AUGUSTA — On National Teacher Appreciation Day, three regional teachers were among 16 statewide named Teacher of the Year for their county during a State House ceremony.

The Tuesday ceremony was part of an expanded Maine Teacher of the Year program, in which top teachers are named for each county. From that group of 16, a Maine Teacher of the Year will be named in September.

Local winners were Gordon “Skip” Crosby of of Poland Regional High School for Androscoggin County; Sarah Reynolds of Cascade Brook School in Farmington for Franklin County; and Jeffrey Bailey of Mountain Valley High School in Rumford for Oxford County.

Crosby, 50, said he’s “honored to represent my school, district, county and state.” What he likes best about teaching “is my students, the challenge of making my curriculum about them,” he said. He works to personalize his teaching about topics important to his students. When teaching colors in Spanish, “I teach the colors of their dog or their car. It’s about them.”

A group of his students attended the ceremony. Ainsley Parent, 16, said Crosby’s award “is well-deserved. I can see it in the classroom. Mr. Crosby is very attentive to his students.”

Reynolds, 34, who teaches fourth grade in Farmington, said she was taken aback by the honor, that Franklin County is a large county and she works with “some amazing teachers. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for everybody I work alongside of.”

What she loves best about her job “is the kids, they come first,” Reynolds said. “And a love of learning.” She said that every day there’s something new, whether it’s helping a student understand a new concept or implementing a technique in class. “The constant change, I love that.”

Bailey, 37, has taught all of his 16 years at Mountain Valley, first English, later technology. He said a big perk of his job is how “my students challenge the way you think. You get to challenge them. That relationship is an amazing experience, to see their excitement when they figure something out.”

All three teachers said they engage students by getting to know them individually, understanding what motivates each, then using that to relate lessons.

“If you can show them that connection it will bring them along,” Bailey said.

During the ceremony, Peter Geiger of the Maine Board of Education called the 16 teachers “outstanding professionals who represent thousands of excellent teachers in Maine.” This year the nomination process was simplified, which resulted “in a significant increase in the number of teachers nominated,” Geiger said. County selection teams were made up of distinguished community members.

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier asked teachers “to please know how much you are valued, respected and trusted,” not just on Teacher Appreciation Day, but every day.

There’s no greater calling than preparing children to have the skills they’ll need after they leave school, Rier said. “Yet yours is a calling that is increasingly becoming more challenging” as needs of students grow, and teachers are expected to meet individual needs of students.

Others named teachers of the year for their counties were Kara Beal of Aroostook, Sarah Brokofsky of Cumberland, Andrea Beardsley of Hancock, Daniel Crocker of Kennebec, Kristi Todd of Knox, Cordelia Chase of Lincoln, Victoria Grotton of Penobscot, Dyan McCarthy-Clark of Piscataquis, Eric Varney of Sagadahoc, Jennifer Dorman of Somerset, Phyllis Frkuska-Heeren of Waldo, Ann Luginbuhl of Washington and Kate Smith of York County.

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