MEDIA RELEASE: State Finalists Announced for 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year 

Three Maine teachers have been announced as State finalists for the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year program. The finalists were chosen from the 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year during a special virtual ceremony which was viewed over 2,000 times.

“All 16 County Teachers of the Year exemplify the amazing dedication and creative spirit of Maine’s educators,” said Pender Makin, Maine Commissioner of Education. “These finalists have been selected for their passion, vision, and advocacy for education and for Maine students, and each will be an outstanding ambassador on behalf of all educators in our state.”

The Maine Teacher of the Year program honors outstanding teachers who represent the thousands of excellent educators in Maine. Maine’s Teacher of the Year serves as an advocate for the teaching profession, education and students, and represents Maine in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Each educator was nominated by a member of their community for their exemplary service in education and dedication to their students. They were selected by a distinguished panel of teachers, principals, and business community members from a pool of hundreds of other nominated teachers in their communities.

The Maine Department of Education, Educate Maine, Maine State Board of Education and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association are pleased to announce that Paige Fournier (Cumberland), Kelsey Stoyanova (Penobscot), and Hillary Hoyt (Waldo) are moving on as 2022 State Finalists.

Please join us in congratulating the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year finalists.

Paige FournierPaige Fournier
Freeport Middle School, Freeport 
2021 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year 

I am honored to represent RSU5 through the MTOY process. I look forward to amplifying the voices and experiences of all students- particularly those that struggle- in an effort to ensure all students thrive, grow, and feel empowered to make changes in their lives.”

Dr. Paige Fournier is a middle level special educator at Freeport Middle School in Maine. She began volunteering in a special education classroom as a high school student and discovered it was her life-long passion immediately. Dr. Fournier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education/ Elementary Education at C.W. Post- Long Island University while playing Division II soccer and lacrosse, winning a National Championship in lacrosse. She frequently references her athletic experiences as part of her drive to empower and advocate for students.

Dr. Fournier holds a master’s degree in Special Education from New England College where she also most recently earned her Doctorate of Education in K-12 Leadership. In her studies she researched the impact of mindfulness on the general mental health and wellness of students at the middle level. Dr. Fournier is a Representative Assembly Board Member of the Maine Council for Exceptional Children, Co-Chair of the RSU 5 Wellness Committee, a member of the leadership team, a 2012 Maine Teacher of the Year semifinalist, a local and global teacher mentor, and a Board Member of the Freeport United Soccer Club. She has presented at conferences across New England, has been published in the New England College Journal of Applied Educational Research, and has successfully co-written grants to support technology, school gardens and a school-based greenhouse, and social emotional programs. She is passionate about inclusive practices and advocating for the success of all students, particularly those students that face adversity.

Kelsey StoyanovaKelsey Stoyanova
Reeds Brook Middle School, Hampden
2021 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year 

“In the midst of a pandemic where uncertainties have been abundant, my journey with Maine Teacher of the Year has made it certainly clear — Maine educators know that what is best for students is to listen to them, know them as humans first and value their ideas, and then learn alongside them,” said Stoyanova. “I’m proud to represent my students and colleagues in RSU 22, Penobscot County, and our state to continue to advocate that we prioritize representation, choice, and voice of ALL students in our schools, in our curriculum, and in education policy.”

Kelsey Stoyanova is an 8th grade language arts teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School, part of Regional School Unit 22 in Hampden, Maine. Stoyanova has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an English concentration, a master’s degree in Education with a literacy focus, and is working toward her Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership — all as a University of Maine Black Bear. Stoyanova is passionate about reading and helping students find an authentic love of reading through integrating a strong foundation of independent reading in her classroom. That passion really shined when she was selected as a grant recipient by the Book Love Foundation in 2020. As an advocate for student involvement in curriculum creation, Stoyanova became the RSU22 Middle Level Language Arts Curriculum Leader — working to audit, align, and enhance the curriculum. She serves on the Equity in Education Committee where she designed and implemented the RSU22 Reads Three Reading Challenge for students and community members to participate in thus far highlighting BIPOC authors and characters, women in literature, AAPI voices, and LGBTQIA+ authors and characters. In addition to these roles, Stoyanova is sought out as a technology enthusiast, mentor, and loves to share and design creative projects and assessments with her colleagues in all content areas. After school, you can find her going on outdoor Maine adventures with her family, or with her nose in a book which she will undoubtedly talk about in class tomorrow.

Hillary HoytHillary Hoyt
Leroy H Smith School, Winterport
2021 Waldo County Teacher of the Year 

“I am honored to be a finalist and be able to share my belief in the importance of engaging our students with their learning, each other, and the community,” said Hoyt. “Through this, we can show them that their dreams can come true!” 

Hillary Hoyt teaches third grade at Leroy H Smith School in Winterport, Maine. She teaches math, reading, writing, social studies, and her favorite subject, science. It is no surprise that she is also the elementary science leader. Hoyt received her Bachelor of Science in Education with a concentration in Liberal Arts and minors in dance and English from the University of Maine in Orono.

Hoyt is a nationally board-certified teacher whose goal is to excite learners and show them how learning and reflecting can open new horizons. From classroom transformations such as Underwater Day to creating a rehabilitation center for animals through project-based learning using math and research skills, her goal is for students to be engaged in every lesson. On any given day, you may see her students being secret agents of the Fairytale Bureau of Investigation or engineers collaboratively building a dam while learning about natural disasters. Hoyt aims to create problem solvers, reflective thinkers, and creative designers in her classroom and beyond.

Through her experience as a classroom teacher, dance teacher, and coach at Husson University, she sees the importance of conversation, community, and connection. In all her positions, she works to have students understand how to share and listen to each other. She hopes to have students learn how they are part of the community and the importance of their role. As for the connection, her goal is for her students to see their relationship to each other, their community, and most importantly, the world.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine. The announcement will be in October after the final stages of the selection process are complete.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year program is administered through a unique partnership with Educate Maine, the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA) and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family, and Unum.

For more information about the Maine County Teacher of the Year Program and to see a list of County Teachers of the Year, and Maine Teachers of the Year, visit http://www.mainetoy.org.

Website of LGBTQ+ and Gender Expansive Resources now Available to Schools

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has launched a new section of its website devoted to improving school climate and support of LGBTQ+ students in Maine.

“Every student in Maine has an irrefutable right to feel safe, recognized and valued in their school,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin (she/her/hers). “The Maine Department of Education is deeply committed to providing schools and educators the resources they need to ensure that theirs is a safe and welcoming climate, and to validating the voices and experiences of our LGBTQ+ students and school community members.”

The coordination of the website and its resources is the result of a year-long effort and partnership between Maine DOE, OUT Maine, and GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders) to provide meaningful resources and information to schools to give them the tools to support not only their LGBTQ+ students but their families and school staff as well. The resources are part of an initiative across the Maine DOE to provide resources and supports to ensure schools are safe and equitable for all students.

Our Stance: The Maine Department of Education supports all LGBTQ+ identifying, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender queer and questioning students, families, and school staff.

“We are thrilled with and grateful for DOE’s strong statement of support for LGBTQ+ youth in Maine schools,” said Jeanne Dooley, Executive Director of OUT Maine. “The thoughtful collection of resources and specific guidance for school districts will be extremely helpful to schools that have been seeking DOE leadership on laws and best practices.”

The website includes data about Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth, the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) data, and other vital tools for Maine schools to ensure equity for LGBTQ+ identifying students. There are also additional resources specifically for students and parents.

The website of resources can be accessed here: LGBTQ+ and Gender Expansive ResourcesAdditional resources for supporting schools in reducing in-school violence and building positive school culture are:

  • SEL4ME: a free to use, comprehensive, CASEL aligned and trauma informed, PreK-12th grade Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum, and;
  • Maine School Safety Center (MSSC): contacts and resources to help develop a safe school infrastructure delivering high quality, up-to-date best practices, procedures, training, technical assistance, and support to Maine Schools.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Announces Over $2M in First Round of Innovative RREV Pilot Awards

WATCH LIVE HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTPvZFJn1HM

Augusta – The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today announced over $2 million in pilot implementation funding for Maine schools that have created innovative pilot programs as part of the Rethinking Remote Education Ventures (RREV) project. Imagined and designed by teams of educators right here in Maine, the pilots offer responsive and systemic approaches to engaging students in their education.

“I am so proud of these innovative educators who are piloting new, whole child approaches to learning,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. “They are courageous leaders who are paving the way to even better opportunities for Maine’s students, and we look forward to supporting additional education visionaries with training and support during this rare opportunity to re-imagine our centuries old system of education.”

Once fully developed, the pilots have the potential to impact over 13,000 students statewide in the first of several rounds of funding for RREV Innovation Awards through July 2023.

Last year, the Maine DOE was awarded $16.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rethink K-12 Education Models Funding. As one of 11 States to receive funding, Maine embarked on a project called Rethinking Remote Education Ventures (RREV) which offers a multi-pronged solution with a primary goal of generating innovative remote and responsive learning models to provide equitable access to high quality learning opportunities for all students.

“The RREV program forges a powerful partnership between Maine’s institutions of higher education and the state’s PreK-12 educators, allowing us to share tools and systems that empower teachers and administrators to transform the student experience,” said Renee Kelly, Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at the University of Maine, and an RREV innovation course instructor. “This collaboration is all about facilitating connections – between Maine schools, the state’s colleges and universities, members of the business community, and beyond. The University of Maine is proud to partner in Maine’s bold effort to create innovative learning opportunities for all students.”

The awardees will use the funds to further develop an innovative pilot program that they created through a design thinking process, in collaboration with a Maine higher education partner and adaptable for use in any school setting across the state.

“As we continue to flood the state with innovative prototypes we hope that all educators and educational leaders will join us in creating new opportunities for students throughout Maine,” said Maine DOE RREV Director Martin Mackey. “RREV offers higher education partnerships, on-site professional development and a collaborative web portal called EnGiNE to any school interested in learning more about innovative educational practices in non-traditional settings. These services are available at no cost to districts.”

Pilot Programs:

Teaching Outside: The Box
MSAD 17
Contact: Beth Clarke and Sarah Timm

Research unequivocally shows that learning outdoors benefits children in a number of ways, both academically and socially. However, teaching outdoors can be a logistical nightmare. Balancing curriculum, behaviors, and materials all while providing an enriching, fulfilling experience for students is nearly impossible to do without extensive planning and preparation. Providing teachers with the support they need, through co-teaching, modeling, coaching, instructional resources, professional development, and curriculum will make outdoor learning productive and meaningful. Our innovation would provide a two-year, full-time Outdoor Learning Coordinator who will support student learning by modeling instruction and co-teaching in outdoor learning settings. The Outdoor Learning Coordinator will work together with classroom teachers to enrich the curriculum and provide students with a learning environment that boosts engagement and fosters self-esteem and motivation. Standards in all subject areas will be covered using online unit plans and Unit Resource Boxes created by the coordinator. A fully furnished yurt classroom will provide storage for outdoor learning materials as well as an alternative space for classroom activities in inclement weather. Most importantly, the Outdoor Learning Coordinator will work regularly with students and teachers to provide meaningful outdoor learning experiences.

Remote Learning Pathway
Brewer School Department
Contact: Renita Ward-Downer, Director of Instruction and Technology

Brewer School Department’s RREV project is offering a remote learning pathway to its 7-12th grade students. This pathway ensures that students who didn’t thrive in person, the easily distracted, those with incompatible home responsibilities, and more–will still have access to a high quality education while now engaging with curriculum in a modality that fits their needs. If families feel that a home learning environment is best for their students, they will now have that option. Students that choose to be a part of the Remote Learning Pathway will have access to a full time multi-age teacher for instruction. This will be a brand new position, filled by a Remote Learning Specialist. If families like having their students at school for instruction, they will also have that option. Both Pathways will provide engaging and high academic instruction to meet student and family needs. Both Pathways will offer students enrichment and extracurricular activities. Both Pathways offer core subject instruction along with enrichment and personalized instruction. Because the Remote Learning Specialist will collaborate with teachers in the buildings, there will also be opportunities where remote students can come to the school to be with friends and participate in the activities and/or sports, as well as have access to other programs that Brewer offers. This schedule adaptation not only increases interactions and builds relationships among peers, it is also supporting the social and emotional learning of all students.

Nature-based Outdoor Learning for PreK – 4
MSAD #28
Contact: Debra McIntyre

The MSAD #28 RREV proposal focuses on increasing outdoor learning experiences for our youngest learners, specifically 380 learners in grades PreK – 4.  Our schools are built among the mountains, lakes, rivers, harbors, and shorelines of Midcoast Maine. As a result, our students are surrounded by an array of accessible ecosystems.  We want to create outdoor learning spaces and offer programming for students and teachers that will enhance their educational experience. Due to research (Greater Good Magazine, Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms, Lens on Outdoor Learning) on the positive impacts outdoor learning can have, we began looking more closely at outdoor learning opportunities in 2017.

