Lewiston Adult Education Honors Their First Apprenticeship Pathway CNA Graduates

(Pictured: Gerda Tuffour, left, and Gisele Linyonga, right, are the first students to successfully complete the three modules of the Apprenticeship healthcare pathway)

Lewiston Adult Education Healthcare Apprenticeship Pathway, a 6-month series of courses designed for Multilingual Learners, resulting in multiple certificates for employment in the healthcare industry, is proud to announce the graduation and employment of its first CNA Apprenticeship students. The pathway includes a heavy emphasis on the English language of healthcare, covering reading technical text and case notes, writing incident reports, and workplace verbal communication, including extensive healthcare vocabulary.

Students also earn multiple certifications to support employment, beginning with Bloodborne Pathogens, teaching  Pre-Apprentices how bloodborne pathogens are spread, how to avoid exposure, and what to do if exposed to infectious material. The next level in the Pathway is Personal Support Specialist (PSS), which includes effective language skills for work, and WorkReady (a state certificate that shows the students can understand and demonstrate 7 work skills competencies).  Thirteen participants successfully passed these exams, and five of them are currently employed. Students can then become participants in the Certified Nursing Assistant pathway.

Partners in this employment pathway are the Lewiston CareerCenter which supports students eligible for training funds from the Dept. of Labor, Eastern Maine Development Corporation, and Clover Healthcare. Clover Healthcare offers the use of its facility as a clinical site for the required clinical hours of the course and is also a registered apprenticeship site for the students completing the course. Clover Healthcare has now hired these students and will be working with them as apprentices for the next year continuing training and support in the healthcare field.  The Maine Apprenticeship Program assists in setting up structured yet flexible training programs designed to meet the specific needs of Maine employers through on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction.

The graduation ceremony was held at Lewiston Adult Education Learning Center on September 7, 2023. Family members, staff, and guests were in attendance to celebrate Gisele and Gerda’s success. A second cohort is scheduled to complete the program in early October, and a third just began in August.  The next session will begin in March 2024.

For more information on the upcoming Apprenticeship healthcare pathway, please contact Josee Castonguay (207) 795-4100 x4136 or email jcastonguay@lewistonpublicschools.org.

Media Release: Maine DOE’s Career Advancement and Navigation Specialists Build Workforce Skills Across Maine

The Maine Department of Education (DOE)’s Adult Education team recently launched a Career Advancement and Navigation Specialist initiative to build workforce skills across Maine. The four state Career Advancement and Navigation Specialists work in different regions of Maine and serve people with the next steps in their careers. They help people explore career options, create impactful resumes, apply for positions, seek further career and skills training, obtain translator services, and connect them with community support resources.

Through Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) funding, Career Navigators have already helped more than 450 workers across the state with their career goals, including a new Mainer who sought a second shift position to support his family. The Career Navigator was able to help him find a position that fit his experience and needs and supported him in the process of getting translation services, applying, interviewing, onboarding, and orientation. Another worker was able transition from a food delivery position to a new job in the court system through his work with a Career Navigator.

Maine’s Career Navigators support workers in their communities, at Adult Education sites and through community-based organizations, by partnering with other agencies including the Career Center and FedCAP Rehabilitations Services, and through a network of relationships with employers in manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and hospitality. To learn more about the Career Navigators, click here. 

Career Navigators share their experiences:

“I spoke with a local recovery group about the ways I can help them when they’re ready for employment.  At the end of the conversation, the facilitator said, ‘Normally when we talk about employment, the conversation feels stressful and difficult.  This is the first time it feels hopeful.’ The best part of this job is being able to help people see hope and help them work towards a different future,” said Kate Points, Career Navigator for York County.

“The work of the Career Navigator in local communities means being able to meet people where they’re at, personally and sometimes even physically. Many of our potential clients have access barriers, both physical and mental. They lack transportation, communication skills, technology access, or not only the knowledge, but the tools or the executive function required to access those resources. Many have experienced shame in asking for help previously and they need an advocate who can provide the kind of high touch service and support that puts them and their needs first when it comes to accessing education and employment. In this way, the impact of Career Navigator services are immeasurable,” said Cassie Robichaux, a Career Navigator for Waldo, Knox, Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties.

“The diversity of the people coupled with how resilient they are in my community amazes me. Although the amount of people I serve is high, I’m driven to help more people because getting to know more wonderful people in my community has been so meaningful,” said Karen Morin, a Career Navigator for Kennebec County.

“Sometimes things get in the way and what was once a clear track becomes riddled with obstacles. Career Navigators help people overcome the obstacles encountered when they are looking for employment and the next step in their career journey. That, to me, has always been a great distinction and huge benefit of career navigation through adult education: we can still support you, even after you’ve graduated and whether you’re affiliated with an educational institution or not,” said Frank Spurr, a Career Navigator for Androscoggin and Oxford Counties.

Since the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people. For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.

Maine DOE Hosts Second Annual, “Supporting Adult Multilingual Learners Summer Institute” 

The annual “Supporting Adult Multilingual Learners with their Educational and Career Pathways Summer Institute” was held at Sugarloaf from July 10th – 12th and brought together adult multilingual educators, directors, advisors, and other interested stakeholders from across the State of Maine. This year’s theme was “Building Bridges” and encouraged participants to seek connection across programs and inside the classroom.

This is the second year Maine DOE’s Adult Education Team has hosted the Summer Institute, also affectionately known as “Camp Sugarloaf.” Leaders of the institute worked to empower adult education professionals to support their students by increasing empathy and efficiency in four areas of growth: 1) Cultural Competence and Humility; 2) Overcoming Barriers to Education and Employment; 3) Teaching Practices that Reach All Learners; and 4) Workforce Development. Over the course of three days, participants were able to increase network connections and resources and focus on implementing best practices back into their own programs and community organizations.

