Media Release: Maine Department of Education Awards $900,000 in RREV Funding to Support Education Innovation

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today awarded an additional $900,000 in Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV) funding to support education innovation at Rose M Gaffney Elementary School in Machias, Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School, North Haven Community School, RSU 10 schools, Union 103 schools, and Trenton Elementary School. These federal funds will be used to invest in strategies to engage students through outdoor learning, extended learning opportunities, and creating multiple education pathways.

RREV investments now total $8.5 million to 45 awardees. 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 created RREV to support the work of visionary educators to develop innovative pilot programs around remote and outside of the classroom learning, including professional development and pilot design classes. Courses in innovative design process are available through several of Maine’s public and private universities at no cost to Maine educators who wish to participate. In addition to the innovative pilot development classes, the Department is also offering asynchronous, innovative principles webinars which are available to all educators in self-paced, independent modules.

“We are going to be creating kits that teachers can grab and go and take to their outdoor learning space. The kits provide engaging activities to supplement classroom learning. Our goal is to increase the amount of outdoor learning happening at school so that we will see happier kids, kids who are more focused and engaged, and kids who appreciate and respect the environment around us. We’re eager to build a large collection of kits that will be fun and engaging,” said Rose M Gaffney Elementary School 5th Grade Teacher Kelly Woodward.

“Caring for honeybees has the potential to deepen our students’ connection with nature and drive their passion for making positive changes for their future and the future of our planet. It also has the potential to build a unique partnership with the community that will help build engagement. We believe that this pilot program, using an apiary and partnering with the Western Maine Beekeepers Association, will have a positive impact on attendance, engagement, and wellbeing for our 4th and 5th graders,” said RSU 10 teacher Maggie Corlett.

“We are using our RREV pilot to step up our programming on outdoor education, wildlife studies, and agricultural studies. We will use these funds to heat our greenhouse so that our egg studies can continue in the greenhouse year-round, we’re establishing a property use agreement with a local nonprofit ski mountain so that our outdoor studies class will have access to a satellite campus and 50 acres of wilderness to explore, and we will purchase boats and equipment for our wildlife studies program,” said Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School Principal James Tyler.

“Our purpose was to spark innovation with our students and provide engaging and inspirational opportunities where they can take ownership of their learning. We built off a lot of programs we already have going and wanted to make them even more engaging and available to all of our students. Students will get to see a new greenhouse where they can watch their projects literally grow from seed to product and be able to work them into recipes in a kitchen and sell to their own community members. We will also have a trail built around the school where students can create products and have opportunities for community members to come and participate as part of the school,” said Jonesport-Beals High School Co-Teacher Leader & English Teacher Becky Coffin.

“We have a makerspace building on our school’s campus and we want to transform that into a lifelong learning hub for our k-12 students to use during the day and bring in adults from our community for classes at night. We have an hour and fifteen-minute ferry ride to get here so we have to do a lot for ourselves. We have to train and uplift from within at the grassroots level. Our RREV grant is going to support this lifelong learning hub to work with our town administration to diversify our workforce and help prepare young people and adults for the different kinds of work and professions that we need,” said North Haven Community School Principal Shaun Johnson.

“We named our initiative TREE—Trenton Rethinking Experiential Education—and it’s a k-8 initiative to get our kids outside learning in the community, not just on our school property. We want to think about how all of our students get their needs met want to increase independence, peer relationships, self-awareness, and kids overall mental health,” said Trenton Elementary School teacher Snow Ross.

Schools will use this funding in a variety of innovative ways, including:

