The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine State Board of Education today announced the newest members of the Board, their committee assignments, and newly elected officers.
The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor along with two nonvoting student members appointed by the Governor. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms and nonvoting student members serve staggered, two-year terms.
New Maine State Board of Education Members:
Victoria Kornfield of Bangor was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021. She will fill seat 6 in the second congressional district. Ms. Kornfield is a former long-time high school English teacher. She served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives from 2012-2020. From 2014-2020 she was the House Chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education from Syracuse University. Victoria also has a certificate in educational leadership from the University of Maine. She has been recognized for her commitment to education by the State Board of Education, Maine Education Association, and Maine Superintendent’s Association.
Committee appointments: Certification & Higher Education Committee, Legislative Action Committee, and ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Subcommittee.
Cynthia Murray-Beliveau of Portland was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021. She will fill seat 8 in the first congressional district. Ms. Murray-Beliveau is an independent philanthropy professional. She is an alumna of Saint Joseph’s College where she is also the former President of the Board of Trustees. Her volunteerism and advocacy on behalf of women and children earned her the Catherine McAuley Award in 2017.
Committee appointments: School Construction Committee and Maine Charter School Commission
Greyson Elliot Orne of Camden was appointed to the State Board of Education as a student member in February of 2021. He will fill seat 10 in the second congressional district. Mr. Orne is a senior at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) where he is a Renaissance Scholar. At MSSM he is very involved in the Key Club, jazz band, and Student Senate. He has a strong interest in community service. As an eighth grader he was awarded the Secretary of State’s Citizenship Award. In addition to his interests in sailing, music, and science, Greyson is interested in politics and believes he can make a difference for Maine students in this role. After high school, Greyson plans to apply to the three major U.S. Service Academies to become a commissioned officer in the United States Military.
Committee appointments: Student Voices Committee and Student Membership Committee
James Ford of Brunswick was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021. He will fill seat 5 in the second congressional district. Mr. Ford holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Hobart and William Smith College and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additionally, he holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Maine. He is a former teacher and is skilled in Lesson Planning, Teaching English as a Second Language, Classroom Management, Volunteer Management, and Differentiated Instruction.
Committee appointments: School Construction Committee, Student Voices Committee, and Student Membership Committee.
Cordelia Pitman of Portland was appointed to the State Board of Education in April of 2021. She will fill seat 6 in the first congressional district. Ms. Pitman attended Middlebury College where she received her bachelor’s degree in Physics. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from Columbia University. She began her career as an architect with Sasaki Associates before moving on to Winton Scott Architects. Ms. Pitman remained with this firm for fifteen years before taking a job with her current firm, Wright-Ryan Construction. She has been with Wright-Ryan Construction for the past twelve years. Outside of her work, Ms. Pitman is a board member of the Blaine House Commission, the Maine Climate Council, Coastal Enterprises Inc., the Portland Society for Architects and the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition.
Committee appointments: Career & Technical Education Committee and Student Membership Committee.
Paulette Bonneau of Biddeford was appointed to the State Board of Education in June of 2021. She will fill seat 7 in the first congressional district. Ms. Bonneau attended Stonehill College and received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ms. Bonneau became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker focusing on Mental Health and Substance abuse. At the same time, Ms. Bonneau also worked as a School Social Worker at the John F. Kennedy School supporting students and their families from grades 3-5. In 2004, Ms. Bonneau was awarded her master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan and in 2006 received a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership/Administration from the University of Southern Maine. Shortly before getting her Graduate Certificate, Ms. Bonneau transitioned into the position of Assistant Principal at the John F Kennedy School and the Biddeford Intermediate School. Once again, she transitioned in 2007 into the role of Principal at the John F Kennedy School and remained in this role until 2015. From the John F. Kennedy School, Ms. Bonneau moved to her current position as the Director of the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology. Outside of her work, Ms. Bonneau is a member of the Biddeford Workforce Development Committee, the Maine Association of Adult Education, the Coalition on Adult Education, the York County United Way Early Child Development Committee and the CTE-EPS formula work group.
Committee appointments: Career & Technical Education Committee, Nomination & Election Committee, and Student Membership Committee.
Joshua Leinwand of Yarmouth was appointed to the State Board of Education as a student member in June of 2021. He will fill seat 11 in the first congressional district. Mr. Leinwand is currently a Junior at Yarmouth High School. He is an active member of his school community and is a member of many extracurricular activities including the school’s Debate Team, Student Senate, Class Council, Model UN Team and Math Team. Mr. Leinwand is also an accomplished athlete having been a member of Yarmouth High School’s cross-country team, indoor track team and outdoor track team. Alongside his education and extracurriculars, Mr. Leinwand is a member of the Trail Crew for the Royal River Conservation Trust. Mr. Leinwand’s hard work is focused on helping him achieve his goal of one day becoming a US Senator. For him, being able to represent people is the most rewarding of feats. Mr. Leinwand is a dedicated student and member of his community.
Committee appointments: Student Voices Committee.
New Officers Elected to the Maine State Board of Education
At the June 9, 2021 State Board of Education Meeting, the Board elected Fern M.Y. Desjardins to serve as Chair of the Board and Peter E. Geiger to serve as Vice Chair of the Board for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
Fern Desjardins of St. Agatha was appointed to the State Board of Education in the spring of 2018. She has served on the School Construction Committee, Certification & Higher Education Committee, Maine Charter School Commission, and a number of other committees of the State Board. Desjardins was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Boards of Education in 2019 and is currently Chair of NASBE’s Public Education Positions Committee. She earned her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Maine in 2005 and worked for 43 years in RSU 33/MSAD 33 as a teacher, elementary school principal, and superintendent of schools before retiring in 2017. “I look forward to continuing the work of the State Board toward our vision and mission, developing a five-year strategic plan, and beginning the work to achieve the strategic goals once the new plan is adopted by the Board. I am committed to working with education and community stakeholders to meet the needs and address the challenges of our education system,” stated Desjardins.
Peter Geiger of Lewiston has served several terms on the State Board of Education, with the most recent appointment by Governor Mills in June of 2019. Peter is the Editor of the Farmer’s Almanac and Executive Vice President of Geiger, a fifth-generation family owned business. He established a nationally recognized Adopt-A-School Program with Montello Elementary School in Lewiston in 1988 and championed similar business/school partnerships throughout Maine. Peter believes strongly on a hands-on approach to volunteering. For the past several years, he has been involved in many arenas of community and educational organizations including Educate Maine. Peter served on the State Board of Education from 1992 to 1997 – three years as Vice Chair and one year as Chair. Peter was appointed to the State Board again in 2012 and served as both Chair and Vice Chair during his five-year term. While serving in the 90s, he was also involved in the early stages of developing the Essential Programs and Services.
The Maine State Board of Education acts in an advisory capacity to the Commissioner of Education in matters concerning state education laws and makes education policy recommendations to the legislative and executive branches of state government. For more Board, visit their website.