Caribou Community School 8th Graders Hold Mock Legislature Day

This article was written and submitted by Caribou Community School 8th graders, Elizabeth Robbins and Kaydence Hafford with the help of their teacher Heather Anderson.

(Pictured: Students Katelynn Thibodeau, Liz Robbins, and Sadielee Violette pose with Senator Susan Collins)

What could eighth-grade students from Caribou Community School learn during a Mock Legislator Day? On Monday, May 22nd, there were many things that these students learned about the legislative process and about Susan Collins.

At around 8:30 on Monday morning, eighth-grade students started their Mock Legislature Day. They began with a public hearing over their specific bill, either LD 156 or LD 1002, in their designated classrooms where mentors with experience in Maine’s legislative process guided them through the hearing. Mentors included David McCrea, former Representative from Fort Fairfield; Cary Olson-Cartwright from UNUM, and Dr. Holly Blair from the Maine Principals Association. Students wrote testimonies for, against, or neither for nor against and then read those testimonies aloud. Afterward, the students, assigned roles as Senators and Representatives, worked in committee during a work session, where they spoke about the bill. These select students voted on the bill and all of the eighth-grade students moved on to one of the biggest parts of the day, the House session.

During the House session, students traveled into the cafeteria where they debated the two different bills that they were assigned, LD 156 and LD 1002. Bill LD 156 was an act to require outdoor recess time for students from Grade 6 to Grade 8 for at least 20 minutes for no less than 3 days a week. LD 1002 was an act to require a lunch period of at least 30 minutes for
students and reduce food waste.

“The students were so engaged and had so much to say,” Heather Anderson said about the students during the House Session. “They realized how much of a voice they can have and how they can make the world a better place.” This is one of many things that these eighth-grade students learned during their Mock Legislature Day. Students learned even more
from Susan Collins’ speech later in the day.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, Susan Collins arrived in the cafeteria to speak to the entirety of the eighth graders. Susan Collins spoke about many things. She spoke about her time in Caribou, and what she would spend her time doing. She also spoke about her career and how she was elected to the U.S. Senate. Seth Dubay, one of the eighth-grade students who saw Susan Collins, stated, “ It takes a lot of dedication to do what Senator Collins does.” Susan Collins was also asked a few questions by a select group of students, one of these questions being what advice she would give someone going into the Legislature, which she answered in great depth by stating “I’m counting on your generation to help us get back to the way politics used to be. When people worked together for a common cause.”

Students learned an exponential amount from Senator Susan Collins, and not just about the legislative process. “I learned to respect people’s opinions,” says Xander Jamieson, another student from Caribou, “even if you don’t agree with them.”

Camden Hills Students Win Sustainable Energy Technology Competition and Look to Start a Local Business

Four Camden Hills Regional High School students won a sustainable energy technology competition and received a $15,000 grant to jumpstart their plans to replace polystyrene buoys with a sustainable mushroom-based product.

The students, Maggie Blood, Tula Bradley-Prindiville, Olivia Huard, and Laura Riordon, participated in a business internship through the Hatchery, Camden Hills’ innovation center that enables students to innovate, create, problem solve, and pursue their passions. They joined five other teams from the Energy Institute High School in Houston to participate in the Energy Project internship sponsored by the Puranik Foundation. Camden Hills instructor Danny Salomon, director of the Hatchery, served as the team’s advisor and mentor.

“Our mission is to reduce the amount of microplastics we consume and improve the health of us and our planet by reducing plastic floats with our mushroom floats,” the team said during their pitch to judges.

Throughout the internship, the students engaged in coursework on design-thinking, prototyping, marketing, and business planning, all the while perfecting their plans and pitch to a group of judges in April. The judges selected the Camden Hills group as the winners of not just a transformational grant but also a two-week trip to a sustainability school in India.

The team wanted to use the business and sustainability skills they were learning to address a local sustainability issue. According to the students, there are an estimated 6 million buoys in use off the coast of Maine, and more than 30,000 are lost every year. When these petroleum-based buoys break down, they can end up in the food chain and in our bodies.

Their alternative? A new business called Refoam Maine, which will grow buoys naturally, using the root system of mushrooms, known as mycelium.

“As a team, we approached the Energy Project challenge by trying to assess what area in our community needs innovation. When we looked around at Maine – through the lens of what looks bad for the planet — we saw a lot of Styrofoam. If you go walk on beaches or islands, there is polystyrene everywhere … we identified our ‘problem space’ to be expanded polystyrene breaking off of dock flotation units,” Laura Riordon told the Camden Herald.

During their pitch to judges, Tula Bradley-Prindiville told the judges “to think of our business like a mycelium network” with their strong team at the center and a network of local businesses, experts, non-profits, advisors, and students who they are connected to.

