Cindy Soule ‘00, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine (USM) Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP), has been named the 2020 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. Soule, a fourth-grade science teacher at Riverton Elementary School, cultivates in her students a sense of curiosity in the natural world and encourages them to be active participants in their own learning.
“It is my students' sense of wonder that leads them to co-construct science knowledge and ideas as they figure out the answers to the questions they have.” Soule says. “Teaching science rooted in a natural wonder allows students to access the learning in a way that is inclusive of the background and knowledge each individual brings to the learning. It has been a true joy to observe high levels of engagement and collaborative discussions across my classroom. Most importantly, our state of Maine is beautiful and amazing and I want my students to see that science is all around them!
Soule also refers to her experience in the ETEP program as a formative step in her education career:
“Understanding the importance of building a classroom community with clear and high expectations have remained a cornerstone of my teaching. I was actually one of the first seven graduates of the dual certificate ETEP program and somehow I managed to complete 54 graduate credits in one year with a baby and a two-year old! The community that was formed within my cohort was incredible. I know I would not have been able to make it without them!”
Soule was nominated by her colleague, Brooke Teller, Portland Public Schools Science Coordinator and also a former Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. “The idea that she saw in me the qualities of a teacher who met the criteria of a County Teacher of the Year was very humbling.”