Green Ribbon Schools

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that Maine is joining the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools initiative to inspire and promote effective school sustainability and collaboration. The award highlights sustainability practices undertaken at the school, district, or post-secondary institution level that are cost-saving and health promoting.
The U.S. Department of Education developed three Pillars of a green school:

  1. Reducing environmental impacts, e.g. waste, energy, transportation, etc.
  2. Improving health and wellness of schools, students and staff through consideration of school food, air quality, physical activity, etc.
  3. Offering environmental and sustainability education that is authentic, civically engaging and green career preparing.

More information can be found here, and Maine’s application is accessible at Applications should be submitted to online.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed Reinstatement of Rule Chapter 115 (The Credentialing of Education Personnel Rules) Part II Requirements for Specific Certificates and Endorsements

The State Board is proposing the reinstatement of Chapter 115 Part II: Requirements for Specific Certificates and Endorsements, which was in effect May 14, 2014. This rule, following the emergency adoption of the same version of Chapter 115, maintains the status quo for credentialing at this time, and will be in effect until such time as the State Board develops new Chapter 115 rules.

Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapter 115 on the Maine DOE Proposed Rule & Rule Changes webpage (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Public Hearing Information for Rule Chapter 115:

  • December 16, 2019 from 9:30am- 11:00am
  • Room 500 in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
  • All are welcome to attend, and no RSVP is required.  Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments via email to or by mailing comments to:

Maine Department of Education
attention: Jaci Holmes
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME  04333-0023

Comment Period Deadline: December 27, 2019


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.


Reaching for the Stars Starts with a Strong Ground Crew

Jessica Meir declared in first grade that she wanted to be an astronaut – and she meant it. Meir made history with the first all-female space walk from the International Space Station nearly 25 years after graduating from Caribou High School. While it may seem to have been a certainty in the rear view, getting to the ISS wasn’t always a sure thing. Meir was denied acceptance to the space program on her first application. Perseverance paid off and Meir eventually became the astronaut she had always envisioned.

When Caribou High School principal Travis Barnes learned in January that Meir was likely to be going to space, he wanted his students to get involved. No one knew then that Dr. Meir would be making history as a member of the first all-female spacewalk, but Barnes knew his students had a rare opportunity to participate in a space talk. He began the monumental work required to secure a NASA “uplink” to provide students in RSU 39 the opportunity to speak to Meir in real time.

Being an astronaut’s alma mater is not reason enough to be accepted. The application had to demonstrate extensive support and involvement of the whole community and significant impact on student learning and aspirations. Developing the application for NAS meant Barnes and his teachers had to develop a myriad of opportunities to both inspire and support RSU 39 students to dream big in a small town. The RSU 39 ground crew had to include staff, students, and community to meet the rigorous requirements set by NASA. The space talk was only part of the big day.

Assembling the Ground Crew: Staff

Middle school teachers Kim Barnes, Susan Keaton, Arik Jepson, Twyla Learnard, Cheryl Pelletier, Jennifer Crawford and high school teachers Shannon Sleeper, Jessica Bell, Kayla Brown, Peg Conologue, Jessica Doucette worked with students through an inquiry process to develop a deeper understanding of the International Space Station, the current mission and tasks, issues facing the space program, and Jessica Meir’s personal journey into space. Motivated by the opportunity to speak to Meir, students worked to review and revise the questions forwarded to NASA. See those questions here.

Assembling the Ground Crew: Community

CHS Alum

CHS alum visited the school and provided students other lenses into career development and goal setting. While Jessica Meir stayed focused on her goal throughout her life, many others meandered to find their pathways and develop careers, some never considered or even known. Dustin Damboise and Jamie Corrigan created a trivia game with facts about their high school, college, and work experiences, asking students to match the facts with the person. With more than two majors listed and neither matching either job title provided, Damboise and Corrigan demonstrated to students how exploration and an open mind can lead to identifying a gratifying career. CHS alums Dan McCormack (’91), CEO of InterMed, and Darcie McElwee (’91), Assistant United States Attorney, also shared their “space walks,” encouraging students to take advantage of different opportunities, such as an internship or the military. McCormack and McElwee stressed how perseverance learned at Caribou High School shaped their journeys to career success. In total, more than a dozen graduates of CHS returned to the launch pad to support student aspirations.

