Four Maine teachers were announced today as the State Finalists for the 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year program. Second-grade teacher Joshua Chard from Cumberland County, sixth-grade writing and social studies teacher Edith Berger from Lincoln County, fifth-grade science teacher Lacey Todd from Oxford County, and high school science teacher Colleen Maker from Washington County were all selected to move forward in the Teacher of the Year process and were chosen from the 2023 Maine County Teachers of the Year.
“Colleen, Edith, Joshua, and Lacey are all extraordinary educators who care deeply about their students, schools, and communities. They lift up everyone around them, are passionate about their profession, and are true champions of all students and schools in Maine. These four finalists represent the best qualities of Maine’s amazing educators, and I congratulate them on this very well-deserved honor,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.
One of the four State Finalists will be named the 2024 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.
A member of their community nominated each educator 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 that every learner has what they need to be successful,” said Dr. Jason Judd, Executive Director of Educate Maine. “These state finalists are great examples of all the dynamic and versatile teaching that happens each day in our Maine classrooms. Congratulations to them and their districts. We look forward to working with them as they continue their journey as teacher leaders and ambassadors for the profession.”
“Our teaching workforce drives the quality of our schools and education system here in Maine, and these state finalists exemplify the qualities we look for. They’re innovative, dedicated, and committed to ensuring all Maine learners receive a high quality and supportive education,” said Maine State Board of Education Chair Desjardins. “Congratulations to all!”
“Congratulations to these four wonderful teachers! The hard work, dedication, and love they put into all they do and the commitment they show to their communities, schools, and students is inspiring,” said Matt Bernstein, 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year. “I am grateful to these four educators for representing the incredible work that happens in classrooms and schools all over Maine. I am tremendously proud of them. It is an honor to know them and learn from them.”
“Maine educators support their students, families, and communities with professionalism, compassion, and commitment,” said Heather Whitaker, 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year and President of the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA). “Our finalists, who come from all across the state, are leaders in this work. We look forward to learning 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:
East End Community School, Portland
2023 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year
“Teachers across our state do amazing things in their classrooms every day. Being a finalist for Maine Teacher of the Year provides me with a platform to share and celebrate the incredible work happening in Portland Public Schools and in schools all across Maine. I am humbled and proud to stand among such amazing professionals.”
2023 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year Joshua Chard is a second and third-grade looping teacher at East End Community School and the drama director at Deering High School in Portland, Maine. His approach to designing and implementing curriculum for young learners always starts through a culturally responsive lens. Joyful relationships are at the heart of everything Chard does in his classroom and he is inspired every day by the honor of lifting up and celebrating his diverse learners. Chard holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in theater from the University of Southern Maine, a Master of Science degree in Education with a K-6 Literacy focus from the University of New England, and a Certificate in K-6 Standards Based Mathematics from The American College of Education. He is also certified as a K-12 teacher of English to speakers of other languages. During his 31-year career, he has been an educational technician, has taught fourth and fifth grade, and has been an instructional coach with a focus on mathematics. Chard is proud to teach in two of the most culturally diverse schools north of Boston, having passionately dedicated his entire career to working in high-needs, urban schools, and he is excited to have a platform to share the amazing work that is happening there. Outside of school, Chard can be found participating in local theater as an actor and director and exploring Maine’s beaches and lighthouses with his husband and their grandsons.
Miller School, Waldoboro
2023 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year
“Being a part of the Maine County and State Teachers of the Year program is an opportunity to lift the voices and amplify the experiences of all teachers in Maine and beyond. My school, administration, colleagues, and district have supported me in my growth as a teacher leader and I owe the same to others in education no matter where they teach.”
