Mary Ellen White is honored for her commitment and creativity
“I love kids. They’re so much fun.”
Mary Ellen White has been in the classroom for 33 years but has never lost her passion for teaching. The most rewarding part of the job, she says, is watching her students grow and thrive. “Seeing that confidence build, seeing a kid that cried — who said I can’t do this, or I don’t want to do this, or I’m scared of this — smile because they conquered it,” she says.
She loves bringing new ideas and challenges to her classroom at St. Brigid School in Portland and says she isn’t afraid to sometimes veer off the path a bit if it helps her students learn. “If you don’t meet them where they’re at, it’s hard to bring them along,” she says. “It’s just really, really helpful to keep assessing, ‘What are you thinking right now?’”
For her commitment to educating her students, her desire to cultivate creativity, and her drive to continually develop her own skills, White was chosen as the Diocese of Portland’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. It is the second year in a row that a teacher from St. Brigid has received the honor.
“Mary Ellen White is one of the best teachers that I have worked with in my 31 years as an educator,” says William Burke, principal. “Mary Ellen impresses me the most with her invaluable classroom experience, ability to individualize learning, and desire to motivate students to explore nature and the physical world.”
“It’s obviously quite an honor. I never, ever, ever expected to win,” says White, who was presented with the award by Bishop Robert Deeley during a Catholic Educator Workshop. “I’m looking out at the sea of other teachers, just really feeling united with them and honored to be among them. It was pretty cool.”
White has taught at St. Brigid School for 12 years; prior to that, she taught for another 12 at St. Patrick School in Portland.
Read more of Mary Ellen White's story in the January 2019 issue of Harvest magazine here.