Maine DOE Announces No Cost Program to Support Educator Wellbeing and Create Calm and Supporting Learning Environments

600 Educators Can Attend Train-the-Trainer Events Across Maine to Bring Tools and Strategies Back to Their School Communities

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has partnered with The Regulated Classroom on a program to support educator wellbeing and student engagement at no cost to Maine educators. Six hundred educators can sign up to be trained as trainers in the framework at events across the state and will be able to bring new tools and resources back to their schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic took a tremendous toll on educator and student wellbeing, with educators reporting increased numbers of dysregulated students, stress, and classroom disruptions. Many educators feel overwhelmed by these pandemic-induced behavioral issues. The Regulated Classroom utilizes a neuroscience-based approach to help educators create calm, engaged, and supportive learning environments by cultivating conditions for felt safety. Felt safety references a regulated state in the body’s stress response system.

The program helps educators recognize and manage their own stress levels. It also helps educators manage increased levels of stress in students, which can be displayed as aggression, poor impulse control, limited attention span, and lack of motivation. Educators will have access to a collection of practices and sensory tools to embed into daily routines and activities to promote a more regulated and stable environment for learning. This program supports student achievement and increased job satisfaction for educators.

“The Maine Department of Education is committed to supporting educator and student wellbeing and we’re thrilled to partner with The Regulated Classroom to offer this program at no cost to Maine educators. The Regulated Classroom provides tools and strategies based on brain science that any educator in Maine can infuse into their teaching and daily routines to support themselves and their students in creating calm, safe, joyful, and engaging learning environments,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

“When our nervous system is in a regulated state, the rational part of our brain is online, enabling us to teach and to learn. But when we are in a dysregulated state, the rational thinking part of our brain goes offline and we can’t gather our thoughts and act as we would choose. Environments that feel supportive and safe foster engagement and creative thinking,” said The Regulated Classroom founder Emily Read Daniels, M.Ed., MBA, NCC, SEP™.

Daniels, a New Hampshire school counselor, created The Regulated Classroom in 2020. Since then, it has been implemented in schools and organizations throughout New Hampshire, across the nation, and around the globe.

Ten in-person train-the-trainer certificate events will be held in various regions of the state.

Educators can register for an event at Maine educators can complete their registration at no cost to them with the code MAINEFREE.

The Maine DOE utilized federal emergency relief funding to offer this program to Maine educators.

Media Release: Maine DOE and Educate Maine Partner to Develop the Teach Maine Center to Support and Grow Maine’s Educator Workforce

The Teach Maine Center will engage, empower, and unite educators across the state to incubate and develop strategies, supports, and professional learning connected to the Teach Maine plan.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Educate Maine have partnered to develop the Teach Maine Center to support and advance a vibrant educator workforce in Maine that enables all students to thrive.

The Teach Maine Center will engage, empower, and unite educators across the state to incubate and develop strategies, supports, and professional learning connected to the Teach Maine plan. Developed in partnership with educators and stakeholders and released last year, Teach Maine focuses on four key themes to develop, support, and sustain Maine’s educator workforce: incentivize recruitment and retention efforts; expand and diversify educator workforce efforts; support educator development, growth, and leadership; and elevate educators and the education profession.

“Maine is a place that values and respects our educators and we are turbocharging that with the Teach Maine Center. The vision is to create a hub by teachers and for teachers that allows them to collaborate, innovate, and lead our profession and public education forward in Maine,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

“We are excited to announce this groundbreaking partnership with the Maine Department of Education to create the Teach Maine Center.  This partnership represents our shared commitment to strengthen, grow and diversify Maine’s educator workforce.  We look forward to this important work and the positive impact it will have on students, teachers, the teaching profession, and the future of education in Maine,” said Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd. 

Maine, like most states, continues to experience an educator shortage that was exacerbated by COVID-19. At the same time, educators and schools are faced with increased student and community needs. Increasing collaboration among educators and with businesses and communities will increase educator wellbeing and support them in their teaching.

