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.

Maine to Join National #LoveTeaching Campaign February 14 – 21

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), along with the Maine Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program, and Maine State Teacher of the Year Association (MSTOYA), are joining the national #LoveTeaching campaign, a grassroots effort started by teachers in 2015 as an opportunity to celebrate teaching, leading, and learning in a way that unites and invigorates educators and those they inspire all around the world.

Every year, Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of a week-long conversation that aims to illuminate why teachers enter and remain in the field of education, offering a mindset shift from the seemingly singular focus on the challenges of the profession.

Starting on Friday, February 14 and continuing through February 21, 2020 educators across Maine are encouraged to participate by using the #LoveTeaching hashtag on social media to share why they love teaching, either through a story, a moment, a memory, a picture, a quote, or simply explaining why they love teaching in a sentence or phrase. Tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and at @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook so that we can share your teaching inspiration around our state!

As we transition from January into February, we would also like to support MSTOYA in their efforts to keep the momentum of January’s “Invite your Legislator to School” month going, by encouraging teachers who have not done so already, to invite their local legislator to their school.

The goal of “Invite Your Legislator to School Month” is to engage, enlighten, and inform policy makers from our local or state government by providing them with a better understanding of how their decisions affect learners and educators across the state of Maine. It is also a great opportunity to invigorate and inspire them by showing them the wonderful things that are happening in classrooms in Maine.

We know that everyone’s schedules are busy, so please consider scheduling a visit sometime in the near future, or anytime throughout the year that works best for your school and your guest(s). In the words of MSTOYA, “It’s more than a month; it’s a movement.”

Please visit the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association Website to get further guidance and resources that can support you in inviting and scheduling a visit with your local and state legislators.

For further information about the #LoveTeaching campaign, please visit weloveteaching.org and be on the lookout for another announcement from the Maine DOE to kick off the week.

 

Media Release: Ever Wonder How You Can Thank That Amazing Teacher? Nominate!

AUGUSTA – As part of the Maine Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to highlight Maine’s outstanding teachers, nominations are now open for the 2020 County Teachers of the Year and 2021 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 3, 2020 and will be open through 5:00 pm on Feb. 3, 2020.

To be considered for the County and Maine Teacher of the Year award, a person must:

  • Hold the appropriate professional certification for their position
  • Be employed by a Maine public school
  • 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

The 2020 County Teachers of the Year serve as advocates for teachers, students, and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life. In addition, County Teachers of the Year will serve as advisors to the Department of Education and to a regional group of students who comprise the Student Cabinet and Student Advisory. The 2020 County Teacher of the Year cohort will be recognized at an event at the Hall of Flags in Maine State Capitol and at an end of the year Teacher of the Year Gala. They will also receive on-going professional learning in addition to other state and county level leadership opportunities.

Maine’s recently named 2020 Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker, an Alternative Education teacher at Gorham Middle School was selected from over 300 entries and included recognition as the 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. In addition to Whitaker, the other 2020 state finalists include Robert Taylor, a Mathematics and Science teacher at Spruce Mountain Middle School and 2019 Franklin County Teacher of the Year, and Tom Gray a Social Studies, English, and Gifted and Talented teacher at Camden Hills Regional High School and the 2019 Knox County Teacher of the Year.

The 2021 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 surprise school assembly 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, and Unum, with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

Through the generous support of Maine businesses, there is no cost to the local district when the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which includes travel throughout the state and nation, 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 Teacher of the Year website.