MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Seeks Students to Serve on First-ever Student Cabinet

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today announced that it is launching its first-ever student cabinet, a group of students that will meet quarterly with Commissioner Pender Makin to discuss educational opportunities, improvements, and policy. The purpose of the Student Cabinet is to provide a forum for Maine students’ voices to be heard.

Cabinet meetings will 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.

Students grades 4 – 12 and first year of college are invited to submit an application to be a member of the Student Cabinet. Members selected will serve for a term of 12 months starting on November 1, 2019.

Cabinet meetings will be held throughout the school year. Most meetings are expected to be held as video conferences which will require cabinet members to have access to a computer or device with an internet connection. There will be at least one in-person meeting, for which the Maine DOE will reimburse travel costs.

Student Cabinet members will be selected based on representation of Maine’s geography, with a goal of two students from each county in Maine, based on the pool of applications submitted, and inclusive of the diverse cultural and economic backgrounds of students throughout Maine.

Selected students will be expected to attend scheduled meetings, prepare for each meeting as needed, work in a collaborative manner with each other and with Department staff as needed; and express views and opinions openly, constructively, and respectfully.

By becoming a member on the Maine DOE Student Cabinet, students will benefit by:

  • Having a direct role in improving education for students in Maine;
  • Gain important leadership, public speaking, decision making, and team building skills;
  • Develop a network of support and mentors through exposure to leaders across the state, and;
  • Have a great addition to their resume and applications for secondary opportunities.

Instructions for applying:
Students interested in serving on the Maine DOE Student Cabinet will need to submit the electronic application, with consent from a parent or guardian, by Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 5 pmApplications can be submitted electronically here.

For more information contact Kelli Deveaux (207) 624-6747 or

Media Release: State Finalists Announced for 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year

Three Maine teachers have been announced as State finalists for the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year. The finalists were chosen from the 2019 Maine County Teachers of the Year honored earlier this year at the Hall of Flags.

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.

State Finalists:

Heather WhitakerHeather Whitaker

Heather Whitaker is the alternative education teacher at Gorham Middle School and earlier this year she was named 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year.

Passionate about combining learning opportunities with the needs of the community, she started her school’s garden, which donates over 800 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She also was a founding member of the Gorham BackPack Program, which provides students in her community, experiencing chronic hunger, with food over the weekend. Her alternative education students are active volunteers for both programs.

Whitaker is an advocate for and experienced in using restorative practices and experiential learning. She believes in the power of relationships and that learning should be meaningful to students. Whenever possible, Whitaker takes students out of the classroom on educational field trips and gets them involved in community volunteering.

Whitaker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Boston College and a Master of Science in Literacy from University of Southern Maine and has been teaching for 18 years.

Rob TaylorRob Taylor

Rob Taylor started teaching in 1989.  He has spent his entire 30 year career in Maine Regional School Unit 73, teaching secondary math and science, Advanced Placement Environmental Science and also served as district Gifted and Talented Coordinator. He recently transferred to a middle school science position at Spruce Mountain Middle School in Jay and earlier this year was named the 2019 Franklin County Teacher of the Year.  He is an educational leader, working to implement standards via the district curriculum committee and address Maine’s teacher shortfall through participation in the Maine Math and Science Teaching Excellence Collaborative.

Taylor believes that students need to “get outside and connect to nature’. His Envirothon teams have won nine Maine Envirothon championships and were 1st in Aquatics and 6th overall at the 2018 International Envirothon.  His current school projects include greenhouse and aquaculture systems that provide produce for local pantries, participation in an American Chestnut Foundation restoration project, a drinking water monitoring program, and school renewable energy solar panel and wind turbine projects.

Taylor received a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Secondary Education from the University of Maine at Farmington and a Master of Education degree from the University of Maine.

Tom GrayTom Gray

2019 Knox County Teacher of the Year, Tom teaches Social Studies, English, and Gifted and Talented at Camden Hills Regional High School (Five Town CSD).  He has been teaching for 21 years.

As the coordinator of the school’s Intercultural Program, he has developed direct connections with educators in partner schools around the world, from China, to France, to Morocco. These school-to-school partnerships offer opportunities for students to interact and collaborate with peers in other cultures to investigate real-world problems. By leveraging technology to transcend physical limitations he prepares his students to thrive as global citizens. Gray believes in the “transformational power of adventure” for students as a way to build into education an opportunity for kids to cope with the unknown so they can discover their own agency.

