AUGUSTA — Three Maine teachers have been announced as state finalists for the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year program, among them Winterport teacher Hillary Hoyt. The finalists were chosen from the 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year, who were honored earlier this year during a special virtual ceremony which was viewed over 2,000 times.

“All 16 County Teachers of the Year exemplify the amazing dedication and creative spirit of Maine’s educators,” said Pender Makin, Maine commissioner of education. “These finalists have been selected for their passion, vision and advocacy for education and for Maine students, and each will be an outstanding ambassador on behalf of all educators in our state.”

The Maine Teacher of the Year program honors outstanding teachers who represent the thousands of excellent educators in Maine. Maine’s Teacher of the Year serves as an advocate for the teaching profession, education and students, and represents Maine in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Each educator was nominated by a member of their community for their exemplary service in education and dedication to their students. They were selected by a distinguished panel of teachers, principals, and business community members from a pool of hundreds of other nominated teachers in their communities.

The Maine Department of Education, Educate Maine, Maine State Board of Education and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association announced Aug. 24 that Hillary Hoyt (Waldo County), Paige Fournier (Cumberland County) and Kelsey Stoyanova (Penobscot County) are moving on as 2022 state finalists.

Hillary Hoyt

“I am honored to be a finalist and be able to share my belief in the importance of engaging our students with their learning, each other, and the community,” Hoyt said. “Through this, we can show them that their dreams can come true!”

A third grade teacher at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport, Hoyt teaches math, reading, writing, social studies, and her favorite subject, science. It is no surprise that she is also the elementary science leader. Hoyt received her Bachelor of Science degree in education, with a concentration in liberal arts and minors in dance and English, from the University of Maine.

A nationally board-certified teacher, her goal is to excite learners and show them how learning and reflecting can open new horizons. From classroom transformations such as Underwater Day to creating a rehabilitation center for animals through project-based learning using math and research skills, she aims to engage students in every lesson. On any given day, you may see her students being secret agents of the Fairytale Bureau of Investigation or engineers collaboratively building a dam while learning about natural disasters. Hoyt strives to create problem-solvers, reflective thinkers and creative designers in her classroom and beyond.

Through her experience as a classroom teacher, dance teacher, and coach at Husson University, she sees the importance of conversation, community, and connection. In all her positions, she works to have students understand how to share and listen to each other. She hopes to have students learn how they are part of the community and the importance of their role. As for connection, her goal is for her students to see their relationship to each other, their community, and most importantly, the world.

Paige Fournier

“I am honored to represent RSU-5 through the MTOY process,” Dr. Paige Fournier said. “I look forward to amplifying the voices and experiences of all students — particularly those that struggle — in an effort

Paige Fournier

to ensure all students thrive, grow, and feel empowered to make changes in their lives.”

Fournier is a middle level special educator at Freeport Middle School. She began volunteering in a special education classroom as a high school student and discovered it was her life-long passion immediately. Fournier earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in special education/elementary education at C.W. Post – Long Island University while playing Division II soccer and lacrosse, winning a national championship in lacrosse. She frequently references her athletic experiences as part of her drive to empower and advocate for students.

Fournier holds a Master’s Degree in special education from New England College, where she also most recently earned her Doctorate of Education in K-12 leadership. In her studies she researched the impact of mindfulness on the general mental health and wellness of students at the middle level.

Fournier is a representative assembly board member of the Maine Council for Exceptional Children, co-chair of the RSU-5 Wellness Committee, a member of the leadership team, a local and global teacher mentor, and a board member of the Freeport United Soccer Club. She has presented at conferences across New England, has been published in the New England College Journal of Applied Educational Research, and has successfully co-written grants to support technology, school gardens and a school-based greenhouse, and social emotional programs. She is passionate about inclusive practices and advocating for the success of all students, particularly those students that face adversity.

Kelsey Stoyanova

“In the midst of a pandemic where uncertainties have been abundant, my journey with Maine Teacher of the Year has made it certainly clear — Maine educators know that what is best for students is to listen to them, know them as humans first and value their ideas, and then learn alongside them,” Stoyanova said.

Kelsey Stoyanova

“I’m proud to represent my students and colleagues in RSU-22, Penobscot County, and our state to continue to advocate that we prioritize representation, choice, and voice of ALL students in our schools, in our curriculum, and in education policy.”

Stoyanova is an eighth grade language arts teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School, part of Regional School Unit 22 in Hampden. Stoyanova has a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education with an English concentration, a Master’s Degree in education with a literacy focus, and is working toward her Educational Specialist degree in educational leadership — all as a University of Maine Black Bear.

Stoyanova is passionate about reading and helping students find an authentic love of reading through integrating a strong foundation of independent reading in her classroom. She was selected as a grant recipient by the Book Love Foundation in 2020. As an advocate for student involvement in curriculum creation, Stoyanova became the RSU-22 middle level language arts curriculum leader, working to audit, align and enhance the curriculum.

She serves on the Equity in Education Committee where she designed and implemented the RSU-22 Reads Three Reading Challenge for students and community members to participate in, thus far highlighting BIPOC authors and characters, women in literature, AAPI voices, and LGBTQIA+ authors and characters. In addition to these roles, Stoyanova is sought out as a technology enthusiast and mentor, and loves to share and design creative projects and assessments with her colleagues in all content areas.

After school, you can find her going on outdoor Maine adventures with her family, or with her nose in a book which she will undoubtedly talk about in class tomorrow.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine. The announcement will be in October after the final stages of the selection process are complete.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year program is administered through a unique partnership with Educate Maine, the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA) and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family, and Unum.

For more information about the Maine County Teacher of the Year Program and to see a list of County Teachers of the Year, and Maine Teachers of the Year, visit http://www.mainetoy.org.