SMCC, Cumberland County Adult Education Programs Form Partnership to Help Students Overcome Obstacles to College

Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) and Cumberland County Adult Education programs have entered into a partnership to help Mainers overcome barriers to earning a college education.

SMCC and Cumberland County Adult Education program directors signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday for Adult Education to have office space on the SMCC South Portland Campus to provide adult learners free assistance with reading, writing and math skill development to prepare for college-level courses. Adult Education staff will also provide support and guidance with exploring academic programs, applying to SMCC and navigating the college entry process.

The services, funded through a Maine College and Career Access (MCCA) grant, are available to any student wanting to improve placement test scores or needing assistance with skills development or the college application and financial aid application process.

“By having an office on our South Portland Campus, MCCA is able to provide the guidance and services that adult learners need to enter college,” said Paul Charpentier, SMCC Vice President and Academic Dean. “Once they are in college, SMCC will provide the support they need to succeed academically, achieve their goals and position themselves for bright futures.”

The Maine College and Career Access program is part of Maine Adult Education, a statewide system of local adult education programs. MCCA supports adult learners who are transitioning into college and career training programs by providing access to instruction and advising services to establish a solid foundation for success in furthering their education.

Adult education programs in Cumberland County helped drive the effort to establish an MCCA office at SMCC, said Stephanie Haskins, director of Gray-New Gloucester Adult and Community Education.

“For many years, students have been paying college tuition rates for noncredit classes when they could have accessed them through their local Adult Education,” she said. “This agreement signifies a new era in not only preparing learners for the rigors of college and career training, but doing so on the campus where they will access these programs.”


Front: Shelli Pride of Gorham Adult Education and Westbrook Adult Education; Stephanie Haskins of Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education; and SMCC President Joe Cassidy. Middle: Anita St. Onge of Portland Adult Education; Gail Senese of the Maine Department of Education-Adult Education; Lisa Knedler of Maine Department of Education-Adult Education; Linda Winton of Bonny Eagle Adult Education; Joan Tremberth of Scarborough Adult Learning Center; and Madelyn Litz of Lake Region & Fryeburg Area Adult Education. Back: Tom Nash of Windham-Raymond Adult Education; SMCC Vice President and Academic Dean Paul Charpentier; Kelley Heath of Maine Department of Education-Adult Education; and David Brenner of South Portland Adult Education.

Presque Isle Regional CTE Provides Enhanced Dual Enrollment Pathway to Students

At the Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center (PIRCTC) we strive to provide our students with marketable skills which will translate to a career or educational path. Dual enrollment opportunities are a very powerful tool in this regard.

One example is the PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering program. Two unique and highly effective dual enrollment opportunities are available to the Drafting & Engineering Technology students.

As a result of a collaborative effort between The University of Maine College of Engineering, Bridge Year Educational Services, Inc. and the Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center (PIRCTC) Students enrolled in the PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering Technology program are able to earn college credit for the Maine College of Engineering course MEE-120 (Engineering Graphics & Computer Aided Design) and CIE-101 (Engineering Graphics for Civil engineers). During the current 2019-2020 school year, 14 students have taken advantage this unique opportunity.

Since 2014, eighteen graduates of the PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering Technology program have been accepted into the Maine College of Engineering, majoring in Mechanical Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. Additional graduates of the PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering program are pursuing degrees in Marine engineering, Industrial Design, and Precision Machine at various post-secondary institutions.

These opportunities are the first such agreement between the University of Maine, College of Engineering and a high school level program and provide an enhanced pathway for those PIRCTC students desiring to pursue an engineering degree through the Maine College of Engineering.

The PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering Program is a two year program providing area high school students with computer aided design (CAD) and solid modeling skills using state-of-the art software and technology as well as introducing fundamentals of engineering and architecture, education and career paths, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and CNC technology through classroom, lab and applied learning opportunities.