The initial incubation phase of the Teach Maine Center will focus on increasing stakeholder engagement and collaboration across the business and education sectors; expanding data collection and reporting related to Maine’s educator workforce; advancing and successfully implementing short and long-term teacher recruitment/retention strategies identified in Teach Maine; strengthening professional support for educators through Teach Maine Center programming; and achieving long-term sustainability for the Teach Maine Center, which will be administered by Educate Maine.

Through December 2024, partners will identify and meet with stakeholders around teacher workforce issues, conduct 16 in-person and virtual county-level forums with educators to get input on teacher recruitment and retention, complete a landscape analysis of the educator workforce, solicit statewide educator input on ongoing professional development needs, and launch a marketing campaign focused on encouraging people to join Maine’s educator workforce. In collaboration with key education organizations and the Maine DOE, Educate Maine will assemble an advisory committee to provide input throughout the initial phases of the Center.

The Maine DOE used federal emergency funds to invest in the first phase of the Teach Maine Center.

Read more about the Maine DOE’s efforts to build a vibrant educator workforce.

Media Release: Maine DOE Experiences a 40 Percent Increase in Educator Certification Applications

Maine DOE’s Certification Team Processed 40 Percent More Initial and Renewal Certification Applications Over the Summer Compared to Last Year

The Maine Department of Education experienced a 40 percent increase this summer in the number of initial and renewal educator certification applications processed compared to last year. The Maine DOE’s certification team processed more than 11,000 certification applications between June and August.

“While educator shortages persist across our state, this increase is encouraging and the Maine DOE is committed to doing everything we can to build and support the education workforce in our state. This is the most important work of our society and we want people to know that Maine is a state that respects, supports, and empowers our educators. If you want to become an educator in Maine, we want to make sure you have a pathway into the profession and that you are supported in the classroom,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Maine DOE Educator Recruitment and Retention Efforts and Initiatives:

  • Developing, supporting, and sustaining a robust educator workforce is one of the Maine DOE’s six strategic priorities.
  • Research demonstrates that feeling supported and respected is key to educator recruitment and retention. Maine stands out as a state that respects educators as professionals and the Maine DOE empowers teachers to take risks and be innovative.
  • One of the Mills administration’s first actions was to raise minimum teacher salaries to $40,000.
  • Last year, The Maine DOE released Teach Maine, a comprehensive roadmap to develop, support, and sustain a robust educator workforce in the state. Teach Maine is organized around four key themes: incentivize recruitment and retention efforts; expand and diversify educator workforce efforts; support educator development, growth, and leadership; and elevate educators and the education profession. The report is the result of contributions by education stakeholders throughout Maine, who provided feedback via multiple channels, including regional Think Tanks, focus groups, surveys, organizational meetings, and informal conversations. Additionally, the Department of Education convened an Educator Talent Committee, a core group of internal and external stakeholders, to share their experiences, look at research and trends, and to make recommendations on how to address Maine’s educator shortage.
  • Last month, the Mills administration announced a new initiative to help Maine schools recruit, train, and retain educators through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Under the initiative, schools and other education and community-related organizations can apply for competitive funding, with awards of up to $250,000 to begin local educator pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to help address Maine’s educator workforce shortage. Read more.
  • The Maine DOE partners with Live + Work in Maine to encourage people to come live and teach in Maine. Through the partnership, all school administrative units (SAUs) have free access to Live + Work’s highly trafficked job board to recruit educators. The partnership has expanded to include a national advertising effort to Live and Teach in Maine and educator-specific content on Live + Work’s website.
  • The Maine DOE invested in the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risk Model) for Maine schools. Research has shown that the BARR model results in increased job satisfaction for teachers and higher levels of collaboration. 71 new Maine schools are implementing the BARR model this school year.
  • The Maine DOE’s Educator Summit brought together 600 educators this summer for 4 days of professional learning opportunities with more than 100 workshops. The DOE’s certification and educator excellence teams were on site to support educators and prospective educators, including a job fair on the final day.
  • The Maine DOE also encourages educator leadership by creating opportunities for peer-to-peer professional learning and by establishing statewide teacher cohorts around such areas of interest/expertise as: digital learning/Computer Science, interdisciplinary and project-based learning, innovation and design thinking, BARR schools, literacy, special education, and more. The Maine DOE offers robust professional learning opportunities throughout the year.
  • Maine DOE staff visited 7 summer camps in 2022 and 10 summer camps this summer to speak with counselors about how the skills they develop as camp counselors can lead to opportunities and pathways into the teaching profession.
  • Maine DOE staff serve on the advisory board for the University of Maine System Teacher Residency. The University of Maine System Collaborative received funding through a Congressional Directed Spending earmark supported by Senators King and Collins. The Maine Teacher Residency Program offers paid internships for new teachers and supports student teaching candidates, emergency, and conditionally certified teachers and connects them with teacher education programs to strengthen their preparation and retention.
  • The Maine DOE is working with the Region 1 Comprehensive Center to build state and local staff capacity to collect, analyze, and use educator supply-and-demand data in order to better inform educator recruitment and support efforts. A pilot program will get underway beginning in December.
  • Prospective educators can reach out to the Maine DOE’s educator excellence and certification teams to receive personal support from DOE staff to create their roadmap to becoming a certified teacher in Maine.
  • Through Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) funds, the DOE supported UNE’s Future Teachers of Maine Summer Institute allowing dozens of high school students who have shown an interest in the teaching profession an opportunity to live on campus for a week. Students learn from and with students currently in UNE’s educator preparation program during the weeklong deep dive into the teaching profession and the steps it takes to get into the classroom.
  • Through an AmeriCorps Planning Grant, two York County high schools worked with the Maine DOE to place AmeriCorps members with teachers of first-year students. Those members will not only support students as they navigate high school but will also learn from master teachers and support Maine’s pipeline into the teaching profession.
  • The CDS/AmeriCorps First 4 Partnership is currently looking to recruit, train and empower 17 AmeriCorps members to serve and support children with disabilities with building social emotional skills and school readiness children enrolled in CDS preschools across the state.  The investment in members will not only serve to ensure positive preschool experiences and improve child outcomes for those children, this opportunity will also provide important, dynamic training, 1:1 mentoring and experience for each volunteer to utilize toward certification in the educational field. CDS is committed to building a robust early education workforce. As part of this initiative CDS will support teacher or educational technician licensure for future employment in Maine schools.
  • Maine DOE’s Special Educator Engagement Development & Supports (SEEDS) program provides training and professional learning opportunities to Ed Techs in special education classrooms to support their professional growth and opportunities to achieve their special education teacher certification.
  • The Maine DOE supported passage of LD 753, which Governor Mills signed into law. The bill will allow retired teachers and educational technicians to renew their certification and help fill educator shortages by re-entering the classroom.
  • The Maine DOE worked with US Department of Education to name teacher shortage areas for Maine for SY 23-24. Eligible teachers in those certification areas qualify for enhanced federal student loan forgiveness.
  • The Maine DOE was awarded a $9 million 5-year grant from the US DOE to recruit, respecialize and retain school social workers, school counselors, and school psychologists to work within schools.
  • The Maine DOE is working with CTE schools to expand their education preparation programs beyond Early Childhood Education.
  • The Maine DOE continues to support the EMCC Learning Facilitators program, which offers an alternative, skills-based pathway toward Education Technician III certification. Program participants enroll in a “boot camp” to complete initial coursework and then the rest of their experience is directly in schools under the guidance of EMCC staff and local school mentors.  The Maine DOE supported passage of LD 1366, which opens the door to other institutions of higher education replicating the success of EMCC’s program.


Media Release: Maine Department of Education Announces $1.8 Million Climate Education Professional Development Grant Opportunity for Maine Schools

Grants Will Allow Maine Schools to Partner with Climate and Environmental Community Organizations to Strengthen Climate Education Across the State

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) announced a new climate education professional development grant opportunity today to support the growth of climate education throughout the state, especially in underserved communities. This $1.8 million grant initiative was designed out of LD 1902, which was passed by the legislature in 2022 to establish a pilot program to encourage climate education in Maine public schools.

