College and Career Success Coordinator Alice Shea Recognized for Her Work and Advocacy on Behalf of Asylum Seekers in Maine

(Pictured [left] Addie Laroche who nominated Alice for the award and [right] Alice Shea, Maine College and Career Success Coordinator)

Alice Shea, College and Career Success Coordinator for Adult Education Hub 8 and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) was recognized with a 2023 Alumni Award from Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Alice received the 2023 Lucy Wheelock Award in recognition of her work and advocacy on behalf of asylum seekers in Maine. Alice’s work to promote access to education and high-quality employment will have an impact on the New Mainer population her students, their families, and Maine’s workforce for generations to come.

College and Career Success Coordinators are part of the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) which has committed $6 million dollars to address the workforce development needs of those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Maine’s Department of Education, Adult Education team is using these funds to help eligible adults and employment sectors recover from the stresses of the pandemic through a variety of academic and job training supports.

Addie Laroche, the Director of Maine Partnerships, nominated Alice Shea. Addie previously held the position of the Director of Career and Transfer Services at SMCC. Laroche introduced Shea at the award ceremony and spoke about why they had chosen Alice as the recipient of this year’s award.  She shared the following:

“The Lucy Wheelock Award recognizes someone who has shown incredible dedication to their community, advocating for social justice and systemic change. When Alice Shea began her work at Maine’s largest community college, she quickly understood that there was a community that was facing significant challenges in terms of access to educational resources, housing, food security, and many other necessities that so many people take for granted. The state’s New Mainer population, those who have been forced out of their home countries and are seeking asylum in Maine, quickly identified Alice as a key resource on campus.

She has been instrumental in developing remedial preparation classes for students entering high-demand fields, securing access to English Language Acquisition support, education, technology, and extending the resources in our campus’s food bank. Not only has she served this community with a passion, but she’s ignited that passion within her colleagues. Alice had shared with the college’s executive team that she had helped secure housing for a student, but the student didn’t have a single piece of furniture. That Friday afternoon, the college’s highest level of staff banded together to tap into their networks, ensuring that the student had furniture to call their own that weekend. The President of the College showed up with a truck on Saturday morning to deliver it himself.

The work that Alice does with the New Mainer and greater SMCC and Portland community, as well as the drive that she shares with the rest of the community, cannot go unnoticed. Creating systemic change for new Mainers is not only instrumental in helping to improve the opportunity and security for themselves and their families, but is a key factor to sustaining the workforce in fields like healthcare and technology across the entire state. Behind all of that is Alice’s support, advisement, and passionate advocacy.”

In Shea’s acceptance speech, she thanked the Mills administration for Maine’s free college initiative and Maine Jobs Recovery Plan for funding positions and projects that support marginalized people in Maine’s communities.

Since the Maine Jobs and Recovery 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

To read the bios of Maine’s College and Career Success Coordinators, and learn more about the programs, click here. 

For more information about the awards and past recipients, click here.


What Really Works in Education 2023 Conference: High Leverage Practices & Collaboration for Inclusive Classrooms

Are you looking for strategies, tips, and practical techniques around high-leverage instructional practices and collaboration that work with diverse learners to create Inclusive Classrooms?  This conference is for you and your team!

For the first time ever, the popular What Really Works in Education conference is coming to Maine!  This year’s conference, hosted by the Maine Department of Education’s Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education, will engage learners around high-leverage practices by local, national, and international experts.

Participants will leave with tips, tricks, strategies, and tools to add to their educational toolkit from each session in the conference.

The one-day event will feature strategies on Collaboration and Inclusion for administrators, general and special education teachers, preservice educators, educational technicians, and related service personnel including strands on Collaboration and Behavior and Collaboration and Academics.

  • Date:  Wednesday, October 4, 2023
  • Location: University of Maine Augusta
  • Cost: $50 per participant which includes breakfast, lunch, and a copy of the 2023 book of Connecting High Leverage Practices to Student Success: Collaboration in Inclusive Classrooms (Jenkins & Murawski).
  • Register for the conference here.
  • For more information visit the Inclusion Conference website.

Keynote Speakers 

Dr. Wendy W. Murawski

Wendy W. Murawski, PhD, is the Executive Director and Eisner Endowed Chair for the Center for Teaching and Learning at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where she is also a professor in the Department of Special Education and the Director of SIMPACT Immersive Learning. Dr. Murawski is the national Past President of the Teacher Education Division (TED) of CEC and award-winning researcher, author, and educator, including Teacher Educator of the Year for the state of California. Dr. Murawski holds an EdS, MEd, and MBA and  is an internationally known speaker and frequently requested keynote speaker, presenting in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. She has published extensively around inclusive education, co-teaching, collaboration, and Universal Design for Learning, including 18 books and numerous chapters, blogs, and peer-reviewed articles. Prior to higher education, she was a general and special education teacher in Virginia and in California. Currently, Dr. Murawski is the CEO of 2 TEACHâ (, an educational consulting company dedicated to promoting inclusive education, and 2 TEACHâ Global, championing inclusive education around the world.

