Maine DOE Adult Education Team Hosts Showcase of First ‘Teaching the Skills That Matter’ Training Program

(Pictured: Vanessa Richards, Ellsworth Adult Education)

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) Adult Education team recently brought together 23 educators from adult education programs across Maine at the UMA-Lewiston campus to celebrate their capstone presentations for Teaching Skills that Matter in Adult Education (TSTM). The event was the culmination of a 7-month TSTM training provided by Maine DOE’s Adult Education Team.

Teaching Skills that Matter in Adult Education (TSTM) is a federal initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) that was developed by the American Institutes for Research. The goal of the initiative is to train teachers to integrate the skills that adults need for success in career and life using evidence-based approaches that work across topics that are also important to adults (civics education, digital literacy, financial literacy, health literacy, and workforce preparation).

In 2020, the Maine DOE’s Adult Education Team applied to be part of a cohort of states to be trained in using the TSTM materials. A team of four Maine adult educators, Michael Emery from Augusta Adult and Community Education, Melanie North from MSAD 52 Adult and Community Education, Irina Petranek from Lewiston Adult Education, and Lyn Warne from Eastern Aroostook Adult Education, and Amy Poland, Maine DOE Adult Education PD Coordinator participated in an intensive yearlong training which resulted in a plan to bring the TSTM training to Maine’s adult education programs.

As a result of this effort, Maine’s first cohort of TSTM training kicked off in September 2021 at a 2-day, in-person event that was followed by virtual meetings to support their on-going efforts to teach TSTM in diverse teaching contexts, making math and science connections to TSTM lessons, and integrating TSTM into the existing curriculum. Participants also worked with a coach and coaching group on an ongoing basis from September 2021 through April 2022 meeting regularly to discuss using TSTM in the classroom. They also had two classroom observations, giving them a chance to reflect on their work.

The recently held event served as the wrap up event for Maine’s first TSTM cohort featuring 5 minute presentations from each adult education educator that participated in the training including: Washington County Adult and Community Education, RSU 24 Adult Ed, Mount Desert Island Adult Education, Ellsworth Adult Education, MSAD1 Adult and Community Education, Riverside Adult Education (RSU 22, 26, 34), Franklin County Adult Education, Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education, Augusta Adult and Community Education, MSAD52 Adult & Community Education, RSU 16 Adult Ed, Lewiston Adult Education, Merrymeeting Adult Education, Portland Adult Education, Windham Raymond Adult Ed, and Marshwood Adult Education.

During each presentation, participants shared their experiences teaching using TSTM lessons in practice, how they adapted the lessons to fit what their learners needs, their lessons learned, and many other useful pieces of information relevant to their peers and the Maine DOE for future success with the TSTM program.

With culture as a common theme, many shared their experiences working both remotely and in-person to teach lessons that were both relevant and accessible to adult learners enrolled in their respective programs and regions.

There were also many shared experiences in working with adult learners which resulted in everything from sharing tips and tricks to turning common frustrations into something positive.

“The tech will get you every time,” said Valerie from Washington County Adult Education program. While her comment got a chuckle and a knowing head nod from most around the room, she turned it into an important lesson for educators about modeling working through a problem (such as a technology issue) in front of students, to show them how to problem-solve in real time – a handy skill for everyone to develop.

Also included in the training was a TSTM toolkit packed with high-quality lessons that are easily adapted for Maine’s varied adult education population (multilingual, adult basic education, high school completion, workforce training, college transitions, etc.). Also integrated into the toolkit are many of the employability skills (soft skills) already taught in Maine which are integrated into academic lessons that highlight relevant topics for adult learners, such as budgeting, reading workplace safety signs, and first amendment rights.

“TSTM pushed me to learn a variety of remote learning tools,” shared Rochelle from Portland Adult Education Program. Rochelle wasn’t the only one to talk about a journey with learning remote learning tools and refreshing their toolbox of digital tools that can help with in-person learning as well. Many of the educators in the room really benefited from their experience using the toolkit provided by TSTM, especially in the wake of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic which changed the way most educators teach.

A booklet created by Maine Snap-Ed (https://www.mainesnap-ed.org/) An example of a community resource used in Maine Adult Education programs

Another common theme among participants was how much more enriching and sustainable their lessons and curriculum became as a result of partnering with local agencies. For many, these connections were critical for things like food stamps and/or education materials, and to supplement their curriculum without having to reinvent something that community partners could come in and present or provide information and/or tools for.

Maine DOE’s Adult Education Team Professional Development Coordinator Amy Poland says, “We are currently planning next year, but we anticipate holding another statewide training similar to this year’s.” She adds that the team is also working on a community of practice which will feature a series of workshops around effective teaching practices using the TSTM Toolkit lessons, and convening a cohort of teachers who will create and curate new materials, and more for their fellow adult education educators across the State.

