Not to toot our own horn, but we have some pretty awesome schools in our community. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say we have some of the best schools in the whole state. While many of us share that belief, it’s sometimes nice to get validation from those outside the area. Most recently it happened with an award given at Saco Middle School. This wasn’t just any award, this was national recognition and praise.
From left to right, Bonnie Pothier, regional rep for U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr.; Andy Colvin, deputy director of communications for U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree; Maine State Representative Justin Chenette; Dr. William Beardsley, Maine Department of Education acting commissioner; recipient Michaela Lamarre; Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards; Education Committee Member Rebecca Millett, Maine State Senator, SD 29; and Cathy Goodwin, representing U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
We honor other professions all the time. Singers. Actors. Athletes. They even have their own award shows. The Grammys. The Oscars. The ESPYs. Need I say more? Nothing against those people, but educators do so much more for this country. They are responsible for educating the next generation. That is a vital task and yet how often do we publicly recognize them for their often heroic efforts? Not often, I’m afraid.
That’s where the Milken Foundation comes in. The Milken Educator Awards program honors the nation’s top educators. These awards are highly coveted not just because of the $25,000 check, but because these are given to a select few individuals in the early to the mid part of the educational careers. They are commonly referred to as the “Oscars of Education.”
Our very own Michaela Lamarre, eighth-grade science teacher at Saco Middle School, is this year’s Maine winner. During a surprise assembly, Michaela was honored with the distinction. The name of the recipient was kept secret for months. We were just told to show up, that someone was going to be recognized. The best part was seeing all of the students very excited for one of their favorite teachers. You could tell they respect her and look forward to learning in her class.
Michaela has become a household name in the Saco Middle School community with parents requesting her for their students and inspiring her fellow faculty members along the way with a focus on STEM curriculum development and experiential learning opportunities for students.
As I’m sure Michaela would echo, this award is shared with the entire faculty at Saco Middle School that continue to push the educational boundaries to help students reach their maximum potential. Each teacher brings a passion to the classroom. You can tell when people love what they do. The energy when you walk into the school is a proven testament to that fact. It feels like coming home. Congrats to the whole team. You deserve a standing ovation.
I am a proud product of Saco Middle School and I couldn’t be prouder of where the school, its faculty, its staff are taking it. I hope more recognition is given to the great things happening there. Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat.
Justin Chenette is serving his second term as state representative for Saco District 15. Outside the Legislature, he is owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Follow updates at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/ JustinChenette, and Twitter.com/JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco