Gorham/Westbrook CTE Adult Ed Collaboration Brings New Opportunities to the Community

Pictured L to R: Adult Ed/CTE Coordinator Jeremy Kendall, WRVC Director Todd Fields, Assistant Superintendent Jodi Mezzanotte, Adult Ed Director Shelli Pride, and Administrative Assistant Elsbeth Bennett.

Westbrook School Department had a collective dream to one day have a robust Adult Education Program that not only helped New Mainers integrate into the community but also met the needs of adult learners in their community and the state as a whole. Three years ago, Gorham and Westbrook Adult Education programs applied for the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services (FEDES) grant opportunity, one of three grant opportunities offered by the Maine DOE between 2017 and 2018 to provide districts with initial funding for local and regional initiatives to improve educational opportunities. In January 2018, Westbrook and their partner Gorham School District was awarded a grant to support the creation of the Gorham/Westbrook Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program, a regional adult education program that provides adult learners access to career and technical education that will prepare them for high-skill, high-demand occupations with defined pathways for advancement.

Jeremy Kendall Adult Education CTE Coordinator
Jeremy Kendall Adult Education CTE Coordinator

Building on the strong foundation of their neighbors in Gorham, Westbrook began creating career driven educational programs for adult learners. In addition to adding Jeremy Kendall to their team, as the Adult Education CTE Coordinator, they began expanding the Adult/CTE programs starting with the difficult task of building a Commercial Driving License (CDL) course, an area where the nation, including Maine, has seen a sharp shortage of workers in a very high demand occupation.

WRVC Director Todd Fields and Jeremy Kendall standing next to one of their CDL Driving Trucks.

Finding that there were only two driving instructors in the entire state of Maine, Jeremy was lucky enough to convince one of them, Buddy Spaulding who runs a driving school in Albion Maine, to come to Westbrook and teach a course that later successfully graduated 8 students. With Westbrook’s CDL course under their belt, these 8 students are suited to take a State exam and become instructors themselves. One year later the CDL program has shown enormous success and Jeremy was happy to share that they are in the process of hiring 3 additional instructors, expanding the program to even more learners.

Students sitting in a classroom with instructor writing on white board
CDL Driving course in session.

In addition to CDL, the CTE/Adult Ed program also offers a robust Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program and are gearing up for an expansion that will offer an automotive program, CompTIA (Information Technology skills), in addition to electrician training, building trade carpentry, and Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications.

Building on the foundation that seeks to bring new opportunities to all learners, Westbrook also integrates a language acquisition component of the CTE/Adult Ed program that focuses on New Mainers who are in the process of learning English and culture in their new home here in Maine. In conjunction with their growing trades programs, they are also building out their capacity to offer these same services, with an added language skills component, to New Mainers by working closely with partner agencies to help get them work-ready.

 A WRVC CNA student demonstrates a typical bedside routine, going through the steps of making a mock patient comfortable.

To distinguish themselves as a full-service program, they also go the extra mile to ensure the success of each and every learner that walks through the doors of the Westbrook Regional Vocational Center/Adult Education Program. “If they need their HiSET/high school diploma, academic or workready skills, we will help them. We will assist them with their job-hunting pursuits as well.” said Westbrook Adult Education Director Shelli Pride. “We put them in trade programs and we help them find jobs,” added Shelli.

In order to track their success, Westbrook aims to maintain relationships with their students by keeping up with their progress both in education and their professional careers. They also work with an advisory board, which is made up of local businesses that help to develop the programs and make sure they are on track to make a positive difference in the community and the State.

At a recent convening of local businesses at the WRVC, a local driving company approached Jeremy. “We are looking for drivers, do you have anyone in mind?” A question to which he was delighted to respond, “Yes, we are running a CDL-B course right now and there is a really great kid on the driving range, do you want to meet him?” The company was able to do an on-the-spot interview and they offered him a job right then and there. The student was not only a high school graduate of the WRVC program but was also enrolled in the Adult Ed CDL course at the time.

The CTE/Adult Education program recently celebrated the graduation of all 13 CNA students who sat for their state exams, which was a 100% pass rate for our CNA program.

The CTE/Adult Education program was a recent recipient of a very generous donation from the Associated General Contractors of Maine. This money will be used to support a scholarship fund for future CTE/Adult Education students.

