MEDIA RELEASE: Christopher Howell Named 2022 Maine Superintendent of the Year

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), along with Maine School Superintendent’s Association (MSSA) is thrilled to announce that Maine’s 2022 Superintendent of the Year is Christopher Howell, Superintendent of Schools for RSU 14.

Without question, Chris Howell leads his district with the highest level of integrity, educational vision, and organizational understanding. He exudes kindness and a calm, centered approach, characteristics that have served to create a remarkably healthy climate and culture across all schools and programs he works with. By fostering and strengthening positive relationships with town officials and outside organizations, his role as a school leader is far reaching and supportive of healthy communities where all can thrive.

Howell is at the forefront of all district initiatives, enabling his deep understanding of school finance, policies, curriculum, strategic planning, facilities, general operations, negotiations, and supervision and evaluation to guide the work. His unique and centered style serves to elevate other leaders within the organization and community to bring the model of shared decision making to fruition. In his role as superintendent, he has been able to work collaboratively with colleagues and local officials to advance critically important work that will have positive and lasting impacts for thousands of learners. From essential conversations around social emotional learning, equity, and social justice, to focusing on the design of a new middle school for 21st century learners, Howell’s leadership approach is highly inclusive, thought provoking, and deeply reflective. His colleagues describe him as a true servant leader.

Howell is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he received a BA in Biology, and a master’s in teaching and Learning. He is married to his wife Nicole and together they have three sons: Caleb, Aaron, and Nate.

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.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Opens 2021/2022 Student Cabinet Application – Calling on Diverse Voices to Apply

PLEASE SHARE WITH STUDENTS

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today announced that it is opening applications for the 2021/2022 Student Cabinet, a group of students that meet regularly with the Maine DOE to discuss educational opportunities, improvements, and policy.

The purpose of the Student Cabinet is to provide a forum for Maine students’ voices to be heard. This year will be a special opportunity for Cabinet members to design a pilot project that reflects on the past two school years, to reinvent how schools think about remote and responsive learning as part of the Reinventing Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) initiative.  RREV is the product of a $16.9 million award from U.S. DOE to support and develop projects which will strengthen a culture of innovation in PK-12 education.

This is the third year the Maine DOE has appointed students to a Student Cabinet with the goal of integrating student voice into decision-making on education issues that impact their journey through Maine’s education system. In past years students have helped in identifying mental health needs at school, raised issues of racial equity, and helped brainstorm ways to individualize learning.

The Maine DOE is especially interested in having perspectives from students with diverse experiences, interests, cultures, and backgrounds. It is important that the student cabinet include members who are able to represent and advocate for underrepresented groups, including but not limited to students who identify as: gender expansive, English learners and other bilingual/multilingual students, members of a racial or ethnic minority in Maine, economically disadvantaged, new to living in Maine, or living with a mental and/or physical health diagnosis, as well as students who have special educational needs, experience in the juvenile justice system, or experience in one of the many different educational pathways found in education, including Extended Learning Opportunities, Adult Education programs, and Career & Technical Education.

There are 16-20 seats that are open for students in grades 4 – 12 and first year of college. The newly selected members will serve for a term of two years starting this November. All 16 counties in Maine will be represented on the Student Cabinet.

Selected cabinet members will be expected to attend scheduled meetings, prepare for each meeting as needed, work in a collaborative manner with one another and with Department staff as needed; and express views and opinions openly, constructively, and respectfully.

Instructions for applying:
Students interested in serving on the Maine DOE Student Cabinet will need to submit the electronic application by Monday, October 25, 2021 DEADLINE EXTENDED to November 1, 2021 at 5 pm. Applications can be submitted electronically here.

For more information contact Rachel Paling, Communications & Outreach Manager, Maine Department of Education at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Launches MLTI 2.0 by Welcoming 5 Regional MLTI Ambassadors to Support Professional Learning Plan

As part of the official launch of the Maine Department of Education’s (DOE) Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) 2.0, a team of distinguished educators – “MLTI Ambassadors” – have joined the DOE to help bring technology integration in Maine schools to the next level through comprehensive professional learning and consistent, ongoing support for educators.

Distinguished educators are Maine educators hired as DOE staff, on loan from Maine schools for a period of two years, to bring their expertise and experience as a resource and partner in initiatives of the Maine Department of Education.

With a long history of technology integration in education in Maine schools, MLTI is now in its 19th year and has evolved into a 2.0 version designed by an MLTI Advisory Board comprised of local educators and experts with experience working in schools. The board worked diligently this past year, along-side Department staff, to develop MLTI 2.0 with the goal of increasing Maine’s digital learning by supporting the acquisition of the latest equipment and software, providing rigorous professional learning resources, delivering state-level technology support, and enhancing local management efforts through systematic monitoring and support grounded in continuous process improvement.