“We have grown and developed with connections to our community, helping us conceptualize and design our product. We have also received support from our school board, and the community at large which is what has driven us to pursue this research,” said Riordon. “This project, along with other Hatchery projects, have built a space at school for students to follow things they are passionate about while learning skills for how to make a real impact. Over the next few months, our team plans to research mycelium growth in 55 gallon drums, and then expand next school year working with more students and community members.”

According to the team, their prototype “will be applicable to a variety of ocean uses: docks, mussel farming rafts, and aquaculture mooring buoys being our most promising areas. The beauty of the product is that it’s not produced in a factory, rather it is produced in the team’s local shop. Once fully grown, and cooked to stop the growth, the buoyant skeleton is ready for takeoff in the ocean.”

The students were recognized by their School Board in May for their vision, leadership, and success in the competition, and told the Board they were focused next on perfecting their prototype and getting projects into the water for testing. They are also talking to local marine companies, which they hope will one day purchase and use their products. The students told the Board that even if they hadn’t won, they were committed to finding a way to turn their business ideas into reality.

The Refoam Maine team looks forward to advancing their product research within the Hatchery, with continued support from its mycelial network, and seeks to grow the business by on boarding more students interested in participating in this exciting venture starting next school year.

You can follow their journey on Refoam Maine’s Instagram page.

Photos courtesy of Camden Hills Regional High School

Media Release: Maine DOE Announces Inaugural Class of Teacher Leader Fellows

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) launched Maine’s Teacher Leader Fellows today with an inaugural class of five extraordinary educators from across the state. Waterville Senior High School social studies teacher Jessica Graham, Fryeburg Academy national-board certified teacher James St. Pierre, Nokomis Regional Middle School Integrated Technology teacher Keith Kelley, Mattanawcook Academy mathematics teacher Sarah Krause, and national-board certified music teacher Dorie Tripp will work with Maine DOE staff to support Maine’s educators in cross-cutting, interdisciplinary concepts of civics, STEAM, and humanities.

The Teacher Leader Fellows will provide educators across Maine with weekly updates on resources and materials, host monthly professional learning opportunities, and maintain webpages with rich and informative content. To receive weekly communications and monthly professional learning around civics, STEAM, and/or humanities concepts, click here.

“Taking on this new position offers so many opportunities to engage with exactly what I love about teaching—meeting other educators, making connections with community partners, and celebrating community centered student learning. I truly believe that building strong communities and educating engaged citizens is the core mission of schools, and that civic learning happens in every grade and every content area. I am so excited to help connect, celebrate, and create with educators and learners around Maine,” said Waterville Senior High School social studies teacher Jessica Graham.

“Being a teacher leader means connecting and helping others connect. It means gathering the ideas and experiences of the teachers in the state and sharing them in manageable, practical, and efficient ways. We have such a great array of professionals whose knowledge can elevate all students, so to be one of the leaders bringing them together is a privilege,” said Fryeburg Academy national-board certified teacher James St. Pierre.

“To be a teacher you need to know the material and your students. A great teacher never stops learning and the best learning is done by teaching others. I hope, with the other Teacher Leader Fellows, to help educate others and myself until STEAM pours out of all of our classrooms,” said Nokomis Regional Middle School Integrated Technology teacher Keith Kelley.

“As a STEAM Teacher Leader Fellow, I hope to help spread important information and opportunities to the other STEAM educators in Maine. I plan to regularly provide teachers with some meaningful STEAM lessons and activities that can be incorporated into their classrooms. Additionally, as a teacher of mathematics and a fan of the arts, I would like to help others see the beauty in the world of STEAM,” said Mattanawcook Academy mathematics teacher Sarah Krause.

“I’m delighted to be working with the DOE to support Maine teachers! I look forward to working with other educators to learn, collaborate, and to create unique learning opportunities for our students,” said national-board certified music teacher Dorie Tripp.

Meet Maine’s Teacher Leader Fellows

Jessica Graham
Jessica Graham

Jessica Graham is a high school social studies teacher at Waterville Senior High School. She serves as the National Honor Society advisor and Trivia Club advisor and on the district curriculum committee. After working in museum education around the state of Maine for a decade, Jessica transitioned to classroom teaching six years ago and relishes the opportunity to build lasting relationships with students. She is passionate about civics education conceived broadly: helping students practice community in the classroom and in the wider world through conversation, action, and applied knowledge of decision-making processes. Her background in museum work leads her to approach content in an interdisciplinary and experiential way. Her greatest honor as a teacher was receiving Waterville’s annual staff Renaissance Award, a recognition bestowed by the student body.

