Students Confront Climate Change with Possible Solutions in 2023 Maine State KidWind Challenge

Twenty-one teams filled the Ocean Gateway in Portland as the Maine State KidWind Challenge returned following a three-year hiatus. “KidWind is a hands-on design celebration that engages students through the lens of wind and solar energy. Student teams design, construct and test small scale wind turbines and solar structures at events all over the world.” The national competition, which ballooned in size in 2009, has engaged over 40,000 students across 33 states. For this event, teams from five different Maine public schools brought turbines and presentations that they have been working on for weeks. They presented their materials to a panel of judges, and  their turbines were put to the test in a wind tunnel to see how much power they generate. The results are projected up for competitors to watch as an energy sensor measures the voltage and current output of the turbines.

Retired Portland teacher Gus Goodwin successfully rallied many of the teachers who had participated in the past. The event is one that Goodwin has been championing for years, feeling that it helps students confront climate change with possible solutions. “We’re talking about climate change, but it left the students with a sense of agency… a sense that they can do something,” he told Newscenter Maine. As with many in-person events around the state, the Maine State KidWind Challenge was not quite back to its 2019 participation levels. Winslow Junior High School teacher Ginny Brackett recounted March of 2020 to her current group of four teams when she left her classroom with partially completed turbines. Her students, who were then elementary students, were grateful for the opportunity.

The day opened with a Q&A with Taylor Ward from UMaine’s Advanced Structures & Composite Center and Steve Nolet, Senior Director of Innovation & Technology for TPI Composites, who manufacture wind blades. The students were also presented a keynote from Tagwongo Obomsawin, who shared her own journey from rural life in Western Maine to her current position as the Clean Energy Partnership Program Manager in the Governor’s Energy Office.

The top-ranking teams, “W Group” from Mt. Ararat Middle School and “West End Whales” from Portland and Casco Bay High School, will be invited to compete at the national KidWind event in May at the University of Colorado. The “NCL Wind Turbines” from Massabesic Middle School were the runners-up and “MTA 1” from Mt. Ararat won the Spirit Award.

Prior to the event, Mt. Ararat Middle School STEM teacher Sandy Bickford appeared on MLTI’s Teaching with Tech podcast episode and she highlighted the KidWind Challenge as her favorite project to work on with students. “It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of steps, it’s a lot of teaching, but… it’s relevant.”

The KidWind Challenge highlights many of the best qualities of STEAM learning. The teams of students who gathered at the Ocean Gateway exemplified the type of engagement in a project and resilience in problem-solving that many educators strive to introduce into their classrooms.




Public Pre-K Expansion Distinguished Educator Opportunity

As part of Maine’s Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP), the Maine Department of Education (DOE) was awarded $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support the expansion of public pre-k opportunities in Maine.  To assist with the provision of technical assistance and professional learning for the new and expanding pre-k programs being funding through this opportunity, the Maine DOE is seeking a Distinguished Educator to be part of its Early Learning Team.  Under the Distinguished Educator program, the Maine DOE contracts with a public school system or community agency to borrow an educator for a designated period, in this case the 2023-24 school year.  Following service in the program, the Distinguished Educator returns to their sending school system/community agency.

Maine educators who meet the qualifications described below are strongly encouraged to consider applying for this opportunity. Distinguished educators share their expertise with the Maine DOE and other Maine educators while also growing as professionals through a range of new and exciting experiences. The application period for this position will remain open until April 25, 2023.  Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume to Lee Anne Larsen, Director of Early Learning (  Candidates selected for interviews will be notified by May 5, 2023.

Questions may be directed to

Maine Department of Education Distinguished Educator Public Pre-K Expansion Technical Assistance Provider


The Public Pre-K Technical Assistance Provider engages in professional work related to planning and providing technical assistance and professional learning for public preschool programs, including programs in partnership with Head Start and private providers.  The position conducts technical assistance visits, including observations of classrooms, and reviews data to help support program improvement.  The position is part of the Early Learning Team within the Maine Department of Education’s Office of Innovation.  The position coordinates regularly with the DOE’s Early Childhood Specialist and Public Pre-K Consultant.  Statewide travel is required.

