Early College High School Student First to Earn Required Credits for University of Maine at Augusta Degree while Attending High School

Amber-Rae Pesek, a senior graduating from Ellsworth High School in June of 2022, is the first student ever to complete the necessary credits to earn an Associate’s degree from the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) while simultaneously completing her high school career. Pesek, who marched in the May 14th UMA Commencement Ceremony, will be officially awarded her degree in Liberal Studies in Summer 2022 following the completion of her high school career.

Pesek earned 74 credits college credits as a high school student in the UMA Early College Program and as a Bridge Academy of Maine student through Hancock County Technical Center. Credits were accumulated across the University of Maine System campuses with the majority of her credits earned through UMA. She also transferred credits for her UMA degree requirements from Eastern Maine Community College.

Christine Knight, UMA’s Director of Early College said, “(Amber-) Rae is one of the most extraordinarily driven students I have ever had the pleasure of working with in this program.  She put in countless hours in the coursework itself, while also being actively involved in the Bridge Academy of Maine Program as well as student life at Ellsworth High School.”

Sarah White, Ellsworth High School Counselor, said Pesek took full advantage of Early College opportunities. “She did this on top of balancing a regular high school course load, as well as co-curricular activities and athletics. Her diligence and perseverance paid off in spades and we are so proud of her! We are so excited to see what her future holds!”

Hancock County Technical Center Student Services Coordinator, Hope High, and Director, Amy Boles, also recognized Pesek’s efforts. “As a student in our Biomedical Sciences program and a member of our Bridge Academy, Amber-Rae has shown immense leadership and taken advantage of every opportunity she has been given.  We are so proud of her efforts in earning the necessary credits for her Associates Degree from the University of Maine at Augusta while also taking a full academic course load and being an active high school citizen.”

Mason Brewer, Program Director for Bridge Academy of Maine, agreed. “Especially during these unique and challenging times, she displayed an impressive ability to maintain a substantial course load. She is a shining example of what is possible with strong personal drive, advocacy, and planning. We are excited to follow where Rae goes from here!”

At the University of Maine System (UMS), Early College (or dual enrollment) refers to all programs in which high school students enroll in college courses. Students earn both college and high school credit when they successfully complete the course. High school students who enroll in early college courses are more likely to enroll in college, have higher grades, and have a better chance of earning a college degree. Courses are free (or at significantly reduced costs) to high school students.

The most recent data from the UMS Institutional Research and Planning Office (Spring 2022) reveals the outlook for all Early College programs is strong, with 457 high school students enrolled this spring just within UMA (2,501 system wide). This represents an 81% increase from 2018 for UMA, and a 55% increase overall for all seven institutions. Fall enrollments are typically stronger across all demographics, and data for Early College support that. The Fall 2021 statistics show that more than 3,600 students across Maine’s public universities were enrolled in Early College, with 1,056 enrolling in UMA courses.

Like her colleagues, UMA’s Knight is also very optimistic of Pesek’s future as she took advantage of Early College, and also recognized how much family support contributes to student success. “Rae is a remarkable student, and she had unending support and guidance from her family. I know she will go on to do incredible things. Once again, Rae demonstrates that with Early College, high school students can be not only college ready, but college proven!” Pesek is already exploring options for the fall at UMA and several other Maine public universities.

UMA transforms the lives of students of every age and background across the State of Maine and beyond through access to high-quality distance and on-site education, excellence in student support, civic engagement, and professional and liberal arts programs.  For more information, please visit https://www.uma.edu/. For information about UMA’s Early College Program, visit https://uma.edu/earlycollege.

Maine Council for English Language Arts Presents 4th Annual Brassil Award

The Maine Council for English Language Arts (MCELA) awarded its 4th annual Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award, in honor of the contributions of the two long-time educators who have inspired students and mentored teachers for over eighty combined years in Maine public schools. MCELA is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The Brassil Distinguished Educator award is usually presented annually at the MCELA Conference in March (tentatively scheduled to be an in-person conference in Portland), but the award has been delayed since 2020 due to the pandemic. 