As part of MLTI 2.0, the Ambassadors have joined the initiative to provide instructional coaching and deliver professional learning experiences to MLTI-participating schools and are now a part of the Maine DOE Team! They each have a list of schools in an MLTI Ambassador Region where they have begun working directly with teachers to provide instructional coaching and professional learning.

Meet the MLTI Ambassadors!

Rob Dominick
Contact: robert.dominick@maine.gov

Rob Dominick comes to the MLTI Team from Brewer Community School, where he served as a seventh-grade math teacher.  He has been teaching for more than fifteen years, starting his career at Sebasticook Middle School and later Nokomis High School in RSU19.  While he has primarily taught mathematics at the middle level, Rob has taught multiple subjects and taught at grades ranging from fifth to twelfth.  His interest in technology integration lead him to pursue a Masters in Learning & Technology from Western Governor’s University as well as Google certifications as an educator and a trainer.  He is also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honors Society in Education, and has shown a dedication to innovating the landscape of education in Maine through his involvement in MEVLC (Maine Virtual Learning Consortium), Introduction to Experiential Teaching through Technology and MOOSE (Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education) in addition to presenting at conferences both in Maine and Illinois.  Rob also has extensive basketball and baseball coaching experience at Nokomis, Hampden Academy and Brewer High School.  He lives in Brewer with his wife, Sarah, who is a high school math teacher, and their two young sons.

Holly Graffam
Contact: holly.graffam@maine.gov

Holly Graffam comes to the MLTI Team from Scarborough Middle School, where she served as a technology instructional coach.  She has fourteen years of experience at the middle level and has taught every core subject.  Holly has taught digital literacy and is a Common Sense Media educator.  She also has extensive training and experience in computer science and served on the Maine Department of Education’s Computer Science Work Group which developed a statewide plan in 2019.  Holly received her Masters in Teaching Methodology from the University of New England and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Maine.  She has participated in Educate Maine’s Education Leadership Experience and completed a Curriculum Director internship.  She lives in Falmouth.

Kathryn Meyer
Contact: kathryn.meyer@maine.gov

Kate Meyer comes to the MLTI Team from Mt. Desert High School, where she served as an English Language Arts and Design Thinking teacher.  She has been teaching for more than twenty years.  She was named the 2020 Hancock County Teacher of the Year.  Kate has earned Masters in both Educational Leadership and Literacy Education from the University of Maine at Orono and she is a National Board Certified teacher.  Kate has extensive training and experience in design thinking, adventure education and student-centered coaching. During her time at MDI, Kate served as an advisor for Operation Breaking Stereotypes, spearheaded the innovative Island Pathways alternative education program and has been the co-teacher of the Eastern Maine Skippers Program.  She lives in Ellsworth.

Erik Wade
Contact: erik.wade@maine.gov

Erik Wade comes to the MLTI Team from Warsaw Middle School, where he served as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher.  He has been teaching for twenty years and has taught math and science at Hope Elementary, Windsor Elementary and Spurwink prior to coming to MSAD53.  He has worked with fifth grade through eighth grade.  He holds a Masters in Instructional Technology from the University of Maine at Orono and is a Apple Certified Teacher.  Erik has always looked to be part of innovative technology cohorts like the MARTLs (MLTI Apple Refresh Teacher Leader) and the Introduction to Experiential Teaching through Technology.  He has collaborated with a number of organizations such as Maine Math & Science Alliance, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Maine Lakes Conservancy and Institute and Sebasticook Valley Health.  His other educational passion is agriculture education and he has won the National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award, Knox County Soil and Water Teacher of the Year and the Maine State Agriculture Teacher of the Year.  Erik has also served as a baseball, basketball and soccer coach in the past.  He lives in Troy with his wife, Kimberly, who is a teacher at Nokomis Middle School.

Jonathan R. Werner
Contact: jonathan.werner@maine.gov

Jonathan R. Werner comes to the MLTI Team from Cape Elizabeth Middle School, where he served as the technology integrator.  He has fifteen years of experience in education and worked as a technology integrator and a Library and Instructional Technology Specialist at Cape Elizabeth Middle and High School.  Prior to that he taught English and Social Studies at Gorham High School and at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA.  Jonathan holds a master’s in social studies and English Language Education from the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to working in schools, Jonathan received a J.D. from Columbia Law School and practiced for five years, focusing on education law.  He has also served as the ISTE Librarians Network President-Elect and President from 2016 to 2018.  Jonathan has presented at both large-scale events like ISTE, MassCue, NEISTE and EdTechTeacher events as well as events around Maine.  He is both passionate and has extensive experience in areas such as rethinking professional learning, reimaging libraries and learning commons, digital footprints, screen addiction, MakerSpaces and MakerEd.  He lives in Portland with his wife, Rebecca, and three children.

The Maine DOE MLTI team works hand-in-hand with the MLTI Ambassadors to support the MLTI professional learning plan in addition to the many other components MLTI 2.0. For more information about MLTI 2.0 and its evolution visit the Maine DOE Website or contact Beth Lambert, Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning.

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 http://www.mainetoy.org.