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.

MEDIA RELEASE: Call to Action for Maine Parents: Complete the Meal Benefit Application at School This Year – Even if School Meals are Free

Maine needs all parents and caregivers to take action this school year––by taking the time to complete the confidential Meal Benefit Application through your local school, even if school meals are already free for all students. Families, schools, communities, and our state can greatly benefit from the data that is gathered from the application, and this application is important for a number of reasons.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, when school meals became complementary, there has been a significant drop in Meal Benefit Application returns––meaning less families are filling out the application.

The family income data provided by the application informs key funding for school resources. This includes school meal reimbursements, funding for Title I programs, funding and resources for after school programs, funding provided to schools from the Maine State Legislature for essential programs and services at school, funding for special education, teacher loan forgiveness, and much, much more!

Federal and state government use the aggregate data from the application to distribute education funding to schools across the county and state of Maine. In other words, if there is no data to inform the needs of the community, it could result in less education funding for your local district and for Maine.

By completing the Meal Benefit Application, you are directly investing in your child’s education and the children and families in your community.

Specific programs that are funded by the data collected from Meal Benefit Application:

How can I complete the Meal Benefit Application?  The application is available through your local school administrative unit (SAU) school nutrition program and it is completely confidential. Most SAUs have the application available to be completed online. Follow this link to access your SAU’s online application (if your school district is not listed, please contact them directly). A printed version of the application is also required to be available––it will often be part of beginning of year paperwork that comes home with your child.

This past school year has certainly had its challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are thrilled that, despite these challenges, all Maine children have had the opportunity to access free healthy school meals on a daily basis. We would like to extend our gratitude to Maine parents and caregivers who have participated in their SAUs’ meal programs. We know that with the continued support of Maine’s incredible families, we can ensure the best for our children.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE and Teens to Trails Partner to Increase Outdoor Opportunities for Maine Teens; Schools Can Apply NOW

Through a new partnership between the Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Teens to Trails, schools serving teens are encouraged to apply for $500-$1500 which includes training and start-up support for school-based outing clubs.

winter hikingWAVES (Wilderness Activities and Virtual Engagement for Students), a program of the Maine DOE, provides meaningful opportunities for Maine teens to engage socially with peers online or outdoors. Teens to Trails is a Maine organization whose mission is to connect high school students to life-changing outdoor experiences.
“We are thrilled by this partnership,” said WAVES Project Director Sarah Woog. “Teens to Trails is a Maine-based non-profit with proven expertise and passion for getting teens outside! Teens to Trails and WAVES have the shared goal of increasing Maine teens’ engagement with the outdoors. Together, we are excited to leverage our organizations’ resources and work collaboratively with schools to give all Maine students the opportunities they deserve.”

“In 2020, 53% of Americans participated in outdoor recreation, the highest participation rate on record,” said Teens to Trails Director Alicia Heyburn. “Outdoor spaces became places of refuge to safely socialize, improve physical health and connect with friends and family. Schools have an important role to play in continuing this positive trend by redefining the learning environment and using the outdoors to support the social and emotional wellbeing of students. The partnership between Teens to Trails and WAVES means that schools have trusted support to invest in making the outdoors welcoming and accessible to all students.”

Teens to Trails and the Maine DOE are eager to support an outing club at your school. School-based educators, with their administrators’ consent, are welcome to apply on behalf of their school. The application is simple, and the rewards are immense. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and the final deadline to apply is September 17.

Eligible schools:

  • Serve Maine teens;
  • Have the support of the school principal school administration;
  • Have school staff/faculty member as club advisor;
  • Commit to participating in two Teens to Trails programs in the first year;
  • Are able to demonstrate how funding will increase access to the outdoors for teens who may not otherwise engage.

Schools who receive funding may expect the following support:

  • Funds may be used for a club advisor stipend;
  • Access to Teens to Trails Club Hub for tips on running a sustainable club;
  • Professional Development day for outdoor club advisor(s);
  • Free summer white water rafting trip for club advisors to network and have fun;
  • Back-to-school student outdoor club recruitment materials;
  • Option to join four outdoor weekends with clubs from around the state;
  • Spring and Fall Trip Lotteries to win pre-planned adventures;
  • Access to gear to keep students warm and comfortable;
  • Ongoing support from Teens to Trails staff, including support planning for sustainability.

Please submit your application at your earliest convenience to secure funding and begin planning for YOUR school’s Outing Club! Find more information and apply here.
Please reach out to with any questions or feedback – WAVES and Teens to Trails will be in touch shortly!

MEDIA RELEASE: Eight Semifinalists Selected for 2022 Teacher of the Year

The Maine Department of Education, in partnership with Educate Maine, is pleased to announce the eight teachers that have been selected as semifinalists for Maine’s 2022 Teacher of the Year program. The semifinalists were selected from the 2021 County Teachers of the Year, who were honored in May in a virtual ceremony.

2022 Teacher of the Year Semifinalists:

Andrew Kirby
Aroostook County
Kirby has been teaching for 13 years and will be teaching science to grades 9-12 at Caribou High School.

