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.


Growing Within: A Rural District’s Response to the Need for a Multilingual Learner Educator

(Pictured: Educator Amy Trombley, with students Sustada Ma, El-Shammah Nsadha, and Ammala Ma)

At the beginning of the 23/24 school year, Limestone Community School was facing a need for an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) educator to meet the federal requirements of newly enrolled students. As the language use survey indicated a need for assessments, Principal Ben Lothrop recognized that while a 660-certified teacher wasn’t necessary on-site in the past, now it was. He first posted a position for a 660-certified educator with no success. In rural communities in Maine, finding a certified multilingual learner educator is often difficult, as it does fall in the US Department of Education’s teacher shortage.

“In rural areas across the state of Maine like Limestone and Aroostook County, we struggle to find qualified regular education teachers, much less anything more specialized like an ESOL teacher. In the past, I’ve had to ‘grow my own,’ and this is no different. It’s a great opportunity for the teacher, our students, and the local area as more and more people with various cultural and language backgrounds are moving into our area.”

The next step was for Lothrop to identify an educator who may want to pursue the emergency certification for 660. Title I teacher, Amy Trombley, jumped at the opportunity. “ESOL is a very rare certification, especially in this rural area of Maine, but it is still very much needed. I have a history of working with multilingual learners before my teaching career and loved the experiences that it brought with it. It is a very rewarding job! My main goal in teaching is to make sure the needs of every single student is met. With this certification, I can ensure needs are met for all demographics and make the education experience for multilingual students is that much more equitable.” Trombley applied for and received emergency 660 certification and then enrolled in the University of Southern Maine in the Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) program with the District’s support. She has also taken advantage of free professional learning offered by the Maine Department of Education (DOE): WIDA webinar series, “Scaffolding Learning through Language.”

The Maine DOE has assisted with technical support throughout the WIDA Screener assessment and implementation of a newly formed ESOL support.  Administrative Letter #27:  Legal Requirements to Provide English Language Acquisition Services to Students who are Multilingual Learners (Revised 6.21.23)  Multilingual Learner guidance can be found here.

At the Maine DOE, we recognize an increased demand for 660 certification specialists in Maine. We are offering a collaborative webinar with Maine DOE ESOL Specialist Jane Armstrong, Certification Coordinator Erin Reinhard, Family Engagement Specialist Melanie Junkins, and the University of Southern Maine TESOL program instructors Dr. Andrea Stairs-Davenport, Dr. Alec Lapidus, and Dr. Melinda Butler. This one hour webinar is designed for administrators and educators in the state who want to learn more about obtaining a 660 certification, the differences in emergency, conditional, and full certification, and a pathway to earn this certification at the University of Southern Maine.

To find out more, register here for the webinar “ESOL 660 Certification Pathway,” on October 27, 2023, from 1-2 pm.

Questions regarding the webinar can be directed to Melanie Junkins (, Maine DOE Family Engagement and Culturally Responsive Specialist.

Resources Available for WIDA ELD Standards

On May 25, 2021 the Maine Department of Education announced through a Priority Notice its adoption of the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition as a critical companion to the Maine Learning Results. WIDA’s ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition, serves as a foundation for systems that foster engaged interactive student learning and collaborative educator practice. The Framework is centered on equity for all students and fosters the assets, contributions, and potential of culturally and linguistically diverse children and youth. It also provides a clear and coherent structure to guide the development of curriculum, instruction, and assessment of content-driven English language learning.

As you continue to implement the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition in your educational setting, the Maine Department of Education would like to make you aware of several resources which may support your work.

New guidance for educators and administrators implementing the WIDA ELD Standards Framework

  • WIDA recently launched two new implementation guides to support educators and administrators as they implement the WIDA ELD Standards Framework.
    •  The WIDA ELD Standards Framework Implementation Guide is designed specifically for classroom teachers and instructional leaders, as well as other professionals who work with multilingual learners. It includes guidance about planning for language development in units and lessons, sample resources, and ideas for what implementation of the Framework could look like in practice.
    • This guide is accompanied by an Administrator Supplement focusing on programmatic aspects of systemic ELD standards implementation for school and district administrators.
  • All Maine educators may access WIDA’s excellent virtual, self-paced eWorkshops through their WIDA account.
    • Click here to read about how to get started with WIDA’s eWorkshop The WIDA ELD Standards Framework: A Collaborative Approach
    • This eWorkshop explores ways to use the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition to support multilingual learners’ achievement and language development It contains many wonderful examples and videos demonstrating how the implementation looks in a classroom setting. For K-12 educators. Time to complete: 4 hours
    • Contact hours are available through WIDA upon completion of all eWorkshops
  • The Maine Department of Education has the following asynchronous professional learning opportunities for deepening your knowledge about the WIDA ELD Standards:

The State ESOL Specialist is available to support you directly through technical assistance calls and in-person professional learning opportunities. 

