AUGUSTA – Fifteen educators were honored at the State Capitol this week, after having been selected as the 2019 County Teachers of the Year. Among them was Spruce Mountain’s Robert Taylor, who is Franklin County’s award recipient.
Taylor, a science teacher well known in Regional School Unit 73 for his work with students in the school and the community, was nominated by student Lily Bailey. He was then selected from a pool of many other Franklin County teachers by a panel of teachers, principals and business community members. He and 14 other county finalists will be next considered for the Maine Teacher of the Year.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Taylor said. “I’m really grateful to be selected.” He went on to credit Bailey, a student he taught for three years, as well as his wife, Julie Taylor, who teaches math at Spruce Mountain Middle School.
Taylor said that the process had enabled him to spend time with the rest of the 2019 cohort, as well as past county and state winners. It was “amazing” to see all of the fantastic teachers in the state, he said.
The State Teacher of the Year selection process is intensive, requiring written reflections of each candidate’s teaching and the submission of a video showcasing instructional practices. Taylor said that the process had helped him identify some new ideas he was looking forward to trying.
Taylor has been the coach for the Spruce Mountain’s Envirothon team for 20 years, helping guide students as they tackle projects relating to disciplines such as soil science, forestry, wildlife and aquatic ecology. Taylor and his students have branched out into a variety of other, related projects, including the upcoming watershed study of Moose Hill Pond and Parker Pond – sources of drinking water for the Livermore Falls Water District – work with the Androscoggin Land Trust and planting experimental chestnut trees as part of a joint project with the American Chestnut Foundation and Maine Forestry Service.
“I’ve always tried to get kids involved with things outside of the school,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that he wanted to see the Envirothon program expanded into more schools in Maine, where he felt it was underutilized. The competition offered an opportunity for students to apply science in the real world in a fun and effective way, Taylor said.
As part of Thursday’s visit to Augusta, Taylor was also recognized with a presentation of legislative sentiment for his achievement. The legislative sentiment was presented to Taylor by Sen. Russell Black (R – Wilton).
The next step in the Maine Teacher of the Year Award process will be to narrow the field to eight semi-finalists who will begin working on their professional portfolios, which is a component of the National Teacher of the Year process. After the portfolio review and presentations to a select panel, the field will be narrowed to three finalists. In October, the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected after a school site visit and final interview.
The Maine Teacher of the Year Award process is overseen by Educate Maine, an organization that advocates and studies educational policy and practice, on behalf of the Maine Department of Education.
A complete list of this year’s County Teachers of the Year can be seen here:
- Androscoggin County: Shawn Rice, Edward Little High School, Auburn
- Aroostook County: Kim Barnes, Caribou Middle School
- Cumberland County: Heather Whitaker, Gorham Middle School
- Franklin County: Robert Taylor, Spruce Mountain Middle/High School, Jay
- Hancock County: Nell Herrmann, Blue Hill Consolidated School
- Kennebec County: Emily Bowen, Hall-Dale Middle/High School, Farmingdale
- Knox County: Thomas Gray, Camden Hills Regional High School
- Oxford County: Linda Andrews, Buckfield Junior/Senior High School, Hartford -Sumner Elementary
- Penobscot County: Tracy Deschaine, Orono Middle School
- Piscataquis County: Bobbi Tardif, SeDoMoCha School, Dover-Foxcroft
- Sagadahoc County: Charles Bingham, Morse High School, Bath
- Somerset County: Katherine Bertini, Madison Junior High School
- Waldo County: Ashley Reynolds, Captain Albert Stevens School, Belfast
- Washington County: Jeanna Carver, Jonesport Elementary School
- York County: Ethel Atkinson, Bonny Eagle Middle School, Buxton
- Lincoln County did not have a nominee who both met the criteria and completed the application process.
Congratulations to Mr. Taylor! The kids at Spruce Mountain are lucky to have you!!