I know Andrew is a teacher that will go above and beyond to work with students that need extra help, he sees when a student understands the material and may just need an alternative route to explain it, and is willing to adjust his classroom to the needs of his students to keep them successful.” – Andrea Hallett, Director of Guidance, Presque Isle High School

Paige Fournier
Cumberland County
Fournier has been teaching for 17 years and currently teaches special education at Freeport Middle School.

Paige’s influence on our building stretches well beyond the four walls of her classroom. She truly has changed the lives of many kids. She has such a positive impact on our entire school from the life skills classroom.” – Ray Grogan, Principal, Freeport Middle School

Michelle Laliberte
Franklin County
Laliberte has been teaching for 20 years and currently teaches PreK – Kindergarten at Rangeley Lakes Regional School.

Mrs. Laliberte truly makes learning fun for the kids, teaches teamwork and responsibility to very young kids with regular assigned classroom “jobs,” and involves the students’ families to help ignite the passion for learning both in and outside of the classroom.” – Kathryn Kay, Parent

Patti Forster
Knox County
Forster has been teaching for 29 years and is currently teaching English to grades 9-10 at Camden Hills Regional School.

Patti brings a huge heart and expert understanding of pedagogy to her work with students. She purposefully works with students who struggle with school or English. She is successful where other teachers have failed. As department head she leads her peers in bringing more social and emotional learning into their program, has developed and implemented a set of tier 2 interventions for students 9-12 who are struggling in English.” – Shawn Carlson, Principal, Camden Hills Regional School

Melissa Guerrette
Oxford County
Guerrette has been teaching for 20 years and currently teaches grade 5 at Oxford Elementary School.

Melissa Guerrette is a teacher that creates an impact at all levels: at OES, in MSAD #17, in the greater Oxford Hills Community, and in the state of Maine. She exemplifies what it means to be a reflective practitioner and is generous with her time and knowledge of best practices.” – Heather Manchester, Curriculum Director, RSU 17 / MSAD 17

Kelsey Stoyanova
Penobscot County
Stoyanova has been teaching for 7 years and currently teaches grade 8 English Language Arts at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden.

She forms meaningful relationships with her students and creates an environment that is welcoming. Along with that, I feel like I can be challenged in her class to do my best while also developing and working on skills that might be harder for me. We do this by having class discussions, creative projects, and interesting assignments.” – Tessa Castrucci, Student

Hillary Hoyt
Waldo County
Hoyt has been teaching for 7 years and currently teaches grade 3 at Leroy H. Smith School in Winterport.

Her desire to make sure each child feel like they are important is evident in her ability to individualize for each child, yet set high expectations of citizenship and respect. Her ability to restructure lessons and units to meet student’s interests, with such a diverse classroom, is unique.” – Dawn Moore, Principal, Leroy H. Smith School

Christine Goulet
York County
Goulet has been teaching for 21 years and currently teaches grade 2 at for Biddeford Primary School.

Christine has been a part of our Tiger community where her passion for teaching and learning has engaged, empowered, and supported all students in her learning environment which is not necessarily determined by the four walls of her classroom. Christine has a positive attitude, a growth mindset, and a strong passion of teaching all learners.” – Mandy Cyr, Director of Instruction, Biddeford School Department

The eight 2022 Teacher of the Year semifinalists will continue in the selection process which consists of a professional portfolio review and an oral presentation, and results in identifying three state finalists. The state finalists will then sit for a final interview and have a school-site visit before one of them is named the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year selection panel is made up of legacy Teachers of the Year, school administrators, Maine DOE staff, members of professional education organizations, and the business community. The 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year will be announced in October.

The Maine Department of Education’s Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered and managed by Educate Maine and supported by both the Maine State Board of Education and the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, the Silvernail Family and Unum.

More information about Maine’s Teacher of the Year program, the 2021 County Teachers of the Year, and the 2022 semifinalists can be found on the Maine Teacher of the Year website. For questions and information, please reach out to Program Director Dolly Sullivan at or call 631-3385.

An ‘End of Year Message’ to Maine’s Education Communities from the Maine 2021 County Teachers of the Year

As the 2020/2021 school year ends and students, families and school staff transition to a summer schedule, now is the time to reflect on all that has been accomplished during a school year the world has never seen.

The 2021 County Teachers of the Year have put together a special “End of Year Message” to their colleagues, students and their communities who all worked together for the greater good of education across Maine this year.  These outstanding teachers share a message of gratitude for coming together to ensure our children had every opportunity to continue learning and growing this year. #StrongerTogether4ME

“The theme of being stronger together really came about when we started talking about how much we ALL have done, much of which isn’t as visible to people living outside of our schools. The actions of the groups mentioned in the video really proved that we truly are stronger together. We think this video highlights that truth,” the group said in a joint statement. 

“With that in mind, we want to know what you have seen that shows we are #StrongerTogether4ME students? Share your own images with the hashtag #StrongerTogether4ME on social media to celebrate!”  

The recently annouced 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year were nominated by a member of their community and selected through a selection process earlier this year as part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program. Throughout their year of service as County Teachers of the Year, they serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide through speaking engagements and collaborative work with education stakeholders and decision makers throughout Maine.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program is administered through a collaborative partnership with Educate Maine. To learn more about the Teacher of the Year program visit: