As the Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) Coordinator at Nokomis High School, Kristine Eisenhour describes her job as organizing and cultivating learning experiences in the community for students and classes to engage in. “These opportunities could be field trips, job shadows, paid or unpaid apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and any other educational opportunities beyond the school walls,” she said. Eisenhour adds that the best part of the job is, “creating authentic, rich, learning opportunities that engage students in a whole new way.”
Nokomis High School is one of 26 schools that were awarded funding from a Maine Jobs and Recovery (MJRP) grant to help get an ELO program started at their school. “This funding provides students the opportunity to not only experience what the community has to offer but also to get involved within the community,” said Eisenhour.
Students, too, have been pleased with the new opportunities they have been afforded because of the Nokomis ELO program. “It helped me open new doors to careers that I did not know even existed previously,” said Nokomis senior Zachary Raymond.
“It allows them the ability to network and make connections that can last a lifetime,” said Eisenhour, adding, “Collectively, it shows them what the great state of Maine has to offer right in their backyard.”
More recently, Eisenhour has been spearheading a few new ventures for the Nokomis ELO program, the All Trades Pre Apprenticeship program opportunity, which allows students to explore careers in the trades providing hands-on learning experiences as well as OSHA30 training to prepare them to go into trades occupations. In addition, they are also working with the Cianbro Craft Exploration Program, which allows students to explore the many careers the construction field has to offer through hands-on learning experiences.
Eisenhour extends a heartfelt thank you to the following businesses and organizations for their time and generosity in assisting Nokomis High School students with extended learning opportunities: Augusta Electrical JATC, Cianbro, Foxcroft Veterinary Services, Northern Light, Bangor Humane Society, & Casella Waste.
Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are hands-on, credit-bearing courses outside of the traditional classroom with an emphasis on community-based career exploration. These opportunities are personalized for students and help them explore options for their professional lives. They help students engage in learning through instruction, assignments, and experiential learning. The Maine Department of Education (DOE), along with state-wide partner Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG), have made a concerted effort to provide working models, support, and funding opportunities for Maine schools to set up ELO programs within their school communities. To learn more about Maine’s initiatives with extended learning opportunities, visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/index.php/learning/elo or reach out to Maine DOE ELO Coordinator Rick Wilson at email@example.com.