A Letter to America’s Teachers from Secretary Cardona

I never could predict what might happen in Mr. O’Neil’s art classes; I just knew I couldn’t wait for the next assignment.  Back then I didn’t realize all the ways this dynamic educator, a rare man of color leading our diverse classroom of second graders, was serving as a pioneer and role model for me and my peers in John Barry Elementary School.  But I’ll never forget how his teaching made me feel.  As a second grader, I remember looking up — watching him encourage, challenge and guide us – and thinking: “I want to be like him.”

In the years since embracing that calling and starting my career as a classroom teacher, I’ve kept that sense of purpose and wonder.  And my goal in all the administrative roles I’ve held is to facilitate great teaching and learning: to support and expand the transformative impact that skilled, caring classroom teachers have for students, schools, and communities.

Every day America’s teachers change lives, and every day those lives change the world.

Now, this truth can seem to recede as you rush to keep up with the day’s intense pace, and your students’ needs and opportunities.  Yet, from the first bell on the first day of the school year, you build a relationship with each of them.  You learn their strengths and struggles, laugh with them, cry with them, worry over them, cheer for them – and at the end of the school year, help them transition to their next grade level adventure.  You know all those experiences – both the academic and life lessons – have changed both you and them for the better.  You empower them to grow in skill and character — expand their understanding of the world and how to shape it — explore their interests and decide where to make their mark.

Teaching is not a job anyone just falls into.  It is mastery of a craft: in fact, the craft that enables all the others. In my experience, great teachers are also quintessential lifelong learners.  You use your command of learning science, your insights into your students’ unique needs and aptitudes, as well as the lessons of the past, the realities of the present and the inspiration, innovation and ingenuity of the future to help each new generation become leaders for today and tomorrow.  Throughout the year you support your fellow educators, add to your tools through professional development, provide feedback on assignments, sponsor sports, service learning, clubs and other extracurricular activities, collaborate with parents — in addition to everything you pour into your students during class.

Even in this unprecedented year, you rallied, finding new ways to engage with students.  In the face of tragedy, you learned new technologies and built virtual classroom communities, all while caring for yourselves and your own families.  As we heal, recover, and rebuild, this pandemic presents a chance to forge opportunity from crisis and reimagine education on every level.  We will use this time to address inequities in our education system, and your contributions will be invaluable.  The work won’t be easy, but the impact of your success will be profound, for students and communities.  I urge state, local, and elected officials to make sure classroom teachers have a voice in your plans and efforts to reimagine education; second to parents, they know our students best.

I look forward to learning and listening from you in the days ahead.  And, from all of us at the Department of Education: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. There’s a reason teacher like Mr. O’Neil – and all of you – are memorable.  There’s a reason student in America’s classrooms watch you share your curiosity, energy and passion for ideas and think, “I want to be like them.”

You are embodiments of possibility, champions of your students’ potential and stewards of their success.

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education

Maine DOE Certification Team Supporting Educator Workforce

The Maine Department of Education’s Certification team is excited to report that they have held a 2-3 week processing time for more than a year, despite the heavy volume of inquiries and responses they attend to on a daily basis to manage the initial applications and renewal of educator and administrator credentials across Maine.

The transition from a hard copy paper filing and processing system to the Maine Educator Information System (MEIS) in 2018 has allowed the team to work more efficiently at assisting educators to manage their credentials completely online.

Since the start of 2021, Maine DOE’s Certification Team has received 11,000 applications for certification and issued roughly 9,000 credentials. In that same time frame they have sent 1,500 – 2,000 emails a week, assisted educators on more than 100 phone calls a day, and their support staff have been preparing roughly 1,500 documents a week for evaluators to process.

Beyond their the work of processing educator credentials, the team has also continued their 8:00am support staff training twice a week, and created a website committee that has and continues to streamline the information and ease of use on the Maine DOE’s Certification website.

MEDIA RELEASE: Commissioner Makin Thanks Education Workforce for Teacher Appreciation Week

Today Commissioner Makin released a special video acknowledging the courage, selflessness, and dedication, especially over the past year, of educators and school staff across Maine. Her message was created in recognition of  National Teacher Appreciation Week,

“Unlike in many states across the nation, Maine schools opened their doors to students at the beginning of the school year and have continued to provide high quality education through multiple modalities thanks to the hard work, courage, resilience, and creativity of Maine teachers.”  

The Maine Department of Education has been celebrating Maine’s education workforce all week through a number of activities:

  • Gorham High School Senior and Maine’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud State Champion, Emily Paruk released an original poem capturing the magnitude of impact educators have on students
  • Maine DOE staff are sharing shout-outs to Maine educators on our social media pages, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #Thanks4TeachingME and #TeacherAppreciationWeek.
  • Maine’s 2020 County Teachers of the Year have shared an important message welcoming pre-service educators to their team!

