LEWISTON – Michel Courchesne, teacher at the Lewiston Middle School, is the 2005 recipient of the Maine Education Association’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He received the award on May 22 at an awards dinner in Bangor.

Courchesne has taught middle school students for 25 years. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern Maine and is a team leader, mentor for new teachers and a member of several professional development and curriculum committees.

Courchesne is a member of the Foreign Language Association of Maine, serves as secretary for the Friends of the Lewiston Library Board and a leader of Holy Cross Church. He chairs the Pride Committee, chaperones dances, referees floor hockey games and supports students in many areas.

Under his guidance, students filmed award winning videos about their Franco-American heritage as part of service-learning projects for the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston.

Sue Grondin, a colleague from the Lewiston Education Association, explains in her nomination:

“He invites students to submerge themselves into aspects of language beyond vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. He encourages connecting with one’s heritage and culture. Michel recognizes the importance of conversations with individuals to gain knowledge about traditions and history.”

In his own words, Courchesne said, “What I have discovered is a way to find common ground that both the students and I can work on. As an educational practitioner, I have searched for experiences beyond the daily curriculum. I have tried to help my students take that step to make what they are learning personal. The more kids feel they own what they are learning, the more enthusiastic they become as learners.”

The Award for Teaching Excellence is underwritten by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which provides a $1,000 cash prize and pays for Maine’s winner to participate in the National Education Association’s Teaching Excellence competition.


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