Connie Russell, a second-grade teacher in MSAD 51, was named Cumberland County’s teacher of the year Thursday, one of 16 county-level finalists for the Maine Teacher of the Year award.

Russell teaches at Mabel Wilson School in Cumberland, a K-3 school. The parent who nominated her said she’s a “great motivator” who “tailor(s) her instruction to meet their strengths and challenges” of each student.

“She gets the most out of her students and prepares them for success,” Ronald Greco wrote in the nomination letter. “Connie’s classroom fosters relationships and community. Her students become ‘experts’ on everything from using the stapler to double digit addition.”

In York County, the nominee was Bonny Eagle Middle School’s Kristin Klin.

The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education administered by Educate Maine, an education advocacy organization based in Portland.

Each county winner will submit a video showcasing their classroom practices before the field is narrowed to eight semifinalists. After a portfolio review and presentations to a selection panel, the field will be narrowed to three.

In October, after a school site visit and interview, the state’s top teacher will be announced.

Tammy Ranger, a reading intervention teacher at Skowhegan Area Middle School, was the 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year.

The other county teachers of the year are: Androscoggin – Katie Toothaker, Minot Consolidated School; Aroostook – Bill Guerrette, Presque Isle Middle School; Franklin – Jessica Ellingwood, Spruce Mountain High School; Hancock – Jennifer Farnham, Hancock Grammar School; Kennebec – Katy Jones, Winslow Junior High School; Knox – Anthony Lufkin, Friendship Village School; Lincoln – Dan Hupp, Great Salt Bay Community School; Oxford – Jessica McGreevy, Oxford Hills Middle School; Penobscot – Shana Goodall, Orono High School; Piscataquis – Joseph Hennessey, Piscataquis Community High School; Sagadahoc – Christine Del Rossi, Mt. Ararat High School; Somerset – Patti Champagne, Bloomfield Elementary School; Waldo – David Coffey, Belfast Area High School; Washington – Kailee Colbath, Washington Academy.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

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Twitter: noelinmaine