Get to Know the Maine DOE: Meet Pender Makin

Maine DOE Team member Pender Makin is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Pender in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE? 

It’s my honor to be serving in the role of Commissioner of Education. My duties span all of the statutory requirements in Title 20-A, and our team members at DOE all contribute to this work.

What do you like best about your job?

What I like most is knowing that my efforts are on behalf of something so deeply important. I believe that public education is the most critical underpinning of democracy and that all students deserve equitable opportunities and access to high quality learning environments and educational programs.  This past year has been extremely difficult – but, even on my most discouraging day, when I’m feeling exhausted and depleted, I feel extremely blessed to be spending my energy, efforts, and time engaged in such meaningful work.

How or why did you decide on this career?

It was more of a 3-decade journey than a decision … When I was an Ed Tech III, I aspired to become a teacher so that I could really make a difference for students. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to make bigger changes and continued my education so that someday I could be a building principal. As a principal, I had the opportunity to better understand how certain practices, systems, and policies impact the experience of students in the classroom, and I did my best to influence these in a positive direction. Later, when I became a district leader, I worked within that scope of influence, and when this opportunity was presented to me, I saw it as a chance to really make a difference for Maine students and for public education in general.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I love to play piano and/or ukulele and sing out loud with friends (I sure miss that in this pandemic!) I also love: to be at the beach during all seasons, in all weather; snuggling with my dogs; playing cribbage with my husband; and helping my parents with their gardening and other chores.