Maine Compass Career Collaborative Offers Comprehensive On-Demand College and Career Resources

The Maine Compass Career Collaborative virtual experience will open to all of Maine’s middle and high school students, free of charge, on April 26, 2021.

GEAR UP Maine and JMG are partnering to create the Maine Compass Career Collaborative, an on-demand career and post-secondary resource for Maine’s students in grades 7 through 12. The site will be universally accessible to all middle school and high school students in Maine.

“This is not a one-time event. The site will always be ‘open’ with on-demand resources to help students develop real-world skills and explore all of the post-secondary and career pathway opportunities that exist in Maine,” explains Debbie Gilmer, President of Syntiro, the non-profit organization that leads Maine’s GEAR UP grant. GEAR UP Maine is a statewide initiative, in collaboration with the University of Maine at Farmington, to support students on pathways to high school graduation and post-secondary education.

The site will include information about Maine’s public university and community college systems, private colleges such as Thomas College, and other programs that support post-secondary education such as the Bridge Academy and the Alfond Scholarship Foundation. It will also provide an on-going resource for students to learn the wide variety and increasing number of post-secondary credentials offered directly by Maine’s employers such as the E.J. Prescott UP training program.

“We wanted to include the word “Collaborative” in the title of the Maine Compass Career Collaborative because we are actively seeking partners to join us in this effort. It will launch as soon as students return from spring break, but we will continue to add content in the coming months and it will be free to students,” says Craig Larrabee, CEO and President of JMG. “In addition to being informational, it’s also going to be a lot of fun for students. We look forward to welcoming more partners as we continue to build this platform.”

The Maine Compass Career Collaborative will include a post-secondary exploration hall, an employer engagement experience, financial literacy education, information about how to write a resume and apply for college and jobs, digital literacy resources, including how students can be their own brand ambassadors, and additional support such as public speaking and professional dress guides.

Registration for the platform will open on April 26, 2021 and links to the Maine Career Compass Collaborative will be posted on the JMG web site ( and the GEAR UP Maine web site ( The site is free of charge to all middle and high school students in Maine, and any educators who are supporting them.

Brunswick Special Ed Teacher Reflects on Making Relationships a Priority During COVID-19 

Carmon Parker, a special education teacher at Harriet Beecher Stowe (HBS) Elementary School in Brunswick has always wanted families to feel connected and supported through her Social Emotional Behavioral programWhen classroom-based learning was paused in March of 2019 at the onset of COVID-19, she really felt these values intensify 

Pre-pandemic photos from the HBS Social Emotional Behavioral program:

Not being able to see her students gave her a sense of helplessness because it meant that it would be that much harder to able to maintain those critically important connections with her studentsLike many teachers and school administrators, Ms. Parker quickly shifted gears to help take the pressure of “keeping up” off her students’ plates and the fear of regression off their family’s mindsShe focused on staying connected in creative ways since they couldn’t physically be together.  

She did this at first by scheduling zoom meetings where she worked with students on mindfulness practices, emotional regulation, and social skills. These meetings were also a time for students and families to ask questions, to help ease anxieties, and constantly reassure and remind students that one day we would all be together again,” said Ms. Parker.  

Along with classroom zoom meetings, they also made scheduled times to include other school community members that students had meaningful relationships with including teachers, administrators, and staff members that students saw on a regular basis around schoolShe even helped organize a birthday car parade for one of the students. I believe this helped us all feel that we were still together, even when apart, recalls Ms. Parker. 

As zooms became the norm and hybrid class schedules started to take shape in schools across Maine, Ms. Parker continued to adapt to the situation too, by making in-person time as productive and positive as possible while also taking advantage of time outside of the classroom to maintain relationships and add an extra layer of learning with her students. 

Thinking ahead during the initial building closures in the springMs. Parker wrote and received a Brunswick Community Education Foundation Grant that allowed her to order calming sensory items for her classrooms (humidifiers, essential oils, sound machines, etc.) which she has used to improve in-class experiences for students in her program. 

In addition, with the support and help from the families of her students, she was able to create safe outdoor learning experiences that helped bolster relationship building, among so many other positive learning and experiential opportunities for her students (and her). Ms. Parker spent many weekends connecting with her students and their families around activities that they could all enjoy together like surfing and skiing. “Her commitment and care for her students during an exceptionally challenging time has helped them to be resilient. They feel safe and supported and Ms. Parker has gone above and beyond to make sure they feel the love,” a parent said.   

In reflecting back on the many changes that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Parker writes that, “the silver linings that have come from this are having more time to connect and build relationships with families, further strengthening relationships with students, and channeling my energies into what and who brings me joy.  

