Posts Tagged ‘Maine Teacher of the Year’

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Teachers Representatives

August 25, 2022

Finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year

Four Maine teachers were announced today as the State Finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year program. Eighth grade social studies and English Language Arts teacher Heather Anderson from Aroostook County, ninth grade humanities and social studies teacher Matthew Bernstein from Cumberland County, fourth grade math, writing, and science teacher Ashley Bryant from Oxford County, and high school social studies teacher Emily Albee from Penobscot County were all selected to move forward in the Teacher of the Year process and were chosen from the 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year.

These teachers are representatives of all that is ‘right’ with education these days. They’re not ‘the best’ teachers but instead they are teachers who represent all teachers. If you’re fortunate enough to be a teacher you can be proud that their voices are strong and articulate. I had the opportunity in July to be at UMaine when the eight semi-finalists made presentations. They spoke with clarity while sharing their beliefs and passion for teaching.

We’re fortunate in Maine that the process for determining the teacher of the year is well thought out and has changed over the years to select a teacher who best represents all Maine teachers. When I look back I am impressed with how the program has evolved. In the present environment of education I’m sure that we can all agree that the program needs to change in order to represent the education profession.

County teachers of the year who were considered for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year who teach one of the arts: from Androscoggin County visual art teacher Kelsey Boucher, from Hancock County music teacher Rebecca Edmondson, and from Somerset County theatre teacher Debra Susi.

Maine’s Teacher of the Year is a program of Educate Maine. You can learn more at their website at https://www.mainetoy.org. The program has many sponsors.

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Pride in Educators

August 16, 2022

Much to be proud about!

Debra and Rebecca

Arts educators need to, and do, advocate for Arts Education in many different ways. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the advocacy efforts change the access and equity to high quality Visual and/or Performing Arts Education for all students. Advocacy can heighten awareness of the ‘why’ of Arts Education. Efforts may relate to curriculum or assessment or scheduling or numerous other topics that impact an education in the arts. Sometimes we need to seek opportunities and sometimes we’re forced to advocate. And, other times an opportunity unfolds in front of us. Like the time I was on a 2 hours flight sitting next to my superintendent. I had the ear of the person who could make a huge difference in the arts education program. You betcha, I took advantage of the chance to have a conversation that included promoting arts education.

Two amazing arts educators recently had the opportunity to present about their programs. One a theatre teacher, the other, a music teacher. They had an audience that was filled with not only educators, Pre-K through higher education, but people from the business sector as well. I sat in the audience listening to them and chills ran up my arm and I could feel the pride fill my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I often think about how fortunate so many learners are for excellent arts education programs. It takes all of us to bring this magic to schools and school districts but without outstanding and qualified teachers in classrooms, goals fall short.

Congratulations to Rebecca Edmondson and Debra Susi for using your voices and representing all that is ‘right’ and ‘good’ about education. Rebecca is the K-6 classroom music teacher at Conners-Emerson School in Bar Harbor and the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year and Debra is the theatre teacher at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield and the 2022 Somerset County Teacher of the Year. I am so proud and grateful for what each teacher is doing to represent all Maine arts educators. Both were selected as semi finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year.

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Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson

July 19, 2022

Hancock County Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson who is the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Rebecca teaches at Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor. Next week, Rebecca will join her colleagues, who along with her, have been named Semi-Finalist for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year. All 8 Semi-Finalists will be providing a presentation which is the next step in the process. Below is Rebecca’s story that will provide her history and her journey to this point in her life. The writing is her own, I’m sure you’ll hear Rebecca’s voice. Her commitment to education, her students, and the community of Bar Harbor is commendable!

CONGRATULATIONS Rebecca Edmondson

Tell us your story, what led you to this moment Rebecca?

Teaching was a way of life in my home. My grandmother, mother, and numerous cousins were teachers or administrators. They shared stories that provided warm and delightful chatter at the supper table. It got my attention! At that point, I began dreaming of becoming a teacher.

It was my mother who impacted my decision on becoming a music teacher. She taught music for twenty-eight years and we always had instruments laying around our home just waiting to be played. 

Edmondson piping at the Town Pier in Bar Harbor to welcome the Queen Elizabeth II on her maiden voyage.

During my high school years, I wanted a taste of teaching so I gave private music lessons to beginners. That was it! I knew that I wanted to continue to have a positive impact on young learners. From then on, I devote my life to teaching. Teaching comes naturally. Music is my life. Teaching music is my forte! 

