MEDIA RELEASE: Want to Thank an Amazing Teacher This Year? Nominate!

AUGUSTA –  Now, more than ever, we need to honor and recognize the great work of Maine teachers! Nominations are now open for the 2021 County Teachers of the Year and 2022 Teacher of the Year. Members of the public are encouraged to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and who inspire the achievement of all students.

“We know that Maine teachers are doing amazing work educating our students, especially through the impossible challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commissioner Pender Makin. “By putting a name forward as a nomination in the Teacher of the Year Program you will not only give them the recognition they deserve, but you will also give them the chance to take a more active leadership role in education in our State.”

Nominations can be made through the Maine Teacher of the Year Website and will be open through 5:00 pm on Feb. 5, 2021. Nominations will be accepted from students, parents, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, and associations (self-nominations, and nominations from family members are not accepted).

To be considered for the County and Maine Teacher of the Year award, a person must:

  • Hold the appropriate professional certification for their position
  • Be employed by a Maine public school
  • Be actively teaching students at least 50% of full-time at the time of nomination and during the year of recognition
  • Have been teaching for a minimum of five years – three of which are in Maine
  • Remain teaching in the County for which they are selected during year of recognition

The 2021 County Teachers of the Year serve as advocates for teachers, students, and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life. They serve as advisors to the Department of Education and state-level education stakeholders across Maine.  Additionally, the County Teachers of the Year join a of cohort of teacher leaders that actively work together for the betterment of education in Maine. County Teachers of the Year receive on-going professional learning and participate in many state and county leadership opportunities. The 2021 County Teacher of the Year cohort will be recognized in a special announcement in May and the Teacher of the Year Gala in the fall.

Maine’s recently named 2021 Teacher of the Year, Cindy Soule, a 4th grade teacher at Gerald E. Talbot School was selected from over 300 entries.  Mrs. Soule was also honored as the 2020 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.  In addition to Soule, the other 2021 state finalists include Heather Webster, an English teacher at Medomak Valley High School and 2020 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year, and Alison Babb-Brott a second-grade teacher at St. George School and the 2020 Knox County Teacher of the Year.

The 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected from the 16 county honorees. The field will be narrowed to eight semi-finalists, and then three state finalists before the Maine Teacher of the Year is announced by Maine’s Education Commissioner at a school assembly in the fall.

On behalf of, and in partnership with Maine Department of Education, the Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness, and increased education attainment. Funding is provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River Co., Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family, and Unum, with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is committed to a nomination and selection process that ensures people of all backgrounds are represented.  Educate Maine and the Maine Department of Education champion that commitment by encouraging the nomination of educators from all culturally diverse experiences and backgrounds.

Through the generous support of Maine businesses, there is no cost to the local district when the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which includes representing educators state-wide and nationally through safely distanced in-person and virtual events that highlight the important work of Maine schools, communities, and educators.
For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit the Maine Teacher of the Year website.

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Educators Honored at Unique Teacher of the Year Tailgate Gala

The Maine Teacher of the Year Program hosted a unique celebration this year to honor its 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year and the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year. With COVID-19 health protocols in mind, the innovative team of people behind Maine’s Teacher of the Year Program planned a safe, in-person tailgate event this year in place of the traditional indoor evening gala.

Hosted in Lewiston at an outdoor event at Geiger, a longtime supporter of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, the celebration featured lunch provided by Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Green Ladle Food Truck, a socially distanced awards ceremony, and remarks (both in-person and recorded) from partners, supporters, and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker. Event attendees included the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year and Maine’s 2021 Teacher of the Year Cindy Soule, who were each accompanied by members of their family.

The event was made possible by the impeccable planning of Educate Maine and the program’s generous sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine State Lottery, Unum and the Silvernail Family.

Staff from the Maine Department of Education, including Commissioner Pender Makin, were also present, along with Secretary of State Mathew Dunlap. Honoring an annual tradition, Secretary Dunlap graciously presented Maine’s signature license plate to the 2021 Teacher of the Year.

 

Representatives from the Maine Teacher of the Year Association, legacy County and Maine Teachers of the Year, and members of the Maine State Board were also there to celebrate and honor their fellow awardees.

Attendees adhered to state COVID-19 safety requirements by keeping socially distanced and wearing face coverings. Additional protocols were implemented to ensure a safe event for all. As was stated by several speakers at the event, in a year that has been very different in many ways, all were grateful for the opportunity to come together, in-person, to celebrate and honor Maine’s outstanding teachers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeTZckT_IjQ

MEDIA RELEASE: Portland 4th Grade Teacher Named 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year

Cindy Soule, a 4th grade teacher at Gerald E. Talbot Community School has been named the 2021 Teacher of the Year by the Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program.

