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.
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.
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.
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.