Being apart from my students and team (my best friends) was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. It forced me to explore other passions such outdoor activities and photography. Our first day back at school, after 186 days of being apart, I shared pictures with my students of all the adventures I had. With the main message being, they would always be my greatest one. 

Family Engagement Activity – Capture Your Beauty: 

Information for this article was provided by Carmon Parker and a parent of one of her students as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. The Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign is an avenue for Maine schools to celebrate successes and share innovative ideas, practices, and models that can be adapted and easily implemented by other Maine schools. Stories are not an endorsement of specific materials, services, or practices and are not intended to promote learning programs that are of cost to students, families, or schools. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at 


Job Corps Hosting Virtual Info Sessions April 13th & 29th

Have you ever wondered what Job Corps was all about? Well, here’s your chance to find out!

Job Corps is a free Career Technical Training program that is federally funded  through the Department of Labor for 16-24 year-olds (the upper age limit may be waived for a student with a verifiable disability).  Some of the Career Technical Trainings available are welding, carpentry, culinary arts, CNA, and many more.  Eligible students can also earn their HS diploma and stay on center, free of charge, while they work towards completion of their trade.  The two centers in Maine are in Bangor (Penobscot Job Corps) and Limestone (Loring Job Corps).

Information sessions hosted by Maine’s Job Corps office will be held on April 13th at 1pm or April 29th at 3:00PM on Google Meets. Registration is required at which time link and logon information for the session will be sent via email.

For questions or to register email Ross Chicoine at

MEDIA RELEASE: Nine Additional Maine Educators Join Maine Kids Rock Initiative for 2021-2022 School Year

The Maine Kids Rock Initiative, a statewide program that offers professional training to teachers as well as grants for instruments and equipment to schools with identified needs, enters its fifth year (2021-2022) with the addition of the following educators to its roster:

  • Lanissa Nadeau (Brewer Community School)
  • Neil James (Geiger Elementary/Lewiston Middle School)
  • Bridget Kazukiewicz (King Middle School, Portland)
  • Joshua Lund (Benton Elementary School)
  • Michelle Biddlecom (Winthrop Grade School)
  • Brittany Elwell (Carmel Elementary/Suzanne Smith Elementary/Caravel Middle Schools)
  • Thomas Stott (Beech Hill School, Otis)
  • Oren Robinson (Palermo Consolidated, Windsor Elementary Schools)
  • Nadine Baker (Rose M. Gaffney/Machias Memorial High School)

These teachers join the ranks of nearly 70 additional teachers across Maine who utilize the Modern Band approach to music education with nearly 1,500 students at all grade levels.

“My administrators and I are very excited to bring music into the 21st century for our students,” said Joshua Lund, general music educator. “At Benton Elementary, we are planning to integrate MKR into the general music class experience as well as starting new co-curricular ensembles. The training, resources, and equipment provided through Maine Kids Rock are sure to help transform what music can be for the students in my school!”

The Maine Kids Rock initiative continues as a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the national non-profit organization Little Kids Rock.

“We’re thrilled to continue to grow Maine Kids Rock, bring more music education to Maine, and reach even more kids by using the music they know and love,” said Miranda Altman, Senior Director of Program Operations for Little Kids Rock. “We are incredibly grateful to the teachers of this initiative as we enter our fifth year. Welcome to the nine teachers that are newly joining this program!”

Throughout the year these teachers will receive free professional development opportunities, and their schools will receive a set of classroom “rock band”-style instruments for students to use as they explore music education through a modern music lens.  Learning opportunities for students go beyond just learning to play a guitar or drums; they also explore songwriting, the development of interpersonal skills, and boost self-confidence as performers.

For more information about the Maine Kids Rock Initiative through the Maine Department of Education, please contact Visual and Performing Arts Content Specialist Jason Anderson.

Registration is Now Open for the 18th Annual MLTI Student Conference

The Maine Department of Education is excited to share that registration for the 18th Annual MLTI student conference is open!

The conference will be held on May 20th, in virtual format, and it is FREE to Maine students in grades 4-12! The virtual student conference will be online on Thursday, May 20th from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. The morning will be filled with interactive workshop sessions where students will be able to explore, engage, and create with exciting educational technology. The afternoon UBER session will be a collaborative design experience.

Since this is during a school day student registration must be coordinated by a teacher. Teachers are encouraged to organize student groups to attend the conference. Registration forms must include a teacher’s contact information, school, and student names.
For more information or to register please visit:

Registrations completed by Friday, May 7th will receive an early registration conference gift.

For questions please reach out Jordan Dean,