To learn more about TSTM visit their national website. To learn more about Maine’s Adult Education efforts, join the Adult Education listserv or email Amy Poland at amy.poland@maine.gov.

Governor Mills Announces New Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan Initiative to Strengthen Maine’s Healthcare Workforce

Governor Janet Mills today announced the launch of Healthcare Training for ME, an initiative of her Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to strengthen Maine’s healthcare workforce by expanding availability of free and low-cost career training to help healthcare workers advance their careers, support workforce training needs of healthcare employers, and attract new workers to fast-growing fields.

Through the new Healthcare Training for ME website, individuals and employers can connect with training from employers and education partners, such as adult education programs, community colleges, and the university system. Individuals and employers may then apply to receive tuition assistance to enroll in training programs, or offer training to their employees, at little or no cost.

The initiative is a partnership of the Maine Department of Labor, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Department of Education, Maine Community College System, and the University of Maine System. It is supported by $21 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, which includes $8.5 million allocated to DOL and $12.5 million allocated to the Maine Community College System for workforce training.

“The health care sector is one of Maine’s largest employers, putting thousands of Maine people to work in good-paying jobs protecting the health of Maine people. But for a long time now, health care facilities across the state have had to grapple with a shortage of workers and the pandemic has only made the problem worse,” said Governor Mills. “These new training programs will make it easier and more affordable for people, especially young people, to pursue careers in health care and to move up the career ladder into higher-paying jobs, which supports our health care employers and strengthens our health care workforce in the long-run.”

“The Maine Department of Labor is committed to connecting the people of our state to high-wage, in-demand jobs. This new partnership and centralized website will be a crucial resource for healthcare employers and employees looking to advance their and their workforce’s skills,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “Healthcare training opportunities can now be found in one easy to navigate place, and healthcare workers can potentially access career-advancing training with little to no cost to them or their employer.”

“The health of Maine people and the health of our economy depend on having a strong, high-quality health care system,” said Jeanne Lambrew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The cornerstone of our health care system is the skilled professionals whose knowledge, training, and compassion keep Maine people healthy. The Healthcare Training for ME program will attract more people to these valuable professions and help them advance in their careers, a central goal of Governor Mills’ strategy to strengthen Maine’s health care workforce now and into the future.”

“We are proud to partner in this effort to provide additional pathways for those who want to pursue careers as healthcare professionals. Maine’s adult education programs have years of experience in offering industry-recognized, credential bearing trainings and opportunities to jumpstart careers in the healthcare workforce,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “Healthcare Training for ME helps streamline access to these trainings and opportunities while expanding collaboration with employers and higher education programs to provide more advanced training and employment opportunities.” By working directly with health care employers across fields such as long-term care, emergency services, hospitals, behavioral health, and dental, Healthcare Training for ME aims to improve workforce training and retention rates. For current health care workers, the program offers free or low-cost pathways to new skills and advanced credentials, particularly through shorter-term training options. Prospective health care workers may access information, training, and other support to start their careers.

Starting today, health care employers with fewer than 100 employees across their system who accept MaineCare, may apply for training funds to address staff recruitment and retention issues stemming from the pandemic. All employers and individuals may start to apply for training funds on May 2, 2022.

Leaders from Maine’s health care industry, colleges, and universities welcomed the launch of Healthcare Training for ME as a vital and innovative program to help strengthen Maine’s critical health care workforce following the disruption of the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into focus the value of Maine’s hospital workforce and the rewards of professions in health care,” said Steven Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. “Throughout Maine, hospital staff have saved lives and provided high-quality care to their local communities. The HealthCare Training for ME program will help to attract more people to these professions and retain current workers, as part of the Mills Administration’s broader strategy to invest in and strengthen Maine’s health care workforce.”

“The two most important indicators of pandemic recovery in Maine nursing homes and assisted living communities are robust staffing and occupancy,” said Angela Westhoff, President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association. “COVID-19 continues to put strain on these connected factors and our members remain concerned about staff burnout, turnover, and a mass departure from caregiving altogether. MHCA is pleased to partner with the Administration on tangible recruitment and retention solutions, like Healthcare Training for ME, that will encourage, incentivize, and cultivate the next generation of Maine’s health care professionals.”

“As the largest producer of the state’s professional healthcare workforce, the University of Maine System looks forward to this partnership,” said Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System. “The new Healthcare Training for ME initiative will support more Mainers pursuing good-paying jobs caring for their community through high-quality healthcare education and training that improve their own social mobility and health outcomes in rural Maine.”