Check it out on our Teacher Appreciation Week Website for ideas to celebrate all school staff this week and find discounts and deals from companies who offer educator discounts during Teacher Appreciation Week and some who provide discounts year-round.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week; 2021 Maine Poetry Out Loud Champion Releases Original Poem for Teachers

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is excited to celebrate Maine’s outstanding educators this week, May 3 – 7, 2021 and we have already begun celebrating our rockstar educators and school staff!

“Honoring our educator workforce is always important, but given the heroic effort of our schools this year to meet the needs of learners during the pandemic, teacher appreciation has moved to a whole new level of gratitude,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

We are hoping to make certain that all of the 50,000+ Mainers who work in our schools, making sure that the nutritional, educational, and social/emotional needs of students are met, know they are appreciated for everything that they do.

Along with all of the creative and generous local “Teacher Appreciation Week” efforts happening in schools all over Maine this week, the Maine DOE is excited to share our gratitude in multiple ways throughout the week:

An Original Poem Dedicated to Maine Teachers:
Gorham High School Senior and Maine’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud State Champion, Emily Paruk shares an original poem capturing the magnitude of impact educators have on students. Grab your tissues, it’s an amazing poem and performance!

Special Thanks from DOE Staff:
We have already begun posting shout-outs to Maine educators from our staff on our social media pages, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #Thanks4TeachingME and #TeacherAppreciationWeek. We invite everyone to join us by posting your own shout-out to a Maine educator or staff member currently working in a school or retired, using the same hashtags. Tag us on social media if you want us to share it too!

  • Facebook: @MaineDepartmentofEducation1
  • Twitter: @mdoenews

A Message to Pre-Service Educators:
Maine’s 2020 County Teachers of the Year have shared an important message welcoming pre-service educators to their team! Congratulations to the Class of 2021; thank you for choosing this profession!

Ideas to Celebrate:
For ideas on how to celebrate, take it from some of the experts who are organizing efforts all over Maine! We have compiled a list of ideas that communities throughout Maine are doing for their educators/school staff members. Check it out on our Teacher Appreciation Week Website.

Deals and Discounts:
As a special treat for our educators this week, Maine DOE compiled a list of discounts and deals from companies who offer educator discounts during Teacher Appreciation Week and some who provide discounts year-round.  This year, local Maine businesses have also provided generous offers to the educator workforce. Check out the list on our Teacher Appreciation Week Website. Local businesses that want to have an offer listed can fill out our form.

In the spirit of elevating and celebrating our workforce throughout the year, the Maine DOE in partnership with Educate Maine will be announcing the 2021 County Teachers of the Year in a live virtual announcement on May 12th on Maine DOE’s YouTube Channel. More information will be available soon!

For more information about Teacher Appreciation Week, visit our Teacher Appreciation Week Website.

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Maine Celebrates 21 New and 5 Renewed National Board Certified Teachers in Virtual Ceremony

Maine recognized 21 teachers newly certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) during an April 8 virtual ceremony. These exemplary educators join more than 400 teachers across the state who have gone through this highly reflective and transformative professional development, including five of their colleagues who renewed their National Board Certification this year.

Friends, family, colleagues and administrators joined the celebration hosted by the Maine Education Association (MEA) and the National Board Certified Teachers Network of Maine (NBCTs of Maine). Offering congratulatory remarks were Education Commissioner Pender Makin, MEA President and NBCT Grace Leavitt, NBCTs of Maine Chair and NBCT, Melissa Guerrette, and Representative Rebecca Millett.

Featured speaker Kelly Elder, NBPTS, NBCT Board of Directors, 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year and 2018 NEA Foundation Fellow, shared a talk titled “What’s Next? Moving Forward from the Intersection of Emotional Health and Learning in a Post-pandemic World” Elder, a grade 6 geography teacher, acknowledged the challenges involved in teaching in a year unlike any other, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on our most vulnerable students. Elder noted that NBCTs, given their experience in such a highly reflective process as National Board Certification, are uniquely positioned to create, innovate, and lead the differentiated work (including rethinking assessment practices) in the coming years, in order to meet the needs of all of our students.

The event’s emcee, Heidi Goodwin, NBCT and NB Professional Learning Facilitator, was joined by Kristi Charette, NBCT and NB Professional Learning Facilitator, in leading this year’s unique pinning ceremony, with attendees being “pinned” by a family member at home. Dan Allen, MEA Professional Development Director, offered closing remarks, encouraging the NBCTs to engage in ongoing leadership opportunities, including offering support to candidates working on National Board Certification.

