The Maine State Board of Education has renewed leadership and new members

For Immediate Release  Monday, April 4

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has reappointed Martha Harris to the State Board of Education for a second five-year term.  She has served on the Board since 2010, including one year as vice chair and as chair of the Board since July of 2015.

Harris is an accomplished lawyer practicing in Bangor since 1977 with a wealth of expertise in family law and mediation which are closely related to the work she does with the State Board of Education. Her involvement in education spans from her 20 plus years of service on the RSU 22 School Board to her involvement in the National Association of State Boards of Education.

“I have observed there are few people in Maine who have a busier schedule than Martha Harris,” said Governor LePage. “Despite her packed schedule of mediations, court appearances and professional obligation, Martha always makes time for the important work of the State Board of Education, and I appreciate her dedicated service.”

Joining the Board are John Bird of Rockland and Wilson Hess of Freedom for five-year terms, as well as student representative Elise McKendry of Jackman for a two-year term.

Bird spent 29 years as an educator and administrator. He has been an education consultant to 268 schools and organizations in 41 states and five other nations or territories as through the President Educators’ Collaborative.

In addition to his long career in the field of education, Bird currently serves on the boards of the Strand Theater, the Penobscot Bay YMCA and the Island Institute, and he is a member of the Maine Charter Schools Commission.

Bird is a graduate of Rockland High School class of 1955. He holds BA in political science from Bowdoin and a Masters in School Administration from George Washington University.

Former President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Wilson Hess joined the Board. During his tenure at UMFK, Hess was an advocate for expanding access to college courses for high school students throughout the state, perhaps best known for his success in expanding early college access through the Bridge Year program and AP4ALL.

Hess was also once a history professor at Unity College; he also served as registrar and an assistant dean before being named President 13 years later, a position he held for over a decade.

Outside of the educational arena, Hess has coached and refereed lacrosse, served on boards such as the Maine Conservation School in Bryant Pond, the Maine Children’s Alliance, the Maine Charitable Foundation’s Waldo County Fund, the Town of Freedom’s Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee, the Northern Maine Development Council Aroostook Partnership for Progress and the Mitchell Institute.

Student Elise McKendry is a sophomore at Forest Hills Consolidated School and student representative to the community’s School Board, which has allowed her to embrace and demonstrate her true leadership qualities.

McKendry is a member of one of the first classes that will graduate through a proficiency-based system at Forest Hills Consolidated School, giving her a valuable perspective on proficiency that she can bring to the State Board of Education. She is involved in a number of extracurricular activities including Speech and Debate, Math Team, Book Club, Jackman Youth Leadership, golf among many others.

While the State Board receives some staff support from the Maine Department of Education, it is an independent body. For more information, visit the State Board of Education.

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