What Holds Us Together. Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin’s Back-to-School Message

It’s time to celebrate the start of a bright new school year! Maine students, teachers, and school staff members are transitioning into familiar rhythms and routines, reconnecting with classmates and colleagues, and forging new micro-communities on the bus, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, and on the playground. Maine’s public schools are outstanding and unique in many ways. For example, we are the only state offering access to Computer Science labs in all schools and for all grade levels, and Maine was one of the first two states in the nation to make the school lunch program free for all students. Highly skilled and exceptionally caring educators are ready to engage, challenge, and support their students, and courageous school and district leaders are encouraging innovative, student-centered practices.  

Maine students have daily opportunities to gain knowledge, practice new skills, and develop competencies as self-directed learners. This year, they will discover new interests and hone new strengths as they learn how to thrive as unique individuals within a diverse community of other unique individuals. Our schools provide critical contexts for students to strive boldly, to fail safely, to learn, persevere, and recommit—and to glean early sparks of wisdom from those experiences to light their paths through adulthood. 

Reflecting our collective investments and commitments, Maine’s local schools provide shape, cohesion, and definition for our communities. Our schools also stand out, especially in times of stark social and political division, as places where people come together to do the most important work of any free society.   

It’s easy to take public education for granted as it’s woven so tightly into the fabric of our lives. So, during this back-to-school season of fresh starts and unlimited hope, it’s important to pause and recognize what a precious and profound common good we share.  

Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin