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CBHS Teacher 2023 Teacher of Year Semifinalist!

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CBHS Teacher 2023 Teacher of Year Semifinalist!
Posted on 06/17/2022
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Casco Bay High School social studies teacher Matt Bernstein, recently chosen as 2022 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, has now received another honor: He is among eight County Teachers of the Year named as 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year semifinalists.

Bernstein and the seven other exemplary educators chosen as semifinalists will continue to serve as 2022 County Teachers of the Year, with the added role and responsibility of the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year selection process. 

Bernstein is among 16 teachers – one from each of Maine’s counties – honored May 12 in the annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. The 16 were selected from a pool of hundreds of teachers nominated by a member of their school community, as part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program.

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 continue to participate in an intensive selection process for the 2023 Maine State Teacher of the Year.

Now eight of those teachers, including Bernstein, have been chosen to advance in that selection process.

“We applaud Maine's wisdom in recognizing Matt's excellence as a teacher (and human),” said Casco Bay Principal Derek Pierce. “Matt consistently represents and demonstrates the best of who we are as educators.”

Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana said, “The Portland Public Schools is very proud of Matt for advancing to the next phase of this highly competitive selection process. Matt is an example of teaching excellence in Portland’s public schools, and his selection as a semifinalist is clear evidence of that.”

Bernstein credited colleagues and his students for helping and inspiring him. “I remain humbled and grateful for this recognition and opportunity,” he said. “None of this would be possible without the guidance and support that I have received from so many at the Portland Public Schools. I am so fortunate to work alongside tremendous educators and inspiring students on a daily basis.”

Dolly Sullivan, program director and state coordinator of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, noted that the selection process for Maine Teacher of the Year is rigorous. “As we say, this is not a ‘crown and sash’ pageant,” she said. “Teachers participate in a year-long professional learning journey with the support of their cohort and the program partners: Educate Maine, Maine Department of Education, Maine State Board of Education and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association.”

The next step for the eight semifinalists will be a “Presentations, Panels and Portfolios” session on July 28 at the University of Maine. The teachers will give a mock keynote speech, and participate in an expert panel discussion on the topics of classroom instruction, education policy and teacher leadership. Additionally, they must submit a portfolio that is based on the National Teacher of the Year application. “So much for a summer break!” Sullivan said.

Bernstein is in his eighth year of teaching Humanities at Casco Bay. 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.”

The list of eight semifinalists is as follows:

      Aroostook: Heather Anderson, Caribou Community School, RSU 39

      Cumberland: Matt Bernstein, Casco Bay High School, Portland

      Hancock: Rebecca Edmondson, Conners-Emerson School (Bar Harbor), AOS91

      Oxford:  Ashley Bryant, Sacopee Valley Middle School, MSAD 55

      Penobscot: Emily Albee, Hampden Academy, RSU 22

      Sagadahoc: Katie Clark, Bath Regional Career and Technical Center

      Somerset: Debra Susi, Maine Central Institute 

      Waldo: Nancy Nickerson, Captain Albert Stevens School, RSU 71

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

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.