My music education began at age five with learning the piano because I wanted to be just like my older sister so I begged my mother for lessons! Mrs. Frisk was our piano teacher and prepared us both for college auditions. She had even taught my mother when she was young! In her younger years, she played for silent films and I thought that was really cool.  

Edmondson at piano for community production of “Clue,” literally playing the part of Professor Plum, the murderer at the piano, at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth.

In fifth grade, I discovered the oboe and loved it! A few years later, I began private lessons from Dr. Dicicco at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I always studied under the best instructors and was classically trained. During my teen years, folk music and instruments captured my heart and I was compelled to play the Great Highland Bagpipes! I spent summers on the shores of the St.Lawrence Seaway with a hundred other pipers, receiving instruction from world class pipers Seumas MacNeil, Angus MacLellan, and Iain MacFadyen from Scotland. These inspiring teachers will always have a special place in my heart.

During my high school years, on Saturdays, I traveled over the mountain to play oboe in the Johnstown Youth Symphony and on Sundays I ventured into the big city to pipe in the Pittsburgh Scots Pipe Band. It was the best of both worlds – classical and folk!

Several of Rebecca’s Conners Conners Elementary School violin students

My formal education includes earning my Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). I expanded my education and earned my Elementary Education Certification from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and from there, I was placed as a program Reading Specialist Graduate Assistant back at IUP when suddenly I received a call for a music teaching interview and was hired on the spot. So many opportunities presented themselves in that year and shortly after my teaching career began, I married Bill and in the next few years our children were born. Life was good!

Then one day, Bill said that it was time to make the move to Maine that he had been dreaming of for years. I cried. I had a beautiful home, loving children, and my dream job. I did not want to move, especially 800 miles away, however, I put on a happy face and packed us up. Upon moving to Maine my current teaching position became available and we built our home on the beautiful Mount Desert Island! I have been enjoying a wonderful life near Acadia National Park and a successful teaching career at the Conners Emerson School since 1990! Life was good again. 

Fifth grade dulcimers created by students

My education continued, earning my Master of Music in Music Education degree from the University of Maine at Orono. I continue to enjoy learning new music and instruments. Harp and accordion are my newest additions! Teaching and music has created opportunities to bond friendships that endure to this day and I love to perform for community events. It brings a smile to my face when I fondly remember my Dad saying, “With all of those classical lessons that I drove you to, what do you prefer? Bagpipes and tin whistle!”

I truly feel that every facet of my teaching and life experiences with music in the community has pointed me in the direction of becoming the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Thirty five years of teaching has given me ample time to live my dreams and achieve my goals.

Conners Emerson Show Choir

What is your present teaching assignment – how long have you been there?

My husband Bill, our children Bethany and Ethan, and I moved to Bar Harbor in 1989. We found a piece of wooded land overlooking Echo Lake and built our home. I took a year to earn my Maine Teaching Certificate and be home with my children. The following year, my current music position became available! It was meant to be! I have enjoyed inspiring thousands of children and involving their parents since 1990! 

At Conners Emerson School (CES), I teach K-6 general music classes, consisting of programs that I have initiated; second grade class violin, third grade tin whistle and xylophone, fourth grade ukuleles and acting to the classics, fifth grade dulcimer constructing and playing, sixth grade keyboard class, third through eighth grade string lessons and two orchestras. My fiddle group, the Swallowtail Fiddlers, provides a creative and traditional approach to learning tunes and this group serves as musical ambassadors from CES providing community service and delighting audiences of all ages. Every class sings and dances as well and the icing on the cake is the show choir where it all comes together! 

Image of an original song that Rebecca composed for my students

What do you love about teaching? What are your biggest challenges?

One of the most rewarding experiences that a teacher can experience is the creation of a new program. A quarter note is always a quarter note, however, there are so many different songs to sing and tunes to play that every year, even though the curriculum remains the same, I have the flexibility in choosing new music that the students and I are interested in and form new ensembles. I rarely have repeated music during my past 35 years of teaching. Also, if I am unable to find just the right music for my students, I compose something for them! It makes them feel so special.