Dr. Melissa C. Jenkins

Melissa C. Jenkins, PhD, is an assistant professor of Special Education at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and co-author of Connecting High-Leverage Practices to Student Success: Collaboration in Inclusive Classrooms. She brings over 18 years of public school experience to her role as a teacher educator, having worked in Virginia public schools as a special education teacher, instructional coach, and central office administrator. Dr. Jenkins is dedicated to helping educators bring high-quality, inclusive practices to schools. She is also a consultant with 2 TEACHâ Global educational consulting. She loves speaking and writing about collaborative practices, early mathematics intervention, and positive behavioral support. When not working, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga to find literal and figurative balance in life.

Why Inclusion?

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that each public agency (SAU) must ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. §300.114

Over 20 years of research studies have consistently demonstrated that the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms results in favorable academic, social, and economic outcomes. This includes positive benefits for typical peers in classrooms who benefit from involvement and relationships with students who have disabilities in inclusive settings.

Effectively including students with disabilities in the general education classroom requires teachers and school administrators to further develop an understanding of the individual strengths and needs of the whole student.

For more information about Inclusion in Maine or the What Really Works in Education conference, contact Tracy Whitlock at

Orono Middle School Students Embrace their Culture with Classmates and Community

(Pictured: Students and their families pose for a photo at the culture festival)

Highlighting the diversity of students is crucial to fostering a sense of belonging, both in schools and in the wider community. To accomplish this, and to enjoy delicious foods from across the world while doing it, students at Orono Middle School  held a cultural festival to celebrate their different backgrounds. The event was organized by middle school teacher, Jessica Archer, who recently was recognized as Penobscot County’s 2023 Teacher of the Year for her innovative teaching.

The origins of the cultural festival began with Archer’s desire to deepen her understanding of the culture and experiences of her students, especially those from outside of the country. Recognizing the need for a greater understanding of her students’ diverse backgrounds, she interviewed many of them, asking each student questions about their culture and background. At the end of each interview, she asked, “What do you want people to understand about your culture?” That question elicited several responses from students who felt that their classmates did not understand them because they did not know more about their culture. Archer then asked the students if they would like to participate in an event celebrating their unique cultures which, in her words, led many of her students’ faces to “light up” with joy.

Inspired by her students’ answers during their conversation, Archer decided to write a story about each student’s background from their point of view. After sharing the drafts with her students and their families to ensure accuracy, Archer published the stories, along with pictures, to display on a school bulletin board. The board displayed a map of the world, with strings connecting each of her students to their country of origin. Archer also recognized a greater need to spread awareness around her students’ cultural backgrounds beyond her classroom and with the rest of the school’s student body. After speaking with two of her students who celebrated Ramadan and wished their peers better understood the holiday and their culture, Archer helped them to create an informational bulletin board and place it in the school’s foyer.

The after-school culture festival Archer organized was a success and attended by nearly 40 participants who learned from the eight families from different parts of the world. Students and their families from or with ties to Ukraine, France, Jordan, South Africa, Guatemala, Israel, Turkey, and Myanmar gathered to celebrate their culture, experiences, and of course, delicious food.

Students’ dishes included Middle Eastern Za’atar bread and traditional Ukrainian Potato Varenyky, a dish like dumplings. But the event also represented much more than just a culinary adventure. In addition to food, families also shared visual and audio representations of their culture. Students and families who participated felt the event was valuable in helping foster a better understanding of different cultures represented within the school and community. Alex, one of the parents who participated in the event wrote that the culture festival “offers a unique opportunity to discover the variety and richness of the Orono immigrant families’ cultural and gastronomical backgrounds.” Khawla, another parent, wrote, “the cultural festival at schools is an excellent way to build a strong foundation for diversity in the community by bringing people together from different cultures, religions, regions, and backgrounds to get to know each other, share ideas, food, and mind in a spirit of peace, unity, and togetherness.”

The event taught valuable lessons to students and families alike on the diversity of their community. Sophia, one of  Archer’s students who participated in the event said, “people make assumptions about people from other countries. It is important that we learn about each other and ask questions before making assumptions and judgments.” Archer hopes to expand the event to include families other schools throughout RSU #26 next year to continue sharing and celebrating the diverse backgrounds of her students.

This story was drafted by Maine DOE Intern Ryan Hafener in collaboration with Jessica Archer as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email Rachel Paling, Maine DOE Communications and Outreach Coordinator at

Celebrating Pride Month. Resources to Support LGBTQ+ Students and Build a Welcoming School Climate

June is LGBTQ Pride Month and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) has a robust collection of resources devoted to supporting LGBTQ+ students in Maine and fostering a positive school climate.

The resources were put together through a collaborative partnership between Maine DOE, OUT Maine, and GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders) in an effort to provide meaningful resources and information to schools to give them the tools to support not only their LGBTQ+ students but families and school staff as well. The Maine DOE is committed to ensuring Maine schools are safe and welcoming environments for all students.

The website includes data about Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth, the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) data, teaching resources, and other vital tools for Maine schools to ensure equity for LGBTQ+ identifying students and meaningfully celebrate Pride Month. There are also additional resources specifically for students and parents.

The website of resources can be accessed here: LGBTQ+ Resources

2023 Summer Symposium on Inclusive Practices for Students with Autism and Developmental Disabilities

Join the Council for Exceptional Children’s (CEC) Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) groups face-to-face at UMaine Orono or join via Zoom on July 21st from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm for a full day of inclusion-building topics in education centered around two strands of learning- 1) access to the curriculum and 2) quality of life. There are multiple ways of joining and learning. Get more information and register HERE now!

Contact hours are available. For more information please reach out to Anica Miller Rushing