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SeDoMoCha music educator named Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — From a pool of over 375 nominations to 16 county winners who were narrowed down to eight semifinalists and three finalists, there is just a single Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year. The honoree is SeDoMoCha School music teacher Kaitlin Young, and the award announcement was made by Maine Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Robert G. Hasson Jr. during a surprise assembly in the school gym on the morning of Oct. 4.

With the entire elementary and middle schools gathered for the presentation, Young walked in and was immediately met with a round of applause. As her students and colleagues continued to cheer, Young took a seat next to her husband Bob and by her parents, in-laws and siblings-in-law.

After Dr. Hasson’s announcement Young, a resident of Stetson who is in her eighth year at the SeDoMoCha School, was recognized by the Dover-Foxcroft delegation to Augusta. Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford said he was principal of SeDoMoCha Middle School “a long, long time ago and it doesn’t surprise me the teacher of the year came from SeDoMoCha — go Eagles!

“This is a very big deal,” he added. Stearns said Piscataquis County covers a large geographic area but there is not a large population.

“This speaks very well to the quality of teachers we have in this county and in this school,” he said.

Rep. Norm Higgins, R-Dover-Foxcroft then presented a Legislative Sentiment to Young and Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville gave her a flag flown in Augusta in her honor. “We have always been blessed with great teachers in Piscataquis County and today we are proud to honor one of them,” Higgins said.

Young, who grew up in Connecticut, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maine in 2010 and completed her master’s degree in music education with a concentration in kodaly pedagogy at The Hartt School in Hartford, Conn. this year. She has held a variety of music education positions in RSU 68 as well as at Foxcroft Academy. Currently she instructs general music with elementary pupils and teaches choral music to students at SeDoMoCha Middle School. Outside of school Young has worked with the Center Theatre as a music director for several student and adult musical productions, and she participates in several community ensembles such as a contemporary a cappella group and a steel pan band.

Maine 2017 Teacher of the Year Tammy Ranger, who works in reading intervention at Skowhegan Area Middle School, stepped to the podium next. Ranger said she was very excited to serve as a judge in the 2018 selection process, and two weeks prior had the opportunity to visit the SeDoMoCha School to learn more about Young.

“I talked to her colleagues and they said she has boundless energy and she is nothing short of superhuman,” Ranger said. “I would say observing her those statements are not exaggerations.”

Ranger said Young worked to grow the chorus by rolling a piano into the hallway “so kids would hear what was going on and they would join.”

The previous top state educator said in Young’s curriculum she does not have her students simply read music but think deeply and actively about how notes are composed. Ranger said these lessons are for third-graders and not middle school students as she had initially thought.

At the end of the presentation Young had the opportunity to say a few words. “This moment is completely surreal, this moment is going to last in my heart and mind for a long time,” she said.

“Today is a day of saying thank you,” Young said, expressing gratitude to the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, the Department of Education and the initiative corporate sponsors.

“We are so fortunate to be teachers and learners and this room is filled with lifelong learners,” she said. Young thanked her family, friends and everyone in attendance“because you are all part of education.”

The Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year honor is to be shared, Young said. “I am so fortunate to be the teacher that I am because of everyone in this room,” she said. “I am so looking forward to sharing it with each and every one of you over the next year.”

After the presentation Young said she was “overwhelmed, excited, honored and humbled,” upon learning she is the Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year. “This is an incredible recognition that I could not wait to share it with my students and my community, it’s been a long whirlwind of a journey” she said.

“I love to be able to experience those ‘ah-ha’ moments and to bring kids together for them to see each other as something more than just a number or a grade,” Young said. “Life is more when you know more and share more, and education is all about that.”

“I am really excited to share and learn and I think what education is all about is asking questions,” Young said, saying is looking forward to, as the teacher of the year, traveling across Maine and the country to learn more about education and work with fellow educators and students and speak on the importance of education in preparing Maine people for the future.

“It has been a surprise every step of the way, and I have just been so excited to share it with the students,” Young said.

Young was nominated by SeDoMoCha School literacy teacher Carolyn Clark and in spring she was named the 2017 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year. From there Young and seven other county honorees became semifinalists and the group began working on their professional portfolios.

After the portfolio review and presentations to a select panel, the field was narrowed to three finalists. The other two finalists were Kasie Giallombardo from Nokomis Regional High School in Newport and Jen England from Noble High School of North Berwick. A school visit and final interview determined the Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
MAINE 2018 TEACHER OF THE YEAR — SeDoMoCha School music educator Kaitlin Young, pictured with her husband Bob, is the Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year. The award announcement was made by Maine Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Robert G. Hasson Jr. during an assembly on the morning of Oct. 4 at the Dover-Foxcroft school.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
VERY PROUD ADMINISTRATORS — Maine 2018 Teacher of the Year Kaitlin Young, center, posed with RSU 68 officials after receiving the honor during a surprise presentation at the SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft on Oct. 4. From left are Assistant Principal Nathan Dyer, Principal Julie Kimball, Young, Superintendent Stacy Shorey and Special Services Director Sue Watson.

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