Schools have locked their doors to community connections for the past two years due to COVID. My advocacy is building community; bringing the community into the school for inspiration and taking our school students into the community to serve. This generational aspect in reciprocity creates a circle of mentoring, which renews with every passing generation for my school and community. Parents of the primary grade students have not set foot inside our schools. Now is the time to reconnect and rebuild our school and community collaborations to inspire our young people to become responsible future leaders and policy makers! 

2018 Hancock County Teacher of the Year Jennifer Farnham with a student clarinetist, demonstrating a circle of mentoring. They first performed together in my community orchestra that I founded, TEMPO: The Eastern Maine Pops Orchestra, and continue to play alongside each other in the Bangor Band!
Photo that appeared in a YWCA calendar, empowering community women

Tell the blog readers about the Teacher of the Year process, what’s it been like?

The Teacher of the Year process has been one of reflection, self evaluation, and networking. I have enjoyed reflecting on my past accomplishments when writing the essays. Self evaluation gives me pause to fondly recall community music and performance events that I had forgotten about because my mind is always looking towards the next thing! The networking with my county cohort, Maine TOTY cohort, and Educate Maine gives a teacher a big picture of what we as TOTY can do to, well, educate Maine!  

Those involved in Educate Maine have prepared the TOTY candidates every step of the way for success. The Professional Development that I have participated in, through TOTY, has been very beneficial, educational, and fun. Because of it, I have grown as a teacher and person. 

 Sponsor Lee Auto reminded Rebecca of the time when her Swallowtail Fiddlers performed at the Seal Cove Auto Museum

The 2022 County Teachers of the Year is a strong cohort and it is an honor to be a part of it. Once a TOTY, always a TOTY so the friendships formed within this group are sure to last for years to come. The sponsors, UNUM and Lee Auto, to name two major contributors, have made it possible for the Teacher of the Year cohort to be treated as professionals so that travel to state-wide events is a luxury in that expenses are covered. I feel supported and appreciated.

Whose classroom have you visited that really impressed you and what were the pieces that stand out most to you? What did you learn from that experience?

Oh my! There are so many to choose from and I do not want to leave anyone out! 

During these COVID times, extra duties have been added to my schedule, which gave me insight into classrooms that I would not have normally walked into. Spending time in the K-8 classrooms during snack time, lunch, and indoor recess, have given me the gift of spending extra time with students in their homeroom in a relaxed atmosphere. Student interactions in their own environment during non-instructional time, gave me a glimpse of their social interactions.

 Composer project, 4th grade project at the Conners Emerson School. The students learn about a different composer each year, Rebecca draws it and cuts it apart, deals out the “puzzle pieces,” students color, assemble, and voila, masterpiece legacies!

Each physical classroom that I was assigned to, was set up differently, taking on the persona of the classroom teacher. One was decorated with elephants. The color blue was the predominance of another classroom. Yet another displayed items accrued on an overseas trip. Some classrooms were calm while others caused overstimulation, in my opinion. 

One thing that all the classrooms had in common was the display of student work. Whether it be self-portraits, a research project, or the signing of a classroom contract, every child was represented in some way in the classrooms. I work with incredible teachers at Conners Emerson and each brings a personal touch to their classroom to create a positive, safe, and inspirational cultural community. 

There are 32 composers hanging in Rebecca’s music room – one for each year that she has taught at CES. They are a good conversation starter among students plus alumni who return like to point out which composer that they helped create

You’ve had professional development in ‘communicating with the press’ since you’ve been selected as the Hancock County Teacher of the Year. What did you learn that is good advice for all teachers in communicating about the importance of your role as a teacher?

Communicating with the press is much different than communicating with your students. Teachers present new skills and techniques to students in numerous ways to accommodate various learning styles. With media, your communication needs to be clear, concise and to the point. Do not babble. 

Reporters love to let you talk on and on to catch you on something. Less is more. Keep it short. Create a one sentence, eight second sound bite from a paragraph to effectively make your point. If the interviewer shifts and has an underlying agenda, say, “That is an interesting question but it is not why I am here. Let me share my classroom experience with you” then blow your own horn.

Edmondson’s Swallowtail Fiddlers in 2009 performing in Agamont Park on the CBS Early Show

You have heard the saying, “Music speaks where words fail.” That is my motto! My Swallowtail Fiddlers spoke through toe-tapping jigs, reels, and strathspeys while performing on the CBS Early Show and the Channel 5 Morning News and I never spoke a word! 

