Two at CMHS Receive Teacher of Year Awards

Jim Randall (left) and Toby Cole (right) were both named as the local VFW teacher of the year, Mr. Randall for middle school and Toby Cole for high school. (Photo by Kaileigh Deacon)

By Kaileigh Deacon

Teachers can make an impact far beyond the classroom, one that when years have passed and school is no longer something we do every day the memory of that teacher remains.  Each year the VFW seeks to honor teachers who make a difference in the lives of the students locally, statewide and nationally with the Smart/Maher VFW Teacher of the Year. This year, the local winners from the Middle School and High School levels were Jim Randall and Toby Cole respectively. Both teachers weren’t nominated by fellow staff but rather students within the school. 

What made you want to teach?

Randall: I didn’t want to be a teacher. I wanted to get through school and didn’t want to go to college. When I was an officer in the military the younger kids would be taking college classes and they’d come in and they’d be struggling with something and I’d have some time so I’d sit down and help them with stuff and they’d tell the other kids. Then there would be this little group and I really enjoyed that. 

Cole:  I didn’t really want to be a teacher. I kind of fell into it. 

What does it mean to win Teacher of the Year?

Randall: I think it’s who nominated us that’s most meaningful. For me, when it’s high school students and I’m a middle school teacher, I get a little teary-eyed, it’s pretty awesome. 

Cole: It was kind of humbling, especially to think that a student in particular took the time to nominate and say nice things about us, it’s an honor. 

What do you hope that you share with your students when you’re teaching?

Randall: That the decisions they make will dictate the life they lead. I tell them every day is important how you base it. 

Cole: One thing I try to stress and I hope that they get is whatever you put into whatever you’re doing is what you get back out of it. 

Why do you enjoy teaching? 

Randall: The kids, there’s no other reason to be here, it’s not the other adults, it’s not the pay. 

Cole: The successes that you see. Obviously, there are a lot of failures that you try to work through with the kids that aren’t getting things. But when you finally see them turn the corner, it makes you realize that you’ve done something, that you’re there for a reason. 

Randall: It’s turning the corner that is probably the most important thing. The ones that aren’t doing so well and then you start working with them and they make it. It’s not so much the 75% that are going to go through, it’s the one you make the difference with. 

Jim Randall has been teaching for twenty-three years and teaches Middle School Social Studies. Mr. Randall was nominated by former student MacKenzie Bennett. Toby Cole is the JMG Specialist at Calais High School where he has been teaching for five years, having taught at Glenburn previously for three years. Mr. Cole was nominated by student Ivy McLellan. 


Both teachers will go on to the state level of the selection process which will be announced early in 2019 and will involve an award banquet in Bangor.