“The short-term health care programs at Maine’s community colleges have been designed in partnership with medical partners across the state, ensuring that learners get exactly the skills needed for today’s workplace. Not only do we have excellent nursing and other 2-year programs, but we’re using the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan funds to greatly expand our short-term health care training courses,” said Dan Belyea, Chief Workforce Development Officer at the Maine Community College System. “The Healthcare Training for ME program illustrates the response needed to deliver a skilled workforce to high-demand health care positions, and the need to act quickly and collaboratively. Our short-term training embraces real-time opportunities and the accelerated track in which learners can achieve a credential of value and enter into the workforce in a matter of months.”

“These last few years have been truly unprecedented in the growth and complexity of the need within the behavioral health realm. Clinicians and staff have had to work long hours and carry heavy loads all across Maine,” said Malory Shaughnessy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services.“Alliance members are encouraged by the Mills Administration developing and advancing the new workforce initiatives in the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan. Looking forward, we have hope that these new Healthcare Training for ME resources for providers and staff will help with current needs as well as address our longstanding workforce shortages. We are excited to collaborate with the administration on this and their broader health care workforce efforts.”

Healthcare Training for ME is part of a series of initiatives from Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to invest in the state’s health care workforce. Upcoming programs include scholarships and student loan relief for individuals in health care professions; new recruitment efforts to encourage young people to enter careers in health care; and the creation of health care career navigators to help people interested in health care fields determine the right career path for them.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

It draws heavily on recommendations from the  Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.

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

South Portland Adult Education Offers ‘Survival English’ to New Mainers on Site

Pictured: Simon Mayingi, teaching a group of “New Mainers” in the conference room at the South Portland Howard Johnson Hotel last month.

Prior to the pandemic, South Portland (SoPo) Adult Education had been offering English learning classes for several years in a donated space in the West End of South Portland for new Mainers living in that area who needed to learn English. This was in addition to evening classes offered at South Portland High School.

More recently, with the influx of new Mainers arriving here to live, SoPo Adult Ed has been trying something new to help break down barriers for some who may not be able to make it to South Portland High School for evening classes.

Like many people who are seeking to extend their education or even take on full or part-time work, transportation and childcare can be an enormous barrier. Knowing this is the case for many of the new Mainers living in temporary housing in South Portland, the SoPo Adult Education Program collaborated with the Howard Johnson, a location providing temporary housing, to arrange a space to offer basic English to residents on a weekly basis.

“Maybe the best description of the English being offered is, “Survival English,” said South Portland Adult Education Director David Morrill. “Greetings and introduction, recognizing signs and the English word associated with it,” he added.

“Opportunities to gain some basic English skills are an important part of supporting Maine’s newest residents to thrive here,” said April Perkins, Maine Department of Education World Languages & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist. “Removing potential barriers, like transportation and childcare, shows a true commitment to solutions-oriented thinking and responding to the in-the-moment needs of these valued community members. The work South Portland Adult Education is doing is planting the seeds necessary for successful transition to life in Maine – including future employment, academic pursuits, and civic engagement.”

In addition to SoPo Adult Ed’s efforts to provide flexibility in educational offerings for Maine’s new residents, the community of South Portland is providing many other services, community health, social services, in addition to South Portland School Department and surrounding school districts who have been busy transitioning younger new Mainers into the schools.

Marissa, SoPo Adult Ed. Instructor teaching English, July of 2021
Marissa, SoPo Adult Ed. Instructor teaching English, July of 2021

Read more about this effort in the local news:

https://www.pressherald.com/2022/01/24/portland-officials-ask-for-help-as-number-of-asylum-seekers-continues-to-grow/

https://www.pressherald.com/2021/12/24/room-at-the-inn-a-south-portland-hotel-goes-all-out-to-help-asylum-seekers/?rel=related

 

 

Riverside Adult Education Recognized for its Innovative Day Reporting Program

Riverside Adult Education serves the communities of Regional School Units (RSUs) 26, 22, and 34 in Penobscot County. Like all of Maine’s high-quality adult education programs, Riverside works with adults in their region looking for personal, professional, and academic growth.

Riverside was recognized recently by the Maine Sheriff’s Association and the Penobscot County Jail for their unique PACE Day Reporting Program. PACE stands for Purpose, Awareness, Connection, and Education, and invites a niche audience of participants to go at their own pace, or to simply enjoy a change of pace when it comes to personal and professional betterment.

Intended for individuals in Penobscot County who have been sentenced to two days in jail for a minor offense, the PACE Day Reporting program gives folks the opportunity to spend that time doing something a bit different.

PACE program coordinator Rebecca Cross, who helped get the program up and running, recalls her initial conversations about the creation of PACE with Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton: “He wanted me to create something where the people would leave enriched in some way, instead of sitting in the cellblock for two days.”  Their shared vision helped create PACE – a program that provides the opportunity for participants to get involved in educational programs they never knew how to access.

“The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office is blessed to have a tremendous partnership with Rebecca Cross and Riverside Adult Education,” said Sheriff Morton. “This community-based correctional program focuses on a therapeutic approach to incarceration through an educational experience.” 

