Media Release: State Finalists Announced for 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year

Three Maine teachers have been announced as State finalists for the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year. The finalists were chosen from the 2019 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year at the Hall of Flags.

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.

State Finalists:

Heather WhitakerHeather Whitaker

Heather Whitaker is the alternative education teacher at Gorham Middle School and earlier this year she was named 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.

Passionate about combining learning opportunities with the needs of the community, she started her school’s garden, which donates over 800 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She also was a founding member of the Gorham BackPack Program, which provides students in her community, experiencing chronic hunger, with food over the weekend. Her alternative education students are active volunteers for both programs.

Whitaker is an advocate for and experienced in using restorative practices and experiential learning. She believes in the power of relationships and that learning should be meaningful to students. Whenever possible, Whitaker takes students out of the classroom on educational field trips and gets them involved in community volunteering.

Whitaker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Boston College and a Master of Science in Literacy from University of Southern Maine and has been teaching for 18 years.

Rob TaylorRob Taylor

Rob Taylor started teaching in 1989.  He has spent his entire 30 year career in Maine Regional School Unit 73, teaching secondary math and science, Advanced Placement Environmental Science and also served as district Gifted and Talented Coordinator. He recently transferred to a middle school science position at Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay and earlier this year was named the 2019 Franklin County Teacher of the Year.  He is an educational leader, working to implement standards via the district curriculum committee and address Maine’s teacher shortfall through participation in the Maine Math and Science Teaching Excellence Collaborative.

Taylor believes that students need to “get outside and connect to nature’. His Envirothon teams have won nine Maine Envirothon championships and were 1st in Aquatics and 6th overall at the 2018 International Envirothon.  His current school projects include greenhouse and aquaculture systems that provide produce for local pantries, participation in an American Chestnut Foundation restoration project, a drinking water monitoring program, and school renewable energy solar panel and wind turbine projects.

Taylor received a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Secondary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine.

Tom GrayTom Gray

2019 Knox County Teacher of the Year, Tom teaches Social Studies, English, and Gifted and Talented at Camden Hills Regional High School (Five Town CSD).  He has been teaching for 21 years.

As the coordinator of the school’s Intercultural Program, he has developed direct connections with educators in partner schools around the world, from China, to France, to Morocco. These school-to-school partnerships offer opportunities for students to interact and collaborate with peers in other cultures to investigate real-world problems. By leveraging technology to transcend physical limitations he prepares his students to thrive as global citizens. Gray believes in the “transformational power of adventure” for students as a way to build into education an opportunity for kids to cope with the unknown so they can discover their own agency.

In the 2019-2020 school year, Tom will pioneer a new, district-wide initiative in Innovation Engineering, in partnership with the University of Maine.

Tom is a National Board Certified Teacher.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Delaware; Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in History from the University of Maine; Graduate Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education at the University of Maine at Farmington; and is currently enrolled in the St. Joseph’s College Master of Science in Educational Leadership program.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine. The announcement will be in October after a school site visit and final interview.

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: 2019 County Teachers of the Year Honored 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kelli Deveaux (207) 624-6747 or kelli.deveaux@maine.gov

Teachers from 15 of Maine’s counties were honored today in Maine’s State Capitol at an annual event in the Hall of Flags announcing the 2019 Maine County Teachers of the Year.

The group is the county finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine.

Commissioner of Education Pender Makin notes, “The MTOY program offers all of us the opportunity to celebrate the phenomenal work that is being accomplished every day in Maine’s public schools. Each of the County Teachers of the Year exemplifies a deep commitment to Maine’s students and a belief in the power of education to create positive and lasting change. They bring their compassion, creativity, and innovation to the art and science of teaching, amplifying the dreams and futures of their students.  In highlighting the accomplishments of these 15 educators, we are also honoring all of Maine’s teachers,  and the outstanding talents and dedication they bring to their classrooms and communities.”

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.