Edith Berger is a teacher of writing and social studies in 6th grade at Miller School in Waldoboro, Maine, RSU 40. Berger has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with concentrations in art and architectural history and psychology from Ithaca College and a Masters of Education in Literacy: Writing and the Teaching of Writing from the University of Maine, Orono. She is the 2023 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year. A 2013 Fellow of the Maine Writing Project, her poetry and essays have been published in several anthologies. Berger considers mentoring her mission in life. She is especially passionate about using mentoring to help other teachers integrate civics into their classrooms. Berger feels that sharing excitement, knowledge and strengths with each other benefits teachers across all grade levels and content areas. By explicitly teaching and embedding the traits of good citizenship across the curriculum, she believes children will grow up to respect the rights and beliefs of others and contribute to a civil society. Whether presenting at an international literacy conference about teachers teaching teachers, mentoring new teachers and graduate students in their craft and leadership, or representing social studies in her district and state, Berger demonstrates her commitment to the profession of teaching as well as to the subject of social studies. When not at school or doing other “teachery” things, Berger can be found writing in a noisy coffee shop, reading history geek nonfiction or baking goodies she shouldn’t eat to satisfy her husband’s sweet tooth.
Mountain Valley Middle School, Mexico
2023 Oxford County Teacher of the Year
“The Teacher of the Year program has provided me with an opportunity to recognize and honor those who have supported my journey in education. This award represents the hard work and dedication of my teaching team, who support and challenge me every day; my husband, who spends his evenings and weekends working in my classroom; and my parents, who made countless sacrifices to ensure my success as a first-generation college student.”
Lacey Todd is a fifth-grade science teacher at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, Maine. Todd earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington, Master of Education in Inclusion Education and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Literacy K-12 from the University of New England, Education Specialist degree in Teacher Leadership from Walden University, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Todd grew up in Oxford County, where she continues to live and teach, which is why she takes great pride in being named the 2023 Oxford County Teacher of the Year. Todd is a Maine Science Teachers Association board member, completed a three-year term on the Maine Professional Standards Board, and was selected as a mentor for the national Diversity in STEM Education Summit in 2020 and 2023. She is also a Next Generation Science eXemplar facilitator and advocates for the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards at all grade levels, especially elementary. Todd is a teacher leader in her district, serving on several committees, including Staff Council, Technology, Certification, and Contract Negotiation, and is a mentor for new and pre-service teachers. Todd is especially passionate about making science education engaging and accessible to all students and regularly seeks out professional learning opportunities that promote collaboration, authentic learning experiences, and inclusion. When she’s not teaching or tending to her menagerie of class pets, you can find her camping or exploring the Maine woods with her husband and their golden retriever, Ruby.
Washington Academy, East Machias
2023 Washington County Teacher of the Year
“It’s an honor to represent Washington Academy and Washington County in the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, and I’m thankful to my students, colleagues, administrators, community partners, family, and husband, Joshua, for fueling and nurturing my passion and love for teaching. Being part of a program that celebrates teachers across Maine is truly exciting, especially in a state where incredible things are unfolding in our classrooms and communities.”
Colleen Maker teaches biology and marine biology at Washington Academy in East Machias, Maine. Maker has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Machias. Maker is the 2023 Washington County Teacher of the Year. Maker’s pedagogy revolves around experiential learning and emphasizes student engagement through hands-on experiences and community partnerships. She integrates the curriculum with real-world applications, fostering lifelong learners who are productive community members and responsible stewards of their environment. She creates student leadership opportunities by advising homeroom, student council, science club, and sustainability club. As a member of the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Committee, she collaborates with colleagues to develop and implement initiatives that foster a safe and accepting environment for all. Her commitment to creating a sense of belonging is evident in her efforts to ensure everyone feels welcomed and valued.
Maker seeks opportunities to engage with other science educators and is a member of the Connected Learning Ecosystems cohort sponsored by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. She was the 2022 recipient of the prestigious University of Maine Volunteer Pen Award for her dedication to the Washington Academy Community Garden, which donates all produce to the Machias Food Pantry. Maker is passionate about fighting food insecurity in her community and provides opportunities for students to volunteer by caring for the garden, participating in gleaning initiatives, and supporting personal care share drives. While not teaching, Maker cherishes time with her family camping, playing board games, reading, and exploring beaches.
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, Pratt and Whitney, 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.