In her free time Jessica is pursuing a PhD in history from the University of Maine, volunteers as a Girl Scout leader, and enjoys slowly converting her suburban yard into a garden retreat full of native plants and pollinator habitat.

James St. Pierre
James St. Pierre

James St. Pierre is a national board-certified teacher with thirty years of teaching experience at Fryeburg Academy where he has taught courses in English and biology and served as English department chair. In addition to his work at the secondary level, he also holds the position of Lecturer at both Granite State College and White Mountains Community College, where he has taught as an adjunct for two decades. He holds a master’s degree in English Literature from Middlebury College and has presented at state and regional conferences regarding the medium of comics. He is married with two sons and enjoys making comics in his free time.

Keith Kelley
Keith Kelley

A Maine educator for more than 33 years, Keith Kelley is currently teaching Integrated Technology. Having taught Language Arts, Social Studies and serving as the School Librarian, he is now teaching IT at Nokomis Regional Middle School. His students make Robots, Skateboards, 3D print, and build Guitars. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education at UMaine. He has coached soccer, track, and various tech camps. In his free time, he enjoys riding around in his classic mustang with his wife and dogs.

Sarah Krause
Sarah Krause

Sarah Krause is a graduate from the University of Maine with a B.S. in Secondary Education, a B.A. in Mathematics & Statistics, and a Minor in Zoology.

Currently, she is in her twelfth year of classroom experience with AP Calculus, Precalculus, and AP Computer Science Principles as the bulk of her teaching schedule over the years. Other teaching experiences include: Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Math Problem Solving, Linear Algebra, Advanced Topics in Mathematics (and elective that explored advanced precalculus topics). Next year she will be adding Intro to Digital Art & Design into her course load.

Sarah is currently teaching at Mattanawcook Academy in Lincoln, Maine, where she also juggles a handful of other roles in the building. Some of those other positions include Math Team Coach, National Honor Society Advisor, Senior Class Advisor, Mentor Teacher, Mathematics Department Head, Technology Team Member, and Cohort/PLC Leader.

Sarah, is in the beginning stages of being part of the #MaineTeachesCS program as a Computer Science Integration (CSI) Educator, and back in 2019, she was a member of the Maine DOE: Mathematics Standards Writing Team.

Moving forward, Sarah is excited to be part of the Maine DOE in this new role as a Teacher Leadership STEAM Fellow with her other teammates in the Office of Innovation.

Dorie Tripp
Dorie Tripp

Dorie Tripp is a national board-certified music teacher with 14 years’ experience teaching elementary music in Maine public schools. Over the years, it has been her mission to promote music instruction that is developmentally appropriate, inclusive, diverse, and engaging. In her quest to do this, she has taken on many roles as a learner and leader. Dorie spent two terms as Vice President of the Maine Music Educators Association, contributed to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative as a Design Team member, was an active member of the Maine Learning Results writing team for the Visual and Performing Arts, and co-hosted a series of PD sessions for educators during the Covid 19 pandemic. In 2021, she was awarded the MMEA Music Educator of the Year Award. In this next step of her journey, Dorie is looking forward to working with the Maine DOE. She’s excited to practice, share, and support unique learning opportunities for Maine students and educators!

To receive weekly communications and monthly professional learning around civics, STEAM, and/or humanities concepts, click here.

For more information about this or other innovative programs at the Maine Department of Education, contact, Beth Lambert, Acting Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning, at

Making Math Meaningful For All: Math4ME is Accepting Applications for Newest Cohort

Math4ME is a free, three-year, whole-school project designed to support all educators (classroom teachers, special educators, ed techs, and interventionists) to strengthen math proficiency for all learners with a specific focus on increased math proficiency for students with math IEP goals.  The project will focus around building positive math school communities and classrooms, mathematical content and pedagogical skills, supporting inclusionary practices through MTSS, and formative assessment including the Early Mathematics Diagnostic Interview (EMDI).

For more details about the Math4ME project check out the informational video.

We are accepting applications for the newest cohort until April 15, 2023.  Math4ME Application

We will hold a virtual informational meeting on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 at 4:00 PM. Register here in advance for this meeting.

For questions or more information contact Susan Hogan, or Jen Robitaille,

Webinar: How to Utilize Local Historical Societies for Your Project or Place-based Learning Units

Are you planning a project or place-based unit and looking for primary sources?  Historical societies throughout the state are available to help you find and utilize these primary sources.  To learn more about this, join Kathleen Flynn Neumann from the Maine Historical Society for a webinar that focuses on finding primary sources and how you can partner with historical societies to create authentic learning experiences for students.  

Who: Appropriate for PK-12 grade educators 

When: April 5th 3:30-4:30pm 

Where: Zoom Registration Link 

For more information, please contact Jaime Beal at