Free Virtual Summer Workshop on Navigating Historical Themes

The Maine Department of Education’s partnership with Network Maine is excited to share a free virtual summer professional development workshop for teachers, offered by the Presidential Libraries and the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP).   Presidential Character and Decision Making is a three-day online workshop from July 12-14, 2022, focused on presenting teachers with tools and primary sources to help them navigate historical themes in their curriculum.

This workshop is hosted by the Internet2 Community Anchor Program and is available to Maine’s K-12 teachers thanks to the University of Maine’s membership in Internet2. (Internet2 is the United States’ Research and Education Network much like Network Maine is Maine’s.)


Workshop: Presidential Character and Decision Making
Location: Online via Zoom, hosted by the Internet2 Community Anchor Program
Schedule: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. CT, July 12-14, 2022
Cost: FREE as a thank you to teachers for getting through this school year!

The 2022 workshop offers teachers the opportunity to learn and interact with presenters from the Hoover Library, FDR Library, Truman Library, Johnson Library, Nixon Library, Carter Library, Reagan Library, George W. Bush Library, George H.W. Bush Library, and Clinton Library. Numerous teaching activities, lesson plans, and interactive resources will be shared throughout the week by each presenting institution.

For more information, read Internet2 CAP’s latest blog post or visit the workshop homepage. For any questions regarding the workshop, please contact Therese Perlowski,, CAP’s Program Manager.


Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher Jamie Karaffa Surprised with Milken Educator Award

In a surprise assembly today, Jamie Karaffa, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland, received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for her service as a classroom and community leader, innovative approach to creating classroom-to-life connections that make history come alive for her students, and ability to challenge and inspire students to think critically about important historical issues and current events.

Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop and Maine Deputy Commissioner of Education Dan Chuhta surprised Karaffa with the honor before cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials, and the media. Karaffa is one of only two educators in Maine and among more than 60 nationwide to be recognized with the Award during the 2021-2022 school year. She is the first recipient awarded in the RSU 16 School District. Earlier today, third grade teacher Hillary Hoyt received the Award at a surprise assembly at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it.

“Jamie makes ancient history feel just as relevant to her students as today’s current affairs, and both come alive in her classroom,” said Bishop, who herself is a 2001 Milken Educator from Virginia. “She challenges her students to think critically and become engaged citizens of their community – and that is a learning outcome that can truly last a lifetime. For her excellent work in and out of the classroom, we are thrilled to present her with this Award today.”

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

“Jamie Karaffa makes history come alive for her students by creating immersive, project-based opportunities that build connections between the past and present day while also fostering the critical thinking and leadership skills needed to be engaged and empowered citizens,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “Her passion, creativity, and leadership extend to her role as soccer coach and as a curriculum leader in her district and beyond. The Maine Department of Education is so proud to join the Milken Family Foundation and the entire RSU 16 community in honoring Jamie with this well-deserved recognition.”

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s winners in a video message shared earlier this year thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

Following the surprise announcement, Karaffa said she was shocked and stunned and she told the school audience, “This isn’t my award alone–this is because all of you as well.”

More about Jamie Karaffa:

Making Classroom Connections to Life: Karaffa helps students understand the connections between history and their own lives. She and her colleagues at Whittier Middle School organize Whittier History Day, when the entire school comes together to share long-term research projects for National History Day. Students learn the essentials of research, including locating sources and evaluating their reliability, forming thesis statements, finding evidence to support their ideas, and structuring their arguments in a clear, compelling way. Pupils learn to write with purpose, format citations, edit their work, and formally present their projects. Many of Karaffa’s eighth-graders have been recognized for their work at the state level, and one student’s project was displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Challenges Students’ Critical Thinking: Throughout the year, Karaffa engages students in units that encourage them to examine the past and think about how it relates to current events. Her curriculum integrates essential reading, writing and research skills into foundational elements of U.S. and world history, including Reconstruction, segregation, the civil rights movement, World War II and the Holocaust. Karaffa emphasizes working with primary documents as students learn through document-based questions, gallery walks, talk shows, historical sing-alongs and mock elections. She challenges students to become engaged citizens. During election seasons, the class debates local and state legislation, analyzes propaganda tools and candidates’ speeches, and writes essays supporting their chosen candidates, always providing evidence to support their choices. Students understand what is expected of them and regularly exceed those expectations, finding their own voices along the way.

Classroom and Community Leader: A leader in the building, district and beyond, Karaffa has helped develop district and state social studies curriculum, including remote learning units that proved essential during the pandemic. She is a James Madison Fellow, has led professional development at the district level, and has presented at the Maine Council for the Social Studies conference. In addition to her academic work, Karaffa coaches Whittier’s eight-grade girls’ soccer team.

Education: Karaffa earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Elizabethtown College in 2005 and a master’s in American history and government from Ashland University in 2021.

More information about Karaffa, plus links to photos and video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at:

More about the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”
Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • In June, the honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
  • Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
  • “We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.
  • The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.

Maine DOE and Holocaust and Human Rights Center (HHRC) of Maine Announce New Project-Based Lessons Now Available to Maine Educators

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center (HHRC) of Maine have partnered to support the many educators working to develop robust and relevant, project-based learning content for the MOOSE (Maine Online Opportunities for Sustained Education) platform. Educators have developed online, PreK-12 learning modules that examine the history of genocide and the Holocaust using an interdisciplinary, project-based approach. The modules are intended to be used by students and educators at every grade level, and includes age-appropriate material to help students learn about the events of the holocaust and associated themes and concepts.  

Teachers, leaders, and experts from all over Maine recently gathered at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) on the campus of University of Augusta, to recognize the six months of collaboration and support, insight, and hard work of all involved. 