In a unique, limited audience outdoor event held at the Gerald E. Talbot Community School in Portland, the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine named fourth grade teacher Cindy Soule Maine’s 2021 Teacher of the Year. Students and colleagues at the school were able to watch the event via a live broadcast from their classrooms.

Cindy’s journey began in May, when she was named the 2020 County Teacher of the Year. Cindy, along with 15 other County Teachers of the Year, was selected from a pool of more than 300 teachers who were nominated earlier this year. In August, Cindy was named one of three state finalists before being named the 2021 Teacher of the Year.

“We are proud to announce that Cindy Soule is the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year!” Said Heather Whitaker, 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year and member of the Teacher of the Year State Review Panel, “Cindy has been a dedicated member of the Talbot School Community for 20 years. She is a life-long learner who is committed to the craft of teaching and building strong relationships with her students, colleagues, and community.  We will learn so much from her passion for teaching inquiry-based science and literacy!”

Cindy has an innate ability to create a learning community that disrupts the opportunity gap. For twenty of her twenty-one years of teaching, she has been committed to one of Maine’s most diverse schools, the Gerald E. Talbot Community School (formerly Riverton Elementary School), in Portland, Maine. Soule fosters a dynamic learning environment that inspires curiosity and citizenship in her fourth-grade students.

A lifelong resident of Maine, Cindy developed an appreciation for the natural world. This passion is evident in her teaching. She grounds learning in real world contexts and encourages students to construct scientific understanding through observation, questioning, and collaborative thinking.  Through inquiry and discourse, Soule empowers students to see themselves as meaningful contributors to their community. This work is recognized by her Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching candidacy.

Cindy contributes to a positive culture of collective efficacy where students thrive. To enrich student learning, she partners with community organizations to include Side X Side, the Maine Audubon, and the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. She serves as a representative on the Portland Schools Literacy Committee, Talbot Leadership Team, Building Steering Committee, RTI Team, and Science Teams. On behalf of students, Soule is a recipient of Portland Education Foundation, TD Banknorth and DonorsChoose grants.

Cindy holds a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Maine at Orono. A 2020 Funds for Teachers Fellow, she looks forward to continued professional discovery and learning.

Cindy was nominated in January by her colleague Brooke Teller, STEM Coordinator for Portland Public Schools and the 2017 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.  Brooke shared in her nomination:

Cindy is an extraordinary teacher for many reasons.  Cindy has dedicated most of her nineteen years in education to the students of Riverton Elementary School.  At Riverton, she has been in the role of special educator, literacy coach and now pioneering science curriculum developer.  She told me that each time she is presented with a new initiative, she is ‘all in’, wanting to do whatever she can to benefit her students.  I can think of no better example of an extraordinary teacher than one that is always looking out for her students and on a continuous path for her own improvement.    In my role as Science Coach, I have been helping Riverton develop a science curriculum.  It will be the first comprehensive curriculum in the Portland Public School district.  Cindy has been a leader in this work.  This past summer she participated in a training from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance.    Kate Cook, who facilitated the work had this to say about Cindy:  “I had the privilege of getting to know Cindy through a professional learning pathway focused on the Next Generation Science Standards.  In working with Cindy, it became immediately clear to me that she is an incredible educator for her students and an inspirational leader amongst her colleagues.  Cindy believes, fervently, in taking her students’ thinking seriously, helping every single student in her class progress, and in advancing critical and creative thinking.  Her belief in her students is infectious amongst her colleagues.  She has a zeal for continuing to advance her own learning and a deep passion for helping her students and colleagues learn that is refreshing, hopeful, and desperately needed in the teaching profession.

The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that involves educator portfolio and resume submissions, interviews, oral presentations, and classroom visits made by a selection panel comprised of State Board of Education members, school administrators, Maine Department of Education staff, former Teachers of the Year, and other Maine business partners.

As the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year, Cindy Soule will spend her year of service advocating for students and teachers and speaking to the importance of education in preparing Maine students for the future.  She will represent Maine in the National Teacher of the Year program.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led advocacy organization, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Maine businesses.  The program’s lead sponsor is Bangor Savings Bank.  Other program sponsors include Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine State Lottery, Unum and the Silvernail Family.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.mainetoy.org.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Teachers of the Year Association and Maine DOE Create Special “Teacher to Teacher” Back to School Message

The Maine Teachers of the Year Association, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, has created a special “teacher to teacher” back to school message to help kick off the 2020/2021 school year.

