Maine FFA State Convention Back in Person

The Maine FFA State Convention returned—following two virtual years due to COVID-19, as an in-person event on May 12-13, 2022.  Formerly known as “Future Farmers of America,” FFA is the largest student-led organization in the country.  Attended by over 250 FFA members, judges, guests and family members, this event, normally held at the University of Maine in Orono, was conducted for the first time in Presque Isle.  

The Presque Isle location highlighted numerous agricultural opportunities of that area and relied on the joint hosting of both the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College.  The two-day event featured competitions, agricultural and natural resources tours, community service events, a social event at Gentile Hall (the University of Maine at Presque Isle gymnasium and field house), and a chance to recognize the many achievements of middle and high school FFA members from throughout the year as well as at Convention. 

Maine’s FFA State Officer team, Nickie Deschaine (President), Delaney McKeen (Vice President) and Ryder Brewer (Secretary-Treasurer), all originally from Central Aroostook High School, led the program, assisted by Clark Condon (Ashland High School),  Lane McCrum (Central Aroostook High School) and Noah Rooney (Presque Isle Tech Center).  Events were conducted and assisted by staff from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College, the University of Maine, Orono, the University of Maine, Augusta in Bangor, the Maine Department of Education, teachers from local high schools and technical schools, former student FFA Officers, Northern Maine FFA Alumni, State FFA Officers from Connecticut, and representatives from a number of local agricultural and natural resources businesses and organizations.

Student competitions ranged from areas of environment and natural resources management, forestry and horse evaluation to agribusiness, employment skills, agricultural technology and mechanical systems and safe tractor driving.  Students involved in public speaking events gained monetary prizes for their achievements.  Tours included the hosting colleges, the Presque Isle Tech Center farm and greenhouse, the Penobscot McCrum potato plant in Washburn, Columbia Forest Products and Aroostook Truss in Presque Isle and Huber Engineered Woods in Easton.  Community service events included work in the Presque Isle Community Garden, assisting the Presque Isle Recreation Department in yard work and trail work, and working on the University of Maine at Presque Isle community garden and greenhouse.

Students received over $15,000 in awards, prizes and scholarships, with 9 students receiving $1,000 scholarships to attend the 2022 National FFA Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C..  Convention participants gained professional skills related to agriculture and natural resources, practiced team work, and enjoyed the insights shared by their retiring State FFA Officers and by President Raymond Rice of the University of Maine at Presque Isle, President Tim Crowley of Northern Maine Community College, Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta of the Maine Department of Education, and National FFA Secretary Jackson Sylvester, from Delaware.  Students left the event energized for the coming FFA year and with many positive memories of their events and the students they got to meet from other schools.  Newly elected officers for the coming year include the re-election of Nickie Deschaine as President and the selection of Lane McCrum as the 2022-2023 Vice President.

For more information on FFA and on establishing a Maine FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, FFA State Advisor in the Maine Department of Education, doug.robertson@maine.gov  207-624-6744.

MEDIA RELEASE: New Career Exploration Resource for Students Launches

The Maine Department of Labor (DOL) and Maine Department of Education (DOE) have launched a new student career discovery dashboard that presents data on in-demand jobs and wages in a manner that is accessible to students in grades 6-12.

Students can explore these data in a variety of ways, such as by geographic region, career clusters of occupations with similar features, and the typical educational requirement of the career. Students can find information about the role of each career cluster in Maine’s economy with a specific data point, like how many jobs there are today, what Maine workers earn in the career, and how many job openings are projected in the next ten years.

“It is exciting to see the Maine Departments of Labor and Education collaborate to bring the Center for Workforce Research and Information website online,” Maine Legislature Representative Paul Stearns said.  “The site features a wonderful exploration tool to give students, parents and educators the information that they need to make sound, data driven career decisions.”

MDOL’s Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) collaborated with the Maine Department of Education and a group of Maine educators in the design of the student-friendly dashboard. The dashboard includes a video for help navigating the webpage and an introductory guide for counselors, teachers, and students with an overview of available data on jobs and wages in Maine.

