The seven teachers, who attended USM, were among the top 16 teachers awarded honors from a group of 376 teachers nominated statewide:
2014 Maine Teacher of the Year:
Karen MacDonald '81 (King Middle School in Portland)
2014 Maine County Teachers of the Year:
Kara Beal '12 (Valley Rivers Middle School in Fort Kent, Aroostook County)
Sarah Brokofsky '08 (Westbrook Middle School, Cumberland County)
Cory Chase '92, '00 (Boothbay Region Elementary School, Lincoln County)
Dyan McCarthy-Clark '76 (SeDoMoCha Middle School, Dover Foxcroft, Piscataquis County)
Kate Smith '98 (Central Elementary School, South Berwick, York County)
Eric Varney, currently pursuing his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Leadership at USM (Morse High School, Bath, Sagadahoc County)
Originally established in 1878 as Gorham Normal School, USM's School of Education and Human Development has a long history of preparing teachers and providing professional development throughout their careers. The event celebrated alumni educators and professionals from the Gorham Normal School, Gorham State Teacher's College and Portland Junior College, The University of Maine Portland-Gorham and USM.
USM President David Flanagan and Professor Walter Kimball, Chair of the School of Education and Human Development welcomed all alumni, acknowledged the recipients of the Teacher of the Year awards and mentioned two new scholarships created by alumni Alden W. Mitchell '47 and Marian Hall Mitchell '46, and Margaret Johnson Hill '38, '54 to support students pursuing degrees in teaching. The keynote address was delivered by Diane Atwood, freelance writer and blogger of "Catching Health," who is currently enrolled as an art major at USM. In attendance were graduates from all predecessor institutions including the Class of 1964 celebrating their 50th reunion, and an alumna celebrating her 79th reunion from Scarborough, Mrs. Frances Huse Boothby '35.
USM was pleased to partner with Educate Maine in recognizing the Maine County Teachers of the Year, a new initiative of the Maine State Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes one teacher from every county in the state. This year, 376 Maine teachers were nominated under the expanded program and selected by a distinguished panel of teachers, principals and business leaders. Each of the chosen teachers participated in the Maine State Teacher of the Year selection process, known as one of the most intensive in the nation. Once selected, the State Teacher of the Year will complete a year of service representing Maine’s great teachers. The program is managed by Educate Maine in partnership with the Maine Department of Education, and supported by the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association. Funding support comes from Bangor Savings Bank, Geiger, Hannaford Supermarkets and Unum.
The 2014 County Teachers of the Year recently launched their platform, Family, Students and Schools: Always Keeping Students at the Center. The teachers are working together to strengthen student achievement by raising awareness about the importance of school and family partnerships.
USM Alumni/2014 Teachers of the Year Biographies:
Karen received a Master’s in Professional teaching from USM in 1981 shortly after starting her teaching career in the Portland School System in 1979. She has served the children in the Portland schools as a teacher in the fourth and fifth grades, a special education technician, a gifted and talented teacher and district coordinator of the program, a language arts teacher and as a pioneer implementing the Expeditionary Learning Model. She has helped to train teachers, develop curriculum and worked to increase the participation by parents in student conferences therefore improve their experience. With the rise of English Language Learners in the Portland Schools, she has returned to the classroom as a teacher to help students learn and to continue training teachers on how to adapt to help these students succeed. For more than 30 years, Karen has served our communities with zeal and dedication to her students, their families and her colleagues.
Kara Beal ’12, Valley Rivers Middle School in Fort Kent, Aroostook County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Kara has taught at Valley Rivers Middle School in Fort Kent since 2011. Prior to that, she spent ten years as an Educational Technician at Massabesic Middle School while completing her degree work. She is a graduate of USM’s Extended Teacher Education Program and has a Master’s in General and Special Education. Kara also coaches Track and Field and serves as Club Advisor for the Civil Rights Team, Student Council and Literacy Club. Her nominator said, “Kara has a passion for teaching that Ft. Kent has allowed her to pursue."
Sarah Brokofsky ’08, Westbrook Middle School, Cumberland County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Sarah teaches language arts, math, social studies and science to fifth graders at Westbrook Middle School and serves as a Peer Mentor in her district. She has been in the profession for nine years. She is a graduate of the Extended Teacher Education Program and has a Master’s in Teaching and Learning. Sarah is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Educational Leadership at USM. Her nominator, a parent of a student said, “apart from being an engaging, enthusiastic and very skilled teacher, Mrs. Brokofsky goes above and beyond to know and understand each child in her class so that everyone has the opportunity to not only thrive but love school and learning."
Cory Chase ’92, ’00, Boothbay Region Elementary School, Lincoln County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Cory teaches middle school students at Boothbay Region Elementary School and serves as the school’s Yearbook Advisor and Project Citizen Advisor. Cory started her teaching career in 1993. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s of Science in Education. “Cory was born to be a middle school teacher, her principal said. “You have to be part entertainer, part lion tamer and always on top of your game. Cory is all that and more, as noted by her nominator, a parent, who said, ‘After being in Ms. Chase’s class, my son has had the profound realization that not only can I do this, but I’m good at it.’”
Dyan McCarthy-Clark ’76, SeDoMoCha Middle School, Dover Foxcroft, Piscataquis County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Dyan, known as “Mrs. M-C”, teaches sixth to eighth graders at SeDoMoCha Middle School in Dover-Foxcroft. She has held this position since 1987 with the exception of serving one year as a ‘K’ through five Assistant Principal in the district. She started her teaching career in 1977 as an Industrial Arts teacher in Walpole, Massachusetts. Dyan holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maine Portland-Gorham (now USM) and a Master’s in Education Administration from the University of Maine. Her nominator described her classroom as a place where “all children are valued and all children are equal. She transports her confidence and trust in children in her conversations with their parents, which is an incredible gift."
Kate Smith ’98, Central Elementary School, South Berwick, York County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Kate has been an elementary music teacher at Central Elementary School in South Berwick since 2003. She has also served as a Sylvan Learning Center Instructor and Music Director at the Presentation of Mary Academy in Massachusetts. Kate worked with the Maine Alliance for Arts Education as a Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Researcher and at the Department of Education as a Visual and Performing Arts Leader. She is the Outdoor Classroom Coordinator and is currently writing a book about how other schools can start an outdoor classroom. Kate’s nominator shared that she “is an advocate of teaching kids through music and healthy food. [Kate] is passionate about teaching and watching children open their eyes to new things."
Eric Varney, USM student, Morse High School, Bath, Sagadahoc County, 2014 Maine County Teacher of the Year
Eric Varney teaches 9-12 grade students at Morse High School in Bath. He has held this position since 2004. Prior to that he spent a year at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California where he started his teaching career. Eric is a graduate of Dickinson College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science. He has a Master’s of Science in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University and is currently enrolled in Education Leadership classes at USM pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study. Eric holds a USCG Captain’s license and a Maine commercial fishing license. His nominator, a colleague, said "Eric is a trusted co-worker because of his attentiveness and insightful perspective. He is a strong leader and collaborator. Eric is the youngest recipient of the RSU1 Patricia Ames Distinguished Teacher Award."