REPRESENTATIVE TASKS of this position include but are not limited to:

  • Delivering appropriate technical assistance and professional learning to enhance program implementation — may specifically address evidence-based early childhood curriculum, learner-centered instruction, differential learning, assessment, developmental education and/or experiential learning, developing and implementing MOUs with community providers, etc.
  • Providing interpretation and explanations of statutory provisions to local school authorities, CDS contracted providers, and the public.
  • Supporting SAU compliance with the Chapter 124 Public Preschool Program Standards and providing technical assistance related to program improvement.
  • Analyzing data contained in SAU annual reports of pre-k programming.
  • Other duties applicable to support of public pre-k expansion efforts, as assigned.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND ABILITIES REQUIRED to successfully perform the work assigned:

  • Experience with the early childhood general education and special education communities in Maine and with public school education in Maine.
  • Knowledge of current learning research and exemplary early childhood educational instructional strategies in all early learning domains.
  • Knowledge of current and emerging state and federal legislation, rules and regulations impacting early childhood education, including Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) childcare licensing and Child Development Services (CDS).
  • Knowledge of exemplary evidence-based early childhood curriculum, learner-centered instruction, differential learning, assessment, developmental education, and experiential learning, and understanding of the relationships among these areas.
  • Knowledge of and experience with Maine’s College and career Ready Learning Results and Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards.
  • Knowledge and experience with developing and implementing public pre-k programs in partnership with community providers (e.g. Head Start, Child Care, etc.).
  • Knowledge of community involvement issues in education policy decisions and operations.
  • Ability to interpret and explain statutory provisions to local school authorities, community providers, and the public.
  • Ability to effectively provide information, technical assistance, professional development and program development support and expertise.
  • Ability to use technology-based communications (i.e., Internet, Web) and e-mail systems and both laptop and desktop computer systems, word processing and data applications.
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Ability to effectively facilitate meetings, organize and manage multiple projects.
  • Ability to apply and facilitate group dynamics and to use exemplary interpersonal skills in order to work collaboratively, develop positive working relationships, and involve stakeholders at the local and state level.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:  A Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field and two (2) years of professional level experience in public pre-k programming is required.  A Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and five years of early childhood teaching and/or administrative experience is preferred. CLASS Observer certification at the pre-k level is also preferred.

Media Release: Maine Department of Education Awards $900,000 in RREV Funding to Support Education Innovation

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today awarded an additional $900,000 in Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) funding to support education innovation at Rose M Gaffney Elementary School in Machias, Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School, North Haven Community School, RSU 10 schools, Union 103 schools, and Trenton Elementary School. These federal funds will be used to invest in strategies to engage students through outdoor learning, extended learning opportunities, and creating multiple education pathways.

RREV investments now total $8.5 million to 45 awardees. The Maine DOE was awarded $16.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rethink K-12 Education Models Funding. As one of 11 States to receive funding, Maine created RREV to support the work of visionary educators to develop innovative pilot programs around remote and outside of the classroom learning, including professional development and pilot design classes. Courses in innovative design process are available through several of Maine’s public and private universities at no cost to Maine educators who wish to participate. In addition to the innovative pilot development classes, the Department is also offering asynchronous, innovative principles webinars which are available to all educators in self-paced, independent modules.

“We are going to be creating kits that teachers can grab and go and take to their outdoor learning space. The kits provide engaging activities to supplement classroom learning. Our goal is to increase the amount of outdoor learning happening at school so that we will see happier kids, kids who are more focused and engaged, and kids who appreciate and respect the environment around us. We’re eager to build a large collection of kits that will be fun and engaging,” said Rose M Gaffney Elementary School 5th Grade Teacher Kelly Woodward.

“Caring for honeybees has the potential to deepen our students’ connection with nature and drive their passion for making positive changes for their future and the future of our planet. It also has the potential to build a unique partnership with the community that will help build engagement. We believe that this pilot program, using an apiary and partnering with the Western Maine Beekeepers Association, will have a positive impact on attendance, engagement, and wellbeing for our 4th and 5th graders,” said RSU 10 teacher Maggie Corlett.

“We are using our RREV pilot to step up our programming on outdoor education, wildlife studies, and agricultural studies. We will use these funds to heat our greenhouse so that our egg studies can continue in the greenhouse year-round, we’re establishing a property use agreement with a local nonprofit ski mountain so that our outdoor studies class will have access to a satellite campus and 50 acres of wilderness to explore, and we will purchase boats and equipment for our wildlife studies program,” said Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School Principal James Tyler.

“Our purpose was to spark innovation with our students and provide engaging and inspirational opportunities where they can take ownership of their learning. We built off a lot of programs we already have going and wanted to make them even more engaging and available to all of our students. Students will get to see a new greenhouse where they can watch their projects literally grow from seed to product and be able to work them into recipes in a kitchen and sell to their own community members. We will also have a trail built around the school where students can create products and have opportunities for community members to come and participate as part of the school,” said Jonesport-Beals High School Co-Teacher Leader & English Teacher Becky Coffin.

