The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) partnered to host the 2nd Annual ELO (Extended Learning Opportunities) conference at the University of Maine at Orono (UMaine) recently. The event brought together more than 75 ELO coordinators, mostly from difference school administrative units, across three days.
The conference offered sessions on an array of topics important to ELO coordinators looking to start up and/or expand their career exploration programming. Sessions included how to expand reach to students, how to share information with local school boards, civic dialogue, and engagement, working with community partners, using technology to enhance programming, establishing programming, special education, working with local businesses, regional work, curriculums, expanding ELOs to involve classroom teachers, and so much more.
In addition to the dynamic and diverse set of sessions offered at the conference, Maine DOE and JMG also took time to celebrate all that they have accomplished in recent years with the support of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Program (MJRP) funding. This funding has given Maine the ability to award grants to 180 schools/districts across Maine to start or expand ELO programs, provide customizable pre-designed ELO programs, networking opportunities, and ongoing technical support and professional learning, while also highlighting the work of ELO coordinators to showcase the positive impact the expansion of ELO programming has had on Maine youth and the future workforce here in Maine.
Highlights included small group conversations with Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin, a State of the State Address from JMG Vice President of Extended Learning Opportunities Samantha Brink, and a student presentation and panel by students from Windham High School’s ELO Program. The students presented their senior project which aims to examine ELO programs across Maine in hopes of breaking down barriers to career exploration for Maine students to help inform and improve Maine’s ELO programing.
During the event, Maine DOE and JMG recognized recent ELO grant awardees with a special ceremony and provided awardees with time to provide Maine DOE with feedback to help contribute to the ongoing improvement of ELO education practices and policies.
To learn more about ELO programs in Maine, including opportunities for learning, assistance, and information, visit the Maine DOE website or reach out to Rick Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.