“It is never too early to explore your career options and interests,” Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “This new tool gives students and their teachers a user-friendly way to look at potential careers, which jobs are currently in-demand, and what steps they can take to foster the skills they would need to reach their goals.”

“Career exploration tools like this help students see what kinds of careers match their passions and interests, learn valuable insights and information about possible careers, and plan for their futures,” Education Commissioner Pender Makin said. “We’re excited to offer this interactive dashboard to students and teachers and to see the creative ways they utilize this data in their classrooms.”

The dashboard can be interacted with on the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information (CWRI) website: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/student_portal/

The Center for Workforce Research and Information produces data on jobs and wages in Maine, a ten-year job outlook, and a range of other data products pertaining to Maine’s economy and labor market. The student friendly resource has been designed to complement existing online resources such as Get My Future and My Next Move, available to help students find careers that align to their aspirations, interest, and personality.

The 2020 Maine Learning Results Life and Career Ready standards were designed to support the development of key elements of career readiness with career awareness expectations for students in grades K-5 and career exploration and planning expectations for students in grades 6-12.

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Contacts for Educators/Schools for More Information:
For more information about the CWRI student dashboard, contact Mark McInerney, Director of the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, at
mark.mcinerney@maine.gov. 

For more information about learning experiences that support students’ career exploration, contact Rick Wilson, Maine Department of Education, Career Exploration Specialist at rick.wilson@maine.gov.  

For more information about the integration of the Maine Learning Results Life and Career Standards into the design of learning experiences for students, contact Jason Anderson, Interdisciplinary Instruction Team Coordinator at jason.anderson@maine.gov. 

South Portland Educator Honored with Excellence in Extended Learning Opportunities Award

The Community Coordinator’s Collaborative (C3) recently named the recipient of Maine’s first annual Excellence in Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) Programming Award during its end-of-year celebration.

The award was given to Sheree Inman, the Cooperative Work Coordinator at South Portland High School. Sheree was selected for her outstanding commitment to student-centered practices, her understanding the necessity of equitable and accessible options, and her ability to showcase the importance of relationship-driven partnerships and interactions in her work.

ELOs are hands-on, credit or credential bearing experiences outside of the traditional classroom with a community-based career exploration component. They frequently take the form of internships, work-based learning, or a series of job shadows connected to academic learning standards. These valuable learning opportunities are becoming available in more Maine schools each year, and C3 developed the award alongside these programs to highlight the quality work being done by those in the field.

The C3 group collectively includes staff from more than 50 educational institutions across the state and is responsible for spearheading the statewide Virtual Career Fair, a widely successful virtual option for students to explore careers when in-person options became unavailable to them.

The recent statewide virtual event is one of the key factors in Sheree’s nomination for the 2021-2022 Excellence in ELO Programming Award. The 2-day, virtual event included community support from more than 110 businesses offering career presentations, 2500 registrations and approximately 10,000 staff and students participating from more than 50 schools.

“Due to her ELO work, collaboration with MaineC3 and work with the virtual career fair, she has been a huge asset to not only her own district but many teachers, programs and students across the state,” said someone who nominated Sheree for the award.

Sheree Inman is the Cooperative Work Coordinator at South Portland High School. She has been in this role for 3 years and an educator for 21 years. Please join us in congratulating Sheree in this well-deserved award!

Thomas College Hosts First-ever ‘Educators Rising’ Conference in Maine; Two Students Named Preservice Teachers of the Year

Eighty-three students enrolled in teacher preparation courses in 14 colleges, high schools, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools across Maine gathered at Thomas College last month for Maine’s first-ever Educators Rising Conference!

The conference was planned primarily by Thomas students who are part of Maine’s first Educators Rising Chapter. A national, community-based movement, Educators Rising is an organization with a presence in all 50 states that seeks to cultivate a new generation of highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path from high school to college and into their teaching careers. Educators Rising provides “Grow Your Own” programming through Educators Rising curriculum, standards, micro-credentials, chapters, conferences and other activities.