People who opt to participate in PACE spend each day of their jail sentence embarking on a tailored educational experience. While some may choose to practice for the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) or take the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) math and reading assessment for adults, others choose to get help in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and learning about possible higher education options available to them. 

Another option of PACE presents a whole other set of professional learning opportunities. These learning options are one of the things about PACE that really sets it apart – by the way it draws participants, who may be feeling turned out by their own community, back into society through investing in them valuable time, knowledge, and training. The program offers classes like, “How to Stretch Your Food Dollar,” and “Trauma Informed Yoga,” as well as, “How to Breathe Your Way Through Mental Health Struggles,” among other topics. 

“It’s a balance between profoundly sobering conversations around addiction and light hearted remembering of the joys of life,” said Cross.

In addition, a new option in the PACE program called, “Life Ready” includes reflective workshops using podcasts. These workshops are linked to mic-credentialing, a system developed by Eastern Maine Community College. The micro-credentialing curriculum through Life Ready encourages students to consider their own story and how it affects their life choices. The podcasts include useful topics like, business startup, home buying, credit scores, budgeting with very little income, and financial literacy, which according to Cross, is a very popular one.

“People who do not have very much, or no money at all, often think that financial literacy doesn’t apply to them,” she explained. By making budgeting and financial literacy accessible and easy to use for anyone, it has become one of the most well utilized options in the program.

PACE classes and workshops are offered on a Friday and a Saturday to make them more convenient and accessible for people who are working or already taking classes during the week. This means that the community organizations who partner with PACE are willing to send instructors to volunteer on a Saturday, which sends a very positive message to participants, says Cross.

“They [PACE program participants] are astounded at the fact that people from the community want to come in and spend time with them, even on the weekend,” said Cross. “The fact that people are willing to do that means a lot.”

Cross also explains that their community partnerships are one of the most impactful aspects of the program. These partnering organizations, such as Health Equity Alliance and the BARN (Bangor Area Recovery Network), send people to conduct the classes or workshops. One recent workshop was hosted by Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) on “How to Develop an Elevator Speech,” and “How to Interview for a Job.” They have also hosted faculty from University of Maine at Orono who have provided reflective writing workshops. In addition, they have hosted local artists who offer their time teaching classes on how to paint.

“It’s so profound for people,” said Cross. “It can be healing, to just sit down and tap into your creativity and just laugh with people, and at themselves.”

So far, PACE has served 139 people in Penobscot County since its creation in January of 2020. Cross says that although it does cost participants money to enter into PACE, they have worked hard to keep that cost as low as possible, which ends up being a small fraction of what other, similar programs charge in other states. 

Encouraged at the fact that all 139 of the people who have participated in PACE have not been charged with another sentence, they are eager to keep working on making the program accessible to even more people and bring in more community partnerships to match the need.

“Rebecca’s passion for education and wonderful ability to bring in supporting resources makes this program a success” said Sheriff Morton. “This educational approach allows individuals the opportunity to connect with resources available throughout our state.” 

“It’s a great community effort and I just get to put the pieces together,” said Cross, adding that they are always so happy to see people who have participated in the program go on to continue their education, opening up a world of possibilities for what their next step might be.

For more information about PACE, contact Rebecca Cross at rcross@rsu26.org.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE and MCCS Partner to Offer Free College Courses for Adult Education Students

MCCS_FMCC_logo_legMaine adults seeking to pursue college have a new option to jumpstart their education, with support from their local Maine adult education program. A new partnership between the Maine Community College System (MCCS) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) will offer tuition-free college courses to Maine’s adult education students.

Maine adult education programs have supported adult students in their transition to college and career through the Maine College and Career Access program for almost twenty years. This new opportunity expands upon that idea by allowing adult education students to take a college course with the full support of their adult education program mentors so they can develop the habits, skills, and confidence to succeed in college.

“Maine’s adult education programs have assisted thousands of Maine adults in making a successful transition to college,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “This new partnership with the Maine community college system takes it to the next level by giving students the chance to try a college course with the support they need. We are excited to see the impact it makes for our adult education students.”

Adult education programs will work with adult students to select a course at the community college that is appropriate for their college and career goals, and then support the student as they complete the course. The goal is that they will continue their education once the course is completed.

“This is an opportunity for us to encourage and connect with adult students throughout Maine,” said MCCS President Dave Daigler. “The hope is that students can choose courses that align with their individual career goals and that we can help provide that motivation and support to continue on once they complete their adult education program.”

Tuition and fees for the courses are being generously provided by the Maine Community College System while the Maine Department of Education’s Office of Adult Education will provide textbooks and course materials for students.

Adult students interested in this program will need to be enrolled in a Maine Adult Education program to take advantage of the opportunity. Adults (with or without a high school diploma) who would like help achieving their educational and career goals can contact their local adult education program for next steps.