Hillary Hoyt’s unique lessons help her third-graders at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport, Maine, build skills for their future success. During the “Million-Dollar Project,” students learned about financing and interest rates as they took out “loans” to buy a house and car, save for college, and fund their day-to-day expenses. Hoyt set up a section of her classroom as a winter wonderland where students could earn time in the ice rink, ice shack and snow mountain by demonstrating good citizenship, according to expectations the children developed together. Hoyt goes to great lengths to hold students’ interest, whether by dressing as a dinosaur when leading a unit on prehistoric life or transforming her room into the sea, with students as jellyfish.
Hoyt’s lessons stress innovation, collaboration and independent thinking, encouraging students to tap their imaginations even as they learn important executive functioning skills. She does whatever is necessary to prioritize children’s learning needs. Hoyt digs through data to track students’ progress, making quick plans to differentiate and reteach those who need extra help, and adding enrichment for those who are ready for more. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hoyt has flipped her classroom and incorporated new technology, including Flipgrid, Jamboard, Google Classroom and video production. Her students continuously demonstrate growth on state assessments and learn to love education.
Hoyt is the elementary science teacher leader and has served on district and school committees for math, writing and reading, as well as a state committee writing ELA standards. She mentors student teachers and worked with colleagues to make a series of math videos in preparation for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Hoyt has attended the summer teacher academy at Schoodic Institute, worked on science curriculum with the University of Maine’s RISE Center, and published lessons on the Maine Department of Education’s MOOSE platform, which offers asynchronous learning modules for educators, students and families. She delivered a lesson on weather and natural disasters for The Learning Space, a collaboration between educators and Maine Public Television aimed at students who lack internet access.
A leader in the Leroy H. Smith community, Hoyt provides free books to students each summer through a partnership with Literacy Volunteers of Maine and Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause. Her class designs a table based on an author they are studying for the annual Literacy Tea of Bangor. Hoyt played an integral part in WinterKids, which promoted winter outdoor activities for families, and chaired the school’s Family Fun Night. Outside of school, she teaches cheer and dance to college students and children, including Girl Scouts working on their dance badges.
Hoyt earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of Maine Orono in 2013 and earned National Board Certification in 2018.
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