MEDIA RELEASE: Former superintendent, Fern Desjardins to serve on Maine State Board of Education

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has announced that Dr. Fern Desjardins of Aroostook County will serve on the Maine State Board of Education. Desjardins was sworn into office at the Department of the Secretary of State in Augusta on May 1, 2018. She is a life-long resident of St. Agatha, and will serve as a representative of Congressional District 2 on the State Board.

Desjardins is a former Superintendent of Schools in MSAD #33 and has spent a 43-year career in the school system. She taught graduate level courses for UMaine as an adjunct faculty member in their outreach programs in Aroostook County for almost a decade.  She holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Language Arts from UMaine, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from USM, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UMFK.

Since her retirement in June 2017, Desjardins continues to be active in education by serving as a facilitator for the regionalization efforts of five northern Penobscot County school systems, a member of the English Learners Advisory Council at the Maine DOE, and is involved in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) programs and other initiatives of the Maine DOE.

“My work in education has always been, and continues to be, my real passion in life. Being a member of the State Board of Education is truly an honor, and it is in perfect harmony with what I most enjoy doing – providing the students of all our communities with the best education that taxpayers can afford.  I am blessed to be given the opportunity to be a voice for the students and citizens of Maine by serving on the State Board.”

Desjardins has accepted appointments to work on the Construction Committee and the Maine Charter School Commission as a member of the State Board. “I believe that my educational background and varied experiences will enable me to positively contribute to discussions and decision-making processes of the State Board and the committees to which I am appointed.”

Desjardins replaces former State Board of Education member, the Honorable Nichi Farnham of Bangor.


MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine County Teachers of the Year to be announced 5/10 at 2pm

16 Maine teachers will be announced and honored as part of the Maine Department of Education’s annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. The teachers were nominated by a member of their community and chosen by a panel of teachers, principals and business community members.

Maine county teachers of the year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide. The Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Into the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

16 Maine teachers (one from each county), Department of Education Deputy Suzan Beaudoin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Ed Cervone; State Board of Education, Martha Harris; and 2018 Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young.

Hall of Flags, Maine State Capitol

Thursday, May 10, 2018 from 2:00pm – 4:00pm

For more information contact Maine DOE Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at or call 624-6747.

MEDIA RELEASE: Students to perform at 5/8 launch of “Maine Kids Rock!” initiative to expand music education in Maine

Governor Paul R. LePage will join students from 10 Maine schools for a May 8th concert as they celebrate a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in music education in Maine schools.

On May 8, 2018, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Governor Paul R. LePage are holding a kickoff concert to celebrate the official launch of, “Maine Kids Rock!”, a multi-year initiative supported by national nonprofit, Little Kids Rock. The partnership will help ensure that schools across Maine have access to high quality, culturally responsive music education as well as musical instruments and cutting edge curriculum.

The pilot phase of Maine Kids Rock started in August 2017 with support through free music instruments for 10 Maine public schools, and free professional development for over 30 Maine schools. The success of the pilot program has generated the interest of other schools, and prompted Maine DOE and Little Kids Rock to expand the program.

The concert will celebrate an initial investment of approximately $450,000 worth of instruments, training and curriculum which will expand music education in 30 Maine school districts. Funding for Maine Kids Rock is being provided by the Maine Department of Education and Little Kids Rock.

“The goals of Maine Kids Rock are quite ambitious,” says Dave Wish, CEO and Founder of Little Kids Rock. “ Our ultimate goal is to supply over $2,000,000 worth of support that will benefit up to four hundred Maine public schools. The Maine DOE and Little Kids Rock are working together to identify other partners to help us reach hundreds more schools across the state.”

WHAT: The Concert at the Capitol is a free concert that is open to the public and features student performances by Little Kids Rock bands from 10 the Maine Public Schools that have been participating in the Maine Kids Rock pilot program thus far. During the concert, Governor LePage will be presented with a student-signed guitar as a thank you for his commitment to music education.

