Mountain Valley teacher nominated for award

RUMFORD – Maureen Goudreau has a way with words. French words, that is.

Because of her unique way of communicating her knowledge of the French language and culture to students with varying learning abilities, she has been nominated Maine Teacher of the Year. She’s made it to the top 10 finalists.

Her classroom tells it all.

There are the usual French words and their English equivalents, and students do use a text and conjugate verbs.

But there is also color and history and art. Madam’s crystal ball sits in a corner, with all the words in French. There’s a poster display showing students from last year’s class preparing for a video postcard to be sent to students in France, one of the ways Boudreau uses various media to evaluate students.

“She is an example of excellence at Mountain Valley High School, one of many here,” said Principal Curt-Randall Bayer, who nominated Goudreau for the honor.

Goudreau is also deeply involved in the school and its committees. And, said Bayer, she’s a real go-getter.

“In this age of tight budgetary restraints, many projects have been funded through her efforts to get grants,” she said.

Just recently, Goudreau received a $5,000 grant from the Oak Grove School Foundation in Waterville that will fund a series of six student-created videos to teach other students to speak and understand French.

In some ways, Goudreau owes thanks to her white-coated, yellow-eyed cat, Just Moon, for where she is now. About five years ago, the teacher won $10,000 in an advertising contest for Sheba cat food. Her photo of Just Moon holding an artist’s brush in his mouth in front of a container of the upscale cat food was chosen from the thousands of entries made.

With the help of that money, Goudreau went to the Sorbonne in Paris and earned a certificate in French language and culture.

She later earned a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, and worked as a special education technician. After stints in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds, she became a high school French teacher at MVHS three years ago.

Goudreau grew up in Rumford in a family with a French background. She had learned and lost the language a couple of times before earning a French degree.

Teaching is something she believes fits in with her creativity, imagination, and desire to keep the language.

“I really like the kids a lot and feel it is important to use your imagination in your work, to look at things differently. A lot of adults get out of this. Teaching French meant I would keep the language,” she said.

A team of education-related agencies and organizations will visit her classroom this week as part of judging and identifying Maine’s Teacher of the Year. Goudreau, who had the support of not only the principal but also of other staff, parents, students and community members for the honor, will know in August whether she made it to the final three. The Maine Teacher of the Year will be named in September.

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