Maine Teacher Of The Year Says He’ll Focus On Problems Facing Rural Districts

3 hours ago

A literature teacher at Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford has been selected as the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year.

"My selection is completely humbling. It's a tremendous honor and it's an honor that I'll cherish throughout the rest of my career."

Joseph Hennessey is just 29 years old, but he says teaching is his life’s calling.

"Teaching was revered in my household growing up,” he says. “My parents were very adamant that education was important. Education can serve as a great equalizer in American society, it's essential to democracy."

Hennessey came to Maine five years ago from Colorado. He says he’s had a life-long passion for education and also feels that teachers can help fill some of the gaps in a child's life.

"Particularly, being a man in an era where many children are not fortunate enough to have dependable male role models or male presences in their lives, being a public educator and working with the public every day seemed to be a good opportunity to present students with that sense of stability,” Hennessey says.

As teacher of the year, Hennessey plans to use his speaking engagements and conferences around the state and beyond to highlight issues affecting rural districts, such as barriers to literacy, high rates of absenteeism and a lack of student engagement.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by business-led advocacy organization Educate Maine, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State Board of Education.