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.

MEDIA RELEASE: 2020 County Teachers of the Year Announced in Virtual Ceremony

Teachers from all 16 of Maine’s counties were honored today in a virtual announcement that was broadcast live on the Maine Department of Education Facebook PageHere is a direct link to view ceremony.

The Maine County Teacher of the Year announcement is held annually in the spring to honor the teachers selected from nominations for Maine Teacher of the Year from each county. The County Teachers of the Year are the finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine.

The educators were each 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.

During the ceremony, teachers were honored by Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Jason Judd; State Board of Education member, Martha Harris; 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young; and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker.

2020 County Teachers of the Year:

As ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education in Maine, the Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Throughout the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered and partnered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization working to ensure Maine’s students and workers are the best educated and highly skilled in the world.

For more information contact Rachel Paling (Maine DOE) at rachel.paling@maine.gov or Dolly Sullivan (Educate Maine) at dolly@educatemaine.org.

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine DOE to Announce the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year on Facebook Live Thursday, May 14 at 2pm

What: 16 Maine teachers will be announced and honored as part of the Maine Department of Education’s annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. The teachers were nominated by a member of their school community, and through a rigorous application process were selected by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members.

Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide. The Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Throughout the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

Who: 16 Maine teachers, representing each county in Maine; Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Jason Judd; State Board of Education, Martha Harris; 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young; and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker.

Where: The virtual announcement will be streamed live on the Maine Department of Education Facebook PageThe pictures and a recording of the presentation will also be available after the announcement.

When: Thursday, May 14, 2020 from 2:00pm – 3:30pm

For more information contact Rachel Paling (Maine DOE) at rachel.paling@maine.gov or Dolly Sullivan (Educate Maine) at dolly@educatemaine.org.

County Teachers of the Year Meet with Legislative Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs

The 2019 County Teachers of the Year and the 2020 State Teacher of the Year met with the Legislative Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs last week. An annual event of the Maine State Teacher of the Year Program, the educators spent over an hour discussing relevant topics from their region with Maine legislators.

Pictured above: Senator Rebecca Millett, Representative David McCrea, Representative Jan Dodge, Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year Shawn Rice, Representative Victoria Kornfield, Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year Bobbi Tardiff, Aroostook County Teacher of the Year Kim Barnes (back), Washington County Teacher of the Year Jeanna Carver (front), 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker, Franklin County Teacher of the Year Rob Taylor (back), Penobscot County Teacher of the Year Tracy Deschaine (front), Kennebec County Teacher of the Year Emily Bowen, Somerset County Teacher of the Year Kathy Bertini, York County Teacher of the Year Ethel Atkinson, Representative Henry Ingwersen, and Representative Dick Farnsworth.

Prior to meeting with Committee members, the teachers had the opportunity to meet briefly with Commissioner Makin, Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta, and other representatives from the Maine DOE for an informal conversation about issues and successes in each of their regions.

Legislators began the meeting by expressing their gratitude to the teachers for the work they do and for making time to share their thoughts at the session. Representative Kornfeild told the teachers, “we have been anticipating this meeting all day!”

The first topic the committee members asked about is the teacher shortage that has impacted many areas of Maine, a topic that has also been widely discussed at the state level. The panel was ready and willing to share their take and provide advice on ways to recruit more educators, which included alternative certification pathways and early college options for students.

Topics discussed by the educators ranged from National Board Certification for educators to STEM opportunities, technology integration in the classroom, and earlier pathways to Career and Technical Education for students. By far the most talked about topic in the meeting was the need for more mental health supports for students at school.

The meeting ended with a group picture and much gratitude from both sides of the horseshoe for the opportunity to meet and talk about important education issues.

Some of the teachers shared their thoughts about the experience:

“Meeting with the Education & Cultural Affairs Committee allowed me the chance to share my hopes for attracting talented graduates into the profession of Maine educators. This powerful experience allowed me to be ‘heard’ and advocate for what’s best for our Maine students and those in the teaching profession.” – Kathy Bertini, Somerset County Teacher of the Year and Science Teacher at Madison Junior High School. 

“One of the best parts of the journey as a County Teacher of the Year are the opportunities to speak up and advocate for our profession, for our colleagues, and for our students.  Meeting with the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee provided an opportunity to use our teacher voices, to learn more about the influential leaders in our state, and personally thank them for advocating change in our educational system and the support they offer teachers in inspiring Maine’s future generations.” – Tracy Deschaine, Penobscot County Teacher of the Year and Orono Middle School Math and Science Teacher.

“The experience was inspiring and affirmed for me the power and importance of
educational advocacy at the state level. It also illustrated the fact that many of what we might see as our specific local needs echo concerns shared in communities across the state. While our experience represents an annual invitation for CTOYs to share our stories, the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee made an impassioned plea to encourage all educators to extend our advocacy beyond our own districts in order to advocate for all Maine students; Maine teachers have authentic voices that can positively
impact educational policy and benefit our students.” – Shawn Rice, 2019 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year and Dept Head, Fine Arts at Edward Little High School

“A critical and empowering component of the Maine Teacher of the Year and Maine County Teacher of the Year program is mentoring and providing teacher leaders in the state of Maine with opportunities to advocate on behalf of public education. Over the past two weeks, the 2019 County Teacher of the Year cohort had the incredible opportunity to speak with both Senator King’s Senior Education Staff and the Maine Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. The collective experience and wisdom in this group is inspiring!” – Heather Whitaker, 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, and Gorham Middle School Alternative Education Teacher.