MEDIA RELEASE: Hampden Eighth Grade Teacher Named 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year

Kelsey Stoyanova, an 8th grade teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School has been named the 2022 Teacher of the Year by the Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program.

In a unique event held at the Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden, the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine named eighth grade teacher Kelsey Stoyanova Maine’s 2022 Teacher of the Year as surprised students and colleagues at the school congratulated and honored her dedication to teaching.

Kelsey’s journey began in May, when she was named the 2021 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year. Stoyanova, along with 15 other County Teachers of the Year, was selected from a pool of hundreds teachers who were nominated earlier this year. In August, Kelsey was named one of three state finalists before being selected as the 2022 Teacher of the Year.

Kelsey Stoyanova is an 8th grade language arts teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School, part of Regional School Unit (RSU) 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 making a point to highlight 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.

Kelsey was nominated by students, Tessa Castrucci and Stella Fox. Here are their nominations:

Ms. Castrucci “She is a really understanding teacher who plans lessons with her students in mind, making the lessons suited to fit the class and environment. If we are interested in a certain event that happened in our country, we might have a class discussion or assignment about it to encourage our interest while learning the facts. 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. Overall, Mrs. Stoyanova is a teacher that listens to and understands her students while trying to create a space to encourage our interests and push us to be our very best.”

Ms. Fox“Mrs. Stoyanova is an amazing teacher. She makes learning fun, and she makes sure her classroom is a safe and fun learning environment for everyone to share their thoughts and interact with others. She makes sure everyone gets their work done, and she makes sure everyone understands how the work will get done. Not only is she a teacher, but she is an incredible mom, friend to her students, a person to talk to, and overall, someone you can trust. I think it goes for all of her students that Mrs. Stoyanova has had when I say that Mrs. Stoyanova is the right teacher for this award.”

The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that involves educator portfolio and resume submissions, interviews, oral presentations, and classroom visits made by a selection panel comprised of State Board of Education members, school administrators, Maine Department of Education staff, former Teachers of the Year, and other Maine business partners.

As the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kelsey will spend her year of service advocating for students and teachers and speaking to the importance of education in preparing Maine students for the future.  She will also represent Maine in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Said Cindy Soule, Maine’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, “Kelsey Stoyonova is a powerful example of the myriad ways educators across the state of Maine impact their communities as agents of change.  As 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova will shine a light on the myriad ways Maine educators impact their students and communities as agents of change. Kelsey’s unwavering belief in her students, strong collaboration with colleagues, leadership within her school and district, passion for literature and justice, and commitment to her own learning will serve her well as she advocates for and celebrates education, students, teachers, families and schools at both the state and national level. I am thrilled to learn alongside her as she embarks on this incredible journey!”

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led 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). Funding for the program is generously provided by Maine businesses.  The program’s lead sponsor is Bangor Savings Bank.  Other program sponsors include Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine State Lottery, Unum and the Silvernail Family.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.mainetoy.org.

Exploring Focus on First Professional Learning Community

Between 2018-2021, the Maine Department of Education has engaged in the development of interdisciplinary, open-source instructional programs for Pre-K and Kindergarten.  These programs, Pre-K for ME and K for ME, are housed on the Maine DOE’s website. A number of schools across the state have implemented the Pre-K for ME and K for ME instructional programs and the Maine DOE is planning to extend its work related to interdisciplinary, open-source instructional programming into grade one during the 2022-23 school year.

For grade one teachers interested in exploring the Focus on First instructional program developed by the Boston Public Schools that will serve as the foundation for Maine’s work, a PLC experience is being planned for the 2021-22 school year.  There is no obligation to implement the program, but this PLC will provide time to learn about the components of Focus on First and how the program connects to Pre-K for ME and K for ME.  Teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators interested in this instructional program are encouraged to participate.  Grade one teachers who participate may have the opportunity to pilot the program during the 2022-23 school year. An outline of the PLC series for Focus on First and a registration link is included below.

Exploring Focus on First

Second Wednesday of the month, beginning November 10, 2021 and continuing through May 11, 2022, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Registration Link 

In the Focus on First curriculum, the Boston Public School System has worked to develop an interdisciplinary instructional program that encourages children and teachers to work together  to develop understandings and communicate meaningfully. With texts at the core of classroom experiences, children ask questions about the world around them and consolidate ideas about their place in it as learners and contributors.