Caribou and All of Maine

Other activities during the day demonstrated the importance of staying healthy despite rigorous work, sessions that focused on health and wellness, and sessions to explore potential career paths in the medical field. Denis St. Peter, PE President and CEO of CES, Inc. as well as a 1986 CHS graduate, brought three engineers with him to expose students to new experiences in the engineering world including: Game of Drones with Josh Maker (Survey Technician, Surveying Division); Watershed Down with Justine Drake (Engineer, Engineering Division); Go with the Flow with Andrea Dickinson (EI, Senior Project Engineer, Environmental Division). Students learned about the science behind protective gear, research about creating jet fuel from wood, coding, outdoor survival and much more thanks to support from agencies such as the Caribou Fire Department, Maine Emergency Management, and the Maine Forest Service. [insert photo here?] See a complete list of all the companies, agencies, organizations who were part of the RSU 39 Ground Crew.

Blast Off: Uplink with the International Space Station

Middle and high school students assembled in the auditorium of the Caribou Performing Arts Center as NASA prepared the uplink. Selected students presented questions directly to Dr. Meir. Dr. Meir was appropriately impressed by the demonstration of understanding of her work on the ISS and of other issues regarding technology and the environment as well as Dr. Meir’s personal journey to the ISS.

Students in grades K-5 remained in their respective buildings, remotely watching Jessica Meir talk to students at Caribou High School. Their day included student choice STEM activities led by classroom teachers designed to develop student creativity and problem-solving skills. Some of the sessions included Sphero rockets, designing space helmets, virtual reality, catapult execution, launching straw rockets, and trying astronaut ice cream.

A tremendous amount of time and planning was involved in making this day such an overwhelming success.  The “ground crews” ensured everyone who participated had a blast!

This article was written by Maine DOE English Language Arts Specialist, Morgan Dunton in collaboration with school staff from Caribou schools. The article is part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. For ideas or submissions for Maine Schools Sharing Success, email Rachel at





Maine Forest Collaborative Brings Together Rural Students for Resource-Based Educational Opportunity

Maine students from rural communities came to the Maine State Capitol last week as part of a unique learning opportunity offered by The Maine Forest Collaborative. The collaborative, created and administered by the Rural Aspirations Project, is a cooperative of rural schools embedded in forest industry communities in rural Maine, which aims to give students in rural communities the opportunity to develop deeper connections to their community through participating and contributing in ways that make it stronger.

In its first cohort, with around 30 students participating last week, there were students from Buckfield, Forest Hills, Jackman, and Greenville, and more on deck to start in the next semester. The learning opportunity provides students with a three-unit curriculum: Identifying Challenges, Rapid Prototyping Solutions, and Investigating Solutions. Grounded on the question, “How can we use natural resources to positively impact local communities,” the lesson invites students to work together to identify challenges that their community is facing, and then find solutions to those challenges by using resources available within the community.

The second unit, Rapid Prototyping Solutions, is what students were working on last week at the Maine State Capitol’s Fall of Flags. The location was chosen as a way to raise awareness about the project, but also to show participating students the impact they have on decision making at the State level, as they work among lawmakers and politicians who grapple with many of the same challenges and problem solving, whether they are rural and community-based or State level.

Students started the day by presenting the story of their community, with posters they made ahead of time. Their presentations included information about the geography of their community, the natural resources present, who they are, what is amazing about their community, their hopes and dreams, and questions they still have. After the presentations, they began working in groups to identify challenges, pick a challenge to work on, and brainstorm a solution to that challenge. Maine forest industry professionals were also present to help facilitate the group work and lend a helping-hand.  lending their years of work experience in Maine’s forest industry with Maine’s many natural resources.

Students left the State House last week with a deep appreciation for not only their own community, but for their rural neighbors was well. They also got to participate in an interdisciplinary, project-based learning experience that strengthens their connection to their own community and the State as a whole, and aims to tackle a community challenge that they care deeply about.

Following last week’s lesson, students will embark on unit three, which will identify the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the solution they came up with, and they will also make a plan to communicate the solution to the public.

For more information about the Maine Forest Collaborative, the curriculum, or how to participate in this unique learning opportunity, please contact the Rural Aspirations Project.