Student Career & Degree Exploration Event at Thomas College on 9/30 and 10/28  

Thomas College, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Teacher of the Year Association, is hosting two hands-on, experiential career exploration days led by professional faculty and college students.

These career and degree exploration events are open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors who will have the opportunity to select a track and work with Thomas College professors and students to tackle real-world challenges.

The day also includes campus tours, lunch, and Thomas College swag.  Space is limited, so reserve your spot today!

Choose one day to attend:

September 30th
9am – 1:30pm
Thomas College
October 28th
9am – 1:30pm
Thomas College

Students attending can choose from the following tracks:

  • Future Teachers
  • Future Business Leaders
  • Future Tech Innovators
  • Future Crime Scene Analysts

Note: Thomas College does have some limited funding available to help support transportation to and from campus. Please reach out if you/your school would need this! For more information, please contact admiss@thomas.edu or 207-859-1101.

Register now!

CTE Summer Camps Offer Safe, Hands-on Learning to Middle Schoolers

Middle School Career and Technical Education (MS-CTE) summer camps are keeping it cool this summer! There are currently nine Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools across Maine that are hosting summer camps specifically for middle school aged students this year as part of an on-going effort to bring career and technical education opportunities to students at the middle school level.

Students participating in these excellent summer programs are exploring careers, participating in hands on experiences in culinary arts, media technology, automotive, engineering, welding and carpentry, just to name a few. The MS-CTE camp experiences are offered either for one or two weeks for two to five days per week. Maine’s CTE instructors are enjoying the opportunity to share many career options available in Maine to middle school aged students, a younger audience than the traditional high school age of students that attend CTE schools throughout the school year.

Students, too, are excited about the opportunity to spend a few weeks of the summer learning about career options and engaging in hands-on learning opportunities. “I am the happiest girl in the world right now,” said one of the students currently participating in a MS-CTE summer camp.

There are 21 CTE schools across Maine that are piloting MS-CTE programs which have allowed students to experience career options through hands on activities. The pilots have ranged from in-school programming, online career exploration, mentorships as well as the camp experiences currently taking place this summer. All programs offer a hands on component and a career exploration element as required by the standards.  

Check out this recent Portland Press Herald news article highlighting this excellent work: Summer camps build on effort to extend vocational programs to middle schoolers.

For more information about Maine’s MS-CTE programs, visit the MS-CTE website at or contact the Middle School CTE Specialist Margaret Harvey at Margaret.Harvey@maine.gov    

New Maine Initiative to Build Ag Literacy Through Immersive CTE Culinary Arts Programs

A new University of Maine initiative to build agricultural literacy through an immersive culinary experience for career and technical education (CTE) culinary arts instructors is one of 21 projects funded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA has invested $6.2 million in the Professional Development and Secondary School Teacher grants to increase the number of K–14 teachers and educational professionals trained in the food and agricultural sciences. The grants to prepare more educators in food and ag science, and support best teaching practices that enhance student learning outcomes, are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

UMaine’s Building Agriculture Literacy Through an Immersive Culinary Experience project, which received a $300,000, four-year grant, is led by Kathy Savoie, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor; Willie Grenier, executive director of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom; and Rob Dumas, UMaine food science pilot plant manager. CTE culinary arts instructors will receive professional development experiences to increase their agricultural literacy, and enhance the connectedness between agriculture and food service in their culinary arts curricula.

A goal of the project is to help create a skilled, educated workforce that will increase the use of Maine grown, processed and produced foods in their programs and careers by changing the way students — tomorrow’s food professionals — think about the importance and value of local food, according to the researchers.

“Providing professional development experiences for CTE instructors will help to shift culinary arts programs toward local food system education with the end goal to create a workforce that is proficient in Maine agriculture, and that will be poised to meet today’s consumer needs and ultimately boost our state agriculture” says Savoie, the principal investigator on the initiative.

The project provides a holistic approach to uniting community partners to identify the best practices for agriculture literacy education at CTE culinary arts programs in Maine. UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom will collaborate to provide experiential learning opportunities for CTE culinary arts instructors through a week-long Immersive Culinary Arts Summer Institute. Project activities will include hands-on experience in local food procurement practices, demonstrations of food system lessons, educational field trips, financial support for experiential activities through their existing school restaurants, participation in a UMaine Local Foods Competition and coaching during the school year.

The CTE instructors also will experience the educational power of job shadowing, flipped classrooms and working relationships with employers that could help students make career connections. Participating instructors will be eligible to receive mini-grants to support nontraditional learning experiences — on-site learning opportunities with farmers, food processors and butchers, for example, and at food hubs, food incubator labs, aquaculture facilities, food pantries and restaurants — to increase students’ understanding of local food systems. In addition, the UMaine Food Pilot Plant will host local food competitions for CTE culinary arts students, challenging them to use Maine foods in creative and innovative ways to meet the demands of today’s consumers.

Huge Increase in Independent Capstones at Portland High School During Unique School Year

This year, many Portland High School seniors took on unique independent projects as their senior capstone. Projects included building an artist’s shed, building a smoker, art work, career research, building a guitar, making electronic music, and researching topics such as Buddhism, reading and mental health, preparing for the Navy, lobstering and African clothing. 

Capstone requirements include student choice and research. Most students complete their capstone through a class, but some students design their own independent projects. In a typical year, there may be two or three students who take on an independent capstone, but this year over twenty students designed their own project. Independent capstones help students to explore a particular passion.

Skye Ferris, who made a series of portraits of friends and family reflects, “My advice for next year’s students is to choose a project that you are actually excited to complete, as I found my own process very enjoyable and it was something I had wanted to do for some time.”

Elias Parker who worked with two other students to help build an artist’s shed said, “ I am most proud of the seemingly far-fetched idea we had, and our ability to follow through and not sacrifice any magnificence nor quality in our project.”  When asked about advice he would give other students, Eli shared “GO BIG, you’ll be proud of yourself”

This large increase is likely due to the fact that the pandemic allowed for more independent learning, time to explore personal interests, and flexible time in which to do the projects. Hopefully this is a start to many meaningful independent projects in the future!

Information for this article was provided by Portland Public Schools 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.

Waldo County Technical Center Names Daisy Bradney CTE Student of the Year

Daisy Bradney
Daisy Bradney

Waldo County Technical Center (WCTC) proudly announces Daisy Bradney as its 2020-2021 CTE Student of the Year.

Daisy, a senior from Belfast Area High School’s BCOPE, is a second year student in the Culinary Arts program. Miss Bradney is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has also served as a Student Ambassador while at WCTC.

Aside from having asserted herself as a top notch baker, Daisy also excels in the production of soups and stews. A past volunteer at the Starrett Children’s Center, she is the daughter of Jody Johnstone and James Bradney.

Daisy plans on attending the University of Maine at Presque Isle next year to pursue a degree in education. When not focused on her studies or honing her culinary skills for family and friends, Daisy enjoys dancing, hiking and working part time at a local restaurant.

Congratulations and GOOD LUCK, Daisy!

Learn more about Waldo County Technical Center by visiting their website, learn more about the Career and Technical Education Sites in Maine by visiting the MACTE website to see a listing by location. To learn more about Career and Technical Education, watch this short video: