MEDIA RELEASE: 2019 Report on Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning in Maine Released

Augusta – Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance and Maine Environmental Education Association announced the release of the Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning (CBEL) in Maine 2019 report on Monday, January 13, 2020 at a press conference at the Maine State House.

This exciting, first-of-its-kind report documents the creative and innovative programming that is occurring across our state, both in-school and out-of-school, to connect youth to their environment and communities.


The event featured remarks from Maine DOE Commissioner Pender Makin, Executive Director of Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance Ruth Kermish-Allen, and Executive Director of Maine Environmental Education Association Olivia Griset.

The report also sheds light on how this programming can be supported and sustained across the State of Maine, providing a pathway for advancement for the whole field. Full of stellar examples and stories, like a middle school study of invasive green crabs, a school composting program, collaborations with local land trusts, and more, this report tells the stories of educators designing innovative solutions and overcoming challenges to generate empowering learning experiences for our young people.

You can find the Report and the Case files on the Maine Environmental Education Association Website.

For more information contact the Maine Environmental Education Association.

Media Release: Ever Wonder How You Can Thank That Amazing Teacher? Nominate!

AUGUSTA – As part of the Maine Department of Education’s ongoing efforts to highlight Maine’s outstanding teachers, nominations are now open for the 2020 County Teachers of the Year and 2021 Teacher of the Year. Members of the public are encouraged to nominate educators who demonstrate a commitment to excellence and nurturing the achievement of all students.

Nominations can be made through the Maine Teacher of the Year Website starting today, January 3, 2020 and will be open through 5:00 pm on Feb. 3, 2020.

To be considered for the County and Maine Teacher of the Year award, a person must:

  • Hold the appropriate professional certification for their position
  • Be employed by a Maine public school
  • Be actively teaching students at least 50% of full-time at the time of nomination and during the year of recognition
  • Have been teaching for a minimum of five years – three of which are in Maine
  • Remain teaching in the County for which they are selected during year of recognition

The 2020 County Teachers of the Year serve as advocates for teachers, students, and the efforts underway in Maine’s public schools to prepare students for success in college, career and civic life. In addition, County Teachers of the Year will serve as advisors to the Department of Education and to a regional group of students who comprise the Student Cabinet and Student Advisory. The 2020 County Teacher of the Year cohort will be recognized at an event at the Hall of Flags in Maine State Capitol and at an end of the year Teacher of the Year Gala. They will also receive on-going professional learning in addition to other state and county level leadership opportunities.

Maine’s recently named 2020 Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker, an Alternative Education teacher at Gorham Middle School was selected from over 300 entries and included recognition as the 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. In addition to Whitaker, the other 2020 state finalists include Robert Taylor, a Mathematics and Science teacher at Spruce Mountain Middle School and 2019 Franklin County Teacher of the Year, and Tom Gray a Social Studies, English, and Gifted and Talented teacher at Camden Hills Regional High School and the 2019 Knox County Teacher of the Year.

The 2021 Maine Teacher of the Year will be selected from the 16 county honorees. The field will be narrowed to eight semi-finalists, and then three state finalists before the Maine Teacher of the Year is announced by Maine’s Education Commissioner at a surprise school assembly in the fall.

On behalf of, and in partnership with Maine Department of Education, the Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization whose mission is to champion college, career readiness, and increased education attainment. Funding is provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River Co., Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine Lottery, and Unum, with support from the State Board of Education and the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association.

Through the generous support of Maine businesses, there is no cost to the local district when the Teacher of the Year is out of the classroom on their official duties, which includes travel throughout the state and nation, a week at NASA Space Camp, and a visit to the White House.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit the Maine Teacher of the Year website.



Media Contact:
Kelli Deveaux, DOE Director of Communications, (207) 592-3907

Maine Department of Education to Host Student Cabinet Meeting December 20th

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has selected 32 Maine students to serve on its new Student Cabinet. The group of students is scheduled to meet quarterly with Commissioner Pender Makin to discuss educational opportunities, improvements, and policy. The group will convene for its first meeting on Friday, December 20, 2019, having been previously postponed due to weather. The Maine DOE would like to invite the media to come to the end of the Dec. 20th meeting from 2:45 pm – 3:00 pm to talk with Commissioner Makin and members of the Student Cabinet. The meeting will be at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

  • Who: Commissioner Makin and Student Cabinet members from all 16 counties in Maine.
  • What: An opportunity to talk with students and the commissioner about the Student Cabinet.
  • When: Friday, December 20, 2019, 2:45 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Where: Senator Inn, 284 Western Ave, Augusta, ME 04330

More information: The Student Cabinet is comprised of students from all 16 counties in Maine, grades 4 through 1st year of college, from diverse educational experiences. The students were selected through a rigorous team selection process by a committee of students, Maine State Board of Education Representatives, and Maine DOE staff, including experienced Maine educators.

Student Cabinet meetings are intended to allow students from different grade levels, backgrounds, and areas of Maine to share their opinions and offer advice about Maine’s education system with Maine’s Commissioner of Education and other leaders from the Maine Department of Education. The purpose of the Student Cabinet is to provide a forum for Maine students’ voices to be heard.

The Student Cabinet will be co-chaired by Maine State Board of Education Student Representatives, Casey Maddock and Jaylee Rice, who were both instrumental in the formation of the Student Cabinet.

Media questions should be directed to Maine DOE Director of Communications Kelli Deveaux at (207) 592-3907or kelli.deveaux@maine.govlarge group of kids in a circle

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine DOE to Host Student Arts Showcase Celebration 12/10 at Maine State House

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to invite the media to attend a celebration of the Maine Arts Showcase, where the selected artwork of 42 young artists from Cape Elizabeth Middle School will be recognized. Since October, these students’ work has been on exhibit throughout the Maine DOE, where it will remain until February 2020. The Arts Showcase is a long standing tradition of the Maine DOE where artwork of students from all over the state is showcased at the Department in a series of exhibits that happen throughout the year.


