Students Showcase Their Expertise at Annual SkillsUSA Championships in Bangor

(Pictured: A student operating heavy equipment in a simulator as part of the Heavy Equipment contest at SkillsUSA)

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is growing in Maine, and it was all the more evident at the SkillsUSA Maine State Championships held in Bangor recently. Students enrolled in the many career and technical education (CTE) programs found in schools across Maine gathered in Bangor for an exciting two-day event where they got the chance to showcase the skills they have mastered. (See Maine DOE’s 2023 CTE Infographic to learn about CTE expansion in Maine.)

SkillsUSA is a national career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college, and middle school students, and professional members enrolled in training, trade, technical, health, and skilled service occupations. Maine’s Chapter hosts an annual Championship event each year where students get the opportunity to showcase their skills by competing in various contests that allow them to show off what they know.

Contests include everything from wedding cake decorating to firefighting, computer programing, auto tool identification, everything in between, and then some! There were over 70 different contests that students participated in over the two-day event that columnated with an awards ceremony at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center.

For many of the students, coming to SkillsUSA is an incredible accomplishment that they take a lot of pride in, and this year was extra special because they got the chance to share it with family and friends for the first time in a few years. The event, held at United Technologies Center (UTC), Eastern Maine Community College, and Cross Insurance Center, was held in person and the public was allowed to attend for the first time since before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exciting event bustled with groups of students, educators, instructors, and administrators, as well as TV news crews, family members, and supporters observing, snapping pictures, and taking videos of students while they competed.

Braden Luce competed in the Welding Sculpture contest along with twelve other students this year. Braden is enrolled in school at both Madomack Valley High School and Mid-Coast School of Technology where he participates in the welding program. He says he loves the program because of the hands-on aspect of it. Braden tells us that he looks forward to school every single day and is even disappointed when school gets closed on snow days.

Ahna Higgins competed in the Job Interview competition where she placed third earning a bronze medal. “I am very satisfied with my work in this competition because it helped me create connections in my technical center and become more confident in my interviewing skills,” she said. Ahna is a student at Somerset Career and Technical Center (SCTC) and Skowhegan Area High School. Last year she was enrolled in SCTC’s Certified Nursing Assistant Program and this year, her senior year, she has been part of the Early Education and Teaching program.

Higgins describes the work she does at SCTC as very fulfilling. “I get to spend my time in class doing things that really matter to me like working with children and learning about their development,” she said. “While preparing for SkillsUSA I also got the opportunity to prepare myself for an interview in the Education field,” she added. In the fall Higgins is planning to attend the University of Maine at Farmington to major in Elementary Education.

The Maine Department of Education congratulates all of the students who competed in SkillsUSA this year! We extend a special thank you, as well, to Maine’s Career and Technical Education schools for their continued dedication to providing quality career and technical education pathways to students across Maine.

Find the names of award recipients from the 2023 SkillsUSA Championships here.

Find more pictures from the conference, including the awards ceremony on the SkillsUSA Facebook Page.

See more media coverage of this event at the following links:

To learn more about SkillsUSA, check out Maine’s website here. To learn more about Career and Technical Education in Maine visit the Maine Department of Education’s website.

Regional School Calendars Due June 1, 2023 

This notification is a reminder that Regional School Calendars are due by June 1, 2023 for school administrative units (SAU) and private schools, approved for tuition purposes, in coordination with their local secondary career and technical education (CTE) school. This requirement is part of Public Law 2011, Chapter 686 to promote collaboration among local school administrative units that may benefit from inter-administrative unit collaboration beyond CTE. 

For school year 2023-24, both regional school calendars and individual calendars for each school administrative unit must be submitted by the director of the local CTE Center/Region to the Department of Education (DOE) no later than June 1, 2023, for a decision on approval by July 12, 2023. Guidance and templates can be accessed electronically at 

Given the coordination required for fulfillment of this law, the Maine DOE recommends that SAUs initiate discussions as soon as possible, including representatives from all affected secondary schools and their associated career and technical education center or region. 

