BATH — Charlie Bingham may be Sagadahoc County’s Teacher of the Year, but true to humble form he feels a few others deserve the accolades.

The Morse High School physical education teacher is among finalists from each of the state’s 16 counties for Maine Teacher of the Year. Each educator was nominated by a community member for service and dedication to students, and chosen by a panel of teachers, principals and business people from a pool of hundreds, according to a May 9 Maine Department of Education press release.

Bingham is also an assistant football coach at Morse, where he has spent 19 years. The Woolwich resident is married and has two children.

Being honored is “great, but it’s not necessarily an individual award, because it’s a whole community,” Bingham said May 10.

“It’s about everybody,” he continued. “For me to do all the things that I do, my family has to give me time to do that. My kids lose out on me sometimes because of the things I do, and my wife loses out on me sometimes for the things that we do in school. It’s a whole group effort, and it’s not just one person doing the work.”

Bingham’s many other activities include coaching Unified Basketball, which gives students with developmental disabilities the chance to participate. He also runs the Shipbuilders Committed program, which promotes student health and wellness, and abstainence from substance use.

He has also conducted leadership programs at Woolwich Central School and Hyde School; through the latter, kindergarten through eighth grade students are invited to learn about and play sports with Morse High coaches and athletes, at no cost to the younger students.

Jeff DeRosa, a Morse special education instructor and football coach, nominated Bingham for the award.

“When I see myself getting exhausted, and find myself not necessarily having that little bit extra in the tank, I look at Charlie Bingham, and he always has more,” DeRosa said Monday. “He’s always putting that extra effort into kids. The energy he brings and the commitment he brings to the community is just amazing.”

Bingham also runs Morse’s Fuel Up to Play 60. On May 11 he took a group of students to Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport to learn about milk production.

“We do a lot of stuff with Fuel Up to Play and milk, and a lot of kids don’t know where milk actually comes from,” Bingham said. “It sounds silly, but it’s the truth.”

He also helped host a free Halloween breakfast for students and staff, with food donated by local businesses. The program was aimed “to get kids to eat breakfast,” Bingham said, “because like 80 percent of our population doesn’t eat breakfast.”

He said the greatest reward in his profession is seeing students do things they didn’t realize they could do.

“And the light goes on, and they smile, and they think better of themselves,” Bingham said. “That’s the beauty of education.”

The biggest challenge, he said, stems from the mental health issues faced by some students or their families.

“Even if the kids don’t have mental health issues, a lot of times their families do, and they’re struggling to be caretakers for those individuals,” Bingham said.

Busy as he already is, Bingham will be even more occupied in the months ahead as a Teacher of the Year finalist. The selection process includes submitting a video that exhibits his classroom teaching practices.

The field of candidates will be slimmed to eight semifinalists who will start working on their professional portfolios as part of the National Teacher of the Year process. The pool will be reduced to three finalists after portfolio review by a panel.

The Maine Teacher of the Year will be announced in October following a school site visit and final interview.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Charlie Bingham, a physical education instructor at Morse High School in Bath, is Sagadahoc County’s Teacher of the Year.

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