This story was submitted by Timothy R. Prescott, PIRCTC Director and Terry Harper, PIRCTC Drafting & Engineering Technology Instructor in collaboration with Dwight A. Littlefield, Maine DOE Director for Career and Technical Education (CTE) as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign and in celebration of CTE this month. To submit stories or ideas email them to Rachel Palling at

Students Learn What it is Like to be an Educator at Thomas College Teacher Academy

With a steep teacher shortage facing many communities in Maine, Thomas College and the Maine Department of Education teamed up to offer a daylong experimental teaching environment to further engage Maine students who are interested in teaching as a profession.

Students from all over Maine spent the day at Thomas College to learn more about what it’s like to be a teacher. The aspiring educators were able to participate in college level education courses offered by Thomas College professors Richard Biffle, Katie Rybakova, and by Lawrence High School teacher, Eric Brown.

The courses covered lessons in social emotional learning, inclusion, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics education, and an overview of lesson planning and implementation – what to expect (or not expect), how to think on your feet, and how make the content relevant to students. The event aimed to give students a better understanding of education as a career path, by providing hands-on experiences that can help solidify their career aspirations, and at the same time give them a taste of post-secondary education.

The unique event drew coverage from WABI and Central Maine among others who were eager to report on a collaborative effort that aims to tackle the workforce shortage of teachers in the state of Maine.


Enrollment up at Maine’s Community Colleges

The Maine Community College System announced last week that preliminary enrollment figures show a 6.3 percent increase in enrolled students this fall compared to the same time last year.

The increase is in sharp contrast to a nationwide trend of declining enrollments at two-year public colleges over the last several years. The strong showing is due in part to a number of new initiatives at the colleges aimed at attracting and retaining more students. The system also did not raise tuition for this academic year, maintaining the lowest tuition and fees in New England.

As of September 23, the system-wide headcount is up 6.3 percent (an additional 966 students) from the same date a year ago. All seven colleges report increases, the largest of which are at Eastern Maine Community College, up 10.4 percent with 2,141 students enrolled compared to 1,939 last year at this time, and at Southern Maine Community College up 8.2 percent, with 6,078 students enrolled compared to 5,618 a year ago.

At the same time, the system is also seeing a surge of participation in its short-term job training programs which are not included in the fall headcount enrollment numbers.

In the last year, the number of trainees who completed short-term training programs funded by the MCCS Maine Quality Centers (MQC) program has almost doubled to 1,602, up from 897 in the previous year. MQC works with Maine employers to provide customized training that is free to trainees and is focused on strengthening the skills of the Maine workforce.

“We’re seeing significant growth both in our programs that lead to one-year certificates and two-year degrees and in short-term training,” MCCS President David Daigler told the system’s Board of Trustees at a meeting Wednesday in Bangor. “Demand from both employers and individuals looking to gain the skills needed to compete in this new economy is exploding and stretching our ability to respond.”

The high demand for both degree programs and short-term training at Maine’s community colleges is particularly noteworthy given the state’s record low unemployment, aging demographics and widespread workforce shortages. Community college enrollment has historically been tied to the economy, going up during periods of high unemployment and declining when jobs are plentiful.

Fall enrollment increases have been driven in part by initiatives at campuses across the state. Among the new efforts are: doubling the number of visits to some high schools, replacing group orientations with one-on-one orientation sessions; reaching prospective students through texting instead of email; adding new high-demand programs including plumbing, HVAC and esports; and giving students new online tools to communicate with others to increase peer-to-peer connections.

Enrollment numbers for fall 2019 will be finalized in mid-October.

See the full release with graphics on the MCCS website.

Future Teachers Academy: Free Event for High School Students Interested in Exploring the Field of Education

Future Teachers Academy, an event for students who are interested in exploring the field of education, is being hosted by Thomas College and will be held on November 8th from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm on their campus at 180 West River Road in Waterville.

During the event students will be able to participate in a daylong, hands-on and experimental teaching environment, led by professional faculty from the Thomas College School of Education, as well as partners from the Maine Department of Education and Maine Teachers of the Year.

Future Teachers Academy

When: November 8, 2019, 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
Thomas College
Open to Maine high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors

Register here

For further information please call (207) 859-1111.