MACTE Conference Draws 400+ Educators Statewide, Honors CTE Teacher of the Year

Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education (MACTE) held its annual conference last week at Lewiston Regional Technical Center (LRTC). The official organization for Maine’s network of 27 career and technical education (CTE) schools, MACTE plans the conference as a place for CTE educators to convene and share ideas, hear from industry professionals, and honor hard-working colleagues.

IMG_2343During the opening presentation of the conference, participants were welcomed by MACTE President and host Rob Callahan, who is also the Director of LRTC. Dr. Donald Cannan, Executive Director of MACTE also addressed the crowd remarking on the utmost importance of CTE educators in the training of Maine’s current and future workforce. Following the welcoming, Maine Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta presented the CTE Teacher of the Year award to Greg Cushman, an electrical instructor and SkillsUSA advisor at LRTC.

An alumnus and former educator of Westbrook Regional Vocational Center, Greg has a successful 25-year career in electrical trade under his belt. He has since returned to his roots in Career and Technical Education in a different capacity, to serve as an educator to the students in his community. Known for his outstanding student outcomes and many accomplishments, both in his professional career and in education, his nominators, LRTC Director Rob Callahan along with students and colleagues from LRTC, had this to say about Greg:

“Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Greg’s nomination for this award is the quality of his character. He is a highly approachable, thoughtful and genuine person who always looks for the good in any situation. He approaches his responsibilities as an educator, electrician and community member with utmost importance. He sets an example for those around him which is based on hard work, integrity and service to others.”

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After being named CTE Teacher of the year, Greg took the stage, while the excited crowd stood in applause and his family joined him to congratulate him for this well-deserved recognition. The CTE Teacher of the Year award is administered by MACTE as a way to recognize teachers who are providing outstanding career and technical education programs for youth and/or adults in their respective fields and communities.

After hearing from keynote speaker Shawn Moody, who spoke about the Blue Collar CTE scholarship opportunity, participants attended a morning filled with a variety of breakout sessions. In addition to sessions lead by Maine DOE Leaders who provided information about State level updates, data, and funding, there were also sessions led by CTE leaders and industry professionals about various topics including understanding and supporting LGBTQ+ individuals, early college opportunities through the Maine Bridge Academy program and the Community College System, as well as workforce and industry updates from Cianbro, Apple, Inc, and Maine Army National Guard to name a few.

Conference participants also had the opportunity to attend sessions led by Maine education colleagues such as Foster Tech’s Chris MeMarco and Jake Bogar who led a session about how to fit science into any CTE class, and Ruthanne Harrison, an Engineering Teacher from Bath Regional CTE, who led a session about design thinking and 3D Printing.

A delicious lunch was served at LRTC’s well-known Culinary Arts School, The Green Ladle followed by a final session that provided tech updates for CTE educators.

The annual conference came to a close with a positive response from participants, especially for the variety of breakout sessions that provided instructors with information about common best practices. MACTE Executive Director Donald Cannan says they “plan to continue this very successful practice” as they look toward planning future MACTE conferences and events.

Priority Notice: Live Stream Information for Public Hearing on Health Education and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages Standards

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding the current health education and physical education, visual and performing arts, and world languages standards. Find links to each of the current standards below along with details for submitting comments.

Current Standards:

The standards review process opens with a public comment period and a public hearing, prior to the convening of steering committees who are charged with reviewing all submitted comments and with developing blueprints for the revision of the state standards in their assigned content area. Once the blueprints are created, writing teams, consisting of pk-12 teachers who represent Maine’s cultural and geographical diversity, will assemble to draft the standards revisions.

Anyone may speak at the public hearings, which will be live-streamed. People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in, and it will be helpful, but not mandatory, to provide a written copy of comments. We invite you to share critical comments as well as elements you appreciate in the revisions.

Public hearings will occur on October 23rd in room 103 at the Cross Building, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta, from 1-4pm. The hearing will be live-streamed. Here is the link to view: https://zoom.us/j/805007386

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on November 8th, 2019. Written comments may be sent to Standards Review at sis.doe@maine.gov, or mailed to Beth Lambert, 23 SHS Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

Four Maine Teachers Receive Presidential Excellence Awards in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering

FROM:  White House Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 15, 2019

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). 

