A few moments is all the time necessary to understand why Jason Cote was announced as Teacher of the Year for Thornton Academy in 2018. His intelligence, perceptiveness, dedication, and excellent teaching skills become apparent nearly instantly upon entering his classroom.
Cote teaches in the History Department and this year his courses include Peoples and World Cultures for freshmen and Modern China for sophomores. He conducts weekly original research to stay fresh in his field and share new information with his students. He teaches his students critical thinking skills that they need to analyze data, patterns, and news articles.
"In the days of having a super-computer in your pocket, there is greater value in methodology and less on rote memorization," said Cote about his teaching philosophy.
Cote was inspired to go into teaching by his grandfather Robert Dumas, a long-time math teacher at Biddeford High School. He describes how on walks through town with his grandfather people would constantly be stopping them to express admiration, respect, and thanks.
"He taught me to ask myself, 'How do I contribute to my community? How can I change the future in my own small way?'" Cote says as he reflects on the legacy left to him by his grandfather.
As part of his teacher training, Cote student taught at Sanford High School with Martin McKeon and Doug Spaulding. He has great admiration for these two teachers who taught him to create a classroom with varied teaching styles to appeal to many different students. In his history classroom, Cote springs between teacher-driven direct instruction and student-centered cooperative learning easily and frequently.
Students appreciate Cote's dedication to the craft of teaching and the value that he places on his students and what they bring to the classroom.
"Mr. Cote is an amazing teacher with a diverse teaching style. He is considerate and truly cares about the success of his students. You can tell from one class with Mr. Cote that teaching isn't just a job for him, it's his livelihood. Mr. Cote's search for further excellence and knowledge has truly inspired me and has forever made my TA experience memorable. I couldn't see a better individual being chosen to receive this award," said sophomore Christina Casvikes.
"In my past four years here at TA, Mr.Cote has been one of the most inspiring teachers I've had. I was lucky enough to be in his class my freshman and junior years. During this time he really pushed me as a student, giving me constructive feedback to achieve my high set goals. His high energy and outgoing personality is contagious to all student and faculty. Mr.Cote truly deserves the title of teacher of the year, for all of his hard and dedicated work," said senior Emily Camire.
Admiration for Cote's teaching is not limited to students. Nominated by three of his colleagues, support for this "teacher's teacher" spans the entire school.
Special Education teacher Jenna Kapschull was one of Cote's nominators.
"Jason combines an impressive breadth of content knowledge with effective instructional strategies to help his students become critical thinkers. He has high expectations for all students, and challenges them to a degree that is appropriate and supportive of their individual growth and achievement," said Kapschull.