Maine Students Explore Exciting Career Paths at ‘Future Academies’ Event

students at the Future Teachers Academy

High school students from across Maine came to Thomas College recently to do some experiential learning at one of two Future Academies events the college hosted along with many state-wide partners this fall.

The events are part of an organized effort to provide Maine students with the opportunity to experience not just post-secondary learning, but to get the chance to meet and talk with professionals about their experiences and participate in hands-on style career exploration through four different lenses.

Thomas College Admissions Team
Thomas College Admissions Team

“We would like to thank our partners AT&T and Unum for their generous support of Maine high school students,” said Ed Cervone, Executive Director of the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College. Ed helped plan the Teachers Academy alongside Maine Department of Education Teacher Excellence Coordinator Tammy Ranger, and the Maine Teacher of the Year Program.

Students each had the opportunity to spend the day immersed in one of four career paths: teaching, forensic science, business, or technology. Each path provided the students with focused activities that give them a taste for what a career might look and feel like in that occupation.

In the Teacher’s Academy program students had the opportunity to meet Thomas College professors and top Maine educators from the Maine Teacher of the Year Program as part of their day long immersion into a career path in education. 2020 Somerset County Teacher of the Year Jenny France brings her Early Childhood Education students from Somerset County Career and Technical Center, along with other students in the local Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) program every year. She says it is a great opportunity to get the students out of the classroom to have a career focused experience. Throughout the day students at the Teacher’s Academy engaged in STEAM activities and got the chance to sit down with Thomas College professors and with local Maine County Teachers of the Year to talk about what it’s like to be a teacher.

Spending time with these aspiring educators was energizing,” said Tammy Ranger, Maine DOE Educator Excellence Coordinator and 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year, after participating in both events. “We appreciate our partnership with Thomas College in providing passionate young people with experiential events like the Future Teacher Academy, which cultivates an interest in teaching, and supports students in their desire to engage in creative and meaningful work that will make a positive and lasting impact.”

In the Future Crime Scene Analysis program, students had the chance to go through a crime scene with Thomas College professors in the Criminal Justice/Forensic Psychology program. First given a rundown of what police know of a mock crime scene that had been set up outside on campus, students are asked to provide observations about what they see and help gather evidence.

Mock crime scene
Mock crime scene

Meanwhile in the Future Business Leaders program across campus, students interested in the Business Administration program took part in an operations management simulation with Dr. Ryan Wheaton, Assistant Professor of Management. In small groups the students first created a plan to make as many paper airplanes as possible in 10 minutes time. After 10 minutes is up and they’ve executed their plan, they re-plan and try again, aiming to beat their first goal.

Students at the Future Business Leaders Academy
Students at the Future Business Leaders Academy

Across the hall in the Future Technology Leaders program, a class full of Waterville high school students were hard at work in an on-campus computer lab learning how to program a Raspberry Pi, a small computer that can be used to learn about programming. Waterville High School teacher, Jamee Luce, who accompanied the students, said she was not going to pass up on the opportunity to bring her students to Thomas for a hands-on experience where they can meet professors and learn about local post-secondary programs that are right in their backyard.

The first of the two events held on September 30th, drew in more students than anticipated. The second event, held on October 28th, had a waiting list of interested schools ready to get students over to the day-long, popular event.

Both events brought in a total of 136 students from the following schools over the course of the two days: Belchertown High School, Biddeford High School, Bucksport High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Carrabec High School, Cony High School, Deer Isle-Stonington High School, Dexter Regional High School, Ellsworth High School, Foxcroft Academy, Greely High School, Hampden Academy, John Stark Regional High School, Lawrence High School, Lee Academy, Lewiston High School, Madison Area Memorial High School, Maine Central Institute, Messalonskee High School, Mount Abram Regional High School, Mt. Blue High School, Nokomis Regional High, Piscataquis Community High School, Scarborough High School, Skowhegan Area High School, South Portland High School, Thornton Academy, Waterville High School, and Winslow High School.

“Highly engaging career opportunities like the Future Academies send big ripples of energy in purposeful ways,” said Diana Doiron, Maine DOE Life and Career Ready Education Specialist. “Opportunities for students are increasing and relationships are evolving between Maine schools and a growing body of nonprofit and for-profit organizations all committed to offering young people the ability to get involved in new experiences, extend their connections with others, and comprehend their hopes and dreams.”