Hagelstein honored as ‘exemplary’ educator

15 years ago
Staff photo/Scott Mitchell Johnson

    GAIL HAGELSTEIN, librarian/media specialist at Presque Isle Middle School, was recently honored with the Maine Association for Middle Level Education’s (MAMLE) Exemplary Practice Award.



By Scott Mitchell Johnson
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE – Gail Hagelstein, librarian/media specialist at Presque Isle Middle School, was recently honored with the Maine Association for Middle Level Education’s (MAMLE) Exemplary Practice Award.
    MAMLE is the professional organization of teachers, administrators, students, parents and others who share a commitment to children ages 10-15. Established in 1987, MAMLE’s purpose is to promote developmentally responsive education for young adolescents.
    Each year, MAMLE’s board of directors presents Exemplary Practice Awards, which are designed to recognize individuals, teams, and schools across the state who are incorporating “best practices” into their curriculum and instruction.
    Kristie Littlefield, school partnership coordinator with the Maine Historical Society, nominated Hagelstein for the award. Littlefield worked directly with Hagelstein on the Maine Community Heritage Project (MCHP) during the 2008-09 school year.
    In nominating Hagelstein, Littlefield praised her for developing two unique programs – the Presque Isle Middle School History Club and the Lunchbox Lecture series.
    The PIMS History Club, under the guidance of Hagelstein and Dr. Kimberly Sebold, associate professor of history at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, connects middle school students with UMPI students around the study of local history.
    “My students served as mentors to Gail’s students and helped them look up their family history on Ancestry.com,” said Sebold. “My students and I also worked on putting together a cemetery scavenger hunt for Gail’s students, as well. The object of the scavenger hunt was to show the students how gravestones can show trends and patterns in a town’s history.
    “Gail has taught me many things about teaching local history and interacting with younger students. She has showed me how to be imaginative in the classroom and how to accomplish exciting things with a very small budget,” she said. “I admire Gail and all that she does. Gail is stern, patient, caring and understanding and she gets through to her students.”
    With the Lunchbox Lecture series, Hagelstein has arranged for local “experts” to visit the library during the lunch period to interact with students. Students have been provided with the opportunity to explore various topics including potato farming of yesteryear, Presque Isle and civil defense, Victorian etiquette, local weather and the lynching of Jim Cullen.
    “Gail Hagelstein is an exceptional educator and holds herself to high standards,” said Littlefield. “She truly makes a difference in the lives of students and the Presque Isle community. Gail’s dedication and commitment to meeting the needs of her students is unrivaled. Her impact, as an educator, will be long lasting.”
    Hagelstein was in Arizona visiting her parents when she found out she had received the award.
    “My husband called and said that principal Anne Blanchard called and left a message and had some news for me,” said Hagelstein. “I called her and she said that I had won. I was surprised … stunned. I’ve taught in five states and it’s hard to hit a moving target and I never expected anything like this.
    “This is the first state award I’ve ever received, and I’m truly humbled that someone felt that this was important enough to be nominated, let alone actually win an award like this,” she said. “I love what I do and I want students to learn that there are different ways to learn. It [PIMS History Club and the Lunchbox Lectures] gives opportunities for students to get involved in school that they might not have had before.
    “Not everyone is sports-oriented, not everyone is music-oriented. Some students are history-oriented and this fills a social need,” said Hagelstein. “With the MCHP grant, there were so many opportunities to involve students in local history that I couldn’t pass it up. The kids were excited to know that they were part of something like this.”
    MAMLE presented two Exemplary Practice Awards this year. This is the first time someone at PIMS has received the award; however, teachers at the former Skyway Middle School had also received the honor.  
    The plaque hangs in Hagelstein’s office at the school.