I collaborated with first grade teacher, MaryAnne Young, to create the Maine Musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love, about nature and Maine history. It makes a musical statement with eleven educational and entertaining songs, enhanced by movement, dance, script, and classroom activities that encourage students to be stewards of the earth. The synopsis features fourteen characters named for the wild flowers of Acadia National Park. All students in grades K-4 performed Plant Kindness and Gather Love at a public performance at The Criterion in Bar Harbor. The timing was perfect, for Plant Kindness and Gather Love became a celebration of the Centennial of Acadia National Park and the Bicentennial of Maine!

Edmondson and Young collaborated to create Maine musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love. Acadia National Park donated Ranger hats for our young thespians and parent volunteers made flower decorations for the hats representing the wildflowers of Acadia National Park

What advice do you have for new teachers? 

Be flexible, go with the flow, and have a sense of humor. Young students are the source of an endless supply of optimism. Open your mind, hand, and heart and seek resources and opportunities beyond the classroom walls for real life learning experiences. Be a facilitator to spur your students’ imaginations. Expose your students to a wealth of stuff to guide them to discover their talents, to create their own voice, and have fun. Just like my classical training with a love for folk music I have networked with incredible musicians, both professional and recreational. I have the pleasure of expressing myself on both oboe and bagpipes, reaching very different audiences. 

Edmondson with two members from the Dirty Dozen band at their performance at the MENC National Convention in Salt Lake City. Edmondson advocated for school strings programs on a panel of twelve music teachers when she was designated as one of twelve in the country for having a Model Music Program.

Be diligent in continually making connections and build relationships between students and the community to spark an interest with your students. Be a good listener to what your students need and to what your community wants. There is a whole new world out there that is constantly changing. Embrace your journey with your students. You never know where it may lead for your students and you! Anything is possible.

Edmondson having fun being a pirate at Fort Knox. Her students enjoyed her antics.
The best of both worlds of, classical and folk, met on stage at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth. Guest Scottish National Fiddle Champion Sean Heely and Edmondson on the great Highland Bagpipes perform with her community orchestra, TEMPO, while Ethan Edmondson conducts Tributum for Celtic Pipes by Nan Avant, Composed for the Celebrate the World Music! Concert in 2013.
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Rob Westerberg

June 3, 2021

Off the grid

Thoughtful, meaningful, figuring it out, asking questions, listening to students, high standards. When it comes to teaching all of these represent Rob Westerberg. He acts in a very serious way and approaches most actions with a humorous twist. Recently he posted a piece called “Off the Grid” on his blog “Goober Music Teachers”. He describes what he’s learned during the pandemic, how he’s embraced the situation and a caution on the importance of not comparing what you do as a teacher with what the next teacher is doing. I’m certain that this year has revealed much to us individually. My greatest hope is that the shifts we’ve been forced to make and have chosen to make have been an opportunity to learn about ourselves, like no other time in our teaching careers. No matter if your career is at the beginning, middle or end there is something for everyone to ponder in Rob’s pandemic story. I’m always grateful when Rob takes on a subject and blogs about it. His posts give me a chance to pause and reflect. The next two paragraphs are the first two paragraphs of his post. You’ll find the link to Rob’s blog post at the end so you can continue reading.

IN ROB’S OWN WORDS…

Would you believe me if I told you this has been one of the most satisfying, rewarding and happy years of my career? The phrase, “going off the grid” is a spot on reflection of what every music teacher in the country has gone through the past 14 months. Nothing has been “normal”, and a lot has been taken from us and our students since March of last year. How that has individually impacted us is dependent on many factors including whether we’ve been allowed to be in person or not, what grade level we teach, general choral or instrumental, single teacher in a school district or one of many. In any given year prior to this one, each music teacher’s journey is incredibly unique. That’s never been more true than this one.

But a funny thing happened to me right around the middle of November, and it carried through to this very week: my kids and I were learning and growing, and realizing that we were learning and growing. We started enjoying this journey together.

Rob is the 2020 Maine York County Teacher of the Year. He is co-creator of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) turned Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and presently MAEPL, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership, with the revised mission to develop and promote high quality arts education for all.” 

I invite you to read Rob’s FULL POST – Off the Grid, May 15, 2021. Rob can be reached at THIS LINK.

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YAHOOO for Arts Educators!