With the onset of the pandemic, outdoor experiences became a daily necessity. In 2021 we will introduce our first Pre-K program and it will be grounded in nature-based learning experiences for young children.  We believe that through partnering with local and regional outdoor organizations and experts in the field we can create outdoor learning spaces, training opportunities for staff, and innovative programming that will benefit all PreK-4 students.

Connect, Reach & Teach Each Child with Outdoor Learning
RSU 89 Katahdin Schools
Contact: Marie Robinson, Superintendent

Connect, Reach & Teach Each Child with Outdoor Learning is an innovation designed to provide a PK-12 outdoor learning pathway for approximately two hundred students at Katahdin Schools. This innovation will meet the cognitive, social-emotional and physical development of students – a whole child approach to learning. All students in grades PreK-5 will benefit as they will spend an increased amount of time outdoors engaged in authentic learning experiences. Middle and high school students who are interested in continuing an outdoor learning pathway will be supported through an outdoor education program that has the potential to lead to college credits in an outdoor recreation major. This innovation will also meet the professional learning needs of teachers providing time, space and support for teachers to build their outdoor learning knowledge and expertise.

In approximately one hour per week and 20 sessions with a curriculum expert, our aim is that with a whole child approach to learning, children will be happier and more successful at school potentially decreasing the instance of childhood obesity and symptoms of attention deficit disorder while increasing the physical stamina, coping skills, self-regulation and overall wellbeing of children. The creativity and novelty of incorporating the outdoors into everyday lessons will lead to an increase in teacher job satisfaction and teacher retention.

The Oxbow Outdoor Pilot
Mt Blue HS/ Foster Technology School
Contacts: Jacob Bogar and Travis Tierney

The Oxbow Outdoor Pilot will predominantly seek to serve 9-12 grade students on the MBC Campus. However, it will also seek to impact all students in the district by partnering with, collaborating with, and creating mentoring and educational opportunities with younger students in the district to provide outdoor learning experiences.

The Oxbow Outdoor Pilot came about as a pushback toward the abundance and reliance on digital screens. Research in the building, and other nationwide studies showed a need for outdoor and experiential learning to promote social and emotional well being. This need, coupled with our uniquely situated geography/landscape of woods, waters, and mountains will seek to positively influence student and community outcomes.

Participation in the RREV Innovation Class and Pilot Program Process allowed for collaboration with others across the state of Maine to share ideas through their Outdoor Pathway offering in Remote Education.

HCA – Change Your World!
Harpswell Coastal Academy
Contact: Scott Barksdale, Head of School

HCA’s pilot, the Community-Based Learning Program, continues our commitment to anchoring student learning in real-world experiences and academic rigor.  The program will connect many of our 70 juniors and seniors with internships, service learning, and work/study opportunities in their local communities.  Some of the intended outcomes of this program are resilient post-secondary plans for students, and strong and productive connections to local communities for graduates.  Our Community-Based Learning Program supports HCA’s mission of creating life-long learners who are creative thinkers, compassionate leaders and effective problem solvers. With campuses in Brunswick and Harpswell, HCA is a public charter school serving students in grades 5 – 12 and has a focus on social change, entrepreneurship and the environment.

Be Well Connected — Addressing the Well-being of Virtual Learners
Noble High School, MSAD 60
Contacts: Erin Dickson, School Health Coordinator and Miranda Wakefield, Health Teacher

When students are healthier and well connected to their peers and teachers, they are absent less often and perform better in school.   Healthy students, both mentally and physically, are better able to focus and learn.  Be Well Connected will provide the tools and structure to eliminate barriers to learning and achieve better results for our students who are enrolled in the new Noble Virtual Middle School. The opportunity to apply to this program is available to approximately 900 students in grades 5-8 with hopes to expand to the entire student population (nearly 3,000) in the coming years.  We anticipate a cap of 60 students within the pilot year.  Components of the Be Well Connected program include hiring a wellness counselor, constructing a space for some in-person learning, field trips and enrichment opportunities, team building activities and training for staff.  Our belief is that fostering deeper connections and maximizing students’ social/emotional learning while nurturing both physical and mental health through the increased resources provided by this program will allow students to access their learning on a deeper and more meaningful level.