This year, around 80 participants attended nearly doubling in size from the previous year – and included 17 presentations, two whole group workshops, a workforce development panel, and a series of networking activities such as learning Kinyarwanda during breakfast, yoga, board game night, movie night, arts and craft night, and more.

The event was kicked off by Kelli Park, University of Southern Maine/Merrymeeting Adult Education teacher, who encouraged participants to consider best practices to increase Cultural Competence and Humility in the classroom. Other sessions included, “Integrating Technology at Every Level” by Lewiston Adult Education Instructors Melanie North and Jen Brown, “Understanding Immigration Law Challenges that Affect Multilingual Learners and Immigrants” by Michelle Gentry (Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project Senior Asylum Program), “Language and Identity Connections Across Cultures and Contexts” by Sarah Wagner (Frederick Community College Academic Advisor), “Mapping Resources in Your Community: MLL Edition” by Jeanne MacDonald-Johnson (Noble Adult & Community Education Assistant Director, Hub 9 MCCA Coordinator), and more.

Participants (or rather, Campers) were encouraged to embrace the spirit of personal growth, learning, and development during the three-day long event. Participant and Workforce Development Panel member Jennifer Tiner commented that Camp Sugarloaf helped her “make connections with other programs and staff to improve and refine [her] own practices.” “It’s an opportunity,” said Joseph Catalano, Workforce Development Panel member, “to think outside the box to solve problems.”

Presenter Jen Brown remarked that “the amount of fun stuff to process and connect, to be creative and have fun together” was one of the highlights of the institute. It allowed a structure to meet people and to ignite similar passions and, as presenter Briana Bizier later commented, understand that, as educators, “we’re all facing the same challenges. You feel like you’re alone sometimes.” Camp Sugarloaf gave educators a sense of community and a way to bring some of the most passionate educators across the state together to solve challenges creatively and collaboratively. “It feels like connecting together as people – authentically – rather than professionals” observed participant, Tekia Cox.

Back Row: Steven Airoldi, Lana Sawyer, David McDonough, Kelley Heath, Mike Emery Front Row: Cora Saddler, Amy Poland, Megan Dichter, Amy Hatch, Christy Le
Meet the Maine DOE Adult Ed Team – Back Row: Steven Airoldi, Lana Sawyer, David McDonough, Kelley Heath, Mike Emery and Front Row: Cora Saddler, Amy Poland, Megan Dichter, Amy Hatch, Christy Le


Career Navigator, Strengthening Maine Workforce Program Help New Mainers get Jobs at Maine General

Kennebec County Career Navigator Karen Morin supports job seekers getting hired at Maine General Hospital in Augusta. Three people have had job offers thus far while the rest are in the process of getting hired.

Career Navigators are part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) which has committed $6 million dollars to address the workforce development needs of those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Maine’s Department of Education, Adult Education team is using these funds to help eligible adults and employment sectors recover from the stresses of the pandemic through a variety of academic and job training supports including Career Advancement Navigators and College and Career Success Coordinators.

Augusta Adult and Community Education is partnering with Maine General Health to provide English as a Second Language classes to Maine General Health multilingual employees as well as the addition of a new pre-health class. The program will reduce barriers that may affect their employees from participating in programming by funding transportation, childcare, and technology costs for employees in environmental services and grounds keeping for career advancement and life skills.

To learn more about Career Navigators and Maine Strengthening workforce please click here.

Media Release: College and Career Success Coordinators Provide Academic and Career Supports and Help Students Transition to College

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine Community College System announced that current and prospective community college students across the state now have access to College and Career Success Coordinators to provide them with academic and career supports and assist them with the transition to college. Through Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) funding, the Success Coordinators have already served more than 1,000 students and helped nearly 400 students develop career and academic plans.

College and Career Success Coordinators work alongside existing community college staff to provide students with:

  • Academic support, including navigating learning platforms, goal setting, creating academic plans, and time management strategies.
  • Transition support for students entering community college.
  • Advising, including success coaching, course collection, troubleshooting, promoting self-agency, career planning, and getting to college completion.
  • Resource referrals on and off campus, including tutoring, financial aid, Adult Education services, housing services, scholarships, workforce opportunities, and community supports.

“The transition to college can be daunting, but now Maine students have access to College and Career Success Coordinators to help them manage that transition with ease and get the help they need to succeed at school and beyond. Success Coordinators are there to help students problem solve and assist them with everything from academic planning to housing and job opportunities,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.  

Maine Adult Education awarded more than 1,000 high school credentials to adult learners last year, and many of these learners continued their education at Maine’s community colleges. Students earning their high school credentials in 2020-25 qualify for up to two years of free community college, paying nothing in tuition or mandatory fees. Success Coordinators refer students to resources on campus, the state’s Adult Education programs, or partner agencies in the community to help them succeed in their college studies.

Prospective and current students can find the dedicated College and Career Success Coordinator in their county here

“The College and Career Success Coordinator was a huge help to me,” said Jessica Piela, a student in the Respiratory Therapy Program at Kennebec Valley Community College. “She helped me navigate college without making me feel ashamed or judged. I may not have continued my career path if it wasn’t for her and her support.”

“I’ve worked in adult education and college academic support for over 15 years, and I am so happy to continue to serve these students as they take the next steps on their educational journey,” said Audrey Kimball, the Success Coordinator for York County Community College.

Since the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.

For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit maine.gov/jobsplan.

To read the bios of Maine’s Career Navigators and College and Career Success Coordinators, and learn more about the programs, click here.