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CBHS Teacher 2022 County Teacher of Year!

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CBHS Teacher 2022 County Teacher of Year!
Posted on 05/12/2022
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Matt Bernstein, who teaches humanities/social studies at Casco Bay High School, has been selected as the 2022 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.

Bernstein is among the 16 teachers – one from each of Maine’s counties – being honored at a 2 p.m. ceremony today, Thursday, May 12, at the State Capitol as part of the annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. Governor Janet Mills, and Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin are expected to be among those in attendance.

As part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, hundreds of teachers across Maine are nominated by a member of their school community. Through a rigorous application process, one teacher from each county is selected as the County Teacher of the Year by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members within the county.

Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide throughout the year. The County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Throughout the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive selection process for the 2023 Maine State Teacher of the Year.

Matt Bernstein will be an outstanding ambassador for education, according to Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce.

“Matt earns my unconditional, unabashed, unrelenting, full-throated recommendation for this great honor. At a time when we absolutely have to lure more of the next generation’s best to the teaching profession, Matt Bernstein would be a winning spokesperson. He’s a transformative educator,” Pierce said. “Matt is beloved by students and colleagues for his excellence, his exuberance and his splendid humanity. Whether you are a kid or veteran principal, Matt is the person you want to grow up to be: precociously wise, preternaturally compassionate, and as profoundly humble as skilled.”

“The Portland Public Schools is incredibly proud of Matt for being selected for this honor,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “The People goal in the Portland Promise, our strategic plan, commits us to striving to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers, and Matt is clearly an example of teaching excellence in Portland’s public schools. He embodies the Teacher of the Year criteria of guiding students of all abilities and backgrounds to achieve excellence, and creating a school culture of respect and success.”

Bernstein is in his eighth year of teaching Humanities at Casco Bay High. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Bowdoin College. He previously taught world history and U.S. history at The Greene School, an EL Education school in West Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Bernstein was nominated for Cumberland County Teacher of the Year by former student Yusur Jasim, a member of the Casco Bay Class of 2021, who now attends Bowdoin College. They wrote that he inspired them to become a teacher. “He showed me how much a teacher can impact a student's life,” Jasim wrote in their nomination letter. “My goal right now is to be someone else's Mr. Bernstein when I become a teacher.”

Jasim, who came to the U.S. from Turkey knowing very little English, said Bernstein helped them succeed. “As a new English learner, I struggled a great amount in classes, and if it wasn't for Mr. Bernstein's support, I wouldn't be where I am today,” they wrote. “I lost count of the number of times I went to him for help. It didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't the only one. Many of my classmates went to him for help, even when they struggled with classes other than his.”

Jasim cited other examples of Bernstein’s dedication, such as going out of his way to create a pronunciation guide of students’ names for staff so everyone could pronounce them correctly. “What impressed me the most, though, is that he was still able to meet our individual needs while doing all of this,” they wrote. “Mr. Bernstein succeeds in being very thoughtful with the ‘small details’ that mean a great deal to students.”

Bernstein said, “I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be named Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. I am deeply grateful to all the people who have supported me throughout my teaching career, from administrators and school leaders to colleagues and families. I’ve learned so much from them and they continue to guide me on a daily basis. I am especially grateful for the amazing students that I have had the privilege to work with. They inspire me every day and give me the gift of having the best job in the world.”

Other Portland Public Schools teachers honored in the past decade by the Maine Teacher of the Year Program are Cindy Soule, a literacy coach at Talbot Community School who was 2020 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year and 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year; Brooke Teller, the district’s STEM coordinator, who was the 2017 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year; and Karen MacDonald, a King Middle School teacher, now retired, who was the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year. In addition, Talya Edlund, now a math coach at Lyseth Elementary School, was the 2015 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year and the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year when she taught in Cape Elizabeth. 

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program is administered through a collaborative partnership with Educate Maine.

The 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year ceremony will be streamed live on the Maine Department of Education’s YouTube Channel, where a recording of the video also will be available. Read the DOE's announcement about all 16 County Teachers of the Year for 2022.

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. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.