The pilot grant opportunity allows schools to partner with non-profit community-based organizations that play an integral role in Maine communities. This allows schools to get expert knowledge from organizations that have created, sustained, and grown an incredible framework of outdoor and environmental education opportunities and programs that are tailored to their local region’s assets and needs. These partnerships will support teachers and schools to bring climate education to more of Maine’s students.

“These grants can provide Maine educators and schools with the tools, resources, and partnerships they need to provide students with engaging, hands on climate and environmental education. From the mountains to the coast, Maine has enormous natural resources for students to explore and learn from so they can be effective environmental stewards and leaders,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Priority will be given to communities historically underserved by climate education, socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, and interdisciplinary, place-based, and project-based learning focused activities. The RFA can be found here, and applications are due on November 3, 2023. A second climate education RFA will be announced early in 2024.

Maine continues to be a leader in outdoor learning and climate education. The Maine DOE’s Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) initiative, funded through a $16.9 million federal grant, has supported the expansion of outdoor education “classrooms”, programs, professional learning, partnerships, and spaces across the state. Schools across Maine utilized federal relief funding to expand outdoor learning spaces and programs. Governor Mills’ Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative, which just concluded its second year, has provided thousands of Maine middle and high school students with coastal and inland forestry learning and career exploration opportunities during the summer. The Maine DOE recently hired a Climate Education Specialist to support and expand this work with educators, schools, and community partners across the state. You can learn more about the Maine DOE’s climate and outdoor education work here.


Media Release: National Governors Association Selects Maine to Participate in Student and Educator Wellbeing Initiative

The National Governors Association (NGA) selected Maine as one of five states to participate in a new initiative launched to bolster the mental health and wellbeing of students and school staff. Through this initiative, the NGA will support the implementation of the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) model at 71 schools across Maine. BARR is a research-backed model focused on strengthening relationships, reducing high-risk student behavior, and improving academic achievement.

Maine will receive technical support from the NGA and their national and state partners and engage in peer learning opportunities with the other states chosen for the initiative, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, and Wyoming.

“We know that there’s still a lot of work to do to get over the tremendous impact the pandemic had on student and educator mental health and wellbeing, and we are thankful to the National Governors Association for their leadership on these issues and for including Maine in this critical initiative. Their selection of Maine is a testament to our commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of students across the state,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The Maine Department of Education is doing everything we can to strengthen the wellbeing of all students and educators because it’s foundational to student and school success. That’s why we’ve invested in the BARR model because it’s so focused on relationships and can be tailored to meet the unique needs of our schools to help all students and educators thrive.”

“Maine has been a frontrunner with BARR implementation since 2010. I am thrilled to continue our partnership with Commissioner Makin and the Maine Department of Education to bring BARR services to thousands more students in the state. This exciting initiative by the National Governors Association will strengthen our joint efforts, and BARR Center is honored to be Maine’s choice in this endeavor,” said BARR Center Founder and Executive Director Angela Jerabek.

As the school year begins, 71 Maine schools from every region of the state begin their first year of implementation of the BARR model. They join 15 Maine schools that have previously implemented BARR. The BARR model strengthens relationships between educators and between students and educators and utilizes real-time data to support students based on their strengths and connections to school. BARR aligns with the Maine Department of Education’s whole student approach focused on ensuring all students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, challenged, and prepared. Federal emergency relief funding supported the expansion of the BARR model in Maine schools.

Studies show that the BARR model results in increased student engagement, reduced chronic absenteeism, a 40 percent reduction on average in failure rates after one year of implementation, increased student achievement rates, and a reduction in high-risk student behavior and substance use. BARR reports that the effects are strongest for male students, students of color, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, multilingual learners, and students with disabilities. Educators report increased job satisfaction and higher levels of collaboration after implementing BARR.

Noble High School first implemented BARR with half of its 9th grade class in 2014. By the end of the first semester, BARR students had missed roughly half as many days of school as non-BARR students and the school expanded BARR to include all students. Bucksport High School’s graduation rate increased by more than 15 percent after implementing BARR.

BARR is one of several initiatives offered by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) to support student and school staff health and wellbeing and can all be implemented to build off one another to build safe, supportive, and healthy learning environments. You can learn more on the Maine DOE website.

Read the NGA’s announcement.