LEWISTON — Kelsey Boucher knows the name of every one of Connors Elementary School’s nearly 700 students.

As students filed into the gym Wednesday morning for an assembly held in her honor, the art teacher rattled off name after name to Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline.

Not only does she know their names, school administrators say Boucher has a talent for creating deep, genuine connections with her students, no matter their background or artistic ability.

It’s just one reason the Lewiston-native was named the 2022 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year last week.

Every year, the state receives nominations from schools across Maine. Following a rigorous selection process, which includes interviews, essays and letters of recommendation, one educator is chosen from each county.

Boucher and 15 other teachers in Maine – including Stacy Augustine of Mt. Blue school district in Franklin County and Ashley Bryant of Sacopee Valley school district in Oxford County – are now in the running for Maine Teacher of the Year.


School administrators say Boucher was a clear choice to nominate for the award, both for her leadership among students and staff, but also for the welcoming space she has created within her classroom.

Students at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston line up Wednesday morning  to hug art teacher Kelsey Boucher after she was honored as Teacher of the Year for Androscoggin County during a school assembly. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Kelsey celebrates all students,” Principal Donald Ferrara said. “You may have the most innate talent in the world and be able to really pick up on this medium, and the child that doesn’t have that will feel just as special in her room, because this is what they could do. And this is their best, and their best is good enough.”

Chief Academic Officer Susan Williams said every time she visits Boucher’s classroom, she finds students from grades other than the class being taught. Students who have a difficult time in class or who want to do art during recess are able to head to her classroom during the day.

“She accepts every kid for who they are and has that magical way of sort of figuring out just what that kid needs in terms of words and tone and opportunity,” said Williams, who nominated Boucher for the award.

Beyond her work in the classroom, Boucher is also the co-adviser for Connors’ Civil Rights Team, a role she shares with 2018 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year Nesrene Griffin.

The Maine Civil Rights Team Project is a statewide school program aimed at reducing bias-motivated behaviors and harassment in schools. Connors’ team consists of fourth, fifth and sixth graders who stay after school every other week.


After Civil Rights Team students came to Boucher and Griffin with concerns about behaviors within Connors, the two teachers led professional development training to help other educators learn about unconscious bias and equity work in schools.

“It was very well received by staff,” Ferrara said. “It’s one of the ones that got the most comments back (from) teachers that feel they really gained something that’s important from it.”

Boucher and Griffin also facilitated a self-writing reflection activity among the entire fourth and fifth grade class called “Just Because.”

“It’s each kid, sort of celebrating who they are and who they aren’t, sort of pushing back on those student stereotypes,” Williams described.

Connors Elementary School students Altino DaSilva, left, and Hibo Dagane hold a sign Wednesday morning in the Lewiston school’s gym honoring teacher Kelsey Boucher, background, as Teacher of the Year for Androscoggin County. It was the first time the entire Connors community has been in one place since the school opened in August 2019, serving 650 students. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Boucher likes to call herself a third-generation graduate of Lewiston schools. Her grandparents and parents were taught in the district. Now, Boucher’s children attend Lewiston schools.

“Lewiston Public Schools, whether I was part of it or not, was always part of me in some way,” she said.


After graduating from the University of Southern Maine with bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education, Lewiston schools felt like “where I’m supposed to be,” she said.

The strong relationships among staff sets Connors apart from other schools: “I would feel very comfortable going to anybody in this building and asking them to collaborate, and I think that they would say the same,” Boucher said.

Energetic pop music greeted students and staff members as they gathered together Wednesday, the first time the entire Connors community has ever been in one place since the school was opened in 2019.

The assembly was primarily called to recognize Boucher, however administrators took the opportunity to celebrate all of the Connors educators.

Telling teachers to cover their ears, Superintendent Jake Langlais asked students to repeat after him.

When teachers uncovered their ears, they were met with a deafening roar: “I appreciate you!” the students yelled. One lucky teacher even received a hug.

“We will have another Teacher of the Year from this school,” Ferrara said. “There’s no question in my mind, we will. So it’s just a question of who’s going to take that next step next.”

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