  • Rose M Gaffney Elementary School in Machias will create and implement pre-k through 8th grade outdoor education lessons. These lessons will provide learners with the opportunity to use the trail system behind the school and materials to continue their classroom learning in an outdoor setting. The school’s team observed that academic work in an outdoor setting helped learners to be more engaged, happy and focused. By increasing the amount of outdoor learning, students will be supported in their social and emotional growth. RREV funding will be used to create kits with engaging activities for educators to use in an outdoor learning environment and the school will work alongside community partners such as Downeast Coastal Conservancy to implement the lessons.
  • Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School will grow their innovative outdoor-based education program to increase student engagement and better prepare students for their lives after high school. By participating in the program, students will develop and exercise a host of skills including problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, marketing, salesmanship, and financial management. Valley Outdoors will partner with Baker Mountain, a community non-profit, to ensure all students in grades 5-12 have access to nature-based learning opportunities. Under the guidance of teaching staff, students will be able to use the base lodge and over 50 acres of trails and wooded land at Baker Mountain to engage in project-based learning activities. In addition, the school will scale up current greenhouse operations, expand hands-on project offerings, and develop water exploration and research activities for our wildlife studies program. The SAU anticipates 100% of the student body will be able to engage in at least one integrated unit of study.
  • North Haven Community School will partner with their town administration to support their efforts of economic diversification and workforce development, chiefly in response to the impending impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the long-term viability of the fishing and lobstering industry. In coordination with the community, North Haven Community School will develop programming to support lifelong learning outcomes for both K-12 and adult learners, housed in their auxiliary classroom space dubbed the “Projects Building.”
  • RSU 10 will pilot a program to support students struggling with adverse childhood experiences. The work will provide strategies to enhance engagement, improve attendance, foster resilience skills, and promote positive behaviors. Meroby Elementary and Mountain Valley Middle School will team up to develop and expand The MV Bee Academy in the RSU#10 School District. A bee apiary and storage facility will be built to provide the infrastructure needed for beekeeping experiences. 4th and 5th-grade students will work closely with a local bee club. As their knowledge base grows, these children will mentor other grade levels and share their knowledge with community members. To maintain the sustainability of this program, students will develop a small business. In it, they will sell queen bees, honey, wax products, and other bee-related items.
  • Union 103 schools will support creative opportunities and innovative practices for students and teachers at all of their schools. All students and staff will have access to a new greenhouse which will foster creativity and learning through aquaponics and aquaculture. With an outdoor lab, students will also take part in a space dedicated to learning in ways not yet offered inside the four walls of a classroom, such as a native pollinator garden, raised beds, and fruit trees. A new learning lab with access to a multipurpose classroom will provide a much-needed creative and innovative space for students. This space will provide students and teachers with flexibility to help spark creativity and experiential learning as they continue to foster initiatives throughout the year with involvement in marine science activities with Downeast Institute and author visits each year. All students will also have the opportunity to explore a new walking path and outdoor learning trail around Beals Elementary School.
  • Trenton Elementary School’s TREE-Trenton’s Rethinking Experiential Education is a K-8 initiative that embeds outdoor learning into a child’s school experience that increases independence, peer relationships, self-awareness, and overall mental health. The school will integrate therapeutic services, STEM based learning, and outdoor collaborative experiential learning into the student experiences. They will use field work and place-based learning in the living world in each child’s school day. Students will participate in engaging, outdoor experiences that will help them to build social connections and increase their self-esteem while reconnecting with our natural world. The aim is to increase student attendance, engagement, and self-regulatory skills.

The RREV initiative was also granted a no-cost-extension year, meaning that all 45 pilots will have an extra year to utilize their available funding for their innovative pilots.

For more information on RREV and the pilots, visit 

Interviews are available with RREV grant recipients upon request as well as the recording of the announcement featuring RREV grant recipients discussing their projects. 

Governor Mills Announces $15 Million in Maine Jobs & Recovery Grant Funding to Expand Career and Technical Education in Maine

Governor Janet Mills today announced that four Career and Technical Education (CTEs) schools in Maine will receive $15 million in grant funding through her Maine Jobs & Recovery plan for program, equipment, and facility upgrades.

The grant funding will allow the CTEs to build new facilities or add to existing facilities to expand hands on, real-world programs for Maine students in plumbing, electrical, building construction, culinary and hospitality, EMT, welding, and more.

The Governor announced the funding alongside educators and students at Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway, which will receive more than $2 million for a new free-standing building to expand their plumbing, electrician, and building construction tech programs.

Under Governor Mills, CTE enrollment has grown by nearly 11 percent, with an almost 300 percent increase in exploratory program enrollment that allows freshman and sophomores to sample multiple programs to follow their interests.

“I have always been a strong believer in the power of CTEs because they equip students with the skills and hands-on experience needed to take good-paying jobs and have rewarding, lifelong careers in the trades,” said Governor Janet Mills. “That is why I am also so proud of this announcement. We all know that Maine desperately needs more electricians, plumbers, welders, and other skilled workers, and investments like this one through my Jobs Plan will help deliver them. I look forward to watching these CTEs grow and having more students benefit from them.”

“At Maine’s CTEs, students use their hands and their minds to immerse themselves in programs ranging from plumbing and building construction to culinary arts and healthcare,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “CTE students learn real-world skills, gain industry accreditation, take college courses, and build connections with local employers. These grants will allow several of our CTEs to expand to serve growing student interest in the engaging, hands-on programs that Maine’s CTEs offer.”

