Aroostook County Teachers of the Year Lead Effort to Face Regional Teacher Shortages

Aroostook County Teachers of the Year (CTOY) Leslie Marquis (2017), Bill Guerette (2018), Kim Barnes (2019), Jocelyn Saucier (2020), and Heather Anderson (2022), along with Maine Teachers of the Year (TOY) Elaine Hendrickson (2001) and Alana Margeson (2012) came together to plan, The Future of Aroostook County Education Symposium, or otherwise known as FACES, on November 17th at Caribou Community School.

Current teachers, ed techs and paraprofessionals, interested high school students, pre-service teachers, administrators, career/guidance counselors, community partners, policymakers, and higher education representatives enjoyed an evening of conversation, collaboration, and visioning to address the critical need to both draw and keep dedicated educators in our schools as we face an unprecedented time of teacher workforce shortages in Aroostook County, Maine, and nationally.

Maine DOE Educator Excellence Coordinator Emily Doughty, Educate Maine Program Specialist Kaitlin Young, and Valley Unified School District Superintendent Ben Sirois served as keynote speakers to ground conversations about teacher recruitment and retention. Delta Kappa Gamma Society of Women Educators also supported the evening event.

“In true Aroostook County fashion, we ‘rolled up our sleeves’ and dug into the what, why, and how of teacher recruitment and retention,” said 2019 Aroostook CTOY and 8th grade Teacher Kim Barnes.

Governor Mills, Commissioner Makin Help Celebrate 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year at Annual Tailgate Gala

The 2022 County Teachers of the Year and the recently named 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year Matt Bernstein were celebrated recently at the 2022 Teacher of the Year Tailgate Gala. The Gala is an annual celebration of the program honoring the hard work and dedication of these teachers and the teaching profession.

The event was held outdoors under a tent at Geiger, in Lewiston, a long-time supporter of the Maine Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program. A delicious lunch was served by students from the Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s The Green Ladle Food Truck, a part of the Center’s Culinary programing.

Present and legacy State and County Teachers of the Year, along with their families, friends, colleagues, and administrators traveled from across Maine to gather together on a sunny day to celebrate and honor the innovation, dedication, excellence, and hard work of these amazing educators.

Images with the logo ‘Everyone’s Story Includes a Teacher’ is the property of the Arizona Educational Foundation and used with permission.

In addition to an awards ceremony that honored the 2022 County Teachers of the Year, the event featured remarks from Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd, 2022 Maine TOY Kelsey Stoyanova, Governor of Maine Janet T. Mills, Education Commissioner Pender Makin, and 2023 TOY Matt Bernstein. Program sponsors were also present, many offering words of appreciation and admiration to the educators in the audience, stressing the importance of education.

Another annual tradition of the Teacher of the Year Gala is for the Maine Secretary of State to provide a specialty license plate to the Teacher of the Year. We were honored to host Secretary of State Shenna Bellows who presented Bernstein with the license plate this year.

The Maine Department of Education along with its dedicated Maine TOY Program partners Educate Maine, the Maine State Board of Education, and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association would like to extend a sincere dept of gratitude to the program’s funders and sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River Company, Geiger, Maine State Lottery, Hannaford, Unum, and the Silvernail Family.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led education advocacy organization, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, the Maine State Board of Education, and the Maine County and State Teachers and County of the Year Association (MCSTOYA). To learn more about the Maine Teacher of the Year Program visit https://www.mainetoy.org/

2022 County Teachers of the Year

 

2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova Attends NASA Space Camp with Teachers Across the Nation

Each year teachers from across the nation are invited to participate in an opportunity of a lifetime through the National Teacher of the Year (NTOY) program. NASA’s Space Academy for Educators is a place for all of the National Teachers of the Year to come together for a professional learning experience in space exploration.

“Before going to camp, as an English teacher, I felt some apprehension that I wouldn’t excel in the same ways that my NTOY colleagues in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields might,” said 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova. “I quickly came to realize that there are so many career paths that exist within the realm of space and space exploration that I never expected.”

Held at NASA’s Space Camp Headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, the Space Academy for Educators 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.

Upon understanding more about what the experience was all about, Stoyanova explained that, “many people look at anything NASA and space related and think SCIENCE, but the truth is, space exploration programs employ technical writers, PR specialists, photographers, architects, and more.”

Some of Stoyanova’s favorite experiences include travelling to the ISS via spacecraft and having to solve anomalies with friends and fellow mission specialists from New York and Michigan, getting “dropped” from a helicopter into the water and having to swim to a rescue rendezvous point (and ultimately having to get rescued), and launching rockets from the rocket launch pad where her team sported their Live and Work in Maine t-shirts which she had brought with her give to fellow educators.