The journey to National Board Certification is a challenging one—the process, on average, requires nearly 400 hours of time and effort to achieve. Educators must submit a detailed portfolio that includes examples of student work and video recordings that show how they teach and interact with students. In addition, they must submit a reflective piece on student assessment and learning and demonstrate mastery of the content of their chosen certification area. This evidence must meet the Five Core Propositions and the National Board Standards, a body of knowledge that is maintained by teachers. Practicing teachers, through a peer-review process, assess the portfolios.

In pursuing and achieving National Board Certification, the following teachers have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their students, schools, and districts. Please join us in congratulating them!

Maine 2020 New NBCTS

  Name National Board Certificate Position District/School
1. Heather Sinclair Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher RSU 2 Hall-Dale Middle High School
2. Heidi Corliss Music: Early Adolescence/YA Fine & Performing Arts Teacher RSU 22 Hampden Academy
3. Alyce Delfino Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Adolescence/ YA Special Education Teacher Five Town CSD

Camden Hills Regional High School

4. Christopher Driscoll Mathematics, Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher Falmouth Public Schools/ Falmouth Middle School
5. Sara Jones Mathematics: Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher Falmouth Public Schools/ Falmouth Middle School
6. Tara Robertson Literacy: Reading -Lang Arts: Early & Middle Childhood Title I Teacher Lisbon Public Schools

Lisbon Community School

7. Linda LaCasse Literacy: Reading -Language Arts: Early & Middle Childhood Title I Teacher Lisbon Public Schools

Lisbon Community School

8. Julia Bemis Science: Adolescence and Young Adulthood High School Science Teacher RSU 6 Bonny Eagle HS
9. Jennifer Fronczak- Math: Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher RSU 84 East Grand School
10. Vicki Bailey Generalist: Early Childhood Grade 1 Teacher RSU 22 Earl C McGraw Elementary School
11. Audrey Bracciodieta Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Special Education Teacher RSU 22 George B Weatherbee School
12. Jennifer Brown Generalist: Early Childhood Kindergarten Teacher RSU 12 Chelsea Elementary School
13. Robin Tiller Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher Biddeford Public Schools

Biddeford Middle School

14. Rachel Singh Generalist: Early Childhood Grade 1 Teacher Bar Harbor Public Schools

Conners-Emerson School

15. Rebecca Sanborn Generalist: Early Childhood Kindergarten Teacher RSU 60 North Berwick Elementary
16. Krista St. Cyr English as a New Language: Early Adolescence/YA English Language Learner Teacher Lewiston Public Schools

Lewiston Middle School

17. Lacey Todd Generalist: Middle Childhood Grade 5 Science Teacher RSU 10 Mountain Valley Middle School
18. Kaitlin Woodbury Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Grade 1 Teacher RSU 1 Phippsburg Elementary School
19. Lorene Hinkley – Gordon Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Title I Teacher RSU 49 Albion Elementary School
20. Jessica Archer English Language Arts: Early Adolescence Middle School: English, Science and Health Teacher RSU 26 Orono Middle School
21. Danielle Quimby Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Gifted & Talented Teacher RSU 6 Buxton Center Elementary School

Maine 2020 Renewed NBCTS

  Name National Board Certificate Position District/ School
1. Laurie Alves Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Grade 5 Teacher Scarborough Public Schools Wentworth School
2. Brian Cote Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher Bar Harbor Public School

Conners-Emerson School

3. David Doubleday Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Adolescence/YA High School English Language Arts Five Town CSD

Camden Hills Regional High School

4. Rachel Landry Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood/YA Special Education Teacher Portland Public Schools

Harrison Lyseth Elementary School

5. Joanne Powers Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early Middle Childhood Elementary Literacy Teacher RSU 1 Dike-Newell School

National Board certification is voluntary and open to all teachers who have at least three years of classroom experience and a bachelor’s degree. Certification is available in 25 certificate areas, from preschool through 12th grade.

Maine offers an annual salary supplement for teachers who have achieved National Board Certification and scholarships to support up to 30 teachers, annually, in attaining National Board Certification.

Contact information for National Board Certification in Maine:

NBCTS of Maine:

Heidi Goodwin: nbct.heidi@gmail.com

Melissa Guerrette: nbct.melissa@gmail.com

Susan O’Brien: nbct.susan@gmail.com

Kristi Charette: nbct.kristi@gmail.com

Maine Education Association:

Dan Allen: DAllen@maineea.org

Maine Department of Education:

Tamara Ranger: tamara.ranger@Maine.Gov