advocate for students, teachers, and education in Maine.”
Emily Albee is a social studies teacher working with grades 9-12 at Hampden Academy, part of Regional School Unit 22, in Hampden, Maine. Albee earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a second Major in History, a Master’s Degree in Education focusing on Middle Level Social Studies, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Technology and Social Studies, and a Graduate Certificate in Innovation Engineering all from the University of Maine. Albee considers it the honor of her lifetime to work with young people. She enjoys helping students discover their curiosity for learning and ways to meaningfully engage with the world around them. She works hard to present diverse social studies content through an equity lens while helping students build an understanding of the impact of the past on the present. Albee enjoys learning from her students and has never experienced the same day twice in her classroom. She continues to commit to her lifelong learning journey by engaging with various leadership experiences in her district. Her experiences range from coaching middle school track, to securing funding to purchase bees for the HA Beekeeping Club, promoting restorative practices, and participating in a ride along with the Penobscot County Sheriff Department as research for her Law & Ethics students. Albee is an active union member and serves as the Co-Chair for the Human, Civil Rights, and Social Justice Committee of the Maine Education Association. Albee enjoys spending time with her family and traveling the world.
The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year program is administered through a unique partnership with Educate Maine, the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA) and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family, and Unum.
For more information about the Maine County Teacher of the Year Program and to see a list of County Teachers of the Year, and Maine Teachers of the Year, visit http://www.mainetoy.org.