“This will be a gamechanger for our students. The grant funds will be used to construct a 6000 square foot, free-standing building on campus that will have three classrooms and shop space for our plumbing program and the new electrical technology program. Our building construction program will also use the new building for some aspects of their classes, making this new building a hub for the building trades here at Oxford Hills Technical School,” said Oxford Hills Technical School Director Randy Crockett.

In addition to Oxford Hills Technical School, the following CTEs also received grant awards:

  • Biddeford Regional Center of Technology in Biddeford: More than $7 million to build a two-story addition to the existing high school to create a culinary arts and hospitality program as well as an athletic training program and to expand existing plumbing and emergency medical technician programs.
  • Northern Penobscot Tech Region III in Lincoln: Nearly $570,000 to expand the welding program by building an addition to the existing school that will add five welding booth ventilators, ten welding booths, and ten welders.
  • Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico: Nearly $5.5 million to expand and enhance CTE facilities for four programs, including establishing a four-season outdoor education center, creating new classroom and lab space for the welding program, and expanding the culinary arts program to include an outdoor education space with a greenhouse, store, outdoor kitchen, and classroom.

“In Biddeford, we will finally be able to offer three new programs: culinary arts, travel, tourism and hospitality program, and athletic training/sports medicine. Additionally, we are adding expanded space for our plumbing, heating, and EMT program. Through these grants, we’re able to offer more workforce training programs and give students more choice and opportunity,” said Biddeford Center of Technology Director Paulette Bonneau.

“Region 9 is a small rural CTE school located in the foothills of Western Maine. Our grant-funded projects will expand and enhance instructional opportunities for our students leading to further skill development and chances to earn industry credentials. These skills and credentials will support our students in being successful in obtaining good-paying jobs or participating in post-secondary training and educational opportunities. Our voters, in all sixteen communities, overwhelmingly supported our school receiving these funds during a recent referendum vote. We are excited to move forward in this process and can’t wait to see the amazing impact this opportunity will have on our school and the surrounding area,” said Region 9 School of Applied Technology Director Brenda Gammon.

“The grant will provide a much-needed expansion to Northern Penobscot Tech Region III’s welding shop. Our welding program provides our students opportunities to receive several certifications, up to and including pipe welding. Many graduates of the Region III welding program leave high school and go right to work building the critical infrastructure Maine needs for now and into our future. This is money well spent,” said Northern Penobscot Tech Region III Director Curt Ring.

This $15 million grant funding is part of a larger $20 million investment from the Governor’s Jobs Plan to expand CTEs in Maine, including following $4.5 million in awards to 23 CTE programs to purchase and upgrade equipment to enhance student learning experiences and career preparation for high-skilled, in-demand industries.

In addition to the Jobs Plan funding, the Governor and the Legislature have increased funding for CTEs by nearly $10 million over the past four years, including a $1.6 million to assist in the increased costs of supplies and $100,000 to expand CTE early childhood education programs. The Governor’s biennial budget also proposes $500,000 to expand middle school CTE programs.

Gov Mills and CTE studentsAs then-Attorney General, Governor Mills also used funds she obtained through a settlement with Bath Fitter to create plumbing programs at four CTEs in Maine, including Oxford Hills Technical School in Norway, Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington, Lewiston Regional Technical Center in Lewiston, and Biddeford Regional Center of Technology in Biddeford.

Maine’s 27 Career and Technical Education regions and centers enroll more than 9,800 students in 85 programs. Students learn skills and gain real-world experiences in programs ranging from plumbing and welding to culinary arts and early childhood education while completing high school. Many students are able to receive industry accreditation, earn college credits through dual-enrollment opportunities, and they graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the job market and higher education.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

Since the Jobs Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people.

For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit

Earlier in the day, Governor Mills also read to second grade students at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway as part of the Maine Department of Education’s Read to ME Challenge. The annual challenge promotes literacy by encouraging adults to read aloud to children for at least 15 minutes.

Gov Mills reads to students

Media Release: Maine Teachers and School Staff Share Why They #LoveTeaching as Part of a National Campaign to Promote Educator Voices 

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has partnered with News Center Maine for the third year in a row to highlight the voices of teachers and school staff sharing why they #LoveTeaching during a weeklong national campaign.

#LoveTeaching week is a national campaign started by educators in 2015 and takes place every year around Valentine’s Day. All week, News Center Maine will feature videos from Maine’s 2022 County Teachers of the Year and other members of Maine’s education workforce.