MOOSE was initially designed in response to the pandemic as a way for learning to continue whether students were home, in their classrooms, or otherwise.  With support from hundreds of educators from every county in Maine, over 300 learning modules were created and published for free online use.  MOOSE has evolved to be a model for high quality, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, addressing important issues identified by state and education leaders.  

HHRC Educational Coordinator, Erica Nadelhaft, advised and supported the team with resources, and cultural and emotional support.   

Team Leader, Joanna Martel, praised Content Creators for their work, “Our team worked hard to convey a difficult topic to all students and the partnership with HHRC has been critical to making it all happen.  It is not only the amazing product they have produced but also the tools they have gained and will take back to use in their classrooms that’s exciting to see. The experience of this project has been something we won’t forget and the relationships built between HHRC, DOE, and educators all over the state will last a long time.”   

Molly Ockett School 3rd Graders Study Maine Forests in Outdoor Classroom

Brian Cushing, a 3rd grade teacher at Molly Ockett School in MSAD 72 was looking to do something different with his students this past fall after a year of working indoors through the pandemic.

Inspired by a “Forests of Maine Teacher Study Tour” he took in the summer of 2021 at the Maine Outdoor Center on Millinocket Lake near Mt. Katahdin, Cushing created a lesson for his 3rd graders that gave them the opportunity to study Maine forests.

“Our field experiences [on the Forests of Maine Teacher Study Tour] were what inspired me most to have my students get outside and learn about forestry,” said Cushing. “Our teacher field experiences took us from harvesting and processing the harvest to retail operations.”

In a 10-session study that integrated reading, writing, technology, science, and geography components, Cushing collaborated with Tin Mountain Conservation to create something really special for this students. He worked with Tin Mountain to co-teach lessons on tree identification, internal structure/components of trees and how to tell how old a tree is when cut down by counting rings on tree cookies.

Cushing decided to use their local school site in Fryeburg, which is located on several acres of mixed woods on one side, for a place to set up their outdoor classroom.

“Students enjoyed having an outdoor classroom,” said Cushing. “Being indoors so much of the day during this pandemic can be monotonous, and even though protocols are in place for outdoor classrooms, it was a change, the air was fresh, and they were learning about a new topic.”

In addition to learning about tree science, the students also studied animal habitat, and what mammals live in the Maine woods. They kept science journals for their weekly lessons, the majority of which were outside at their school site. They also worked in teams of two or three and used their laptops to research selected Maine mammals such as black bear, moose, snowshoe hare, flying squirrels, and bobcat, and then created visuals to present their findings to their classmates, as experts on their chosen mammal.

“They were so enthusiastic to research and write about their mammal, and then to present to the class,” said Cushing. “This was the first time any of them had been able to do any kind of team work since the pandemic hit.”

As part of the collaboration with Tin Mountain, students also had the opportunity to assemble a Maine moose skeleton in class, as part of a traveling museum that came to their classroom. Students also got see a Maine black bear skin, a taxidermied pileated woodpecker, and a saw-whet owl.

“The best part for me was seeing how integration really makes sense to students,” Cushing reflected.

To learn more about Tin Mount Conservation visit their website. To learn more about Mr. Cushing’s study on Maine forests, reach out to him at

Maine Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) has announces that high school students Ms. Eleanore Jean Allan-Rahill and Ms. Fallon Maria Eggett will join Senator Susan M. Collins and Senator Angus S. King in representing Maine during the 60th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 6 – 9, 2022.

Eleanore Allan-Rahill of Orono and Fallon Eggett of Veazie were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 member national student delegation who will each also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2022 program will be held online, through a comprehensive and highly interactive virtual education and leadership forum.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the Senate leadership of the day, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”

Each year, this extremely competitive program provides the most outstanding high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – with an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service.

In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history, and public affairs. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Ella Allan-Rahill
Educator Shanna Goodall and Maine DOE Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt posing with Eleanore after giving her the news of her selection.

Eleanore Allan-Rahill, a senior at Orono High School, serves as the secretary of the Junior Board for the Maine chapter of Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV). She counts CISV as one of the most impactful organizations in her life and has held various local leadership roles and has attended national and international conferences through the organization. She was selected to represent her school at the Hugh O’Brian Maine Youth Leadership Seminar and New England Student Leadership Conference. She was the captain of her soccer team and is involved with other sports alongside the Gender Sexuality Alliance, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, Spanish National Honor Society, Book Club, and mentoring younger students at her school through the “Riot Buddies” program. Eleanore has also received the Grade 10 English award, the National Bronze Award for Spanish achievement, and the Maine Youth Environmental Leader Scholarship to attend Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki.

Fallon Eggett
Maine DOE Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt visiting Fallon’s school to give her the news of her selection.

Fallon Eggett, a senior at Bangor High School, serves as a representative on the Class Council. She holds leadership positions in Rho Kappa, the national Social Studies honor society, and Debate. She prides herself on engaging actively as the Bangor Junior ROTC executive officer and drill team commander, earning awards for her work within those ranks, such as the JROTC Superior Cadet award in grades 9-11, and the JROTC Order of the Daedalians award. She has been recognized as a National Merit Scholar semifinalist, and with the Speaking and Service Award from the National Speech and Debate Association. Fallon counts participation in the debate, drill, rifle, and lacrosse teams, and the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute among her valued affiliations.

Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Mr. Max Provencher, a resident of Prospect, who attends Searsport District High School and Ms. Stephanie Clisham, a resident of Winterport, who attends Hampden Academy.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection.

During the program week, the student delegates will attend online meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, among others.

For more information please visit: