Third-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School
Since being named the 2016 Maine Teacher of the Year, Talya Edlund, a third-grade teacher at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth, has been doubly fired up about education. “This whole experience has reminded me just how powerful education is and how transformative it is, especially in those times that you think nobody is really looking,” says Edlund. “Those are the times that really count.” As Teacher of the Year, Edlund has been able to attend education conferences around the country. But the most eye-opening experience for her has been hearing from other teachers about challenges in more rural and impoverished districts in the state. “When you’ve got a classroom where half of the kids are unsure if they’re going to have dinner or not, that’s a big hurdle to deal with when helping them toward proficiency,” she says. She’s also learned that many business and policy leaders want to hear from classroom teachers about issues that impact education. This spring, the commissioner of education appointed Edlund to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Education, which has goals to evaluate the equity of funding for public education as well as current trends in student achievement.