Awardees come from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science 

Foundation. The individuals and organizations announced today are 2017 and 2018 Awardees. 

Presidential award for K-12 teachers  

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science. 

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the State and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 

Recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching: 

Maine 

Heather Dorr, Ella Lewis School 

Kirsten Gould, Buxton Center Elementary School

Priya Natarajan, Casco Bay High School 

Alyson Saunders, Dexter Regional High School 


Heather Dorr Steuben, ME | K-6, Mathematics, 2018 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Heather Dorr has taught mathematics, language arts, social studies, and science to students in fourth through eighth grades over the past 19 years. For the past three years she has taught at the Ella Lewis School. Prior to that, she taught at Trenton Elementary School for 13 years and Dixon Elementary School in Sneads Ferry, NC for three years. Heather strives to meet students where they are and lift their learning to strengthen and deepen their understanding of mathematics concepts and skills. Her students engage in meaningful dialogue by explaining their reasoning, challenging ideas, and making connections between previous understandings and new concepts. To broaden the scope of her impact on student learning, Heather mentors beginning teachers and student teachers, eagerly supports and coaches her colleagues, and advocates for students and teachers, all while serving on focus groups and curriculum committees at the district level. Heather has earned a B.S. in elementary education and her M.Ed. in educational leadership for curriculum, both from the University of Maine. She is a certified teacher of kindergarten through eighth grade and is certified as a building administrator in the state of Maine. 

Kirsten Gould Buxton, ME | K-6, Science, 2018 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Kirsten Gould has 10 years of experience in education, serving for two years as a first-grade teacher at Miles Lane School and for four years at Hermon Elementary School. Since 2015, she has worked in the Bonny Eagle School District, teaching first grade at Buxton Center Elementary School then transitioning to District Coach in Assessment for Learning in 2019. Kirsten facilitates workshops on high-impact strategies and maintains classroom connections by instructing, modeling, and reflecting on the implementation of these strategies. Her work is featured in Teaching Strategies that Create Assessment-Literate Learners by J. Beaudry and A. Stewart-McCafferty, with whom she continues to work closely. Kirsten served five years with the Maine STEM Partnership which aims to improve STEM education. She is a certified consultant for the National Writing Project, a participant of the American Geosciences Institute—ExxonMobil Exploration Teacher Leadership Academies, and a recipient of the Presidential Academic Achievement Award. She presents locally, regionally, and nationally, including at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference and the Corwin Annual Visible Learning Conference. Certified to teach elementary school, Kirsten earned a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Maine and is currently completing a M.Ed. from the University of Southern Maine. 

Priya Natarajan Portland, ME | 7-12, Mathematics, 2017 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Priya Natarajan has taught mathematics at Casco Bay High School for the past five years. She currently teaches 10th-grade Precalculus and Algebra I and II. Previously, she taught for 12 years at Deering High School and spent four years as a founding teacher at the Boston Arts Academy. Priya has enjoyed working with colleagues all over the district in a variety of capacities, including curriculum and assessment development and the recent transition to proficiency-based instruction and assessment. She currently serves on the district-wide vertical team working on the K-12 mathematics curriculum. At Casco Bay, Priya serves as one of the 10th-grade team’s teacher leaders, facilitating the team’s work across disciplines and connecting teachers to the leadership team. She also coaches the mathematics team, works with the international Seeds of Peace program, and helps to foster collegiality and support for teachers as the school’s Faculty Wellness Coordinator. In addition, she serves as a Statistics and Calculus instructor at the University of Southern Maine. Priya earned a B.A. in mathematics from Ohio University and a M.Ed. in teaching and learning from Harvard University, in addition to graduate-level coursework at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and the University of Southern Maine. She is certified in secondary mathematics and has ELL endorsement. 