It is outcomes like these that help solidify the need for the recently developed collaboration, and the projected success it will bring to the community.

Grateful to have the collaboration of their partners in Gorham who have a readymade adult education program that Westbrook was able to ride the coat tails of, they now have a long-term goal of offering each career-focused program to all high school students and adult learners in the region. They hope to help fill Maine’s high demand occupations by continuing to expand the opportunities they offer. Down the road, they will be looking into starting programs in both business and diesel mechanics and from there, the possibilities are endless.

This article was written by Maine DOE Staff Rachel Paling in collaboration with school leaders at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center and Westbrook Adult Education program as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. For more information or to submit an idea or a write-up, email Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Awards Third Round of EMBRACE Grants for Regional Efforts

Augusta – The Maine Department of Education today announced that four new EMBRACE grants have been conditionally awarded to school districts and other education agencies. Made available as part of the statewide regionalization initiative, the round-three EMBRACE grants prioritize Enabling Maine students to Benefit from Regional and Coordinated approaches to Education. The awardees are partnering on a regional level to improve educational opportunities for students.

A total of 17 applications were received by the Department for the second competitive grant opportunity funded through the Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services (FEDES), which was made available to districts last summer. Of those 17 applications, four have been conditionally awarded. Based on the funding requests, totaling $4.2 million, the four awardees have projected savings of over $7 million in a 5-year period.

The first two rounds of EMBRACE grant funding in 2017 and the spring of 2018, had 19 grantees being awarded over $7.5 million in funds for regionalization efforts.

Round three EMBRACE (FEDES) grant project descriptions:

Down East Maine Career and Technical Education (CTE) Collaborative

This project will support the expansion of career and technical education programming opportunities to western Washington County. The project aims to increase student enrollment in CTE programs at the high school level and provide introductory and exploratory sessions for middle school students.


  • Lead SAU – RSU 37/MSAD 37 (Addison, Columbia, Columbia Falls, Harrington, Milbridge)
  • Cherryfield Public Schools
  • Machias Public Schools
  • Moosabec CSD #17/School Union 103 (Beals Public Schools, Jonesport Public Schools)
  • Washington Academy

Kennebec Valley Multiple Pathways Academy II

This project will support a high school alternative education program that aims to reduce dropout and truancy rates by providing new and improved opportunities for at-risk students with multiple pathways for achievement.


  • Lead SAU – RSU 83/MSAD 13 (Bingham, Moscow)
  • RSU 59/MSAD 59 (Madison)
  • RSU 74/MSAD 74 (Anson, Embden, New Portland, Solon)

Maine Center for Leadership and Innovation (MCLI)

This project will support the creation of a Leadership Academy that aims to provide a high-quality, research-based system of professional learning experiences and support for school- and district-level leaders.


  • Lead SAU – RSU 6/MSAD 6 (Buxton, Frye Island, Hollis, Limington, Standish)
  • Brunswick Public Schools
  • Cape Elizabeth Public Schools
  • Gorham Public Schools
  • Portland Public Schools
  • RSU 14 (Raymond, Windham)
  • RSU 15/MSAD 15 (Gray, New Gloucester)
  • Scarborough Public Schools
  • South Portland Public Schools
  • Westbrook Public Schools

Valley Unified Learning Transformed

This project will support three components for the Valley Unified Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility: the merger of software systems that feed into the common student information and payroll/accounting systems; a comprehensive enrollment study, educational visioning, concept approval, and site approval; and develop programming options that link regional workforce needs to the regional education goals.


  • Lead SAU – Madawaska Public Schools
  • MSAD 27 (Ft. Kent, New Canada, Saint Francis, Saint John Plantation, Wallagrass)
  • RSU 33/MSAD 33 (Frenchville, Saint Agatha)

Maine DOE Hosts Meeting of Regional Service Center Executive Directors

The Maine Department of Education recently hosted the 9 regional service center (RSC) executive directors in the inaugural meeting of RSC statewide leadership. Representatives from each RSC participated in the meeting led by the Maine Department of Education’s EMBRACE team.