2019 County Teachers of the Year: 

    • Androscoggin County: Shawn Rice, Edward Little High School, Auburn 
    • Aroostook County: Kim Barnes, Caribou Middle School 
    • Cumberland County: Heather Whitaker, Gorham Middle School 
    • Franklin County: Robert Taylor, Spruce Mountain Middle/High School, Jay 
    • Hancock County: Nell Herrmann, Blue Hill Consolidated School 
    • Kennebec County: Emily Bowen, Hall-Dale Middle/High School, Farmingdale
    • Knox County: Thomas Gray, Camden Hills Regional High School 
    • Oxford County: Linda Andrews, Buckfield Junior/Senior High School, Hartford -Sumner Elementary 
    • Penobscot County: Tracy Deschaine, Orono Middle School 
    • Piscataquis County: Bobbi Tardif, SeDoMoCha School, Dover-Foxcroft
    • Sagadahoc County: Charles Bingham, Morse High School, Bath
    • Somerset County: Katherine Bertini, Madison Junior High School
    • Waldo County: Ashley Reynolds, Captain Albert Stevens School, Belfast 
    • Washington County: Jeanna Carver, Jonesport Elementary School 
    • York County: Ethel Atkinson, Bonny Eagle Middle School, Buxton 

    *Lincoln County did not have a nominee who both met the criteria and completed the application process.

    As ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education in Maine, these teachers will continue to participate in the intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process, including the submission of a video showcasing their classroom instructional practices.

    The field will be narrowed to eight semi-finalists who will begin working on their professional portfolio, a component of the National Teacher of the Year process. After the portfolio review and presentations to a select panel, the field is narrowed to three finalists. In October, the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected after a school site visit and final interview. 

    The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education. It is with gratitude from the Maine DOE that the program is   administered 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, visit www.maine.gov/doe/toy/ or Director of Communications, Kelli Deveaux at (207) 624-6747 or kelli.deveaux@maine.gov. 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Reminder – Maine DOE to Announce Maine County Teachers of the Year May 9, 2019

What:
15 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 community, underwent a rigorous application process, and were chosen 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. Through the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

Who:
15 Maine teachers, representing 15 of 16 counties* Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Ed Cervone; State Board of Education, Wilson Hess; and 2019 Teacher of the Year, Joseph Hennessey.
*Lincoln County did not have a nominee who both met the criteria and engaged in the application process.

Where:
Hall of Flags, Maine State Capitol

When:
Thursday, May 9, 2018 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm

For more information contact Maine DOE Director of Communications, Kelli Deveaux at (207) 624-6747 or kelli.deveaux@maine.gov.

Teacher of the Year Nominations Open Until February 4th

As a reminder, nominations are still open 2019 County Teachers of the Year and 2020 Teacher of the Year. Members of the public are encouraged to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and nurturing the achievement of all students.

Nominations can be made through the Maine Teacher of the Year Website. The Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine have been accepting nominations since January 4, 2019. Nominations will remain open until 5:00 pm Feb. 4, 2019.

Media Release: Nominations Sought for 2020 Teacher of the Year

AUGUSTA – As part of the Maine Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to highlight Maine’s outstanding teachers, nominations are now open for the 2019 County Teachers of the Year and 2020 Teacher of the Year. Members of the public are encouraged to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and nurturing the achievement of all students.

Nominations can be made through the Maine Teacher of the Year Website starting today, January 4, 2019 and will be open through Feb. 4, 2019.

To be considered, a teacher must:

  • hold the appropriate professional certification for the position,
  • be employed by a Maine public school – including a public charter school or publicly-supported secondary school,
  • be actively teaching students at least 50% of full-time at the time of nomination and during the year of recognition, and
  • have a minimum of five years teaching, three of which are in Maine.

The eventual winner serves as an advocate for teachers, students, and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life.

Maine’s recently named 2019 Teacher of the Year, Joseph Hennessey, an English teacher at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford, was selected from over 300 entries and included recognition as the 2018 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year. In addition to Hennessey, the other 2019 state finalists include Connie Russell, a teacher at Mabel I. Wilson School and 2018 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, and Shana Goodall, a teacher at Orono High School and the 2018 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year.

The 2020 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 ultimate winner is announced by Maine’s Education Commissioner at a surprise school assembly in the fall.

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, and Pratt & Whitney with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

The Teacher of the Year program is no cost to taxpayers. Bangor Savings Bank reimburses the winning educator’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which includes travel throughout the state, a week at NASA Space Camp and a visit to the White House.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit the Maine Department of Education website.

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Media Contact: Rachel Paling, Maine DOE Director of Communications, rachel.paling@maine.gov