  • 42 student visual artists from Cape Elizabeth Middle School
  • Visual Arts Educator – Marguerite Lawler-Roher, former Maine Teacher of the Year (2004)
  • Cape Elizabeth Middle School Principal – Troy Eastman
  • Cape Elizabeth Superintendent – Donna Wolfrom
  • Deputy Commissioner Chuhta, Maine Department of Education
  • Chairman Wilson Hess, State Board of Education
  • Members of the Maine State Legislature have also been invited.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 from 10:00 A.M.

WHERE: Hall of Flags, Maine State House, 210 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04330

For further information please contact Maine DOE Director of Communications, Kelli Deveaux at

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award


Contact: Lynne Russo, (818) 903-6079,

Transforming Students into Video Storytellers Earns Teacher Adam Parvanta a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

 Maine technology educator helps students edit their futures at Gorham High School

 SANTA MONICA, Calif., (Oct. 30, 2019) “Let’s go to the video” isn’t just something they say on the nightly news in Gorham, Maine. It’s also the go-to skill for student storytellers at Gorham High School, thanks to the pervasive and forward-looking influence of technology teacher Adam Parvanta. A tech mentor for grade 9 through 12 students as well as staff, Parvanta puts technology in student hands and teaches them how to craft stories large and small. Whether it’s augmenting class projects, highlighting student activities or helping students create visual résumé boosters to supplement their college applications, Parvanta deploys technology in ways that spur students to become creators of content rather than just passive consumers. He gives students the technology tools to edit and improve their futures and, as a result, student engagement and enthusiasm is through the roof.

Yet it was Parvanta whose future was being elevated this morning at a surprise school assembly where he was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. An excited Parvanta was named a 2019-20 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. He is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Maine this year, and is among up to 40 honorees for 2019-20.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching” has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”

Parvanta is bringing that future into sharper focus with hands-on technology expertise passed on to students. His non-traditional approach truly connects with students, and his understated passion for video editing and storytelling prompts students to spend extra time on their schoolwork as they learn skills that will translate well in an evolving future of rapidly advancing technology.

“Adam Parvanta knows that technology is an essential foundation for education just as it is throughout life,” said Foley. “By integrating tech narrative skills into the classroom, Parvanta is helping students become authors of their own life stories. We’re proud to welcome this innovative and visionary Milken Educator.”

“Mr. Parvanta exemplifies the power of individual teachers to inspire students and to transform school culture,” said Makin, who was herself named a Milken Educator in 2001. “Described by colleagues as a quiet leader, he consistently finds opportunities to apply his content and instructional practice in authentic and meaningful ways that connect and celebrate students, staff, and community. Maine Department of Education is proud to join the Gorham School Department and the Milken Family Foundation in honoring Adam Parvanta, Maine’s 2019 Milken Education Award recipient!”

“I have never met an educator more passionate about both the students he serves and his teaching craft, said Gorham District Superintendent Heather Perry. “Adam builds strong caring relationships with students and shows them how to use the broad medium of video to create and share their passions with the world.  He may always seem like he is “behind” a camera…but he is at the cutting edge of our work as educators.  I know he is proud to be a Gorham Ram…but he should know that our students, staff, parents and community are also proud to have him as part of our family!”

About Milken Educator Adam Parvanta

Adam Parvanta uses technology to turn students into storytellers. The technology integrator at Maine’s Gorham High School (GHS) and an avid videographer, Parvanta captures the essence of the school’s culture with videos celebrating events and accomplishments large and small. Working with teams of eager students behind the camera and in the editing room, Parvanta creates videos to welcome students and staff back at the beginning of the year, highlight athletes’ big wins, and entices the community to fill the auditorium for the annual musical. With his guidance, seniors create “resume” videos to submit as supplements to college applications. Parvanta reconfigured his office to include stations where students can work on their projects and loans them equipment to bring their ideas to life. Students flock to Parvanta and spend many non-class hours learning from him—not because they have to, but because he motivates them to make their work better.

Parvanta shares his visual storytelling skills in the classroom, too. He teaches two technology classes, but much of his time is spent helping GHS teachers incorporate technology into their lessons. Students and teachers now use technology to create content rather than just consume it. As an alternative to writing papers, Parvanta helps students design effective multimedia slide presentations and infographics. He is known as a quiet leader who has already had a profound impact on education in Gorham. Because of Parvanta, students are fulfilling one of the district’s core missions: becoming clear, effective communicators.

Parvanta has a magical capacity to connect with students and colleagues and inspire the community through his videos. When he taught math at Gorham Middle School, students made documentary and horror films for the film festival he oversaw, and a playful “Got Buckets” basketball-themed student video went viral, with almost 100,000 views on YouTube. Parvanta produced a moving video about Gorham’s unified basketball program, in which GHS students play and compete with special needs students, and helped Gorham secure an Adopt-A-Classroom grant from the Maine Educational Loan Marketing Corporation to connect high school and elementary students. For a video celebrating school district staff, Parvanta sought out and featured a 98-year-old retired educator. Clearly, Parvanta is that rare educator who celebrates and elevates the past even as he moves confidently into the future.

Parvanta earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 2003 from the University of Maine.

More information about Parvanta, plus links to photos and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2019-20 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, 2020 where they will network with their new colleagues and exchange ideas with state and federal leaders on the future of education. In addition, the Milken Educator Awards’ “Why Not Us” program will pair each 2019-20 recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor to explore and prepare for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy.

More than $140 million in funding, including $70 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.

The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Everyone is encouraged to watch the tour at,, and

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

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