“Love Teaching week gives Maine’s teachers and school staff a megaphone to share what they love about teaching and working in our schools. We want to thank News Center Maine for providing teachers and school staff an opportunity to share the extraordinary things happening with their students,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Here’s what teachers have shared about why they #LoveTeaching:

“I love teaching because it’s a great privilege to get to work with Maine students as they’re learning about the world around them and all of the different ways that they can make it better. I’ve never had the same day twice and I love my job,” said Emily Albee, a social studies teacher at Hampden Academy and the 2022 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year.

“I love teaching art because it gives kids an opportunity to express themselves and use their voice in unexpected ways,” said Kelsey Boucher, an art teacher at Robert Connors Elementary School in Lewiston and the 2022 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year.

“This is my 17th year teaching and I love this job because I get to work with curious, kind, and hard-working students,” said Ashley Bryant, a 4th grade teacher at Sacopee Valley Middle School and the 2022 Oxford County Teacher of the Year.

The video messages will air on News Center Maine’s morning and evening news shows from February 13th – 17th. Educators and school staff can also participate in the campaign by posting their videos to social media and using the hashtags #LoveTeaching and #LoveSchoolStaff. Tune in to News Center Maine, WCSH 6/WLBZ 2 to see the faces and messages of the amazing people working to educate, inspire, and support young people in our state.

MEDIA RELEASE: Application Process Open for Student Position on Maine State Board of Education

The Maine State Board of Education is currently seeking applications for the newest student member to join the Board. Applications are being accepted February 1, 2023 – March 1, 2023.

“Student voice is critically important to the State Board of Education’s decision-making process,” said Fern Desjardins, State Board of Education Chair. “We are pleased to open applications to public high school sophomores in Maine’s First Congressional District and look forward to hearing from the incredible student leaders in Maine schools.”

The Maine State Board of Education has two nonvoting student members who join the Board as high school juniors and serve for two years, one enrolled in a school in Maine’s First Congressional District; the other enrolled in a school in the Second Congressional District. At all times, the State Board has one high school junior and one senior as members, with staggered appointment.

Applications are currently being accepted from students who attend public school in the First Congressional District (Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, York, and part of Kennebec County) and are currently a high school sophomore.  Application materials are available on the State Board of Education web page. The Board has also mailed application materials to all First Congressional District high school principals and school counselors. Completed applications, both hard copy and digital copy,  should be sent to:

Sandra Bourget
Office Specialist
Maine State Board of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0023
Phone: (207) 624-6616

After applications close on March 1, 2023, they will be reviewed according to the process described in Maine Education and School Statutes, Title 20-A, Chapter 5, State Board of Education. Semifinalists will be interviewed in March 2023,  after which three finalists will be chosen. The names and application materials of the finalists will be sent to the Governor’s office for final selection. The Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs of the Maine State Legislature interviews the nominee in a public hearing and makes a recommendation about the nominee to the Maine Senate.  The Maine Senate is charged with confirming the appointment.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for Maine students to practice civic engagement while serving as both a representative of Maine students and an active education leader in our state.

For further information please visit the Maine State Board of Education web page or contact Sandra Bourget, Office Specialist, at 207-624-6616 or via email at

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Alissa Mank

Maine DOE Team Member Alissa Mank is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Alissa in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am a Nutrition Consultant for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP is a USDA food program that provides reimbursement for healthy meals and snacks served to children and adults in qualifying programs. CACFP serves At-Risk Afterschool Programs, Adult Care Centers, Child Care Centers, Family Daycare Homes, and Emergency Shelters. My role is to support institutions as they operate CACFP in their programs.

What do you like best about your job?

I love going out into the field and seeing the food program in action! Some of the best experiences are seeing little kids try new foods that they might not have the opportunity to try at home, and learning to serve themselves through family style dining. I also love visiting the Adult Care facilities and seeing the passion the staff have for serving their participants comforting and healthy meals. The genuine passion and care that goes into the food programs are phenomenal. Maine has the best Child/Adult Care Providers!!

How or why did you decide on this career?

I graduated college and could not find a position within my degree field. I took a position working in the Child Nutrition Team as an Office Associate and knew immediately I was where I was meant to be. With the encouragement of my supervisor and family I went back to school and got a Bachelors Degree in Nutrition Science! The Nutrition field is fun and always evolving, there is always something new to learn!

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

My husband and I stay busy with our girls (ages 7 and 10) and all their fun extracurricular activities. We have a garden house and love to process our own vegetables and salsa in the summer months, and I love to snowshoe in the winter with my golden doodle Maggie.