Mt. Ararat High School math teacher Rob Messier poses for a portrait at his classroom desk on Sept. 8 in Topsham. Messier was one of 16 Maine public school educators named 2023 County Teachers of the Year. (J. Craig Anderson photo)

Rob Messier understands that the crucial first step to helping any young person is to show up and make yourself available, so that’s what he does.

Messier shows up five days a week to his math classroom at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, where students say he always makes time for those who need extra help.

But Messier’s commitment doesn’t end there. He devotes many additional hours of his personal time to showing up at high school sporting events, often as a commentator or umpire.

He serves as Mt. Ararat’s National Honor Society coordinator, helping to provide students with the tools they need to become future leaders.

As if that weren’t enough, Messier also collaborates with other Maine teachers on efforts to attract more educators to the state, and to encourage young people to choose his beloved field of teaching as a profession.

“I’ve always been somebody that people will stop me in the hall and ask me questions — what I think would be the more beneficial thing to do in the situation that they’re struggling with — both students and staff,” Messier said in a Sept. 8 interview. “I’ve always been that person to be an ear for others.”

For his efforts, two teaching colleagues — Mt. Ararat art teacher and department head Christine Del Rossi and English teacher Lianna Fenimore — nominated Messier for Sagadahoc County’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, a distinction he was awarded in May.

“Rob is an amazing teacher that has exceeded his role as a math educator both in his position as an umpire/sports announcer and (National Honor Society) advisor,” Del Rossi and Fenimore said in a joint statement. “He participates in all the spirit day dress-ups, including wearing a blonde wig for Ken and Barbie Day. He knows how to engage our students and make learning fun.”

Mt. Ararat senior Alex Graf, one of Messier’s students, said the award was well deserved because Messier “works really hard in our district in so many different aspects.”

Graf said Messier’s dedication extends beyond ensuring his students grasp the math concepts he teaches in the classroom; it also reaches into the high school’s campus and sports fields.

“He officiates games and matches and stuff, and he’s just always present at everything,” she said. “And he’s just a friendly face that you see all the time, all over campus.”

Mt. Ararat High School math teacher Rob Messier teaches mathematical functions to his students on Sept. 8 in Topsham. Messier is the Sagadahoc County Teacher of the Year. (J. Craig Anderson photo)

Messier was one of 16 Maine teachers to be selected as 2023 County Teachers of the Year from a pool of more than 550 nominees for the Maine Department of Education program. Earning the distinction is a rigorous process that carries with it certain privileges and responsibilities.

Teacher of the Year recipients gain access to additional career development resources and are expected to serve as ambassadors for their schools and for Maine education. All were chosen by a panel of teachers, principals and businesspeople within their county.

Mt. Ararat High School Principal Chris Hoffman said Messier is a true role model for students and an excellent choice for Teacher of the Year in Sagadahoc County.

“Rob is certainly deserving of this honor, for a lot of reasons,” Hoffman said. “He exemplifies a lot of what we would like for our young people to experience in terms of adults who guide their education.”

Messier has a special ability to connect with students and earn their trust, Hoffman said. The fact that he shows up to everything also demonstrates his sincere desire to be involved in students’ lives as someone who cares and wants to help.

Messier’s booming voice is known to students as the voice of Mt. Ararat Eagles football, as he announces the home games with lively play-by-play. He also serves as an umpire for softball and volleyball games, Hoffman said.

“It’s the totality of all these things, the fact that he’s so often here for athletic events, plus his engagement with (the National Honor Society), and all the things that they do, he’s just seemingly always here,” he said about Messier. “He’s devoted to this school and to its students, and we’re lucky to have him.”

Messier, who has been teaching for more than 25 years, said it’s both humbling and exciting to be named the county’s Teacher of the Year. He noted that over the past 10 years, five of Sagadahoc County’s teachers of the year have come from Mt. Ararat High School.

“We focus on the students – the students are always the priority,” Messier said. “No matter what static happens at the school board meetings, with the policies and whatnot, our focus is the kids.”

Mt. Ararat senior Aidan Greenleaf agreed that Messier deserves to carry the mantle of Teacher of the Year.

“Having him as a teacher my freshman year, I really enjoyed it,” Greenleaf said. “He was always helpful, very straightforward. I can go to him with anything, really. I’ll still stop and talk with him in the halls whenever I see him, and I’ll go visit him. He feels super welcoming, and I’ve really enjoyed having him as part of my high school life and career.”

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