MEDIA RELEASE: State Finalists Announced for 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year 

Three Maine teachers have been announced as State finalists for the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year program. The finalists were chosen from the 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year during a special virtual ceremony which was viewed over 2,000 times.

“All 16 County Teachers of the Year exemplify the amazing dedication and creative spirit of Maine’s educators,” said Pender Makin, Maine Commissioner of Education. “These finalists have been selected for their passion, vision, and advocacy for education and for Maine students, and each will be an outstanding ambassador on behalf of all educators in our state.”

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 County and State Teacher of the Year Association are pleased to announce that Paige Fournier (Cumberland), Kelsey Stoyanova (Penobscot), and Hillary Hoyt (Waldo) are moving on as 2022 State Finalists.

Please join us in congratulating the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year finalists.

Paige FournierPaige Fournier
Freeport Middle School, Freeport 
2021 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year 

I am honored to represent RSU5 through the MTOY process. I look forward to amplifying the voices and experiences of all students- particularly those that struggle- in an effort to ensure all students thrive, grow, and feel empowered to make changes in their lives.”

Dr. Paige Fournier is a middle level special educator at Freeport Middle School in Maine. She began volunteering in a special education classroom as a high school student and discovered it was her life-long passion immediately. Dr. Fournier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education/ Elementary Education at C.W. Post- Long Island University while playing Division II soccer and lacrosse, winning a National Championship in lacrosse. She frequently references her athletic experiences as part of her drive to empower and advocate for students.

Dr. Fournier holds a master’s degree in Special Education from New England College where she also most recently earned her Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership. In her studies she researched the impact of mindfulness on the general mental health and wellness of students at the middle level. Dr. Fournier is a Representative Assembly Board Member of the Maine Council for Exceptional Children, Co-Chair of the RSU 5 Wellness Committee, a member of the leadership team, a 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year semifinalist, a local and global teacher mentor, and a Board Member of the Freeport United Soccer Club. She has presented at conferences across New England, has been published in the New England College Journal of Applied Educational Research, and has successfully co-written grants to support technology, school gardens and a school-based greenhouse, and social emotional programs. She is passionate about inclusive practices and advocating for the success of all students, particularly those students that face adversity.

Kelsey StoyanovaKelsey Stoyanova
Reeds Brook Middle School, Hampden
2021 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year 

“In the midst of a pandemic where uncertainties have been abundant, my journey with Maine Teacher of the Year has made it certainly clear — Maine educators know that what is best for students is to listen to them, know them as humans first and value their ideas, and then learn alongside them,” said Stoyanova. “I’m proud to represent my students and colleagues in RSU 22, Penobscot County, and our state to continue to advocate that we prioritize representation, choice, and voice of ALL students in our schools, in our curriculum, and in education policy.”

Kelsey Stoyanova is an 8th grade language arts teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School, part of Regional School Unit 22 in Hampden, Maine. Stoyanova has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an English concentration, a master’s degree in Education with a literacy focus, and is working toward her Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership — all as a University of Maine Black Bear. Stoyanova is passionate about reading and helping students find an authentic love of reading through integrating a strong foundation of independent reading in her classroom. That passion really shined when she was selected as a grant recipient by the Book Love Foundation in 2020. As an advocate for student involvement in curriculum creation, Stoyanova became the RSU22 Middle Level Language Arts Curriculum Leader — working to audit, align, and enhance the curriculum. She serves on the Equity in Education Committee where she designed and implemented the RSU22 Reads Three Reading Challenge for students and community members to participate in thus far highlighting BIPOC authors and characters, women in literature, AAPI voices, and LGBTQIA+ authors and characters. In addition to these roles, Stoyanova is sought out as a technology enthusiast, mentor, and loves to share and design creative projects and assessments with her colleagues in all content areas. After school, you can find her going on outdoor Maine adventures with her family, or with her nose in a book which she will undoubtedly talk about in class tomorrow.

Hillary HoytHillary Hoyt
Leroy H Smith School, Winterport
2021 Waldo County Teacher of the Year 

“I am honored to be a finalist and be able to share my belief in the importance of engaging our students with their learning, each other, and the community,” said Hoyt. “Through this, we can show them that their dreams can come true!” 

Hillary Hoyt teaches third grade at Leroy H Smith School in Winterport, Maine. She teaches math, reading, writing, social studies, and her favorite subject, science. It is no surprise that she is also the elementary science leader. Hoyt received her Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Liberal Arts and minors in dance and English from the University of Maine in Orono.

Hoyt is a nationally board-certified teacher whose goal is to excite learners and show them how learning and reflecting can open new horizons. From classroom transformations such as Underwater Day to creating a rehabilitation center for animals through project-based learning using math and research skills, her goal is for students to be engaged in every lesson. On any given day, you may see her students being secret agents of the Fairytale Bureau of Investigation or engineers collaboratively building a dam while learning about natural disasters. Hoyt aims to create problem solvers, reflective thinkers, and creative designers in her classroom and beyond.

Through her experience as a classroom teacher, dance teacher, and coach at Husson University, she sees the importance of conversation, community, and connection. In all her positions, she works to have students understand how to share and listen to each other. She hopes to have students learn how they are part of the community and the importance of their role. As for the connection, her goal is for her students to see their relationship to each other, their community, and most importantly, the world.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2022 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.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year program is administered through a unique partnership with Educate Maine, the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA) and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family, and Unum.

