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.

Aroostook County Students Featured in Local Vaccination Campaign

In collaboration with community agencies, Aroostook County Action Committee (ACAP), through the Aroostook Public Health District Vaccine Awareness Subcommittee and WAGM-TV, continues to roll out a marketing campaign featuring local “celebrities” sharing their stories about why they chose to receive their COVID-19 vaccination, and why they are encouraging others to do the same.

The latest in the series of public service announcements features County youth explaining to their peers and the community why they got vaccinated. The spot was released just as many County schools prepare to go back into session for the new school year. Like the previously released spots featuring adults, youth featured in the video clips come from across the geographic and demographic landscape of Aroostook County.

Check out the video below:

Maine 2020 and 2021 Teachers of the Year Attend NASA Space Camp Experience

Gorham Middle School Alternative Education Teacher and 2020 Teacher of the Year Heather Whitaker and Gerald E. Talbot Community School 4th Grade Teacher and 2021 Teacher of the Year Cindy Soule, recently attended the NASA Space Academy as part of their recognition as a Maine Teacher of the Year.

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

The 5-day professional learning opportunity is part of the National Teacher of the Year program, which is offered to State Teachers of the Year from across the country. Whitaker and Soule embarked on the opportunity separately last month with their Teacher of the Year colleagues from around the country from their respective years of recognition.

The individual experiences of both left them with many skills they will be bringing into their classrooms this fall.

For Soule, the program made her reflect on the power of building a community. One activity that stuck with her involved building a protective heat shield for an egg and keeping it from getting charred from fire. While there were others in her group who had more of an engineering background, she felt her voice, and everyone’s, was heard and valued equally, which allowed them to come together as a community in order to succeed.

The Academy provided a variety of experiences to the educators including a space flight simulation to Mars as well as a return flight from the Moon back to Earth and experience in a multi-axis trainer which simulates being in a rocket.

While the Space Academy certainly provided the educators with some practical skills for the classroom, the enrichment provided seeped into personal reflection as well. Whitaker says she was “naïve” before attending the Space Academy on the importance of space travel. During her time at camp, she found herself noticing all the various innovations to life on Earth that have come from space, making her that much more acutely aware of how small human beings are in comparison to the entirety of space. She came to this realization during a planetarium exhibition where she began to reflect on the day to day things that stress her out and made her consider how finite life on earth is- leaving her with one thought- “Why can’t we all get along?”

The experience certainly left each educator with some invaluable lessons but they also managed to have a lot of fun throughout. The first night of the Academy was the “Parade of States”- all of the Teachers of the Year from each state were asked to dress up in a costume that represented their state.

Heather dressed as a Maine Blueberry and Cindy dressed as an amalgamation of important parts of Maine including, a lobsterman, a blueberry shirt (gifted to her by Liberty Maine Graphics), and a Maine state flag hat.

Living in the Alabama dorms allowed for the participants to have plenty of time to socialize and network. Both stated they have made friends and colleagues for life.

Attending the Space Academy would not be possible if not for the support of Educate Maine, the Maine Department Of Education, and the generous donations from program sponsors. Both are extremely grateful for the opportunity and are so thankful for the lifelong lessons they will hold from the experience.

Michelle Strattard Named 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Michelle Strattard, a teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School has been named the 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The selection of the award winner in Maine is facilitated by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) by Joe Schmidt, Social Studies Specialist for the Maine DOE.

In 2021, parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Michelle rose to the top in Maine.

In 2012, Michelle earned a Master’s of Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine after completing the Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP). She previously earned a BA in History from the same institution.  As an alumna of Gray-New Gloucester High school, she was proud to join their faculty in 2015, eventually coming to teach the very class that inspired her love of local history as a student, Shaker Studies. She brings this love of local history to the classroom so students can see where they fit into the larger picture. Students engage in historical research, exploration, and inquiry in the classroom to build academic skills and become engaged citizens.  Michelle also serves as a board member of the Maine Council for the Social Studies, helping to support social studies educators around the state.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Michelle’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in Maine.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, September 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®

Nominations for the 2022 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy. The deadline for 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.

Water Treatment Provides Opportunity for Adult Education Program

Maine Adult Education Hub 9 staff, Biddeford Adult Education students and some of their college aged children attended a professional Water Treatment forum at Southern Maine Community College recently.

Across the county, a growing need is present for trained water treatment professionals. As such, Southern Maine Community College has partnered with Northern Maine Community College to create a training program for the profession at the South Portland campus. Their lectures can be accessed remotely, however, hands-on laboratory exercises guided by trained faculty members are taking place on campus.

The Hub 9 group learned about scholarship and apprenticeship opportunities, and toured the learning lab. Industry professionals were available to discuss the great need for new water professionals and how dynamic and exciting this important work is, an exciting experience that the group intends to bring back to their learning community in Biddeford.

Visit Maine Rural Water Association and Maine Water to see current job postings. Anyone interested in discussing this as a potential pathway into the field, can contact their local adult education student advisor.

This article was written by Marci Dionne, student advisor at Biddeford Adult Education, in collaboration with Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.