Media Release: Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin Joins US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, New England State Education Chiefs for Regional Education Summit in Rhode Island

Pender Panel

Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin joined U.S. Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona and Commissioners of Education from every New England state for the Reimagining Education & New England’s Workforce (RENEW) Summit 2022 hosted by education officials in Rhode Island. Makin also participated in a panel discussion with Secretary Cardona to discuss the ways that Maine is accelerating learning through interdisciplinary, project-based instruction.

“This Summit brings together the unique and diverse perspectives of education and business leaders from across New England to learn from one another as we collectively identify strategies to strengthen public schools. It was an honor to serve alongside Secretary Cardona as a panelist today to share the innovative educational approaches we are supporting in Maine schools. Multiple pathways, including Extended Learning Opportunities, CTE programs, the Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative, and other interdisciplinary, project-based, applied learning activities, effectively engage students in higher order thinking and real-world problem solving,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “These approaches not only efficiently accelerate learning across multiple content areas, they also prepare students for success in post-secondary education, jobs, and careers.”

The Summit convened education and workforce leaders from across New England for a robust discussion on building strong college and career pathways and accelerating learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Secretary of Education, I hope to maintain intentional partnership with this group of New England chiefs as they continue to move opportunity forward in our country,” said U.S Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona. “I want to share my gratitude towards this group for working to make sure education is equitable for students. We are working to reimagine education, everyone here should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. The worst thing we can do now is become complacent.”

“I’m excited about the potential that exists in the room today, the value that each of our New England states brings to our collective effort to expand career-connected education,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Dr. Amy Loyd. “I’m grateful to these public and private sector leaders whose work will help young people build rewarding futures.”

Held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, the inaugural RENEW Summit featured panel discussions and cross-sector, cross-state breakout groups, allowing participants to highlight successes, analyze challenges and establish strategies to break down barriers and bolster student achievement. New England School Chiefs traditionally hold an annual meeting to promote collaboration and share best practices to address pressing issues in education; last year, they convened in Massachusetts.

At RENEW, the six New England School Chiefs, including Frank Edelblut (NH), Daniel French (VT), Infante-Green (RI), Pender Makin (ME), Jeffrey Riley (MA), and Charlene Russell-Tucker (CT), signed a resolution in support of regional collaboration to accelerate student learning and build college and career pathways. Within the resolution, the school chiefs pledged to actively engage workforce, higher education, state and local government officials, and community leaders to collaboratively marshal strategies and resources necessary to meet collective goals.

The RENEW Summit will be held in Vermont next year.

New England School Chiefs expressed excitement for the partnership and added the following:

“New England’s School Chiefs meet regularly to share information, collaborate, and work together to strengthen public education across our region. The RENEW Summit is the culmination of strong relationships, communication, and one common goal: help students leap ahead in academic achievement while preparing them for the global economy,” said Commissioner Infante-Green. “Together, we are establishing a bold vision that we hope inspires regional collaboration around the country. We are grateful to have hosted the inaugural annual RENEW Summit and look forward to strengthening these partnerships in the years ahead.”

“Throughout the pandemic, as the education leaders from each of the New England states, we met weekly to collaborate and make sure we were bringing forth the best options to support our students,” said New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “This spirit of collaboration has continued as we work with and support each other in recovery efforts and to make sure we create pathways to bright futures for all of our students.”

“It’s a pleasure to be part of this summit and collaborate on ways to make learning more engaging and relevant for students, both in terms of their time in the classroom and by connecting them with opportunities related to college and a career,” said Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “As we in Massachusetts work on initiatives like Early College, Innovation Pathways, and Deeper Learning, it’s helpful to hear how our neighboring states are preparing their students and find areas where we can learn from each other.”

“Working with my colleagues around New England, discussing shared challenges and learning about new and novel solutions was immensely valuable to Vermont’s pandemic response,” said Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French. “Now we are moving toward education recovery and building an education system for the 21st Century, focused on quality and equity. I am looking forward to continued partnership with our neighbors to discuss our shared goals and shared challenges, and build a better future for New England’s students.”

“This collaborative effort will help us develop important new connections so that together, as a region, we can build a career pathways coalition which will not only benefit all New England students and businesses, but serve as a national model,” said Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker. “I am pleased to be joined by Connecticut’s Higher Education, Business and Workforce Development leaders at this summit to share best practices and successes, while continuing to grow our partnership with our New England counterparts.”