Sincere applause was the default reaction as each honoree received their plaque or scholarship at the School of Education and Human Development’s annual recognition ceremony. Only one award moved the crowd to laughter as Cindy Soule stepped forward to accept a very special bag of Twizzlers.
The presenter was Dr. Walter Kimball, Chair of the Special Education Department. About 20 years earlier, he supervised Soule’s field work for her teaching certification. He often brought Twizzlers to their meetings as a shared snack. Soule appreciated the callback.
“All educators are powerful agents of change, but Walter is an educator who prepares educators for their role,” Soule said. “Now, that is pretty sweet. Just like those dang Twizzlers.”
Returning the compliment, Kimball said, “Hopefully, including a bag of Twizzlers with the wall plaque added a sparkle to the presentation and conveyed that Cindy has an adventurous spirit as part of her remarkable teaching and scientific talents.”
The plaque was the real award as the physical symbol of Soule’s induction into the Wall of Achievement at Bailey Hall on the Gorham Campus. The wall recognizes School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) alumni who left a positive mark on their professions and communities.
Soule works at Gerald E. Talbot School in Portland. She taught science for years before recently switching to become a literacy coach. Soule was named Maine Teacher of the Year for 2021 and Cumberland County Teacher of the Year for 2020. At the national level, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. As proud as she is of her accomplishments, Soule has even bigger goals in mind.
“The education system’s practices and policies haven’t changed since their inception, and it’s not lining up with what our societal demands are,” Soule said. “If we can put together our voices, make tomorrow better for kids, we’ll be even more powerful agents of change.”
Soule was one of eight honorees who were added to the Wall of Achievement at the ceremony on Friday, September 30. The others are as follows.
- JAMES BABCOCK ’13: 2021 Maine Association of School Psychologists Lifetime Achievement Award
- LISA BACKMAN ’99: 2020 Maine School Psychologist of the Year
- FARRAH GIROUX ’10, ’11: 2022 Maine ESOL Teacher of the Year
- CHRISTOPHER HOWELL ’96: 2022 Maine Superintendent of the Year
- ERIN MAGUIRE ’11: 2022 Maine Assistant Principal of the Year
- DANIELLE WILLIAMS ’15: 2021 Maine School Psychologist of the Year
- JEANNE WHYNOT-VICKERS ’74, ’82: 2007-2022 SEHD External Advisory Council Chair
Once all the inductees got their plaques, the program shifted its focus from alumni to current students. Sixty-five scholarship winners stepped forward one-by-one as their names were called in turn. Collectively, they received nearly $110,000 from 45 scholarship funds.
“We have so many great students to recognize,” said Dr. Joanne Williams, Dean of the College of Management and Human Service. “When you look at their biographies and the interesting pathways that they describe in terms of their career goals, I think it’s very inspiring.”
The emotion of the moment was plain on Nadine Bravo’s face. She had to pause between congratulatory hugs from her family to blink away all the happy tears. Bravo is studying Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), along with Spanish and German. Her home life is equally as busy.
“I am getting two masters degrees right now and I’m a single parent,” Bravo said. “For me, any support is appreciated to actually focus on my studies to be a well-rounded teacher.”
Bravo’s scholarship was meaningful for more than the financial aid it provided. She received the Jeanne Whynot-Vickers School of Education and Human Development Community Scholarship. It’s named for the longtime Chair of the SEHD External Advisory Council. A few minutes before claiming her own award, Bravo watched as Whynot-Vickers was inducted into the Wall of Achievement. The two of them were seated just a few rows apart.
Bravo hoped to find Whynot-Vickers after the ceremony ended to thank her. Many of the people in attendance had more to say to each other as attention shifted from the podium to the refreshment table. Students, faculty, and alumni compared experiences from different points in their careers. Soule saw strength in the bonds being formed across generations. “If we unite our voices together and we continue to support one another, we’ll further impact the world,” Soule said.