The video message features Maine’s current and legacy Teachers of the Year and County Teachers of the Year. Their message is one of compassion, inspiration, hope, self-care, and unity for teachers across Maine as schools, and educators prepare to welcome back their students in a year like no other.

MEDIA RELEASE: State Finalists Announced for 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year 

Three Maine teachers have been announced as State finalists for the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year program. The finalists were chosen from the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year during a special virtual ceremony which was viewed over 7,000 times.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program honors outstanding teachers who represent the thousands of excellent educators in Maine. Maine’s Teacher of the Year serves as an advocate for the teaching profession, education 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, Maine State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association are pleased to announce that Cindy Soule (Cumberland), Alison Babb-Brott (Knox) and Heather Webster (Lincoln) are moving on as 2021 State Finalists.

Please join us in congratulating the 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year finalists.

Cindy Soule

Gerald A. Talbot Community School, Portland 
2020 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year 

Cindy Soule creates a learning community that disrupts the opportunity gap. For twenty of her twenty-one years of teaching, she has been committed to one of Maine’s most diverse schools, the Gerald E. Talbot Community School, in Portland, Maine. Soule fosters a dynamic learning environment that inspires curiosity and citizenship in her fourth-grade students.

A lifelong resident of Maine, Soule developed an appreciation for the natural world. This passion is evident in her teaching. She grounds learning in real world contexts and encourages students to construct scientific understanding through observation, questioning, and collaborative thinking.  Through inquiry and discourse, Soule empowers students to see themselves as meaningful contributors to their community. This work is recognized by her Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching candidacy.

Soule contributes to a positive culture of collective efficacy where students thrive. To enrich student learning, she partners with community organizations to include Side X Side, the Maine Audubon, and the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. She serves as a representative on the Portland Schools Literacy Committee, Talbot Leadership Team, Building Steering Committee, RTI Team, and Science Teams. On behalf of students, Soule is a recipient of Portland Education Foundation, TD Banknorth and DonorsChoose grants.

Soule holds a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Maine at Orono. A 2020 Funds for Teachers Fellow, she looks forward to continued professional discovery and learning.

Alison Babb-Brott

St. George School, St. George
2020 Knox County Teacher of the Year 

Alison Babb-Brott is the second grade teacher at St. George School in St. George, Maine, where she has taught since 2016. Babb-Brott is inspired by the power and potential of young students and sets the bar for high expectations, as evidenced by her students’ engagement and achievement. She believes that by teaching students to be the leaders of their classroom and academic careers, they will in turn become leaders of their communities and their world.

Babb-Brott teaches learning expeditions that connect students with authentic, local experiences – like her “Plants and Pollinators” expedition, in which students study local flora and fauna and plant pollinator gardens – and also expose students to global perspectives – like her “Schools and Community” expedition, in which students explore schools around the world to find similarities that connect them and differences that challenge them.

Underlying Babb-Brott’s content delivery is a fierce commitment to the development of her students’ character. Every interaction is designed to teach and support integrous care for student dialogue, classroom culture, and academic achievement.

Babb-Brott graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management. She later received her Master of Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015.

She returned to teach in Maine as the ocean and her family called her home. On a boat in Penobscot Bay or in the stands at her younger sister’s soccer games, she is happiest surrounded by friends and family.

Heather Webster

Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro 
2020 Lincoln County Teacher of the Year 

Heather Webster is an English teacher at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Maine, where she has just completed her 19th year. Webster is an active teacher-leader who is always focused on improving the school experience for all students; she has served on many and varied committees and particularly enjoys developing student-centered curriculum. She is the co-founder of the school’s student-staffed writing center. She also started Storybook Theater, a community service drama program where high school students bring a book to life for elementary students.

Webster recognizes the importance of relationships and works to establish positive ones both in and out of the classroom. Her classroom motto, from the Apollo 13 mission, is “Failure is not an option,” and she works to provide students with choices and multiple opportunities to demonstrate knowledge, often seeking out or creating, project-based activities to employ in her classroom.

Webster graduated from the University of Maine in 1991, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English. She later completed the coursework for teaching certification and is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Literacy with a concentration in Writing and the Teaching of Writing at the University of Maine. Family, both nuclear and extended, are of utmost importance to Webster. Her husband, Phil, supports her endeavors, and parenting her 16-year-old son Russell has definitely contributed to making her a better teacher. She loves reading, writing, and scrapbooking, and can often be found on horseback navigating woods trails or circling a show ring.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2021 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 Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine. For more information, visit http://www.mainetoy.org.