WHO: Governor Paul R. LePage, Maine DOE staff, parents and supporters, in addition to students, teachers and administrators from the 10 Maine Kids Rock pilot schools:

  • Central Community Elementary School, RSU 64
  • Crescent Park and Woodstock Elementary Schools, RSU 44
  • East End Community School, Portland Public Schools
  • Hitchborn Middle School and Penobscot Valley High School, RSU31
  • Houlton Middle/High School, RSU 29
  • Katahdin Elementary, Middle and High Schools, RSU 50
  • Medway Middle School, Medway School Department
  • Meroby and Rumford Elementary Schools, RSU 10
  • Troy Howard Middle School, RSU 71
  • Waterville Senior High School, AOS 92

WHERE: Governor Hill Mansion, 136 State Street, Augusta, ME 04330

WHEN: Tuesday, May 8th from 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Media are encouraged to attend. Interview and photo opportunities will be available at the event. For further information, please contact Maine DOE Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at or (207) 624-6747.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE approves formation of 12 regional service centers

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr has approved the formation of 12 Regional Service Centers as part of the Department’s EMBRACE Regionalization initiative. Collectively, the 12 centers represent 84 discrete School Administrative Units (SAU) and 56 percent of Maine’s students.

“We recognize the hard work of the visionaries who have realized the positive impact that regional service centers can have on the future of Maine’s educational landscape,” said Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. “These partnerships will allow participating districts to provide much-needed programs and services for the students of the region.”

Maine DOE Regional Service Centers (RSC) are non-profit multi-service agencies formed in 2018 under 20-A M.R.S Chapter 123. The centers are established and operated for the purpose of serving its member school units’ needs and to:

  • Increase access to high-quality engaging student programming.
  • Increase SAU efficiency and effectiveness through technical assistance.
  • Provide direct, regionally shared services.
  • Implement grants received for state initiatives.

The Regional Service Center model is built to ensure maximum flexibility and creativity. The types of services reflected in the partnership agreements of the 12 RSCs address the needs of the local school communities that will be served by the regional service centers.

To see a summary of the Regional Service Center Part I and Part II applications and their approval status, view the Status of Regional Service Centers webpage. To view regionalization initiatives by location, including RSCs, and both rounds of EMBRACE grants, click on the EMBRACE Regionalization Google Interactive Map.

Over the next few months, the newly formed RSCs will work to obtain each member school unit’s school board and local approval. The RSCs that receive final approval from the Commissioner will begin serving their membership in the 2018–19 school year. The Regional Service Center application processes is ongoing. The Department anticipates an opportunity for a second round of applications in the next fiscal year.

Each SAU that is a member of a Regional Service Center will receive a Regionalization and Efficiency Assistance Allocation as part of their General Purpose Aid (GPA) from the State of Maine, and the Regional Service Center will receive direct State funding for operational costs.

For more information on regionalization opportunities, visit the Department’s EMBRACE Regionalization Information Center.

Media Release: National 2017 “State of Preschool Report” shows progress in Maine

A new national state-by-state report shows more young children enrolled in public Pre-K programs nationwide, with Maine investing more in Pre-K, serving nearly 40 percent of 4 year olds in high-quality pre-K.

The State of Preschool 2017 annual report reflects that Maine pre-K served 39 percent of the state’s 4-year-old population, above the nationwide average. Maine boosted pre-K funding by more than $1.1 million and continued to implement policies supporting both high-quality pre-K and young Dual Language Learners.

“This is the first-time Maine has met 9 out of 10 benchmarks for public preschool,” said Maine Education Commissioner, Robert G. Hasson, Jr. “The Department has dedicated the extra time and resources needed to support Maine Pre-K programs in their work toward meeting these high-quality national standards. We are committed to continuing the work so that students can benefit from access to quality Pre-K programing state-wide.”

This year’s report includes a special section on policies affecting Dual Language Learners (DLLs) and highlights changes since 2002, when National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) began tracking state pre-K. Read more about Maine’s report below.

Maine 2016–2017 fast facts:

  • Maine met 9 of 10 new quality standards benchmarks
  • Enrolled 5,440 children, a decrease of two from 2015–16
  • Total state funding = $18,775,709, an increase of $1,181,702 from 2015–16
  • State spending-per-child = $3,451, compared to $3,233 in 2015–16
  • Maine collects data on preschoolers’ home language; several policies to support preschool DLLs

Enrollment in state-funded preschool programs has more than doubled since 2002, according to the report. Nationally, 43 states, D.C. and Guam now provide publicly funded preschool to more than 1.5 million children.

For more information about the State of Preschool report and detailed state-by-state profiles on quality access, and funding, please visit