One thing that has made this year incredible is my opportunity to see the future of education in Maine. The Maine Teacher of the Year process evolved this year, and each county in Maine currently has a County Teacher of the Year. They are amazing educators. It has been a highlight of the year to get to know these teachers, hear them address issues related to education, and learn about their passions. This coming week I have the honor of reading eight portfolios as the semi-finalists continue on this journey and put their work forward to be considered as a finalist. I remember how hard I worked last summer to articulate my viewpoints and my experience, and I know the eight of them spent many hours since school ended getting their story down on paper.
Meeting young educators makes me so hopeful. I left the oral presentations on July 30th at the University of Maine at Orono completely invigorated. The semi-finalists are all articulate about the challenges facing schools in Maine. They have formed a bond as a group and will support one another as they lead in their county. They handled random questions from the “audience” with ease and sophistication.
Maine schools have amazing teachers. Teachers are NOT the problem in education. In fact, as we struggle in our state and our country to make major shifts in our education system, teachers are holding things together. They know their students, their parents, and their schools. Each day they enter their classrooms working hard to make it a successful day and year for each student. No other profession gets input from so many people in this country. Just because we all went to school doesn’t mean we all understand the complexities of teaching and learning.
My sincere congratulations and thanks to our eight semi-finalists for their dedication this summer. I am sure that this week they will shift their thinking from preparing for their oral presentations and portfolio to preparing a welcoming classroom for their students. Maine is a great place to live, and our educators need to be celebrated. I, for one, give them a standing ovation.
Maine Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists, 2015:
Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year: Gordon “Skip” Crosby, Poland Regional High School, 9-12 Spanish
Cumberland County Teacher of the Year: Sara Brokofsky, Westbrook Middle School, 5th grade
Franklin County Teacher of the Year: Sarah Reynolds, Cascade Brook School, RSU 9, Farmington, 4th grade
Knox County Teacher of the Year: Kristi Todd, Union Elementary School, Kindergarten
Oxford County Teacher of the Year: Jeffrey Bailey, Mount Valley High Schoo, Rumford, 9-12 Technology
Penobscot County Teacher of the Year: Victoria Grotton, Glenburn School, PreK
Sagadahoc County Teacher of the Year: Eric Varney, Morse High School, Bath, 9-12 Science
Somerset County Teacher of the Year: Jennifer Dorman, Skowhegan Area Middle School, 7-8 English, Language Arts