May 14, 2021

Congratulations art teacher Sarah Doremus

Sedgwick Elementary School art teacher Sarah Doremus has been named Hancock County’s Teacher of the Year.

Sarah Doremus

I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Sarah for representing her school and arts education in her role as Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Sarah will be considered for the Maine Teacher of the Year for 2022. Sarah has been teaching for 9 years, grades PreK-8 and was nominated by her principal Carla Magoon who said:

Sarah is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic teachers I have had the honor to work with. She is excited about learning and helps her students to become excited right along with her. She spends incredible amounts of her own time and money to plan activities where the students will be engaged and have fun while they are learning. She works with all the other teachers in the school to create integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) lessons that are aligned to their curriculum and the standards that the students are working on. She is always ready to help with any special ideas like Maine Day, or Screen-Free Week, and she finds community resources, such as local artists and places where students can get first-hand knowledge. Sarah also partners with community organizations such as Haystack and Blue Hill Heritage Trust to bring opportunities that otherwise our students would not have, such as using a laser cutter, or screen printing. She always goes above and beyond and her love for learning and for her students is always at the forefront of everything she does.

As part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, hundreds of teachers across Maine are nominated by a member of their school community. Through a rigorous application process, one teacher from each county is selected as the county Teacher of the Year by a panel of teachers, principals and business community members within the county.

Below is the YouTube video of the county teacher of the year announcement. During the ceremony, held earlier this week, Emily Paruk, Maine’s 2021 Poetry Out Loud champ recited an original poem appreciating teachers. You’ll find this at the 20 minute mark.

The Teacher of the Year program is organized by Educate Maine. Learn more about the program at THIS LINK.

Read the article in The Ellsworth American about Sarah.

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CONGRATS Rob!

May 15, 2020

York County Teacher of the Year!

When a visual or performing arts teacher is nominated for Maine Teacher of the Year it is an honor that all arts educators share! The person represents our profession first and foremost as a teacher, and specifically as an arts teacher. This year one of our own was nominated and has been selected as the 2020 York County Teacher of the Year – CONGRATULATIONS Rob Westerberg! Rob has been Choral Director at York High School since 2000 and has been teaching since 1998. He has been representing all of us in our profession for many years on a variety of levels. He has taken on leadership roles at the classroom, school, district, state and beyond Maine.

Like many of you he has an impressive resume from his 32 years in the music classroom. There are to many items to include in this blog post. His wide array of experiences have led him to many opportunities to work with colleagues throughout New England, assisting them as they work to refine their craft as well. Rob believes that “every student can achieve high academic standards in choral/vocal pedagogy and technique. Consequently, engaging them in a dynamic environment of best practices that allows them to do so is a lifelong journey and joy for me.” Rob has been recognized and celebrated by his students, parents, administrators, and his colleagues. His voice is strong and his ‘forever learning’ and ‘evolving attitude’ towards education is the foundation for this recognition.

I am proud to know and work with Rob for many years, he and Catherine Ring and I traveled to Plymouth University in August 2010 where the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative idea was hatched. Now nine years old, the initiative thrives thanks to the work of Rob and the many teacher leaders in Maine arts education.

SOME OF ROB’S BELIEFS

I am an educator with a demonstrated passion for education and progressive educational issues in Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and student achievement. For 32 years, this dedication has been applied in the public school setting as a music teacher. Yet my accumulated professional experiences have led to many opportunities to work with colleagues throughout New England, assisting them as they work to refine their craft as well. I believe that every student can achieve high academic standards in choral/vocal pedagogy and technique. Consequently, engaging them in a dynamic environment of best practices that allows them to do so is a lifelong journey and joy for me.

The Maine County Teacher of the Year announcement, 14 May 2020. Rob second from right. On left is Kate Smith.

IN THE CLASSROOM – “Working with my Freshman is to begin analyzing who they are as people and what they need in order to become the best selves they can possibly be.”

COLLEAGUES AND COMMUNITYRob has facilitated professional retreats and workshops, developing curriculum and innovative approaches to assessment practices for the Visual and Performing Arts. His work impacts educators and even administrators in how they approach what they do. He empowers them to make a difference in their own settings and bring each of them to a new place in their craft. At York High School Rob led the work implementing the first public High School graduation requirement for music in the northeast. In 2010 the school  completed a $2.3 million music instructional space added to YHS, and in 2017 the Community Auditorium was opened and it has already become the cultural and creative center of the entire community.