For more information about the Maine County Teacher of the Year Program and to see a list of County Teachers of the Year, and Maine Teachers of the Year, visit

Maine 2020 and 2021 Teachers of the Year Attend NASA Space Camp Experience

Gorham Middle School Alternative Education Teacher and 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker and Gerald E. Talbot Community School 4th Grade Teacher and 2021 Teacher of the Year Cindy Soule, recently attended the NASA Space Academy as part of their recognition as a Maine Teacher of the Year.

Held at NASA’s Space Camp Headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, the program includes authentic astronaut training simulators and activities developed to promote learning in a classroom setting. Curriculum includes NASA-inspired lesson plans and is correlated to the National Science Education Standards.

The 5-day professional learning opportunity is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which is offered to State Teachers of the Year from across the country. Whitaker and Soule embarked on the opportunity separately last month with their Teacher of the Year colleagues from around the country from their respective years of recognition.

The individual experiences of both left them with many skills they will be bringing into their classrooms this fall.

For Soule, the program made her reflect on the power of building a community. One activity that stuck with her involved building a protective heat shield for an egg and keeping it from getting charred from fire. While there were others in her group who had more of an engineering background, she felt her voice, and everyone’s, was heard and valued equally, which allowed them to come together as a community in order to succeed.

The Academy provided a variety of experiences to the educators including a space flight simulation to Mars as well as a return flight from the Moon back to Earth and experience in a multi-axis trainer which simulates being in a rocket.

While the Space Academy certainly provided the educators with some practical skills for the classroom, the enrichment provided seeped into personal reflection as well. Whitaker says she was “naïve” before attending the Space Academy on the importance of space travel. During her time at camp, she found herself noticing all the various innovations to life on Earth that have come from space, making her that much more acutely aware of how small human beings are in comparison to the entirety of space. She came to this realization during a planetarium exhibition where she began to reflect on the day to day things that stress her out and made her consider how finite life on earth is- leaving her with one thought- “Why can’t we all get along?”

The experience certainly left each educator with some invaluable lessons but they also managed to have a lot of fun throughout. The first night of the Academy was the “Parade of States”- all of the Teachers of the Year from each state were asked to dress up in a costume that represented their state.

Heather dressed as a Maine Blueberry and Cindy dressed as an amalgamation of important parts of Maine including, a lobsterman, a blueberry shirt (gifted to her by Liberty Maine Graphics), and a Maine state flag hat.

Living in the Alabama dorms allowed for the participants to have plenty of time to socialize and network. Both stated they have made friends and colleagues for life.

Attending the Space Academy would not be possible if not for the support of Educate Maine, the Maine Department Of Education, and the generous donations from program sponsors. Both are extremely grateful for the opportunity and are so thankful for the lifelong lessons they will hold from the experience.

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 or call 631-3385.

An ‘End of Year Message’ to Maine’s Education Communities from the Maine 2021 County Teachers of the Year

As the 2020/2021 school year ends and students, families and school staff transition to a summer schedule, now is the time to reflect on all that has been accomplished during a school year the world has never seen.

The 2021 County Teachers of the Year have put together a special “End of Year Message” to their colleagues, students and their communities who all worked together for the greater good of education across Maine this year.  These outstanding teachers share a message of gratitude for coming together to ensure our children had every opportunity to continue learning and growing this year. #StrongerTogether4ME

“The theme of being stronger together really came about when we started talking about how much we ALL have done, much of which isn’t as visible to people living outside of our schools. The actions of the groups mentioned in the video really proved that we truly are stronger together. We think this video highlights that truth,” the group said in a joint statement. 

“With that in mind, we want to know what you have seen that shows we are #StrongerTogether4ME students? Share your own images with the hashtag #StrongerTogether4ME on social media to celebrate!”  

The recently annouced 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year were nominated by a member of their community and selected through a selection process earlier this year as part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program. Throughout their year of service as County Teachers of the Year, they serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide through speaking engagements and collaborative work with education stakeholders and decision makers throughout Maine.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program is administered through a collaborative partnership with Educate Maine. To learn more about the Teacher of the Year program visit:

Lake Region Vocational Center Honors Omar Elalam as CTE Student of the Year

The Lake Region Vocational Center’s Student of the Year is Omar Elalam.  Omar is a senior in the Advanced Computer Technologies II program.

Omar is a respectful and conscientious student who is fully dedicated to his course of study.  He consistently produces work of the highest quality, and is a leader in the classroom, frequently assisting other students with understanding course content.  Omar is an officer in our school’s chapter of SkillsUSA, and is a leader on the soccer team at Lake Region High School, where he attends his academic classes.  He has been a member of the math team there as well.

Omar recently achieved almost a perfect score on the ASVAB test, and has been accepted to SMCC where he will pursue a degree in Computer Science and will continue playing soccer.  Omar will graduate with twelve college credits earned through his Vocational Center program.  His career goal is to work in the computer technologies industry.  He is the son of Abdenbi Elalam of Bridgton.  Congratulations, Omar!

Learn more about Lake Region Vocational Center by visiting their website, learn more about the Career and Technical Education Sites in Maine by visiting the MACTE website to see a listing by location. To learn more about Career and Technical Education, watch this short video: