Whittier Middle School teacher named Maine’s 2013 Teacher of the Year

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CONGRATULATIONS to Shannon Shanning

Shannon Shanning receives an award from Maine’s Commissioner of Education, Stephen Bowen

POLAND – Shannon Shanning, a seventh- and eighth-grade special education teacher at Whittier Middle School, was named the 2013 Maine Teacher of the Year in front of students, colleagues, family and other distinguished guests Monday. In keeping with Maine tradition, Shanning was not informed ahead of time that the “all-school assembly” was called to honor her.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen presented Shanning with the award – the first awarded to a special education teacher as far back as program records indicate. Bowen also read a letter of congratulations from Governor Paul LePage.

There are connections to many components of the Bright Futures report in how Shannon teaches. For example, Core Practice 1: Students have access to curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory and is organized and executed to maximize accessibility for all students. Shanning’s nominating committee wrote, “Shannon provides an environment of high engagement, challenge, and support that inspires students to become more confident, capable, and productive learners.” This is demonstrated by her remarkable ability to embed learning in real-world experiences and connect students to the school and greater community.

Shannon’s program involves strong connections with the local fire department and fire fighters. They research survival and build shelters in the woods behind the schools, and hold a bake-off for Top Chef Challenges.

One of Shannon’s students said in her nomination: “She’s always coming up with new things. Just this past week, she created an Edmodo page for our ELA, Math and Fire Station classes, we can stay caught up in our lessons. it also helps our parents to see what we’re working on. We’re researching and videotaping surival-in-the-wild strategies. This spring, we’ll be making a public service announcement for the fire station. She’s putting Book Share on our laptops.”

The selection process began in February of this year with eight nominees from elementary, middle and high schools across the state. A district-wide nominating committee prepared the application packet to nominate Shanning for the 2013 Teacher of the Year recognition. Nomination packets were scored by a group of educators, administrators, business partners and past Teachers of the Year to determine the semi-finalists. The semi-finalists then underwent review by a team who spent a day at each of their schools last spring. During the summer, the semi-finalists compiled professional portfolios and gave a scored teaching demonstration to graduate students at the University of Maine. Those with the highest scores were named state finalists and interviewed by past Teachers of the Year to make the final determination.

Shanning will go on to compete in the selection process for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in April 2013 at the White House.

The nomination process for the next Teacher of the Year begins this November. Those interested in nominating a teacher should contact their school principal or visit the Maine Department of Education website at: www.maine.gov/doe/toy.

The Teacher of the Year program is managed by the Maine Department of Education in collaboration with the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association. The program is fully funded by Hannaford Supermarkets, and Bangor Savings Bank is reimbursing the winner’s school district for the cost of substitutes while the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on official duties.

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