Participants will explore the components and design of Focus on First while taking a deep dive into the content of its 4 units: Building Strong Communities, Animals Surviving and Thriving, Resources in Our Communities, and Communicating with Light and Sound.

Exploring Focus on First
November Overview – A Child’s Experience with Focus on First – Storytelling and Story Acting
December Text Talk, Knowledge Building, Vocabulary and Language
January Studios, Thinking & Feedback
February Science and Social Studies
March Foundational Literacy
April Stations and Strategic Small Groups
May Writing and Assessment

If you have additional questions, please contact Elementary Literacy Specialist, Dee Saucier at danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov.

‘It’s Hardest to Learn Where They’re Least Vaccinated’ by Aley, Anna, and Bill

It is with special permission from renowned artists the Indigo Girls themselves that we present this beautiful nod to their song, “Least Complicated” by Mainers Bill, a music teacher, Aley, a school counselor, and Anna, a parent of a child in school.

This recently recorded, heartfelt song urges communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep children safe in schools and schools operational.

Check out their music video here:

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Computer Science Professional Development Grant Application

The Maine Department of Education is thrilled to announce the release of the Computer Science Professional Development Grant Application! 

Maine’s 130th legislature, through a bill sponsored by Senator Pouliot, created a pilot grant program to provide funding for high-quality, teacher-developed or teacher-led professional development for PK-12 computer science pedagogy and content.  

Priority will be given to applicants that: 

  • Do not currently offer computer science learning opportunities; 
  • Serve socioeconomically disadvantaged school districts; 
  • Prioritize student populations traditionally underrepresented in computer science; 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursuing high-quality educator professional development that emphasizes integration of computer science into other course work and curricula or establishes or expands access to courses that offer college credit and other certificates of value, or both; and 
  • Collaborate or partner with other entities, including but not limited to other local education agencies, the business community, nonprofit organizations and private entities. 

The Fall application window opens Friday October 8th, 2021 and closes November 5th, 2021. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. All applicants will be notified of their application status within two weeks of the application deadline.  

There is no limit to the grant amount awarded per applicant; however, funds will be dispersed equitably across all applications based on county and throughout PK-12. There is a total of $25,000 available for this grant in the Fall. 

A Spring application window will become available in January 2022. A minimum of $25,000 will be available in the Spring. 

Have questions? Want to learn more? We are hosting three informational sessions, October18th, October 25th, and November 1st. 

Interested in applying? Check out our website to register for an informational session, learn more about the grant, and submit an application.  

Need assistance applying? contact Emma-Marie Banks, Computer Science Specialist & Secondary Digital Learning Specialist emma-marie.banks@maine.gov 

WEBINAR: Bullying Awareness and Prevention Resources and Strategies

Please join the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse on October 26 at 3:00 PM EDT for an informational webinar on bullying awareness and prevention resources, tactics, and strategies to create safer school environments. This session will provide information and resources to the kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) school community.

The session will feature guest speaker and bullying prevention expert Melissa Mercado Crespo, Ph.D., MSc, MA from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Violence Prevention. She will provide an overview of what bullying is and how to identify it, key strategies and actions schools and school personnel can implement to prevent and address it, and the tools and resources available from the government to support schools in these efforts. She will also describe the different types of bullying (including cyberbullying), their impact on school violence, and the relationship between bullying, suicide, and the well-being of school-age youth.

The discussion will also feature additional school safety-related resources on topics like school climate and mental health access and support and a Q&A session for participants to engage directly with Dr. Mercado Crespo.

  • When: October 26, 2021, 3:00 to 4:00 PM EDT
  • Where: Adobe Connect (access link to be provided one day in advance of the event)
  • For: K-12 School Superintendents and Principals; Counselors and Mental Health Practitioners; School and District Administrators; Teachers and School Staff; School Resource Officers; Parents and Guardians; Students
  • Registration: https://schoolsafetybullyingpreventionwebinar.eventbrite.com

We hope you can join us for this special event during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Homeland Security’s School Safety team at SchoolSafety@hq.dhs.gov.