CURRICULUM AND ASSESSMENTOne of Rob’s many strengths is his ability to break  down instruction and assessment practices in ways which truly accommodates those of us in the arts. He has felt for many years that all around us there are well intentioned but flawed arts programs which are really co-curricular activities “cleverly disguised” as academic programs. He believes that the fault lies in pre-service teacher training, where the emphasis is to further our craft as performers and artists, rather than as educational specialists. “The missing piece has been authentic and viable approaches to instruction and assessment which connect the two together.”

Rob and Argy at Maine Music Educators Association conference, UMaine 2010

STATE CONTRIBUTIONSRob co-founded the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) in 2010 with this in mind: “to work with colleagues, allowing them to re-design their own assessment practices so that student growth is furthered, instructional practices are strengthened, and new connections of learning are created.” Bringing added integrity to arts education while “keeping it real” by designing assessment strategies which are both manageable and authentic continues to be a strength of mine.

EDUCATION – Master of Music Degree, Choral Conducting, UMaine 1996 and Bachelor of Music Degree, Music Education, Keene State College 1987

MAINE TEACHER OF THE YEAR PROGRAM

I will keep you posted on the Maine Arts Ed blog and periodically share Rob’s adventures during the next year. Rob’s recognition is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to celebrate what is ‘right’ and ‘wonderful’ for education.

Rob in his classroom, 2014

Other arts educators have been recognized by the Maine Teacher of the Year program which was established in 1954. Over the years the program has changed and the county teacher of the year program started in 2014. Below are those honored by the program. (My apology if I missed someone – please let me know)!

  • Bobbi Tardif – 2019 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year, visual arts
  • Shawn Rice – 2019 Androscogin County Teacher of the Year, visual arts
  • Kaitlin Young – 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Anthony Lufkin – 2018 Knox County Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • David Coffey – 2018 Waldo County Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Christine Del Rossi – 2018 Sagadahoc County Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • Christi Goosman – 2017 Waldo County Teacher of the Year, theatre educator
  • Andrew Forster – 2016 Kennebec County Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Susan Beaulier – 2015 Aroostook County Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • Kate Smith – 2014 York County Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Bill Buzza – 2011 Finalist Maine Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Jayne Quinn Sawtelle – 2010 Semi-Finalist Maine Teacher of the Year, music educator
  • Charlie Johnson – 2008 Finalist Maine Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • Marguerite Lawler-Rohner – 2004 Maine Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • Doug Clapp – 1995 Finalist Maine Teacher of the Year, theatre educator
  • Argy Nestor – 1995 Maine Teacher of the Year, visual arts educator
  • Charles Seymour – 1986 Maine Teacher of the Year, music educator
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Today on Facebook Live

May 14, 2020

Announcement of the County TOYs

Today, Thursday, May 14 at 2:00 p.m. the Maine Department of Education will announce the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year. Please join Facebook Live for the announcement!

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.

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Saying Thank You

March 26, 2020

Message from a Teacher

I am going to start capitalizing the word “Teacher” every time I write or type it. Why? Because I am so impressed by what I see happening because of teachers all over the world. PreK – grade 12 Teachers hopped into this crisis quickly, no hesitation, and are making things happen for learners.

Grades K-8 Music Teacher Kaitlin Young from Sedomocha Elementary and Middle Schools in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine is the 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year and has been recognized for her accomplishments. I am so proud of Kaitlin and the work she does day to day and what she has done for Teachers everywhere. Her messages are clear and ‘spot on’. Recently Kaitlin wrote on her facebook page a message thanking the many unsung heroes in her school district and beyond who are going above and beyond to support children in multiple ways. With her permission I am re-printing her message since I am sure it is something many of us in education are thinking. Thank you Kaitlin for your leadership and commitment to education!

As we begin this new adventure in remote learning here at SeDoMoCha I wanted to post a photo to stand in solidarity with and express my gratitude for all of the incredible teachers within the SeDoMoCha community, across the state of Maine, and beyond.

And when I say “teachers” I mean all of the incredible people who are modeling what it means to be a member of a thoughtful and caring school community. These people are teaching some of the most profound life lessons to everyone around them throughout this challenging time.

