Hillary Hoyt, pictured on the left, teaches third grade at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport. Kelsey Stoyanova, pictured on the right, teaches language arts to eighth graders at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. Credit: Courtesy of the Maine Department of Education

Two of the three finalists for the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year award are from Hampden-based school district RSU 22, the Maine Department of Education said Tuesday.

RSU 22 teachers Hillary Hoyt and Kelsey Stoyanova, who teach at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport and Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden, respectively, are among the final nominees for the teacher of the year award. Paige Fournier, who teaches at Freeport Middle School, is also up for the statewide honor. 

The finalists were chosen from this year’s slate of 16 County Teachers of the Year, with one from each Maine county. The Maine Department of Education will announce the winner after the completion of the selection process in October.

Stoyanova, who teaches language arts to eighth graders, focuses on inspiring students to have a passion for reading and incorporating significant independent reading time in her classroom, the Department of Education said. She has also sought to highlight more authors of color within the district.

“What is best for students is to listen to them, know them as humans first and value their ideas, and then learn alongside them,” said Stoyanova, who was the Penobscot County teacher of the year.

Hoyt teaches math, reading, writing, social studies and science for third graders in Winterport, which is in Waldo County. She has worked to encourage her young students to listen to each other and hopes to inspire them to feel connected to their community.

“I am honored to be a finalist and be able to share my belief in the importance of engaging our students with their learning, each other, and the community,” Hoyt said.