AUGUSTA — The top teacher from each of Maine’s 16 counties was announced Thursday during a Teacher Appreciation Week celebration at the State House.

The 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected this fall from the 16 honorees.

The Maine County Teachers of the Year for the tri-county area are: Androscoggin County, Debra Miller of Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston; Franklin County, Brenda LaVerdiere of Academy Hill School in Wilton; and Oxford County, Laurie Catanese of Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris.

First lady Ann LePage and Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin thanked teachers for their service while announcing the county winners.

“On behalf of Maine’s 180,000 students, I want to congratulate these excellent educators and the thousands of others like them working in our schools for their tireless commitment to our children and our communities,” Desjardin said in a news release.

“What makes the 16 County Teachers of the Year and so many others across our state great, is that they believe in every single child they teach,” he said. “Instead of making excuses, they inspire students and instill them with the skills and confidence they need to realize their incredible potential, no matter their challenges.”

Three state finalists and the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year will be chosen and named by the education commissioner at a surprise, all-school assembly this fall.

Maine’s teachers of the year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students and efforts underway in schools to better prepare graduates for college, career and civic life. Those honored Thursday will now move forward in an intensive selection process that will include the creation of a video of their classroom teaching, school visits and an interview with a selection panel.

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization working to ensure Maine’s students and workers are highly skilled.

The other 13 county honorees named Thursday were: Aroostook, Susan Beaulier of Ashland District School; Cumberland, Talya Edlund of Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth; Hancock, Mickie Flores of Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School; Kennebec, Gretchen Nickerson of Helen Thompson School in West Gardiner; Knox, Fallyn Adams of Union Elementary School; Lincoln, Jennifer Wright Gregg of Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta; Penobscot, Angela McLaughlin of Glenburn Elementary School; Piscataquis, Mia Morrison of Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft; Sagadahoc, Johnna Stanton of Morse High School in Bath; Somerset, Debora Tanner of Skowhegan Area Middle School; Waldo, Kathryn Foran of Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport; Washington, Ben Brigham of Shead High School in Eastport; and York, Nick Wilson of Biddeford High School.

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