Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet April Perkins

Maine DOE Team member April Perkins is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about April in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I serve as the World Languages & English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)/Bilingual Programs Specialist. I’ve been with the Maine DOE for about four and a half years. The first three years I supported ESOL educators, and then last January I took on the dual role of World Languages and ESOL. I love both aspects of my job so much!

What do you like best about your job?

Everything! I really love advocating for language teachers and learners at the state level, as I work on various committees and collaborate with teams across the Department. But the best part of any day is talking directly with language teachers, answering their questions, sharing resources, and being a thought-partner. It is so energizing to talk with teachers who share the passion I feel for linguistic and cultural diversity, equity, inclusion. Right now, my favorite project I’m working on is planning supports and resources for the development of bilingual programs in Maine. Bilingual education is such an incredible opportunity for all students, and I’m really eager to plant seeds that may blossom into full programs, and spread widely, in the future.

How or why did you decide on this career?

When I was in 4th Grade at Holden Elementary School, my class made a yearbook. There was a feature where students predicted each other’s future career, and it said I would be an English teacher! I think that’s because I was correcting people’s grammar, which I don’t recommend as a strategy for making friends… But seriously, I loved language from a very young age. Then, I had the great fortune to attend Longfellow Elementary in Portland for 5th Grade, where they had a French program. That was a real turning point for me, and I never stopped studying languages after that. I went on to get my Bachelor’s in French and German from UMaine and then my Master’s in TESOL from the University of Central Florida. For about ten years, I taught ESOL and trained teachers in Florida, India, Libya, Maine, Morocco, and then Egypt, where I learned Arabic. When I returned to my home state of Maine to put down some roots, I jumped at the chance to continue my career in language education in service of Maine school communities. The perspectives I have gained by living abroad and learning multiple languages have proven invaluable to me in this role. Being at the Department is a privilege and an honor, and I feel so lucky get to do this work every day.

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

I love to go hiking and camping every chance I get. I’m also a mediocre but enthusiastic singer, and I’ve been known to show up at an open mic now and then.

 

Get to know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Mary Herman

Maine DOE staff member Mary Herman is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team. Learn a little more about Mary in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I serve as Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Commissioner.  Some of these projects include staffing the Prevention Task Force of the Office of Opioid Response, working with Commissioner Makin on the Wabanaki History and Culture work group, revision and support of Children’s Cabinet legislation and serving on the DOE staff support team for the Children’s Cabinet,  working with Maine DOE Student Cabinet, supporting our Office of Innovation projects such as ConnectKidsNow!, and the $19.5 million U.S. DOE Grant culminating in Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures (RREV), COVID-response, expanding school-based health centers, supporting our pre-K—12 career exploration/career readiness and much more!

What do you like best about your job?

What I love about my job is the variety and the opportunity to work not only with the fabulous Commissioners Office Team but others throughout the Department as I get to know everyone better.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I began my work life as a middle school social studies teacher, became a special Ed/learning disabilities specialist, moved to Maine in 1973, worked in healthcare, attending nursing school at the University of Maine At Augusta. After working in healthcare and then public policy, I’m thrilled to have come full circle now at this stage of my life into the important world of education.

Get to know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Rob Susi

Maine DOE Team member Rob Susi is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Rob in this brief question and answer.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the School Safety and Security Coordinator for the Maine School Safety Center, a division within the Department of Education.  I am responsible for supervising the Maine School Safety Center under Director Jonathan Shapiro.  I am also responsible for the Grants to States for School Emergency Management Grant Program, and the School Resource Officer Liaison.  I am the primary contact for the Department for safety and security issues, site assessments, and critical response planning.  We are also entering into a new and exciting opportunity for online advancement and professional development of school safety and security with our partners at the Maine Community College System.

What do you like best about your job?

I love working with our team (Melissa Condon, Staci Warren, Cristina Stade and Dr. Karen Barnes are incredible!!!), our Office and School and Student Support team, and being a small part of the overall vision for the Maine DOE.  I get to work with our Federal, State, County, and Local partners including the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Maine Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Corrections, United States Secret Service, United States Attorney General’s Office, Department of Homeland Security, the Maine School Resource Officer’s Association, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine to name a few.  But mostly I love working with the local schools, helping with their emergency planning and overall safety so that each student in Maine is in the safest environment possible.  Working with local partners to keep our local schools as safe as possible, providing free assistance, so that students can be safe.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I am a retired police officer who had the best job, I got to be an School Resource Officer (SRO) in a preK-12 setting.  Those kids made such an impact on my life!  I love working with kids and I see this job as an opportunity to impact way more than just my local school, and to be a resource to those schools who need it.  Director Jonathan Shapiro has a focused and excellent plan for the future of the Maine School Safety Center and I am very excited to see the great work we have already done, and what is to come!

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

I look forward to time with my family.  I love worshipping and serving my God.  I love coaching and miss it very much.  I also enjoy golf, my pool, outside games, board games, card games, and video games.

Get to Know the Maine DOE: Meet Jon Monroe

Maine DOE team member Jon Monroe is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team. Learn a little more about Jon in this brief question and answer.

What are your roles with DOE?

I’ve been working for several years now as the management analyst for the Maine Department of Education’s Office of School and Student Support (OSSS). What I like about the work is that its scope reflects the broad scope of the work of the OSSS coordinators, and so I usually have some fresh challenges to look forward to. It would also be hard to find a better group of people to work with. OSSS is a collegial, affable, and focused group.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I came to the Maine DOE following a career as a management consultant, working mostly on organizational change and strategy from a marketing angle. But my lifelong interests have been education, history, and democracy/elections. Working with Maine DOE allows me to contribute in a small way as an analyst/problem-solver and to feel like I’m partially repaying a debt to the people I admired as I was making my own way through the educational system.

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

Outside of work I try to stay active with hiking, swimming, and basketball (currently on pandemic hiatus with the latter). I usually have some kind of building project going (often related to my wife’s mushroom business) as well as some kind of historical/research interest to pursue. Lately, my son and I have been learning to assemble computers and fix old electronics components. On weekends we’re all usually in Blue Hill visiting with my parents.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Valerie Seaman

Maine DOE team member Valerie Seaman is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Valerie in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am an Office Associate II with the Office of Higher Education and Educator Support Services team.  I handle postsecondary closed school transcript requests and initial and renewal licensure applications for proprietary schools.

What do you like best about your job?

The people I work with in my group.  They are awesome!  They make me want to do the very best at my job.

How or why did you decide on this career?

After almost seven years working at the BMV registering vehicles, issuing driving licenses, etc., I was ready for something new and different.  The DOE seemed like the perfect fit since I still have the public interaction piece which I really do enjoy.

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

Anything that involves the outdoors!