“We have a makerspace building on our school’s campus and we want to transform that into a lifelong learning hub for our k-12 students to use during the day and bring in adults from our community for classes at night. We have an hour and fifteen-minute ferry ride to get here so we have to do a lot for ourselves. We have to train and uplift from within at the grassroots level. Our RREV grant is going to support this lifelong learning hub to work with our town administration to diversify our workforce and help prepare young people and adults for the different kinds of work and professions that we need,” said North Haven Community School Principal Shaun Johnson.

“We named our initiative TREE—Trenton Rethinking Experiential Education—and it’s a k-8 initiative to get our kids outside learning in the community, not just on our school property. We want to think about how all of our students get their needs met want to increase independence, peer relationships, self-awareness, and kids overall mental health,” said Trenton Elementary School teacher Snow Ross.

Schools will use this funding in a variety of innovative ways, including:

  • Rose M Gaffney Elementary School in Machias will create and implement pre-k through 8th grade outdoor education lessons. These lessons will provide learners with the opportunity to use the trail system behind the school and materials to continue their classroom learning in an outdoor setting. The school’s team observed that academic work in an outdoor setting helped learners to be more engaged, happy and focused. By increasing the amount of outdoor learning, students will be supported in their social and emotional growth. RREV funding will be used to create kits with engaging activities for educators to use in an outdoor learning environment and the school will work alongside community partners such as Downeast Coastal Conservancy to implement the lessons.
  • Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School will grow their innovative outdoor-based education program to increase student engagement and better prepare students for their lives after high school. By participating in the program, students will develop and exercise a host of skills including problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, marketing, salesmanship, and financial management. Valley Outdoors will partner with Baker Mountain, a community non-profit, to ensure all students in grades 5-12 have access to nature-based learning opportunities. Under the guidance of teaching staff, students will be able to use the base lodge and over 50 acres of trails and wooded land at Baker Mountain to engage in project-based learning activities. In addition, the school will scale up current greenhouse operations, expand hands-on project offerings, and develop water exploration and research activities for our wildlife studies program. The SAU anticipates 100% of the student body will be able to engage in at least one integrated unit of study.
  • North Haven Community School will partner with their town administration to support their efforts of economic diversification and workforce development, chiefly in response to the impending impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the long-term viability of the fishing and lobstering industry. In coordination with the community, North Haven Community School will develop programming to support lifelong learning outcomes for both K-12 and adult learners, housed in their auxiliary classroom space dubbed the “Projects Building.”
  • RSU 10 will pilot a program to support students struggling with adverse childhood experiences. The work will provide strategies to enhance engagement, improve attendance, foster resilience skills, and promote positive behaviors. Meroby Elementary and Mountain Valley Middle School will team up to develop and expand The MV Bee Academy in the RSU#10 School District. A bee apiary and storage facility will be built to provide the infrastructure needed for beekeeping experiences. 4th and 5th-grade students will work closely with a local bee club. As their knowledge base grows, these children will mentor other grade levels and share their knowledge with community members. To maintain the sustainability of this program, students will develop a small business. In it, they will sell queen bees, honey, wax products, and other bee-related items.
  • Union 103 schools will support creative opportunities and innovative practices for students and teachers at all of their schools. All students and staff will have access to a new greenhouse which will foster creativity and learning through aquaponics and aquaculture. With an outdoor lab, students will also take part in a space dedicated to learning in ways not yet offered inside the four walls of a classroom, such as a native pollinator garden, raised beds, and fruit trees. A new learning lab with access to a multipurpose classroom will provide a much-needed creative and innovative space for students. This space will provide students and teachers with flexibility to help spark creativity and experiential learning as they continue to foster initiatives throughout the year with involvement in marine science activities with Downeast Institute and author visits each year. All students will also have the opportunity to explore a new walking path and outdoor learning trail around Beals Elementary School.
  • Trenton Elementary School’s TREE-Trenton’s Rethinking Experiential Education is a K-8 initiative that embeds outdoor learning into a child’s school experience that increases independence, peer relationships, self-awareness, and overall mental health. The school will integrate therapeutic services, STEM based learning, and outdoor collaborative experiential learning into the student experiences. They will use field work and place-based learning in the living world in each child’s school day. Students will participate in engaging, outdoor experiences that will help them to build social connections and increase their self-esteem while reconnecting with our natural world. The aim is to increase student attendance, engagement, and self-regulatory skills.

The RREV initiative was also granted a no-cost-extension year, meaning that all 45 pilots will have an extra year to utilize their available funding for their innovative pilots.

For more information on RREV and the pilots, visit 

Interviews are available with RREV grant recipients upon request as well as the recording of the announcement featuring RREV grant recipients discussing their projects. 

MaineCare Seed Adjustments to be Made; Review Q2’23 Reports by April 20, 2023

The recovery of Q2’23 MaineCare Seed will occur in the April 2023 subsidy payment. The Maine DOE is asking Districts to review their reports by April 20, 2023, to ensure accurate adjustments to subsidy. SAU staff must review, and submit disputes, student by student claims on both the public and private MaineCare reports for Q2’23 by April 20, 2023.

