Selected from among the 16 County Teachers of the year each fall, the Maine Teacher of the Year becomes the most visible ambassador of the teaching profession in the state. They are invited to serve on various committees, participate in many program and events, and speak on a number of occasions in Maine.
The Maine Teacher of the Year represents Maine in the National Teacher of the Year Program (NTOY), administered by the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO). State Teachers of the Year participate in the National Teacher of the Year Induction Program, Washington DC Recognition Week (includes a White House ceremony), International Space Camp and the Next Steps Conference at Princeton University. In 2017, CCSSO and the College Football Playoff Foundation partnered to celebrate STOYs at the College Football Championship.
The Maine Teacher of the Year is also an entrant for the esteemed position of the National Teacher of the Year.
Maine’s 2021 Teacher of the Year is Ms. Cindy Soule!
Cindy Soule creates a learning community that disrupts the opportunity gap. For twenty of her twenty-one years of teaching, she has been committed to one of Maine’s most diverse schools, the Gerald E. Talbot Community School, in Portland, Maine. Soule fosters a dynamic learning environment that inspires curiosity and citizenship in her fourth grade students.
A lifelong resident of Maine, Soule developed an appreciation for the natural world. This passion is evident in her teaching. She grounds learning in real world contexts and encourages students to construct scientific understanding through observation, questioning, and collaborative thinking. Through inquiry and discourse, Soule empowers students to see themselves as meaningful contributors to their community. This work is recognized by her Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching candidacy.
Soule contributes to a positive culture of collective efficacy where students thrive. To enrich student learning, she partners with community organizations to include Side X Side, the Maine Audubon, and the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance. She serves as a representative on the Portland Schools Literacy Committee, Talbot Leadership Team, Building Steering Committee, RTI Team, and Science Teams. On behalf of students, Soule is a recipient of Portland Education Foundation, TD Banknorth and DonorsChoose grants.
Soule holds a Master of Science in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Maine at Orono. A 2020 Funds for Teachers Fellow, she looks forward to continued professional discovery and learning.
Maine’s 2020 Teacher of the Year is Ms. Heather Whitaker!
During her 18-year teaching career at Gorham Middle School, Heather has been a true advocate for combining learning opportunities with the needs of the community. She started her school’s garden, which donates over 800 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She also was a founding member of the Gorham BackPack Program, which provides students in her community, experiencing chronic hunger, with food over the weekend. Her alternative education students are active volunteers for both programs. Just recently, this program was awarded a $25,000 State Farm Community Assist grant.
Heather is passionate about and experienced in using restorative practices and experiential learning. She believes in the power of relationships and that learning should be meaningful to students. Whenever possible, Heather takes students out of the classroom and has them engaged in the community.
Heather graduated from Boston College in 2000, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with Moderate Special Needs. She later earned her Master of Science in Literacy Education at the University of Southern Maine.
Heather’s biggest love is her family. Her husband, Marc, son Trent, and daughter Maeve inspire her daily. She loves hosting friends at her house, can be found in the mountains skiing during the winter, and is proud to be a “Maine-ah.”
Nominated by: Robert Riley (retired principal)
Heather works with our students who have demonstrated an inability to regularly attend school, participate in traditional content area studies and enjoy the fruits of traditional learning experiences reserved by society for adolescents. She takes students on a series of hikes culminating with a three day, two-night camping trip on the Appalachian Trail. Last year Heather instituted the Backpack Program providing many students with food for the weekend and school vacations to help improve the family food security. Heather is the driving force of our school garden. She incorporated the garden into her Alternative Education curriculum and has arranged to have some students work the garden one day a week during the summer. Because of her innovative, can-do nature, her refusal to give up on any student and her selfless contributions to our school community and to her students, I believe Heather is an excellent candidate to represent all that is good in our educational system.
Read more about Heather here: https://mainedoenews.net/2019/
Maine’s 2019 Teacher of the Year is Mr. Joseph Hennessey!
Joe Hennessey is an English teacher at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford, Maine. During his tenure at PCHS, Mr. Hennessey has developed and implemented six new interdisciplinary literature-based curricula with emphases on active reading strategies, analytical writing, vocabulary and grammar application exercises, and formal public speaking. Additionally, with colleagues in the Social Studies department, he has co-developed and co-taught an annual Project-Based global affairs course and currently serves as a member to the Camden Conference in the Classroom Committee.
He was selected by his students as the Faculty Speaker in 2015 and 2018 and received the Yearbook Dedication in 2016 and 2018. In 2013-2014 he was named the Teacher of the Year at Collegiate Academy of Colorado. Mr. Hennessey is a Graduate with Distinction in Humanities from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Nominated by: John Keane, Principal
Mr. Hennessey is a unique and highly effective teacher. His formal manner and personality combined with a dry sense of humor and setting high standards for his students, make him an icon of our school. He is a co-teacher and original designer of a high-level class entitled, Camden Conference. With only four years with us, he has become legendary amongst his students and their families. Watching him in class is truly watching a person who has honed his craft to perfection.
Maine’s 2018 Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Kaitlin Young!
She began her teaching career in 2010 at the SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft, ME. Since then she has held a variety of music education positions within the district teaching students in PreK through twelfth grade. Currently she teaches general music to students in Pre-K through fourth grade and choral music to students in fifth through eighth grade. Beyond the RSU #68 school district Kaitlin has worked with the Center Theatre as a music director for several student and adult musical productions. Kaitlin participates in several community music ensembles including a contemporary a cappella group and a steel pan band.
Kaitlin graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of Maine at Orono with a Bachelors of Arts in Music Education in 2010. Kaitlin completed her Master’s Degree in Music Education with a concentration in Kodaly Pedagogy at The Hartt School in Hartford, CT in 2017. Kaitlin enjoys spending her free time at her camp with her husband Bob, cat Zoe, and dog Gabby.
Nominated by: Carolyn Clark, Colleague
Kaitlin Young has grown our music program exponentially during her time here. She works tirelessly teaching students to love, respect, and learn from music. She starts her days giving free private lessons to students and can often be seen involved in after school activities supporting students in all of their achievements - attending games, spelling bees, and reading events.
Read more about Kaitlin here: https://umaine.edu/news/blog/2017/11/07/kaitlin-young-music-education-alumna-named-2018-maine-teacher-year/
Grade 5, Riverton School, Portland
Teachers of the Year from 1954 to 2013.
The County Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors the contributions of Maine's public classroom teachers, creates a greater public awareness of the teaching profession, inspires and motivates future and current teachers and promotes teacher leadership. Each year, 16 County Teachers of the Year are selected to represent outstanding educators who are committed to the quality education of Maine students. One of the County Teachers of the Year is selected as the State Teacher of the Year.
2019 County Teachers of the Year