MAINE, USA — Cindy Soule, a fourth-grade teacher at Riverton Elementary School, is the 2020 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.
Soule was among the 16 teachers – one from each of Maine’s counties – honored in a virtual ceremony today as part of the Maine Department of Education’s annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. The teachers were nominated by a member of their school community and were selected by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members through a rigorous application process.
Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education statewide. Soule and the other 15 members of the group also are now in the running for Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each fall to one teacher in Maine. Throughout the summer, the County Teachers of the Year will continue to participate in an intensive Teacher of the Year selection process.
Riverton Principal Ann Hanna wrote a letter in support of the nomination of Soule, who has taught at Riverton for 20 years. Hanna described Soule as “exceptional” and “outstanding.”
“Cindy is very deserving of this honor and I am very proud to be her principal,” Hanna said this week. “She is so skilled at engaging students in learning about literacy through studying science phenomena. She knows how to tap into children's natural curiosity about our world as a way into new learning. It is a pleasure to cheer her on and watch her teach.”
Hanna added, “Cindy is highly reflective of her practice and is committed to life-long learning to improve her teaching and her impact on student learning. She is a caring teacher who enjoys pushing herself and asking deep questions about best practices.”
At Riverton, Soule also serves on the school’s Leadership Team, mentors new teachers in literacy instruction, does professional development work during the school year and over the summer and participates in the Ambitious Science Teaching Book Club.
“The Portland Public Schools congratulates Cindy for being selected for this well-deserved honor,” said Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana. “County Teachers of the Year are selected for their exemplary service in education and their dedication to their students, and Cindy clearly fits that description. As part of the People goal in the Portland Promise, our strategic plan, we strive to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers, and Cindy is an exceptional example of teaching excellence in Portland’s public schools.”
Soule described receiving the honor as “incredibly meaningful,” and credited her colleagues at Riverton, one of Portland’s most diverse schools, with helping to foster a supportive environment for teachers and students.
“I have been very fortunate to work with an incredibly committed and devoted group of educators,’ Soule said. “Together we have held our students at the center of all that we do and we have grown, adapted and created a learning community where students can succeed. Each day I see my colleagues invest themselves fully into their work and it is an incredible honor to represent the work educators from not only Riverton but across PPS and Cumberland County. I look forward to the opportunity to connect with the other County Teachers of the Year and the communities of learners they represent. Together we will also have an opportunity to pool our resources, ask questions, identify needs and learn from one another.”
RELATED: Maine engineering teacher creates emergency ventilator with students, wants to share with world
Soule, who said she is passionate about teaching science, was chosen in April of this year as a Fund for Teachers Fellow, along with Riverton teachers Allison Richards and Taryn Southard. The three have been awarded a grant they plan to use to explore phenomena in Hawaii related to earth, physical, and life science units. They will use their research to create opportunities for organic student-driven inquiry aligned to next generation science standards and applied across the district.
Soule was nominated for Cumberland County Teacher of the Year by Brooke Teller, the district’s STEM coordinator, who was the 2017 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.
Soule holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Maine and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Maine, Orono. She taught for a year in the Auburn School Department before joining the Portland Public Schools.