The meeting provided opportunities for:

  • Discussing a framework for continued state-level support for RSCs
  • Creating a professional cohort of RSC Executive Directors
  • Questions and answers from Maine DOE staff and each other
  • Gaining a statewide perspective on RSC implementation, organizational development, activities, and services

Maine DOE outlined the data points the regional service center will report in the first year of operation, in addition to the following:

  • Define the RSC goals
  • Define how the RSC will measure year 1 success
  • Provide financial reports
  • Detail specific elements of state-level support needed

Regional Service Center executive directors shared their RSC’s activities. It was noted that RSCs are in varying stages of development; some are further along because the regional collaboration is a continuation of efforts already in place.

Ben Sirois, Superintendent of MSAD 27 & Executive Director of Valley Unified RSC updates other RSC Executive Directors

Some highlights include:

  • In 2015-16 Valley Unified’s RSC (prior to becoming an RSC) began working on their comprehensive regional strategic plan, which allowed them to be well-positioned to apply for Maine DOE’s EMBRACE I and II grant funding opportunities. Most recently the RSC was approved for an integrated, consolidated 9-16 facilities project.
  • In southern Maine, the Greater Sebago Education Alliance RSC is developing, among their many services, resources for a leadership academy in partnership with the University of Southern Maine, and developing resources for English Learners diversity training and intake procedures.

For more information on statewide regionalization initiatives visit the EMBRACE Regionalized Programs and Services webpages or contact the EMBRACE team Regionalization Specialists Jennifer Pooler at jennifer.g.pooler@maine.gov or Deb Lajoie at deborah.j.lajoie@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed Revisions to Rule Chapter 122 (Grant Application and Award Procedure: Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services); Public Hearing on November 14, 2018

This notice is one of four priority notices being sent to district and school administrators on 10/24/18 regarding proposed major substantive rules that have been filed with the secretary of the State of Maine on this day (Rule Chapters: 101, 115, 122 and 132). Please share this notice with all interested parties.

The Maine Department of Education is seeking public comment regarding proposed revisions to Rule Chapter 122, Grant Application and Award Procedure: Fund for the Efficient Delivery of Educational Services.

The proposed revisions will:

  • Provide clarification by connecting language in rule to Title 20-A M.R.S. §2651
  • Correct statutory citations throughout
  • Provide clarification on project design, objectives, and sustainability
  • Revise programmatic criteria for evaluating grant applications
  • Add budget criteria for evaluating grant applications
  • Include clarification regarding consensus scoring
  • Refine the method of scoring proposals
  • Provide clarification regarding the eligibility for subsequent grants
  • Rename the Division of Purchases the Division of Procurement Services

Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapter 122 on the Maine DOE Proposed Rule & Rule Changes webpage (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Public Hearing Information for Rule Chapter 122:
November 14, 2018 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, room 501.
People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in and, preferably, provide two written copies of their comments. Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments.

Comment Period Deadline: 5 pm on November 26th, 2018.

Comments can be submitted to jennifer.g.pooler@maine.gov and deborah.j.lajoie@maine.gov with the subject “Chapter 122 – Comments” or mailed to Maine Department of Education, Attn: Jennifer Pooler/Deb Lajoie, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

For more information on proposed changes to Rule 122, contact Regionalization Project Manager Jennifer Pooler at Jennifer.g.pooler@maine.gov or Regionalization Coordinator Deb Lajoie at Deborah.j.lajoie@maine.gov.

Regional Contacts for Regionalization Grants and RSCs

The Maine Department of Education is focused on improving educational services, increasing student achievement, and creating efficiencies through creative regional partnerships.

As we work together with local districts to help facilitate regional efforts, the Maine DOE frame these efforts under an overarching program called EMBRACE: Enabling Maine students to benefit from regional and coordinated approaches to education.

In our effort to provide the highest level of service to Maine schools and to help focus conversations, visions, and goals that improve education for all Maine students, two members of our staff will specialize in specific superintendent regions for regional service center, EEOG and FEDES grants.

Jennifer Pooler, the Department’s Regionalization Project Manager, will focus on the following superintendent’s regions:
  • Cumberland
  • Kennebec
  • Mid-Coast
  • Penquis
  • Washington
Jennifer can be reached at Jennifer.g.pooler@maine.gov or 624-6783.

Deb Lajoie, the Department’s Regionalization Coordinator, will focus on the following superintendent’s regions:
  • Aroostook
  • Hancock
  • Western Maine
  • York
Deb can be reached at Deborah.j.lajoie@maine.gov or 624-6613.