To access the MaineCare Seed reports, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Log into NEO:
  2. Click on the Student Data tab
  3. Click on the Student Report tab
  4. Select MaineCare in the Reporting Area drop-down
  5. save iconChoose the quarterly Seed report and the report type (private/public)
  6. Click view report button
  7. Once the report appears on the screen, choose the export button.

You may export the reports to Excel but, please be aware that there may be multiple worksheet tabs within the workbook. Save the file to your computer.

To dispute a claim:

If you disagree that a particular student or time period should not be on the report, please send an email with the following information for each State Student ID to

  • State Student ID
  • The reason that you disagree
  • Identify the type of report: public or private
  • Quarter in which the claims are located
  • Service provided dates (From and To)
  • Total amount of Seed being disputed

Summer services:

Students must be enrolled for the time period they are receiving educational services. This means that students that are receiving extended school year services in district or extended school year services in an out of district placement must have a primary enrollment for that time period in order for the MDOE to have the most accurate enrollment data to determine SAU responsibility for MaineCare Seed.

If you have difficulty logging into NEO:

Anyone who currently has Special Education Director permissions to the Special Education module, will automatically have permissions to access MaineCare reports.

As in the past, if a new staff member needs permission to access this module, a request from the Superintendent to the Maine DOE helpdesk will be necessary. The helpdesk contact information is or 207-624-6896.

Please contact

for more information or technical assistance related to MaineCare Seed.

Students Showcase Their Expertise at Annual SkillsUSA Championships in Bangor

(Pictured: A student operating heavy equipment in a simulator as part of the Heavy Equipment contest at SkillsUSA)

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is growing in Maine, and it was all the more evident at the SkillsUSA Maine State Championships held in Bangor recently. Students enrolled in the many career and technical education (CTE) programs found in schools across Maine gathered in Bangor for an exciting two-day event where they got the chance to showcase the skills they have mastered. (See Maine DOE’s 2023 CTE Infographic to learn about CTE expansion in Maine.)

SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college, and middle school students, and professional members enrolled in training, trade, technical, health, and skilled service occupations. Maine’s Chapter hosts an annual Championship event each year where students get the opportunity to showcase their skills by competing in various contests that allow them to show off what they know.

Contests include everything from wedding cake decorating to firefighting, computer programing, auto tool identification, everything in between, and then some! There were over 70 different contests that students participated in over the two-day event that columnated with an awards ceremony at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center.

For many of the students, coming to SkillsUSA is an incredible accomplishment that they take a lot of pride in, and this year was extra special because they got the chance to share it with family and friends for the first time in a few years. The event, held at United Technologies Center (UTC), Eastern Maine Community College, and Cross Insurance Center, was held in person and the public was allowed to attend for the first time since before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exciting event bustled with groups of students, educators, instructors, and administrators, as well as TV news crews, family members, and supporters observing, snapping pictures, and taking videos of students while they competed.

Braden Luce competed in the Welding Sculpture contest along with twelve other students this year. Braden is enrolled in school at both Madomack Valley High School and Mid-Coast School of Technology where he participates in the welding program. He says he loves the program because of the hands-on aspect of it. Braden tells us that he looks forward to school every single day and is even disappointed when school gets closed on snow days.

Ahna Higgins competed in the Job Interview competition where she placed third earning a bronze medal. “I am very satisfied with my work in this competition because it helped me create connections in my technical center and become more confident in my interviewing skills,” she said. Ahna is a student at Somerset Career and Technical Center (SCTC) and Skowhegan Area High School. Last year she was enrolled in SCTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program and this year, her senior year, she has been part of the Early Education and Teaching program.

Higgins describes the work she does at SCTC as very fulfilling. “I get to spend my time in class doing things that really matter to me like working with children and learning about their development,” she said. “While preparing for SkillsUSA I also got the opportunity to prepare myself for an interview in the Education field,” she added. In the fall Higgins is planning to attend the University of Maine at Farmington to major in Elementary Education.

The Maine Department of Education congratulates all of the students who competed in SkillsUSA this year! We extend a special thank you, as well, to Maine’s Career and Technical Education schools for their continued dedication to providing quality career and technical education pathways to students across Maine.

Find the names of award recipients from the 2023 SkillsUSA Championships here.

Find more pictures from the conference, including the awards ceremony on the SkillsUSA Facebook Page.

See more media coverage of this event at the following links:

To learn more about SkillsUSA, check out Maine’s website here. To learn more about Career and Technical Education in Maine visit the Maine Department of Education’s website.