Elementary Education Major Kevin Grover, Maine Teacher of the Year
As a finalist, Kevin Grover, who majored in elementary education at UMF, knew he had a one-in-three chance of being named the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year.
"People around here know I like to be prepared," says Grover, a second-grade teacher at D.W. Lunt School in Falmouth. "If I won, I wanted to send a message that the award isn't just about me."
So, preparing for the start of his 14th year of teaching, he went to the school's bulletin-board press in late August and punched out an S. He then tucked the letter and four safety pins in his wallet.
His preparation paid off. Presented with the honor by Commissioner of Education Susan Gendron in a surprise ceremony, he took the S and safety pins from his wallet and amended a banner that read, "2010 Maine Teacher of the Year School."
(In case you haven't guessed where he pinned the letter, Grover, ever the inclusive educator, made "Teacher" plural.)
"This award is really about my colleagues, members of the community, and teachers from my past," says Grover, who received congratulations from the 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year, UMF graduate Gloria Noyes, at the award ceremony. "For me, that's the real message behind the banner."
Noah Barney, grandson of 1963 UMF graduate Duane Small and one of Grover's former students, was "excited, but not very surprised" that Grover won.
"He's just a really good teacher, kind and gentle," says Noah, who nominated Grover. "He always inspired me to read and write, and he understands how to help kids with whatever they need help with."
For Grover, the award confirms not only his commitment to teaching, but also the importance of teachers in the lives of children.
"A former student who's now a freshman congratulated me the other day, and we started reminiscing about his second-grade year," Grover says. "It's funny how young children think of their teachers as superheroes. They'll wave to you whenever they see you and put you on a pedestal. Even when they're older, it means so much to have you remember them."