Educators in Portland, York and Topsham are among 16 county teachers of the year named by the Maine Department of Education and nonprofit Educate Maine on Thursday.

Cindy Soule, a fourth-grade teacher at Riverton Elementary School in Portland, is the 2020 Cumberland County teacher of the year, according to a news release from Portland Public Schools.

Robert Westerberg of York High School took the honor in York County, and Bree Candland of Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham was named Sagadahoc County teacher of the year, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Education.

Soule has taught at Riverton for 20 years and also serves on the school’s leadership team, mentors new teachers in literacy instruction and does professional development work during the school year and over the summer. In April she was chosen as a Fund for Teachers Fellow, and received a grant along with two other Portland teachers to study science.

“Cindy is very deserving of this honor and I am very proud to be her principal,” said Riverton Principal Ann Hanna in the release. “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.”

The recognition is part of the annual Maine Teacher of the Year program, which recognizes the contributions of classroom teachers and is affiliated with the National Teacher of the Year Program.

The county teachers are nominated by members of their communities and become finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in October.

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