March 4, 2010

A-plus for Mr. Grover

KELLEY BOUCHARD

— By

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer; Thursday. Sept.17,2009. Kevin Grover, a second grade teacher at D.W. Lunt School in Falmouth, has been named the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year.

click image to enlarge

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer; Thursday. Sept.17,2009. Kevin Grover, a second grade teacher at D.W. Lunt School in Falmouth, has been named the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. Here he gets a kiss from his wife Rebecca as friends and collegues applaude before the ceremony.

Staff Writer

FALMOUTH — Kevin Grover found a typographical error on the banner that the Lunt School received Thursday when he was named 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year.

To fix it, Grover kneeled before the crowd in the gymnasium and pinned a letter ''s'' at the end of the word ''Teacher,'' making Lunt the ''2010 Maine Teachers of the Year School.''

''This is not about me -- well, maybe a little bit,'' said Grover, 37, drawing laughter from the audience.

Overcome with emotion, Grover struggled to continue speaking as he shared the award with all of the teachers in his life, including his parents, his wife and children, his students and his colleagues.

''Because of the teachers of my past and present, I've been able to get here,'' Grover said.

Students, staff and others praised the second-grade teacher for his kindness, intelligence and creativity in building a solid foundation for successful students and involved citizens.

''Mr. Grover is an awesome teacher,'' Noah Barney, one of Grover's former students, wrote in a letter supporting Grover's nomination. Noah, 10, is now a fourth-grader at Falmouth's Plummer-Motz School.

''He inspired me,'' Noah explained after the ceremony. ''He encouraged me to read more. He made me like math. He understands that kids need help in different ways. He knows how to help kids learn.''

Education Commissioner Susan Gendron presented the award during a morning assembly of students, staff members and dignitaries. To make it a surprise, Principal John Flaherty scheduled an informational meeting on the H1N1 virus as a ruse.

Nominated by a Lunt School committee, Grover was selected from 14 original candidates and six semifinalists. Teachers were scored on several factors, including classroom visits and professional portfolios.

The three finalists included Jayne Quinn Sawtelle, a music teacher at the Hall Elementary School in Portland, and Bill Thompson, a physics teacher at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford.

Grover's colleagues noted his sense of humor, positive attitude and exceptional ability to make learning fun and meaningful, especially when using new technology.

Typical activities for his students include hula dancing at a Hawaiian luau and making no-sew blankets for an animal shelter with residents of the OceanView retirement community, which the students visit monthly.

Grover, who has been a teacher for 13 years, said his classroom is a place where curiosity is nurtured, enthusiasm is contagious and relationships are encouraged.

''It's about listening and allowing everyone in the school community to have a voice -- students, parents, teachers, everyone,'' Grover said after the ceremony. ''Learning has to be a team effort.''

In presenting the award, Gendron said Grover represents all great teachers in Maine. ''We just can't say thank you to our teachers enough,'' she said.

Gendron read a letter from Gov. John Baldacci, who congratulated Grover for ''displaying the kind of imagination and leadership that gives students a sense of excitement, a thirst for knowledge and a real chance for success.''

Grover is somewhat rare among elementary school teachers. He is the only male teacher at the Lunt School, which has kindergarten through second grade, and he was the only male elementary-education major in his college class.

''This honor is an excellent opportunity to highlight the kind of teacher we're so trying to attract to the profession,'' said Barbara Powers, superintendent of Falmouth schools. ''I hope he's able to inspire other men to enter elementary education.''

Grover grew up in Greene and lives in Falmouth. He has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Maine at Farmington and a master's degree in early literacy from the University of Southern Maine. He previously taught first- and second-graders in Auburn schools.

Grover follows Gloria Noyes, a teacher at the Congin Elementary School in Westbrook, who was 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year. He will represent Maine's teachers in the 2010 National Teacher of the Year competition and other state and national events.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

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