In the 2019-2020 school year, Tom will pioneer a new, district-wide initiative in Innovation Engineering, in partnership with the University of Maine.

Tom is a National Board Certified Teacher.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Delaware; Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Arts in History from the University of Maine; Graduate Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education at the University of Maine at Farmington; and is currently enrolled in the St. Joseph’s College Master of Science in Educational Leadership program.

One of these three teachers will be named the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine. The announcement will be in October after a school site visit and final interview.

Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered by Educate Maine. For more information, visit

Media Release: Maine DOE Releases Thank You Video to Educators with the Help of Special Friends

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) released a Back to School Thank You video just in time for the many teacher in-service days that are taking place all over the state this week, prior to Maine schools welcoming students back into the classroom for the 2019-2020 school year.

View the video: Video can be viewed here or at, where you can also find an MP4 available for download, in addition to a closed-captioned version of the video.

The video opens with a message from Maine DOE Commissioner Pender Makin, accompanied by a slide show of images taken in Maine schools all over the state.  Commissioner Makin’s message is followed by a montage of thank you messages from Maine students, Maine’s congressional delegation including Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and Congressman Jared Golden, along with Governor Janet Mills, comedian Tim Sample, author Stephen King, Red Claws Mascot Crusher, Olympian Joan Benoit-Samuelson and Maine DOE staff, all saying thank you to all the dedicated professionals who work in, and on behalf of, Maine schools. We hope all of Maine will take a moment to thank our school employees, and remind them how valued and appreciated they are, as they embark on yet another year of positively impacting the lives of Maine students.

For more information, please contact Maine DOE Director of Communications Kelli Deveaux at (207) 624-6747 or at


MEDIA ADVISORY: Open House of NEW Maine Department of Education Culinary Classroom

What: Open House and Introduction to NEW Child Nutrition Culinary Classroom
When: Sept 10, 2019 1pm – 4pm
Where: 90 Blossom Lane, 1st floor Deering Building

We are excited to announce and to show off the Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition Team’s first culinary classroom for the School Lunch and Breakfast program, and invite members of the child nutrition/school communities and media outlets to an open house of our new kitchen.  The classroom replicates the kitchens found in our schools, with commercial ovens,  cook tops and other commercial equipment used in school meal preparation.  The modern classroom will have the ability to stream, record and host live audiences for demonstrations, and the Child Nutrition program will use resident chefs to provide additional training to local food service staff.  The kitchen will be able to rotate 30 cooks at time, with both hands-on experience and paperwork management.  Some examples of upcoming classes are: knife skills and maintenance, preparing summer squash, measuring techniques, using USDA foods effectively, and vegan options.  The kitchen will be the host of the annual school cook off contest as well. We are excited by the possibilities and grateful for the amazing space in which we can support our school nutrition programs as they provide healthy meals to Maine’s students.

More information, please contact Walter Beesley at

MEDIA ADVISORY: Education Leaders Convening at UMF for 2nd Annual Teach to Lead Conference


The 2nd annual Powered by Maine Teach to Lead® conference is taking place as a chance for educators and school administrators to network with other leaders throughout the state and to provide participants with the unique opportunity to collaborate with fellow teachers and school administrators on an action plan to accomplish common goals and solve identified issues for the coming school year.

Teach to Lead® is a collaborative statewide effort that unites educators, policy-makers, and the greater community around the common vision that every Maine student will benefit from the purposeful involvement of teacher leaders who collaborate in guiding the continuous improvement of schools and the teaching profession.

Teacher leadership systems can also help state, district, and school leaders capitalize on the talents and insights of teachers currently working in local schools. Over time, infusing teacher leadership roles and opportunities throughout educational systems may help to develop, recruit, and retain a greater and even more effective educator workforce.


Teacher leaders, principals, superintendents, and other school administrators from around the state, educators from Maine’s Teacher of the Year program, and representatives from Maine Principals Association (MPA), Maine Education Association (MEA), University of Maine at Farmington, and the Maine Department of Education, including Deputy Commissioner Daniel Chuhta.


Friday, August 16th
8:30am to 3:30pm – Remarks from Maine DOE Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta will take place just before the lunch break.


University of Maine at Farmington, North Dining Hall

For more information contact Kelli Deveaux, Maine DOE Director of Communications at or (207) 624-6747.