Teachers: Administrators, Technology Integrators, School Resource Officers, Nurses, School Counselors, Maintenance Staff, Data Clerks, and Administrative Assistants who have developed and implemented thoughtful response plans all while calmly answering millions of questions from colleagues and the public. They have been putting in a great deal of work and time in behind the scenes. They are making tough decisions and modeling what it means to dig into the challenging work on behalf of our students and our communities.

Teachers: Bus drivers, Food Service Workers, Education Support Staff, Teachers, Families, and Community Members who have swiftly jumped into action to support our students. The outpouring of offers to help connect students and families to the resources they need has been humbling. “What do you need?” “How can I help?” “What if we try this?” And within moments of struggle when people share their frustration (perhaps in not the most kind of ways) I have heard words of empathy, “they must be really hurting or scared because this is challenging.” There has never been a moment when we have doubted the commitment to our kids. They are the faces that greet our families and help them to stay connected to our community. They are flexible, resilient, and empathetic to the needs of others and model what it means to be on the front lines.

And of course our students, our greatest teachers of all. Amidst the chaos, they continue to make us smile as they wave from the backseat of a car during packet pick up, send funny emails full of memes, or simply do or say something silly at home that was communicated through a parent email. As teachers, all of us who work with our students each day, we know that there are many lessons to learn from our resilient, creative, and compassionate students. They are the reason we do this in the first place.

Everyone is stepping out of their comfort zones to face this uncertainty with grace, kindness, and the need for human connection. (Though stay at least six feet away from each other, please!) We are willing to learn with and from each other as is evident from the plethora of resources that have popped up over the last two weeks. We are willing to make mistakes within our own new learning and continue to provide the best instruction we can. The creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration that happen every day in education have been on display throughout this adventure.

I can only speak about SeDoMoCha from the first-hand experience, but from what I have seen and heard from colleagues we are not unique in these efforts.

Over the last week, we have checked in on each other, laughed, cried, and experienced this challenge as a community. Please continue to take care of yourself. Please check in with your colleagues, students, neighbors, friends, and families. Remind yourself and others that we are doing the best we can as we all seek to find a new sense of “normal.” (Though as someone said to me yesterday, “Were we ever really normal?”)

I am proud and grateful to be a member of the SeDoMoCha Community and the broader community of teachers. Stay safe and keep singing

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State of the State Address

January 22, 2020

Celebrating at the Blaine House

Look who was at the Blaine House last night celebrating with the Governor! Heather Whitaker, Maine’s 2020 Teacher of the Year from Gorham Middle School and her colleague and ours and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and Art Teacher of the Year Amy Cousins! Wonderful to know that educators are celebrating with Governor Janet T. Mills.

Amy, Governor, Heather

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Congrats Arts Teachers

May 14, 2019

County Teacher of the Year

Last week at the State House in Augusta the 2019 County Teachers of the Year were named and I’m sure you’ll join me in CONGRATULATING the following visual and/or performing arts teachers who were recognized. Thank you for your amazing work and for representing arts education as your journey continues in the Maine Teacher of the Year program.

  • Androscoggin County: Shawn Rice, Edward Little High School, Auburn, Art/Broadcast Media (grades 9-12)
  • Oxford County: Linda Andrews, Buckfield Junior/Senior High School, Hartford -Sumner Elementary, Gifted Academics and Arts (grades K-12)
  • Piscataquis County: Bobbi Tardif, SeDoMoCha School, Middle School Visual Arts Educator (grades 5-8)

Shawn Rice

Linda Andrews

Bobbi Tardif

Commissioner of Education Pender Makin notes, “The Maine Teacher Of the Year program offers all of us the opportunity to celebrate the phenomenal work that is being accomplished every day in Maine’s public schools. Each of the County Teachers of the Year exemplifies a deep commitment to Maine’s students and a belief in the power of education to create positive and lasting change. They bring their compassion, creativity, and innovation to the art and science of teaching, amplifying the dreams and futures of their students.  In highlighting the accomplishments of these 15 educators, we are also honoring all of Maine’s teachers,  and the outstanding talents and dedication they bring to their classrooms and communities.”

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.

As ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education in Maine, these teachers will continue to participate in the intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process, including the submission of a video showcasing their classroom instructional practices.

The field will be narrowed to eight semi-finalists who will begin working on their professional portfolio, a component of the National Teacher of the Year process. After the portfolio review and presentations to a select panel, the field is narrowed to three finalists. In October, the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected after a school site visit and final interview.

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