For more information, including guidance, instructions, templates, a waiver process, and a link to the complete law, please visit Further questions should be directed to Emily Doughty at 207-592-0314 or Dwight Littlefield at 207- 441-8927. 

Students Compete in Marketing & Hospitality Skills at Annual Maine DECA Conference

Maine DECA (formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America) held its annual Career and Development Conference in Auburn at the Hilton Garden Hotel on February 28th. DECA is an association of marketing, hospitality, finance, and entrepreneur students.

During the Conference, 30 students from Oxford Hills Regional Technical Center competed in marketing and hospitality categories and FOCUS training conducted leadership activities and team-building exercises.

Maine Department of Education Maine School Safety Center’s Wendy Robichaud was one of five judges that helped out at the conference.

“Even though it was a snow day, these students still showed up,” said Robichaud. “Congratulations, to these amazing students!”

Governor Mills Announces $15 Million in Maine Jobs & Recovery Grant Funding to Expand Career and Technical Education in Maine

Governor Janet Mills today announced that four Career and Technical Education (CTEs) schools in Maine will receive $15 million in grant funding through her Maine Jobs & Recovery plan for program, equipment, and facility upgrades.

The grant funding will allow the CTEs to build new facilities or add to existing facilities to expand hands on, real-world programs for Maine students in plumbing, electrical, building construction, culinary and hospitality, EMT, welding, and more.

The Governor announced the funding alongside educators and students at Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway, which will receive more than $2 million for a new free-standing building to expand their plumbing, electrician, and building construction tech programs.

Under Governor Mills, CTE enrollment has grown by nearly 11 percent, with an almost 300 percent increase in exploratory program enrollment that allows freshman and sophomores to sample multiple programs to follow their interests.

“I have always been a strong believer in the power of CTEs because they equip students with the skills and hands-on experience needed to take good-paying jobs and have rewarding, lifelong careers in the trades,” said Governor Janet Mills. “That is why I am also so proud of this announcement. We all know that Maine desperately needs more electricians, plumbers, welders, and other skilled workers, and investments like this one through my Jobs Plan will help deliver them. I look forward to watching these CTEs grow and having more students benefit from them.”

“At Maine’s CTEs, students use their hands and their minds to immerse themselves in programs ranging from plumbing and building construction to culinary arts and healthcare,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “CTE students learn real-world skills, gain industry accreditation, take college courses, and build connections with local employers. These grants will allow several of our CTEs to expand to serve growing student interest in the engaging, hands-on programs that Maine’s CTEs offer.”

“This will be a gamechanger for our students. The grant funds will be used to construct a 6000 square foot, free-standing building on campus that will have three classrooms and shop space for our plumbing program and the new electrical technology program. Our building construction program will also use the new building for some aspects of their classes, making this new building a hub for the building trades here at Oxford Hills Technical School,” said Oxford Hills Technical School Director Randy Crockett.

In addition to Oxford Hills Technical School, the following CTEs also received grant awards:

  • Biddeford Regional Center of Technology in Biddeford: More than $7 million to build a two-story addition to the existing high school to create a culinary arts and hospitality program as well as an athletic training program and to expand existing plumbing and emergency medical technician programs.
  • Northern Penobscot Tech Region III in Lincoln: Nearly $570,000 to expand the welding program by building an addition to the existing school that will add five welding booth ventilators, ten welding booths, and ten welders.
  • Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico: Nearly $5.5 million to expand and enhance CTE facilities for four programs, including establishing a four-season outdoor education center, creating new classroom and lab space for the welding program, and expanding the culinary arts program to include an outdoor education space with a greenhouse, store, outdoor kitchen, and classroom.

“In Biddeford, we will finally be able to offer three new programs: culinary arts, travel, tourism and hospitality program, and athletic training/sports medicine. Additionally, we are adding expanded space for our plumbing, heating, and EMT program. Through these grants, we’re able to offer more workforce training programs and give students more choice and opportunity,” said Biddeford Center of Technology Director Paulette Bonneau.

“Region 9 is a small rural CTE school located in the foothills of Western Maine. Our grant-funded projects will expand and enhance instructional opportunities for our students leading to further skill development and chances to earn industry credentials. These skills and credentials will support our students in being successful in obtaining good-paying jobs or participating in post-secondary training and educational opportunities. Our voters, in all sixteen communities, overwhelmingly supported our school receiving these funds during a recent referendum vote. We are excited to move forward in this process and can’t wait to see the amazing impact this opportunity will have on our school and the surrounding area,” said Region 9 School of Applied Technology Director Brenda Gammon.

“The grant will provide a much-needed expansion to Northern Penobscot Tech Region III’s welding shop. Our welding program provides our students opportunities to receive several certifications, up to and including pipe welding. Many graduates of the Region III welding program leave high school and go right to work building the critical infrastructure Maine needs for now and into our future. This is money well spent,” said Northern Penobscot Tech Region III Director Curt Ring.

This $15 million grant funding is part of a larger $20 million investment from the Governor’s Jobs Plan to expand CTEs in Maine, including following $4.5 million in awards to 23 CTE programs to purchase and upgrade equipment to enhance student learning experiences and career preparation for high-skilled, in-demand industries.

In addition to the Jobs Plan funding, the Governor and the Legislature have increased funding for CTEs by nearly $10 million over the past four years, including a $1.6 million to assist in the increased costs of supplies and $100,000 to expand CTE early childhood education programs. The Governor’s biennial budget also proposes $500,000 to expand middle school CTE programs.

Gov Mills and CTE studentsAs then-Attorney General, Governor Mills also used funds she obtained through a settlement with Bath Fitter to create plumbing programs at four CTEs in Maine, including Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway, Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington, Lewiston Regional Technical Center in Lewiston, and Biddeford Regional Center of Technology in Biddeford.

Maine’s 27 Career and Technical Education regions and centers enroll more than 9,800 students in 85 programs. Students learn skills and gain real-world experiences in programs ranging from plumbing and welding to culinary arts and early childhood education while completing high school. Many students are able to receive industry accreditation, earn college credits through dual-enrollment opportunities, and they graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the job market and higher education.

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.

Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.

For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit

Earlier in the day, Governor Mills also read to second grade students at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway as part of the Maine Department of Education’s Read to ME Challenge. The annual challenge promotes literacy by encouraging adults to read aloud to children for at least 15 minutes.

Gov Mills reads to students

Annual Career and Technical Education Conference Draws 400+ Educators from Across Maine

(Pictured: Commissioner Makin attended the conference to acknowledge and thank educators for their dedication to career and technical education.)

On Friday October 7th the Maine Association for Career and Technical Education (MACTE) organization held their annual Career and Technical Education (CTE) conference at Lewiston Regional Technical Center (LRTC) in Lewiston. More than 400 CTE educators from secondary and post secondary schools across Maine came together to discuss their respective programs as well as attend workshops held throughout the day. Workshops that were offered ranged from clean energy, apprenticeship opportunities, and industry partners to name a few.

The conference also carried on its annual tradition of recognizing the MACTE CTE Teacher of the Year as well as the MACTE CTE Lifetime Achievement Award honorees.

2022 Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year:

Jean Palmer
Creative Digital Media Instructor
Region 10 Technical High School in Brunswick
Read a story about her award in the Portland Press Herald

Jean Palmer
Photo from Portland Press Herald

Lifetime Achievement Award: 

Dan Caron
Chef and Culinary Instructor
Lewiston Regional Technical Center (LRTC)
Read a story about Dan in the Lewiston Sun Journal

Dan Caron
Photo from Lewiston Sun Journal

For more information about the MACTE CTE Conference reach out to MACTE