She also got to experience the simulation of the space craft tumble in the multi-axis trainer. “[It] flipped me every which way and we all couldn’t stop laughing,” as well as the simulation of the moon walk.  “I’ve never felt so weightless — and I perfected the moon RUN,” said Stoyanova.

What topped all the once in a lifetime opportunities and experiences, Stoyanova says, was the unequivocal appreciation that exuded from everyone hosting educators at Space Camp that week. “The whole week was filled with gratitude at what educators do to help grow the next generation of thinkers, creators, speakers, innovators, and explorers.”

In fact, one thing that stood out to our Maine representative was the many counselors there who are now adults but were once campers. “My team leader, Sydney, is now a middle school science teacher while another is in school to be an aeronautical engineer. As space camp alum they continue to go back year after year to inspire the future generation to be innovators of space exploration in some way,” said Stoyanova. “Every kid should have the opportunity to go to space camp,” she added.

Stoyanova also found inspiration in learning that as part of the Artemis I mission which is set to try launching again in late September, the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion will have Maine made pieces that will aid in going to the moon. Two companies in Maine, both in Biddeford contributed to the building of the spacecraft being launched in the Artemis I mission (learn more here). “It takes so much more than just what you see on launch day for a successful mission.” For Stoyanova this is a wonderful example of the idea that in education, every lesson matters and students find success when they are able to connect and apply their learning to the world around them.

“My experiences at space camp, as a scientist, a builder, an inventor, a mission specialist, an astronaut, a critical thinker, and team member truly demonstrated my belief that authentic learning happens through experiences where students can see themselves in roles or actually be part of the outcome,” said Stoyanova. “As a lifelong learner, Space Camp holds lessons I’ll cherish forever.”

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine’s 2022 County Teachers of the Year Announced

Governor Janet Mills, Education Commissioner Pender Makin, Education Leaders Honored the Teachers at the State Capitol

Augusta, ME—Sixteen Maine teachers were announced as 2022 County Teachers of the Year today at a ceremony in the Hall of Flags at the Maine State Capitol Building. Governor Janet Mills joined Education Commissioner Pender Makin, Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd, State Board of Education Chair Fern Desjardins, 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova, and Maine County and State Teachers of the Year Association Co-President Shana Goodall to announce the new class of County Teachers of the Year.

As part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, hundreds of teachers across Maine are nominated by a member of their school community. Through a rigorous application process, one teacher from each county is selected as a County Teacher of the Year by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members within the county.

“It is a privilege to congratulate Maine’s 2022 County Teachers of the Year,” said Governor Janet Mills. “As the daughter of a long-time public school teacher, I know how hard each of these teachers works every day to make sure our kids have the best shot at success. I am so grateful for all they do for our students, our communities, and our state, and I promise that my Administration will do all we can to support them.”

“It’s such an honor to celebrate these extraordinary teachers and elevate them as true ambassadors for all Maine teachers and the teaching profession,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “These teachers were nominated by students, colleagues, and parents for the difference they make every day in the lives of their students, for their innovation and leadership, and for their commitment to their schools and communities. You are all true heroes, and the Maine Department of Education is so grateful for all you do.”

“We are so proud of the 2022 County Teacher of the Year cohort. They are truly remarkable teachers and we look forward to working with them throughout their year of recognition,” said Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd.

2022 County Teachers of the Year:

Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide throughout the year. 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 Maine State Teacher of the Year selection process.

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: https://www.mainetoy.org/. The event was also broadcast live on the Maine Department of Education’s YouTube page.

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There is Still Time to Nominate Maine’s Teacher of the Year! 

Help Honor and Elevate Maine Teachers by nominating them for County and State Teacher of the Year – nominations close on February 4th!

The Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine would like to thank members of the public who have taken the opportunity to elevate an educator through the nomination of Maine’s Teacher of the Year.  There is still time to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and who inspire the achievement of all students. Nominations remain open for the 2022 County Teachers of the Year and 2023 Teacher of the Year through 5:00pm on Feb. 4, 2022.  

Nominations can be made through a nomination form on the Maine Teacher of the Year Website.  Nominations will be accepted from students, parents, caregivers, community members, school administrators, colleagues, college faculty members, and associations/organizations (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: 

  • Be employed by a Maine public school including PK-12, Career and Technical Education sites and centers, and/or Adult Education Programs 
  • Hold the appropriate professional certification for their position 
  • 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 

Maine’s County and State Teachers of the Year serve as advocates for teachers, students, and public education in Maine. They serve as advisors to the Department of Education and state-level education stakeholders across Maine.  Additionally, County and State Teachers of the Year join a cohort of teacher leaders that actively work together for the betterment of education in Maine. They also receive on-going professional learning and participate in many state and county leadership opportunities. 

The 2022 County Teachers of the Year will be announced in May. The 2023 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. Each year, State and County Teachers of the Year are honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Gala also held 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. 

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