2015-10-09 / People

Cape Elizabeth teacher wins top award

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer


Talya Edlund, right, a Grade 3 teacher at in Cape Elizabeth’s Pond Cove Elementary School, is presented with the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year Award by Rachelle Tome, acting deputy commissioner of education, at a surprise school assembly Oct. 5. (Courtesy photo) Talya Edlund, right, a Grade 3 teacher at in Cape Elizabeth’s Pond Cove Elementary School, is presented with the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year Award by Rachelle Tome, acting deputy commissioner of education, at a surprise school assembly Oct. 5. (Courtesy photo) CAPE ELIZABETH — A third-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth has been touted as Maine’s best.

The announcement was made at a surprise assembly at the school on Monday, where Acting Deputy Commissioner of Education Rachelle Tome announced Talya Edlund had been selected as the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Edlund, who has been a teacher for 15 years, the past 12 in Maine, exemplifies how innovative teaching can be, Tome said

“Talya Edlund embodies those exemplary characteristics we have seen in all of the stellar educators identified as 2015 County Teachers of the Year,” Tome said. “With her ‘think-out-of-the-box’ approach to problem solving, tenacious attitude for overcoming challenges, zest for staying at the cutting edge of her craft, and uncanny insight into the needs of her students and colleagues, she is the teacher we all want our children to have and the colleague we hope to work with. Talya is a true inspiration and role model.”

Edlund, now in her 11th year at Pond Cove, was one of 300 nominees for the award from across the state. From that group, she emerged in May as the pick for Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. Then, in August, the Department of Education announced she was one of three finalists for the top prize along with Brenda LaVerdiere, a Grade 4 teacher at Academy Hill School in Wilton, and Mia Morrison, an English teacher and media interventionist at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.

Edlund was ushered into Monday’s ceremony to the accompaniment of wild cheers from her students and fellow teachers at Pond Cove.

“I’m so, so grateful to every single one of you that’s here,” she said, speaking though tears. “It’s because of you. It’s because of the parents and the students — my beautiful, amazing students.”

Edlund has said she chose to become an educator after being inspired by a teacher of her own, a French tutor, early in life.

“I learned that teaching is a language,” she said. “That language is not always precise and it is rarely ever the same, but teaching is dynamic and good teaching is always relevant.”

As the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, Edlund will travel throughout the state as an ambassador for her craft. According to a Maine Department of Education press release, she will act in that role, “to advocate for teachers, students and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, careers and civic life.”

She’ll also speak at a host of national teaching forums alongside other state winners, spend a week at NASA Space Camp and visit the White House.

All of this will come at no cost to taxpayers, statewide or locally, Tome said.

As a program sponsor, Bangor Savings Bank will reimburse the Cape school department for the cost of substitute teachers while Edlund is away from the classroom on her official duties.

The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness and increased education. Funding is provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger and Hannaford with support from the Maine Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to highlight and showcase Maine’s exemplary teachers,” said Ed Cervone, executive director of Educate Maine, in a statement. “The goal is to build a statewide network of teacher leaders and Talya Edlund exemplifies innovative student-centered teaching and high-quality instructional practices.”

“Today we celebrate you and your love of teaching,” Tome told Edlund, as she read a congratulatory letter from Gov. Paul LePage, who wrote, “Through your teaching, you foster a sense of self-reliance, a love for learning, an independence, and endless encouragement for students.”

“We are so fortunate to have you work with us at Pond Cove,” Principal Kelly Hanson told Edlund. “All at Pond Cove adore you.”

However, Edlund reserved all praise for who students, who cheered exuberantly throughout the hour-long presentation.

“You make my job an adventure every day,” she told the youngsters, clustered on the floor at the foot of the stage.

“Thank you for showing me kindness and creativity. With those things, anything is possible.”

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