MEDIA RELEASE: Eight Semifinalists Selected for 2022 Teacher of the Year

The Maine Department of Education, in partnership with Educate Maine, is pleased to announce the eight teachers that have been selected as semifinalists for Maine’s 2022 Teacher of the Year program. The semifinalists were selected from the 2021 County Teachers of the Year, who were honored in May in a virtual ceremony.

2022 Teacher of the Year Semifinalists:

Andrew Kirby
Aroostook County
Kirby has been teaching for 13 years and will be teaching science to grades 9-12 at Caribou High School.

I know Andrew is a teacher that will go above and beyond to work with students that need extra help, he sees when a student understands the material and may just need an alternative route to explain it, and is willing to adjust his classroom to the needs of his students to keep them successful.” – Andrea Hallett, Director of Guidance, Presque Isle High School

Paige Fournier
Cumberland County
Fournier has been teaching for 17 years and currently teaches special education at Freeport Middle School.

Paige’s influence on our building stretches well beyond the four walls of her classroom. She truly has changed the lives of many kids. She has such a positive impact on our entire school from the life skills classroom.” – Ray Grogan, Principal, Freeport Middle School

Michelle Laliberte
Franklin County
Laliberte has been teaching for 20 years and currently teaches PreK – Kindergarten at Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

Mrs. Laliberte truly makes learning fun for the kids, teaches teamwork and responsibility to very young kids with regular assigned classroom “jobs,” and involves the students’ families to help ignite the passion for learning both in and outside of the classroom.” – Kathryn Kay, Parent

Patti Forster
Knox County
Forster has been teaching for 29 years and is currently teaching English to grades 9-10 at Camden Hills Regional School.

Patti brings a huge heart and expert understanding of pedagogy to her work with students. She purposefully works with students who struggle with school or English. She is successful where other teachers have failed. As department head she leads her peers in bringing more social and emotional learning into their program, has developed and implemented a set of tier 2 interventions for students 9-12 who are struggling in English.” – Shawn Carlson, Principal, Camden Hills Regional School

Melissa Guerrette
Oxford County
Guerrette has been teaching for 20 years and currently teaches grade 5 at Oxford Elementary School.

Melissa Guerrette is a teacher that creates an impact at all levels: at OES, in MSAD #17, in the greater Oxford Hills Community, and in the state of Maine. She exemplifies what it means to be a reflective practitioner and is generous with her time and knowledge of best practices.” – Heather Manchester, Curriculum Director, RSU 17 / MSAD 17

Kelsey Stoyanova
Penobscot County
Stoyanova has been teaching for 7 years and currently teaches grade 8 English Language Arts at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden.

She forms meaningful relationships with her students and creates an environment that is welcoming. Along with that, I feel like I can be challenged in her class to do my best while also developing and working on skills that might be harder for me. We do this by having class discussions, creative projects, and interesting assignments.” – Tessa Castrucci, Student

Hillary Hoyt
Waldo County
Hoyt has been teaching for 7 years and currently teaches grade 3 at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport.

Her desire to make sure each child feel like they are important is evident in her ability to individualize for each child, yet set high expectations of citizenship and respect. Her ability to restructure lessons and units to meet student’s interests, with such a diverse classroom, is unique.” – Dawn Moore, Principal, Leroy H. Smith School

Christine Goulet
York County
Goulet has been teaching for 21 years and currently teaches grade 2 at for Biddeford Primary School.

Christine has been a part of our Tiger community where her passion for teaching and learning has engaged, empowered, and supported all students in her learning environment which is not necessarily determined by the four walls of her classroom. Christine has a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and a strong passion of teaching all learners.” – Mandy Cyr, Director of Instruction, Biddeford School Department

The eight 2022 Teacher of the Year semifinalists will continue in the selection process which consists of a professional portfolio review and an oral presentation, and results in identifying three state finalists. The state finalists will then sit for a final interview and have a school-site visit before one of them is named the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year selection panel is made up of legacy Teachers of the Year, school administrators, Maine DOE staff, members of professional education organizations, and the business community. The 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year will be announced in October.

The Maine Department of Education’s Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered and managed by Educate Maine and supported by both the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family and Unum.

More information about Maine’s Teacher of the Year program, the 2021 County Teachers of the Year, and the 2022 semifinalists can be found on the Maine Teacher of the Year website. For questions and information, please reach out to Program Director Dolly Sullivan at dolly@educatemaine.org or call 631-3385.

Maine DOE to Host Focus Group for New Educators on June 23

Are you a first or second year educator (teacher, administrator, education technician)?  If so, thank you–AND we would love to hear from you!

Please join us for a virtual New Educator Focus Group on June 23, 9:00 – 10:00 am.  Upon registration, participants will receive a Zoom link.

This will be an opportunity for you to connect with other new educators throughout Maine, to share challenges and successes, and for us to celebrate you! As a new educator during these unprecedented school years, your experiences are invaluable and will help inform our ongoing educator recruitment and retention efforts! If you plan to attend, please complete and submit the registration form below.

June 23rd Focus Group
9:00 – 10:00 am
Register here
Upon registration, participants will receive a zoom link.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to provide feedback, please contact Tamara Ranger: Tamara.Ranger@Maine.Gov or Emily Doughty at Emily.Doughty@Maine.Gov

Maine DOE to Host Focus Groups for New Educators

Are you a first or second year educator (teacher, administrator, education technician)?  If so, thank you–AND we would love to hear from you!

Please join us at one of our virtual New Educator Focus Groups (June 17 6:00 – 7:00 pm or June 23, 9:00 – 10:00 am). Upon registration, participants will receive a Zoom link.

This will be an opportunity for you to connect with other new educators throughout Maine, to share challenges and successes, and for us to celebrate you! As a new educator during these unprecedent school years, your experiences are invaluable and will help inform our ongoing educator recruitment and retention efforts! If you plan to attend, please complete and submit the registration form for the date that works best for you.

June 17th Focus Group
6:00 – 7:00 pm
Register here
Upon registration, participants will receive a zoom link.
June 23rd Focus Group
9:00 – 10:00 am
Register here
Upon registration, participants will receive a zoom link.

Questions? Please contact Tamara Ranger: Tamara.Ranger@Maine.Gov or Emily Doughty at Emily.Doughty@Maine.Gov

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.