Thursday, April 4, 2002

Cape teacher up for top honors

Published in the Current

Kelly Hasson teaches first grade at Cape Elizabeth’s Pond Cove School, and the staff has recognized her for her work by nominating her for the Maine Teacher of the Year award. But she’s not getting a big head about it.

The 18-year veteran of Cape schools said, “I think of this honor as representing everyone here.” She added, “My colleagues are amazing.”

She is now one of 10 regional finalists, who will be narrowed down to four before the award is presented in a surprise ceremony in September.

“Teacher recognition is difficult,” said Tom Eismeier, the school’s principal. It’s hard to make sure all the people who do great work get noticed, he said. But the school’s teachers, at the request of several parents, nominated Hasson, the first such nomination from Pond Cove in recent memory.

“It means a lot more coming from parents and colleagues,” Hasson said.

At a recognition ceremony March 14 in the Hall of Flags in the Maine Statehouse, Hasson got to meet the other 22 nominees for the award. She also got to talk to legislators, and received a certificate from Gov. Angus King and state Education Commissioner Duke Albanese.

The wide range of students of each of the teachers didn’t seem to matter much, Hasson said. “There is a common thread to help children learn,” she said.

Hasson credits other teachers and the district’s administrators for their help in her work, including efforts for teacher professional development.

“There’s just an incredible amount of support for that,” Hasson said.

But she has had to work to get this far. She had to write essays on several aspects of education, taking time to reflect on what she does and why, she said.

“I had to really think about what I represent,” she said.

Colleagues, parents, and even a former student, now in third grade, wrote recommendations.

“The whole process has been really uplifting,” Hasson said.

She loves teaching first grade. “There’s so much growth that happens,” she said.

The big issue, she said, is literacy. “Reading and writing is integral to all aspects of learning,” Hasson said.

But larger than that, she said, is “my mission to instill a love of learning at a very early age. I believe everyone can learn.”

And she’s learning how much Cape values her, too. “I’ve been so touched by the support,” Hasson said.