The Brassil Award recognizes exceptional English language arts and literacy teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, contributed to the profession, and shown a commitment to the community. In the past, this distinguished educator award was given to one high school teacher each year (2020 Patti Forster of Camden Hills Regional High School, 2019 Stephanie Hendrix of Bangor High School, and 2018 Johnna Stanton of Morse High school). This year the Executive Board decided to award and celebrate both a middle and a high school teacher.

The finalists for the high school Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award for 2022 include Beth Carlson of Kennebunk High School, Sara Cole of Camden Hills Regional High School, and Audrey Ennamorati of Medomak Valley High School. 

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Audrey Ennamorati, Medomak Valley High School, 2022 Brassil Distinguished Educator Award Winner (high school)

The distinguished high school English educator award for 2022 goes to Audrey Ennamorati, a 23-year educator at MVHS who currently teaches AP English Literature & Composition, AP English Language & Composition British & American Literature, Freshman English, College Composition dual enrollment with Thomas College, Writing Center, Literary Magazine, and Creative Writing. Ennamorati also developed numerous independent study courses to meet the academic needs of both advanced and struggling students, such as Literary Masterpieces, Social Justice Through Literature, Advanced Writing and English Language and Literature.  Additionally, Ennamorati has taught writing-intensive courses part-time at the University of Southern Maine for 12 years and is currently an adjunct for the University of Maine-August (in Rockland) teaching College Writing, and occasionally Creative Writing and Creative Nonfiction. Ennamorati claims she has a special formula for inspiring students of all backgrounds and abilities: “(1) tapping into students’ needs/interests and (2) challenging them beyond their expectations.  I learned early on in my high school teaching career that part of exercising these strengths with students means being genuine and creative at the same time.” Ennamorati’s nominator, Principal Linda Pease shared respect for Ennamorati’s “thoughtful and logical contributions” and her “positive influence on the climate of the school.” 

The finalists for the middle school Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award for 2022 include Todd McKinley of J.A. Leonard Middle School, Nicole Matthews of Windsor Elementary School, Meghan Rounds of Gorham Middle School, and Margaret “Maggie” Adams of Kingfield Elementary School. 

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Maggie Adams, Kingfield Elementary School, 2022 Brassil Distinguished Educator Award Winner (middle school)

The distinguished middle school English educator award for 2022 goes to Maggie Adams, an 18-year educator who currently teaches grades 5-8 English at Kingfield Elementary School. Adams coordinated and developed the Girls Talk/Teen Voices mentor program bringing community women together with female students for literary discussions and activities for Phillips and then Kingfield Elementary School. She is also a public speaking coach for the Kingfield school (2012-present) and has provided enriching extracurricular opportunities such as Poetry Slams, One Book/ One School/ One Community events, organizing visits from authors, storytellers, and illustrators, and advising various clubs. In addition, Adams served as the Mt. Abram Teacher’s Association during the pandemic. Beyond her school, Adams has been a 3-time speaker for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center (HHRC) representing the perspective of a Mi’kmaq teacher and former Maine student, explaining the integration of the Social Justice curriculum in the classroom, and describing the impact the HHRC has had on her own school district and teaching. 

The MCELA is will be accepting nominations through December 31, 2022, for the March 2023 in-person conference recognition. Nominees should be full-time English language arts or literacy teachers of students in grades 6-12 and have taught for at least five years in public or independent schools in Maine. Nominees do not have to be a member of the Maine Council for English Language Arts. ELA educators who demonstrate the same qualities as the Brassils themselves: a commitment to student-centered learning, inspiration of all students, leadership in school, district, state, and national levels, development and sharing of effective practices, and involvement in the community and school beyond the classroom. More information on nominations available here: https://www.mainecela.org/nominate-an-educator.html

Please join us in congratulating Audrey Ennamorati and Maggie Adams!

Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey Administration Postponed

Dear Superintendents and Principals,

The Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) has been conducted in the February of odd-numbered years since 2009, with the next administration due in February 2021. Given the extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MIYHS will be postponed to Fall 2021. With a significant portion of students learning remotely in some capacity, high quality data collection is not feasible for the 2020-2021 academic year. Postponing the survey will reduce the burden on schools and increase the chances of securing high quality data on students’ mental, physical, social, and emotional health.

We ask for your help in making the fall 2021 MIYHS successful by registering to participate early. Our partner, Pan Atlantic Research, will send out Fall 2021 registration information this winter. We are also excited to announce that select schools will have the option to conduct their surveys online next fall! Please stay tuned for more information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Jean Zimmerman at jean.zimmerman@maine.gov or Korey Pow at korey.pow@maine.gov.

Priority Notice: Maine DOE seeks public comment on waiving requirement that 21st CCLC programs operate only during non-school hours

In response to the unprecedented obstacles schools, teachers, students, and their families are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has offered an additional waiver to state education agencies, pursuant to section 4201(b)(1)(A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  Under Title IV, Part B of the ESEA, section 4201(b)(1)(A) requiring that 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs operate only during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session.  If granted, this waiver would allow 21st CCLC program providers in Maine to temporarily operate with greater flexibilities to better meet the needs to students and families during the 2020-2021 school year.

This waiver would grant the Maine Department of Education (DOE) temporary authority to permit its 21st CCLC programs to provide supplemental services when school is in session, but students are not receiving in-person instruction.  For example, it would be permitted that a teacher provides additional 21st CCLC-funded academic supports for a group of students during a remote learning day when those students are not otherwise engaged in facilitated instruction with their classroom teacher.

The Maine DOE continues to work diligently to support Maine’s schools and educational communities as the 2020-2021 school year begins.  Given the hybrid instructional approaches many schools have adopted this year, students may benefit from dedicated staff and enhanced resources to help with remote lessons, independent work, and other enrichment opportunities during the portion of the week when remote lessons learning is occurring.  It is for reasons such as these that the Maine DOE has chosen to pursue this waiver.

As part of the statutory requirements for seeking this waiver, the Maine DOE must solicit and respond to public comment on its waiver request as well as provide evidence of the available comment period.  This 15-day public comment period shall begin on September 29, 2020 and conclude on October 14, 2020.

Comments may be submitted to: travis.w.doughty@maine.gov

Calling all High School Senior STEM Students! Exciting FREE Opportunity!

Each year two seniors are selected from each state to attend the National Youth Science Camp (NYSC). NYSC is a residential STEM program, designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising STEM leaders. At the NYSCamp, STEM professionals present lectures and lead small-group directed studies on a broad array of STEM topics; some delegates are able to conduct research at the nearby Green Bank Observatory. The NYSCamp experience also features excursions into the Monongahela National Forest including backpacking, rock-climbing, caving, mountain biking, and kayaking.

Delegates are required to participate in the NYSCamp program for its entirety; the fast-paced activities and remote location simply make travel to and from the NYSCamp very difficult. The NYSCamp is offered to selected participants at NO COST, so that talented students may attend regardless of their financial ability – transportation included. This all-expense paid experience is open to students graduating between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. Additionally, students must:

  • have documented superior academic proficiency, including recognition in mathematics or the sciences.
  • have documented leadership abilities and social maturity through involvement in school or community activities.
  • have documented skills and achievements outside the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and outside the realm of academia.
  • demonstrate a curiosity and an eagerness to explore many and varied topics.
  • intend to pursue higher education and a career in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics-related field.
  • be willing and able to participate in the entire NYSCamp program.  The 2020 NYSCamp dates are June 22 – July 15, 2020.

Students will apply online by completing the application found at http://apply.nyscamp.org. The deadline to submit applications is 6:00 PM EST on February 28, 2020.

For more information visit http://www.nyscamp.org/ or contact Shari Templeton, Maine DOE Science and Technology Specialist, at shari.templeton@maine.gov