The Thomas Educators Rising Chapter Chair, Abby Bolvin, opened the conference by welcoming her fellow pre-service peers to the conference, and reviewed logistical details, including room locations, photo tips, and conference hashtag #EdRising22.

Dr. Monte Selby, principal at Vinalhaven School and a talented musician, engaged the aspiring educators with an entertaining musical keynote address that stressed the importance of building strong relationships with students, and some tips on how to forge authentic, trusting connections. After the keynote, students chose from a wide variety of breakout sessions to attend. The session topics were selected by the Educators Rising Chapter students.

Bolvin explained that having the option to be part of the conference planning was a significant learning experience for her and her fellow Educator Rising Chapter members. They initially came up with a list of 50 session topics that they wanted to learn more about, and eventually narrowed it down to the topics on the program, which included classroom management, talking about controversial topics, what to expect in your first year of teaching, assessments, innovative math practices, and more.

During a delicious lunch catered by Thomas College, the students heard from Pamela Thompson, Professor and Chair of Thomas’ Education Department, and the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova. Thompson stressed the importance and impact of teachers, and Stoyanova shared, “we are not just teaching how to read to understand and write to show understanding, we are engaging learners to be global citizens—to offer them a glimpse of what it looks like to own their education, their futures, their voice, and do something with it.”

Tammy Ranger, 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year and the Director of Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways at the Maine Department of Education presented Maine’s first “Preservice Teacher of the Year” awards. Earlier this year, all Maine preservice teachers were were invited to apply  for the award. The top three preservice teachers were selected from a pool of over 20 applications from students in teacher preparation programs throughout Maine. “The future of the education profession in Maine certainly looks bright” said Ranger, commenting on the passion, creativity and commitment demonstrated in the preservice teachers’ application packets.

Students Mohamed Kilani (Bowdoin ’21) and Ivy Robinson (University of Maine Machias ‘22) were named Preservice Teachers of the Year, and Chelsea Whiting-Puckett (Bowdoin ’22) was named a runner up.  The selection committee, made up of Maine State and County Teachers of the Year, said the following about these promising teachers:

“Kilani’s work with anti-racism, bridging intercultural relationships, and restorative practices is remarkable. All students (and colleagues) will benefit from the classroom culture he creates.” 

 Ivy is a voracious learner—soaking up wisdom and practices from every teacher she works with. Her willingness to learn and improve her practice will only make her a better teacher year after year.

Chelsey’s robust and honest English and social studies classes reflect her commitment to inclusion, representation, and equitable learning environments for all students.

As part of being named Preservice Teacher of the Year, both Kilani and Robinson were awarded $1,000 each to help jumpstart setting up their classroom, and runner up Whiting-Puckett was awarded $200.

Special thanks to the Peter and Paula Lunder School of Education at Thomas College, the Maine Association for Middle Level Educators (MAMLE), Educate Maine, UNUM, and representatives from the Maine Department of Education for making this event possible.

To learn more about Educators Rising, visit the national website or reach out to Tamara Ranger (tamara.ranger@maine.gov) at the Maine Department of Education.

 

 

Seeking Proposals for Statewide Expansion of Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) Programming

RFA# 202204057 – Statewide Expansion of Extended Learning Opportunity (ELO) Programming

The State of Maine is seeking proposals from public education institutions and community-based organizations to adopt and/or expand Extended Learning Opportunities programs for youth ages 16-21 in Maine.

A copy of the RFA, as well as the Question & Answer Summary and all other related documents to this RFA, can be obtained at the following website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/bbm/procurementservices/vendors/grants

Proposals must be submitted to the State of Maine Division of Procurement Services, via e-mail, at: Proposals@maine.gov.  Proposal submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m., local time, on Thursday, May 12.  Proposals will be opened the following business day. Proposals not submitted to the Division of Procurement Services’ aforementioned e-mail address by the aforementioned deadline will not be considered for contract award.