For further information please contact Jane Armstrong, State ESOL Specialist,

Portland Public Schools Hosts Annual Seal of Biliteracy Awards Ceremony

(Pictured: Carlos Gomez, Director of Language Development, Portland Public Schools)

“Many years ago my grandmother said, ‘Learning a new language is like having another little house in which you can take refuge and escape from the world to give yourself your own time. Learn today so that tomorrow you can enjoy yourself freely without any issues.’ I did not understand this wisdom at that time. I was a girl, I did not know what was coming soon. However, her wise words were never erased from my mind and heart, now more than ever I understand what she said because the process of learning a new language was difficult but after the storm, I am freely enjoying the rainbow.” These are the words of Portland High School student and Maine Seal of Biliteracy recipient, Estrella Alemán Delgado.

Portland Public Schools (PPS) hosted its annual Seal of Biliteracy Awards ceremony on May 17, 2023. There were 66 Seal recipients this year from Portland High School, Deering High School, and Casco Bay High School – 40 percent more than last year and the most since the award began in 2018.

The Seal of Biliteracy is an award that recognizes graduating students for having a high degree of skill in English and one or more additional languages. Nearly all states in the United States now offer this award, celebrating multilingualism and giving students an edge for their post-secondary studies and/or future careers. The Seal of Biliteracy underscores for younger students, parents, and community members who speak a language other than English at home that it’s important to maintain heritage languages. The Seal of Biliteracy also honors the dedication of world language students who pursue higher-level language courses. Highlighting the value of multilingualism, this award becomes part of a student’s transcript and gives students an edge for their post-secondary studies and/or future careers. Students who earn the Seal of Biliteracy may be eligible to earn up to 8 college credits at certain Maine Universities and Colleges based on their demonstrated proficiency levels in their target language(s).

Mayinga Mukinayi, Seal of Biliteracy Recipient
Mayinga Mukinayi, Seal of Biliteracy Recipient

Several students shared their language-learning experiences during the ceremony. Student speaker and Seal recipient, Mayinga Mukinayi spoke about the challenges and rewards she experienced as a multilingual learner. “My experience of learning English was very challenging because when I arrived in the United States, I didn’t know anything about English other than ‘Good Morning’ and counting a few numbers. It was hard, but I kept wanting to learn. I read English books and listened to English music without understanding. Sometimes I even slept with headphones on- putting words in English so that my mind could listen. Even if I was sleeping, my brain would be awake to listen. Now that I know English, although I’m still learning, I can communicate, and with my Portuguese and French I can help people who are in the same place as me when I arrived in the United States.  I help in the classrooms, as a teacher’s assistant. I even helped out in the summer as a TA in a multilingual classroom for middle school students. I still help even outside of school, translating in churches or even on the streets, when someone asks me for help.”

The following are the 16 languages in which this year’s recipients have achieved proficiency: Arabic, Bengali, Dari, French, German, Hindi, Latin, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, Pashto, Portuguese, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Tajik and Urdu. The variety of languages represented in the ceremony gave a sense of the breadth of the language diversity at the Portland Public Schools, where one-third of students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken – a total of more than 50 languages.

Melea Nalli, PPS’s interim Co-superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning spoke extensively about the benefits of multilingualism. The ability to speak multiple languages is an undeniable asset in today’s increasingly global world. Learning another language transcends the confines of one’s own background and improves and expands one’s understanding of the world, diverse cultures, and perspectives. She noted that proficiency in two or more languages enhances students’ ability to succeed academically and in the workplace.  Language learning makes important contributions to students’ cognitive development, mental flexibility, memory, and concentration. Research shows that language learning correlates with higher academic achievement on standardized test measures. Additionally, demand for employees who are proficient in more than one language is growing in the United States and throughout the world. Multiple language proficiency opens the door to a wide variety of career opportunities.

Seal of Biliteracy Recipients from Portland Public High Schools
Seal of Biliteracy Recipients from Portland Public High Schools

If you are interested in developing a Seal of Biliteracy Program in your school, please reach out to Rebecca Carey, ESOL Consultant at or visit Maine Seal of Biliteracy.


Laura Wittmann Named 2023 ESOL Teacher of the Year

Ms. Wittmann was nominated for this recognition based on her demonstration of best practices in teaching English, her participation in professional growth, and her service to students and the school district. In her role as the ELL District coordinator for Bangor Schools, she advocates for students and their families, by connecting them to social and cultural activities in the community as well as connecting them to social workers and local volunteer groups who facilitate social and medical services.

Ms. Wittmann is also a teacher at William S. Cohen School and Mary Snow School. In the classroom, she works to relate her students’ background knowledge to the curriculum content, in order to ensure that the students can access the material at the same level as their peers, regardless of their level of English proficiency. She feels that “as a Maine ESOL teacher, (she) love(s) to help students find their voices and tell their stories (in English), and create bridges between their respective home languages and cultures, and their new identities as Mainers.”

Educators for a Multilingual Maine (EMME) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote and improve the teaching and study of languages and cultures of the world. EMME also strives to further the common interests of teachers, students and others in the state of Maine, for whom languages play an important role. EMME was formerly known as FLAME, the Foreign Language Association of Maine. Learn more about EMME at