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Poland, Winterport teachers win $25,000 Milken awards

Hillary Hoyt and Jamie Karaffa were honored Tuesday with the awards, which come with a $25,000 prize.

MAINE, Maine — Two Maine teachers from Poland and Winterport have been named 2022 Milken Educators, an honor that carries a $25,000 prize.

Hillary Hoyt teaches third grade at Leroy H. Smith in Winterport, and Jamie Karaffa is an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland.

Each was honored during a ceremony Tuesday at their school.

"Hillary Hoyt is a leader, both in her classroom and in her community, and she exemplifies the qualities of a Milken Educator: innovation, creativity, and inspirational leadership," Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop said in a release. "Her innovative approach to education is creating a pathway to success for each student in her classroom, and for that, we celebrate her here today."  

Hoyt holds a bachelor's in elementary education from the University of Maine.

Credit: Milken Family Foundation

"Hillary Hoyt's passion and dedication to her students, school, and community is truly awe-inspiring," Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin said, in part. "Her interdisciplinary teaching approach engages and excites her students and fosters a love of learning. Hillary is a trusted mentor and a leader in sharing her innovation and creativity with other educators. She also finds ways to support students and families beyond her classroom, whether as a dance instructor or providing free books to children over the summer."  

Jamie Karaffa, an eighth-grade social studies teacher in Poland, was honored for her service as a classroom and community leader, innovative approach to creating classroom-to-life connections that make history come alive for her students, and ability to challenge and inspire students to think critically about important historical issues and current events.  

"Jamie makes ancient history feel just as relevant to her students as today's current affairs, and both come alive in her classroom," Bishop said in a release. "She challenges her students to think critically and become engaged citizens of their community — and that is a learning outcome that can truly last a lifetime. For her excellent work in and out of the classroom, we are thrilled to present her with this award today."

Credit: Milken Family Foundation

"Jamie Karaffa makes history come alive for her students by creating immersive, project-based opportunities that build connections between the past and present-day while also fostering the critical thinking and leadership skills needed to be engaged and empowered citizens," Makin said in part. "Her passion, creativity, and leadership extend to her role as a soccer coach and as a curriculum leader in her district and beyond."

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