Aroostook County’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, Emily Rosser, stands with her husband, Ben, and children, from left, Ava, Addy and Andrew at the state Capitol in Augusta on May 11. Credit: Courtesy of Emily Rosser

CARIBOU, Maine — For Emily Rosser, it’s all about building relationships that will give kids a foundation for their futures.    

Rosser, a Woodland resident and first-grade teacher at Caribou Community School, was named Thursday as Aroostook County’s Teacher of the Year. The Maine Department of Education revealed the 16 county Teachers of the Year during a May 11 ceremony at the state Capitol in Augusta.

It’s the second year in a row a Caribou Community School teacher has been chosen. Last year Heather Anderson, who teaches eighth-grade English/language arts, received the County recognition.

The teachers will serve as ambassadors for other educators and students during the year, according to the department. One of them will become Maine’s Teacher of the Year this fall. All those chosen make each of their students feel valued, Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin said in a statement. That’s something Rosser strives to do each day.  

“Every kid needs to know they are loved and believed in. Regardless of how our days went previously or what their school experiences were before walking through my door, I make it a point to give each kid a fresh start,” she said Friday.

Rosser found out she was chosen to represent The County two weeks ago but had to keep it under wraps until the official announcement. The selection process is more extensive than some people realize, she said.

Meghan Russell, a coworker, friend and parent of a former student, nominated her in February. Then Rosser wrote several essays, earned recommendations and participated in an interview.

She was grocery shopping with her daughters when she learned she had been selected.

“To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. I feel honored and humbled by this whole experience. It was quite a difficult secret to keep,” she said.

School communities across the state nominated more than 500 teachers. In each county, a panel of teachers, principals and business people selected one nominee, according to the Department of Education.

Rosser started her teaching career at Circle of Learning, a day care instruction facility. After two years there she taught first grade at Limestone Community School for one year, then moved to first grade at the former Hilltop and Teague Park elementary schools. She is now at Caribou Community School.

She has taught for 11 years in RSU 39, and is also the grade 1 teacher leader and K-2 math content leader, she said.

Her passion is being an advocate for kids and supporting them so they can be successful every day, she said. Creating a classroom environment that nurtures patience, respect and responsibility is her goal.

Jane McCall, RSU 39 assistant superintendent, was principal of Hilltop Elementary when Rosser taught there and knows her well.

“We have a lot of great teachers on staff, and Emily getting this recognition is great for her personally, but she will be a wonderful advocate for other teachers in Aroostook County as well as the state,” McCall said.

As a teacher, Rosser stands apart because she is in tune with her students and aware of their diversity, McCall said. She continuously adjusts and changes to meet their needs, and researches any new method or curriculum to make sure it’s in students’ best interests.

Rosser is always seeking ways to grow professionally and to make sure students are challenged and well-prepared for whatever comes next — whether it’s the next unit or the next grade level, according to McCall.

Not only is Rosser skilled at building relationships with her students, but she is equally supportive and kind to colleagues. She is willing to share anything she has learned with any of her fellow educators, McCall said.

RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak was unavailable for comment but was in Augusta with Rosser and her family at Thursday’s ceremony.

Rosser attended the festivities with her husband, Ben; children Andrew, 11, Ava, 9, and Addy, 6, and her parents, Alan and Kathy St. Peter.

The young Rossers had a tour of the Senate Thursday while their mother attended workshops. They met Senate President Troy Jackson in his office and received certificates commemorating their time spent as honorary pages, Rosser said.

Rosser was eager Friday morning to be with her students, whom she hadn’t seen since Thursday’s announcement.

“I know they were watching the ceremony virtually. I cannot wait to celebrate with them,” she said.