Alyson Saunders Dexter, ME | 7-12, Science, 2017 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Alyson Saunders has taught science at Dexter Regional High School for a total of 10 years. She currently teaches 10th-grade Biology, 12th-grade Advanced Biology, and 9-12th-grade STEM. In addition, Alyson has taught chemistry, astronomy, and ecology. In June of 2012, Alyson worked for The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance as an informal STEM educator. In that capacity, she leveraged out-of-school opportunities to connect youth with potential STEM pathways. Since her return to the classroom, she has used those skills to help students engage with things such as teen science cafes, and the Maine State Science Fair. By working with local government and nonprofits, Alyson connects learning to the community through projects involving stormwater management and ecosystem sampling. She has also partnered with The Jackson Laboratory on their Teaching the Genome Generation project, to bring modern biotechnology skills and genomics education to her small rural school. Alyson is on the school’s leadership team, is a department head, and has facilitated multiple high school and elementary school STEM-related activity nights. Alyson earned a B.S., summa cum laude, in biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a B.S., summa cum laude, in secondary science education from the University of Maine Orono. She is certified in secondary life science. 

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RSU 34 Taps Retired Teacher to Train and Mentor New Educators

Submitted by Jeanna Tuell, Principal of Old Town Elementary School.

Retired teachers are a wealth of professional knowledge and wisdom. Although the days of retirement are exciting for our teachers, we have found a way to tap into our retired teachers and have them support the next generation of teachers.

In RSU 34, we are committed to our new teachers and their development by matching them with an experienced, outstanding retired teacher named Mary Bagley. Mary was a teacher in the district for 40 years and throughout her career was always on the cutting edge of instruction, curriculum, and assessment. When Mary thought it was time for her to step away from the classroom, we were not convinced and talked her into the position of professional support and coaching for our new teachers in our K-12 district.

It has been a match of support, professionalism, and chance for our new teachers to learn from a master teacher without the intensity of evaluation. We believe this model is an incredible connection between mentor and classroom teachers not experienced in many districts. The results have been phenomenal. Teachers feel supported in every aspect of their first years in the profession and have noted the tremendous support they have received with Mary coaching them through various instructional tangles.

Accomplished Bangor High School Alum Provides Interdiciplinary Art Lesson to Students

Submitted by Kathy Harris-Smedberg, Assistant Superintendent of Schools at Bangor School Department.

Bangor High School Teachers Emilie Throckmorton and Eva Wagner recently collaborated on a unit to connect students with nature. Both visual art and creative writing share a long history of artists being inspired by nature.  Wagner and Throckmorton are nature enthusiasts and have a connection with artist eco-artist Mariah Reading, a Bangor High School and Bowdoin College graduate. Their unit culminated with an adventure to Schoodic Point where Reading is the Artist in Residence. Wagner brought her Sculpture class and Throckmorton brought her Creative Writing class.

When Wagner and Throckmorton realized that Reading was chosen to be an artist in residence in Maine, they both thought about what a wonderful opportunity it would be for their students to learn from her.  Mariah is positive and energetic and her mere presence would be good for students to absorb. With help from grant writer, Cathleen Neslusan and the Friends of Acadia, the trip became possible.

Students looking at rocks on the beach

The day started with a talk with the artist who discussed the reason behind her eco-centered art making. Reading finds trash found in national parks and other protected places and paints bold, colorful realistic landscapes onto them.  She then photographs them in front of the landscape so they blend in seamlessly with the environment. Reading has always been inspired by nature but she realized when she was in college that her work was often creating more waste which led to more degradation of the environment.  She decided to do something about it and then collected trash and used it as a substrate for her work. Her artwork was so striking and unique that it commanded more and more attention as she shared it on social media. Eventually with 7000 plus followers the art world started paying attention and Mariah got sponsorships.

After Reading’s inspiring and informative talk, the students headed out with their paints, and writing prompts in hand and found a beach to create on.  Some students painted, some wrote and others collaborated on an Andy Goldsworthy inspired sculpture. The students seemed awestruck by the thunderous waves and rocky shores.  Many had never been to Schoodic Point and some students had never visited the ocean before.

The students responded to the environment, worked together and learned from a contemporary artist that art can make a difference. What was especially important for these students was that Reading had also been a student at Bangor High School, it made her successes seem that much more attainable.  A great day was had by all and Throckmorton and Wagner are convinced that students will remember this day for a long time.

paintings on the rocks at the beach