Alana Margeson: 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year
Alana Margeson, an English teacher at Caribou High School, is the 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year. A 1994 graduate of Caribou High School, she considers it an honor to work or have worked with many of her former teachers in the Caribou school system. She graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1999 with two Bachelor’s of Science degrees- one in Secondary Education, English and one in Elementary Education. After the birth of her first child, Noah, in 2000, she worked as an ed tech at Stockholm School and as a long term substitute special education teacher at Caribou Middle School.
Alana entered her first full time teaching position at Caribou Middle School in 2001, as a grade 8 classroom teacher. In 2004, she gave birth to triplet boys - Evan, Reid and Nicholas - and took a break from coursework. In 2005, she transferred to her current position as an English teacher at Caribou High School. She earned a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2008. Utilizing her experience and observations as both a middle and high school teacher, Alana created a transitional “Step-Up Day” to acclimate and welcome incoming freshman as her Master’s capstone project. She has been a student teacher mentor as well as a teacher certification mentor. She was named a UNUMProvident Teacher’s Hall of Fame Starting 9 Nominee in 2005. She is also a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the National Council for Teachers of English.
Alana has greatly enjoyed and found value in professional development activities, such as Partnerships for College Success, Dr. Janet Allen’s literacy training, courses in formative assessment, and ongoing training and workshops in AP English Language and Composition. She has also been inspired by the innovative and energetic teaching of her colleagues.
Interested in inviting community members and agencies to be partners in education, Alana wrote a grant in 2009 titled “Loring Air Force Base and the Cold War.” This grant, funded by the Perloff Family and the Maine Community Foundation, allowed a panel of guest speakers, long involved with Loring, to speak to students about the crucial role the air force base played in national and international affairs, especially when under the threat of nuclear attack. A commemorative DVD of interviews was also created, and all grade 11 students were brought to the former top secret “Q” area to see firsthand the nuclear storage capacity of this former base in northern Maine.
Currently, Alana teaches grade 10 English and AP English Language and Composition, having implemented this AP offering at CHS in 2009. She writes professionally for Dr. Allen’s Plugged Into Reading and Plugged Into Non-Fiction and continues to work with colleagues on literacy techniques across content areas. In March 2012, Alana presented a workshop at the Maine Council for English Language Arts conference titled “The Effectiveness of Satire, Parody and Wit in the Classroom.”
Alana credits her amazing family, friends and colleagues for supporting her growth as a professional over the past 11 years. She and her husband, Erich, operate an organic seed potato and all-natural beef farm in Westmanland, part of Maine’s Swedish Colony, about four hours north of Bangor.
Alana is available to speak to schools, community groups and others. Her primary topics are:
- Throwing Open the Front Doors: Building Transparency and Community
- Effective Literacy Strategies in the Secondary Setting
- Teaching: the Heart of the Matter
She is also available to speak on other topics. Contact her at 207-493-4260 or email@example.com.
Throwing Open the Front Doors: Building Transparency and Community
In these difficult economic times, one idea remains true: schools are the heart of our communities. When teachers reach out and invite key stakeholders in, a shared sense of responsibility and ownership occurs. This is a winning proposition for students, parents, teachers and community members. Alana has worked with her parents and surrounding community to maximize resources and build a sense of pride and community. Through a grant titled “Loring Air Force Base and the Cold War,” Alana has been able to allow all Caribou High School 11th graders to learn firsthand the critical role that the former base in Aroostook County played in national and international affairs, especially during the Cold War. She has also involved the surrounding community in numerous opportunities for student learning and growth. Even though “times are tough,” several avenues can be pursued to create meaningful educational experiences while building partnerships and opportunities for authentic assessment.
Effective Literacy Strategies in the Secondary Setting
Drawing upon the rich and ongoing nature of her district’s professional development opportunities with Dr. Janet Allen, Alana has been able to incorporate research-based literacy techniques in her middle and high school classrooms. Using strategy-based instruction, effective hooks and ongoing formative assessment techniques, Alana has been able to improve the effectiveness of her instruction and assessment. At Caribou High School, learning effective instructional techniques and tools from colleagues is a respected practice that has yielded positive results for teachers and students. In her classroom, importance is placed on connecting Young Adult literature with classics and making instruction meaningful and memorable. Alana combines strategies and techniques acquired through literacy and AP English Language Composition trainings to provide rigorous learning opportunities that increase her students' success in reading, writing and speaking.
Teaching: the Heart of the Matter
Gandhi once said, “My life is my message.” Teaching presents a unique opportunity to positively affect others’ lives. Yet, teacher attrition is disheartening. About one half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first five years. More than ever, we need enthusiastic, dedicated teachers. While having taught only eleven years, Alana has experienced and witnessed countless examples of humanity and inspiration as an educator. The single most important factor in a student’s education is having a quality teacher in the classroom. How can we build up this profession and communicate its importance? What does it mean to be a teacher? How can we encourage and build teacher self-efficacy? In addition to these topics, Alana is also interested in networking with others to create an educational and inspirational video on “why teach” that could be used in teacher training programs.