The St. George Maker Space Collaboration with Mid Coast School of Technology
St. George Municipal School Unit
Contact: Mike Felton, Superintendent

St. George Municipal School Unit is partnering with Mid-Coast School of Technology to create a K-12 Career Technical Education (CTE) Program and build a K-8 CTE/Makerspace Building at St. George School.  Through the K-12 CTE program, St. George School will continue a long tradition of place-based education that grounds student learning in the history, traditions, and natural environment of St. George.  The program will provide a model for preparing students, from the day they enter kindergarten through high school graduation, to develop the technical, creative thinking, and social-emotional skills to thrive in an innovation economy and strengthen our local and regional economies by meeting existing labor force needs and creating new businesses and industries.

Classrooms in the Community
School Union #76
Contacts: Lynne Witham, Coordinator of Grants & Professional Development and Director of Adult & Community Education and Mickie Flores, DISES Science Teacher

Classrooms in the Community, School Union #76’s RREV pilot project is designed to create and expand place-based education experiences across our district in order to:

  • significantly boost student learning proficiencies across all subgroups of students;
  • create a global, integrated base of knowledge for our staff, students, and parents;
  • expand aspirations and awareness of continuous learning opportunities for our students and communities.
  • better prepare our students for a world rapidly changing through technology and innovation by teaching and nurturing the practices of auto-didactical learning, research & exploration, and teamwork.

In order to achieve these goals, we will be utilizing RREV’s new ENGINE database as well as creating and expanding outdoor learning areas on our campuses, including greenhouses, nature trails, and an outdoor classroom. We are hiring a Place-Based Education Integration Specialist who will work with students and with key community partners to create and immediately implement place-based learning activities that may occur on-campus, off-campus utilizing community partners, and around the globe by connecting with others in distant places and leveraging virtual learning experiences. We will embed these new integrated place-based experiences into our curriculum. Teachers themselves will be able to identify practices and structures that remain obstacles to integrated place-based learning and work with administrators to make the changes necessary to move the pilot forward.

For more information on how to get involved in RREV visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/rrev

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine DOE to Announce Over $2M in Innovative RREV Pilot Awards on Aug 4th

WHAT: The Maine Department of Education (DOE) will be hosting a live virtual event to announce over $2 million in pilot implementation funding for Maine schools that have created innovative pilot programs as part of the Rethinking Remote Education Ventures (RREV) project. The pilots feature innovative new ways to deliver education to students including a yurt classroom, a remote learning pathway, a maker space, place-based education programming, experiential outdoor learning connected to higher education credits, addressing the social emotional needs of virtual learners, and more!

WHO: Representatives from the 9 pilot programs that will be awarded funding (9 public schools including one charter school, located across Maine). Also in attendance will be Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin, Maine DOE Chief Innovation Officer Page Nichols, RREV Director Martin Mackey and other representatives from the Maine DOE.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 4th at 1:00pm

WHERE: Live YouTube Event! Tune in here: https://www.youtube.com/MaineDOEComm
A recording of the announcement will be available following the event.

Background Info:
Last year, the Maine DOE was awarded $16.9 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Rethink K-12 Education Models Funding. As one of 11 States to receive funding, Maine embarked on a project called Rethinking Remote Education Ventures (RREV) which offers a multi-pronged solution with a primary goal of generating innovative remote and responsive learning models to provide equitable access to high quality learning opportunities for all students.

The awardees will use the funds to further develop an innovative pilot program that they created through a design thinking process, in collaboration with a Maine higher education partner. These Maine developed projects are designed to be adapted and used in any school setting across the state. The pilot programs have the potential to impact over 13,000 students statewide through innovative ideas imagined by teams of educators right here in Maine.

MEDIA RELEASE: Seven New Members Appointed by Governor Mills to the Maine State Board of Education

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:

Tori Kornfield Victoria Kornfield
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-BeliveauCynthia Murray-Beliveau

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 OrneGreyson Orne
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 FordJames Ford
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_PitmanCordelia Pitman
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 BonneauPaulette Bonneau
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
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 DesjardinsFern 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.

PeterGeigerPeter 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.