Each year at its annual conference, Educators for a Multilingual Maine (EMME) recognizes a teacher who has achieved outstanding results in teaching modern or classical languages. This year, EMME presented its 2023 Teacher of the Year award to Annemarie Orth, a Spanish teacher at Casco Bay High School and a world language specialist for the Portland Public Schools.
EMME President Stephanie Carbonneau presented the award to Orth at the organization’s yearly conference, held March 18 at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. EMME was formerly known as the Foreign Language Association of Maine or FLAME, and Carbonneau, a York Middle School French teacher, was FLAME’s 2020 Language Teacher of the Year.
Carbonneau described Orth as an “amazing teacher” who “feels that learning another language gives students another lens to experience the world and believes that world language learning is a critical skill for our 21st century world.”
Colleagues at the Portland Public Schools said Orth is an inspirational teacher who helps students enjoy language learning.
"Profesora Orth is a super dedicated and thoughtful teacher who regularly reflects on her teaching, strives to perfect her craft, and works tirelessly to engage her students in their own learning," said Carlos Gomez, the district's director of language development. "Students leave her classroom more open and more curious about language and cultures because she has made language come alive for them. She is an excellent role model for students and for teachers new to the profession."
“Annemarie's students love her class because learning with Annemarie is more than safe and joyful, it's exuberant and transformational,” said Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce. “Whether Annemarie's students are writing songs or telling invented stories in Spanish, whether they are studying inspirational indigenous artists or connecting with native speakers, Annemarie's students experience in each class the power and thrill of learning a new language.”
Orth joined the Portland Public Schools in 2004. She taught at King Middle School before joining Casco Bay High School and becoming a world language specialist for the district.
Over the years, she has mentored teachers new to the profession, teachers new to the country and recent graduates from local colleges, including from USM and Bowdoin College. She also has taught master classes on teaching and student engagement and she regularly presents at world language conferences both at the local and national level. Additionally, Orth is a member of the Maine Department of Education’s World Language Council and coordinates Seal of Biliteracy testing in the district, as well as language testing for multilingual, immersion and world language students. The Maine Seal of Biliteracy is an award that celebrates the linguistic diversity and language-learning accomplishments of graduating students across the state. Orth is an advocate for multilingualism in schools throughout the state.
At the award presentation, Orth thanked her colleagues and praised them for their work to elevate the value of students’ linguistic diversity.
This is the second time in recent years that a world language teacher at the Portland Public Schools has received the recognition. In 2017, Grecia Caraballo, a Spanish immersion teacher formerly at Lyseth Elementary School, won the Language Teacher of the Year Award.
Photo: EMME President Stephanie Carbonneau (left) presents the EMME Language Teacher of the Year award to CBHS Spanish teacher Annemarie Orth (right)
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.