‘Aspire Golden Bucks’ Partnership Highlights the Many Pathways to Lifelong Learning

“Aspire Golden Bucks” (AGB) was formed as a partnership between RSU 25, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG), and Maine Educational Loan Marketing Corporation (MELMAC) to encourage students of all ages to create a plan for their future and empower students to continue their education.  The Aspire team puts a focus on local needs-they make sure to interview teachers and students about what they specifically want more or less of in their schools. AGB provides books for elementary schools, supports career opportunities and school visits for higher grade levels, and seeks to partner with, and promote the work of, both Hancock County Technical Center and adult education. In order to show fellow students returning to education that not everyone takes a traditional path through education, RSU 25 Adult Education is sharing AGB timelines of people who may have tried several different jobs or schools to get where they are. 

Jessica Gerrish stopped attending the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) after two semesters. She was a strong student but her decision to withdraw caused her GPA to drop. Jessica worked as a nursing assistant and did not know whether she wanted to continue on the nursing path. After dropping out and exploring other positions, Jessica realized her heart was in nursing. She applied back to UMA and completed three semesters of school with high honors before withdrawing again. Withdrawing twice affected the school’s willingness to accept Jessica back again. Jessica was able to find advocates and work together to create a plan to ensure she would be able to complete her schooling. Jessica submitted her plan to UMA and was reaccepted. Jessica completed the RSU 25 Adult Education Certified Clinical Medical Assistant program in March of 2020 and is now enrolled in the University of Maine’s Bachelors Nursing program. She has maintained honors since 2019. Her anticipated graduation date is in May of 2023. “I had an extremely rocky road, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but the support I have now has paved the way for it to all be possible. Life happens, and sometimes things get in the way, but there is always help out there for people who truly want it,” said Jessica Gerrish.

Jessica’s story is one of many aspirational timelines that will be used through the AGB initiative. More examples of aspirational journeys are in the works to help showcase the many pathways that can lead to life-long learning and success for students of all ages 

For more information on the initiative, please look at their website: RSU25.org/aspire. To learn more about adult education options in Maine visit: Adult Education | Department of Education (maine.gov)

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani in collaboration with RSU 25 as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Maine Virtual Career Fair for High School Students Offers Dynamic, Professional Experience

Maine Community Coordinators Collaborative (Maine C3 ), in collaboration with the Association of Computer Technology Educators in Maine (ACTEM) and Educate Maine offered a unique opportunity for high school students across Maine, from Caribou to Kittery, to engage together in real-time with representatives from a wide swath of cross-sector Maine companies and nonprofit organizations.

During the Maine Virtual Career Fair, students self-selected from the 168 live-streamed sessions and learned about the unique job expectations, skills, and potential career pathways of different jobs in large and small Maine companies and nonprofit organizations.

For students, the ME Virtual Career Fair offered a window to feed their curiosity, aspirations, plans and actions towards a vision they have for themselves. For teachers who attended the sessions with their students, the ME Virtual Career Fair offered an opportunity to make direct connections among the learning targets in their classrooms across all content areas and the skills, understandings, and context of the job expectations and potential career pathways to the jobs.  For Maine companies and nonprofit organizations, the ME Virtual Career Fair provided an opportunity to make connections with students, be a part of building student aspirations, and offer examples of the value of living and working in Maine.

During the live-streamed sessions, students communicated with the presenters by typing their questions into a chat space. The 30 minute live-streamed sessions gave students ample time to deepen their understandings with follow-up questions. Maine C3 educators served as the moderator of the sessions by keeping the questions flowing and making connections. Presenters often shared their own career journeys to their current positions, sometimes surprising students in the way skills, knowledge, and experiences build and transfer across career clusters.

The ME Virtual Career Fair offered a dynamic, professional career exploration experience for Maine high school students to engage with companies and nonprofit organizations from across Maine and hear the thoughts and questions from other students. The concept for the virtual career fair grew out of a deep desire to create a statewide experience and offer all high school students the opportunity to explore a variety of career options together in real-time and see possibilities for their lives.  Maine C3 has created an experience worth repeating  and they are committed to making this an annual event.

For questions regarding Maine C3 and the 2021 ME Virtual Career Fair, contact Planning Committee  Co-Chairs, Samantha Brink at sbrink@sanford.org or Sheree Inman at inmansh@spsdme.org.

For questions regarding the Maine Learning Results Life and Career Ready standards contact Maine DOE Life and Career Ready Education Specialist, Diana Doiron at diana.doiron@maine.gov or 207-592-2128.