Students from across Maine met with Maine Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Pender Makin in Augusta for an all-day summit on December 20th. The students were each selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants to be part of the Maine Department of Education’s first Student Cabinet. The 12/20 meeting was the first of four meetings to take place this school year.
The Maine DOE and the Maine State Board of Education, with special help from the Board’s two student representatives, Jaylee Rice and Casey Maddock put together the Student Cabinet as a way to include student voice in decision making at the state level. The Cabinet is made up of students from all 16 counties in Maine in grades 4th through 1st year of college, who were selected based on their thoughtful responses on the application distributed to the public by the Maine DOE this past fall.
During the day-long meeting, students had the opportunity to connect with one another through team-building activities, along with values-based activities to help them identify the importance of their own values and that of others, including the populations they represent. The bulk of the work was done in the second half of the day, as students worked in like-age groups to categorize important topics in education for the Commissioner to be aware of, topics for discussion, and topics to act on.
The day ended with a round table discussion about the topics discussed within each of the groups. From the master list of topics, the students each got the opportunity to vote on the topics they felt were the most important to explore further as a group. Addressing issues of mental health and trauma for students, ensuring inclusive and welcoming schools for all, and ensuring equitable opportunities for all Maine students were goals the group identified as most important.
Three additional follow up meetings are being planned for the winter and spring, in addition to an online discussion board where student cabinet members will have the opportunity to engage with one another and invite other students from their region to join in county level discussions.
Maine DOE Student Cabinet Members: