Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Donna Tiner

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

What are your roles with DOE?

My role on the Career and Technical Education (CTE) team is to oversee the CTE Perkins federal funds and the CTE team general fund budget.  Through my work as the Perkins Grant Manger I also provide monthly updates and quarterly fiscal reports to the CTE Committee of the State Board of Education,

What do you like best about your job?

I like working with the CTE school directors and their staff to find the most effective ways to use their limited Perkins grant awards to improve CTE opportunities for Maine students.  It is a great feeling to be out in the field and have CTE directors thank me for the work I do.

How or why did you decide on this career? 

As many have said, I didn’t choose the career, the career chose me.  As a high school graduate I was determined that my career would focus on working with animals and would not require me to work in an office environment.  After almost 24 years of office work, 20 of which has been as a Perkins Grant Manager (12 years for the Maine Community College and 8 years for Maine DOE), I hope to soon figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

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

Whether it is kayaking on a local pond or lake, biking on the rail trail, or vacationing in Bermuda (my FAVORITE vacation destination), I am spending time with my husband and two sons.  We also have a black lab named Watson who is my constant companion.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Shari Templeton

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

What are your roles with DOE?

For the past 8 years I served in the capacity of Science Specialist which kept me in the thick of standards work, science assessment development, providing science professional learning and oversight of several recognition programs for science teachers, students and school initiatives. With the DOE’s recent re-organization to support interdisciplinary learning and a whole student vision, I have transitioned to the role of Interdisciplinary Instruction Specialist and work with a small team to build out resources to support educators in this work.

What do you like best about your job?

Working with teachers and collaborating with state leaders from across the nation.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I started in outdoor education before filling a long-term sub position at a high school in Connecticut. I stayed on at that school while taking courses to complete teacher certification. In 1986 I moved to Maine and continued teaching high school physics, biology and forensic science in the Mid-coast. I loved working with adolescents, igniting or re-igniting that spark in them, sharing my passion for science education while helping them discover their passions. After 31 years in the classroom, I accepted the Science Specialist position at the DOE in hopes of making a greater impact on science education for Maine students in the twilight of my career.

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

While the days of hiking and packing with my llamas are over, I still enjoy hanging with my last five geriatric llamas. In addition to my camelids, I tend a flock of 30 chickens, work an apiary with 30 bee hives, cuddle with my 5 cats and am sole caretaker for my 96 year old mother. When time allows, I enjoy sea kayaking, golfing, building projects and a good nap.

Get to Know the Maine DOE: Meet Amy Poland

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

What are your roles with DOE?

As the Professional Development Coordinator for the Adult Education Team, I coordinate professional learning opportunities and technical assistance for Maine’s passionate and dedicated adult educators. I also support programs with their distance education programming, and oversee the Maine College and Career Access grant which provides local programs with funding to support adult learners reach their college and career goals.

What do you like best about your job?

First and foremost, I am fortunate to be part of an amazing and supportive team! I am passionate about teaching and learning, and I love the creativity that comes with coordinating professional learning. Working with the field to make sure we’re meeting their needs and supporting experts from the field to develop and facilitate professional learning is extremely rewarding.

How or why did you decide on this career?

When I worked at the Pejepscot Historical Society, my favorite time of year was when 500+ school kids visited the museums; I knew that I needed to be a teacher. Fast forward a bunch of years and experiences teaching kindergarten (ask me about the float/sink lesson) to graduate learners, and I ended up in adult education which is where I truly belong. It’s humbling to work with learners who are changing the trajectories of their lives (and their families’) through education. And now, I get to work with amazing educators across the state to support their efforts.

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

Amy PolandWhen I am not working, I am outside with my family– riding bikes, skiing, working in the garden, enjoying time on/in our boat/kayaks/paddle boards, or reading in the hammock.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Marcus Mrowka

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

What are your roles with DOE?

I’m the Director of Communications. The communications team develops and executes communications strategies to promote the goals and work of the Department and lift up the great things happening in Maine schools; collects, manages, and analyzes education data and supports the field on data issues; leads our technology efforts; manages constituent relations; and supports internal communications.

What do you like best about your job?

So many people have no idea what happens in schools or think education has remained the exact same as it was when they were students. I really love being able to promote the great things happening in our schools to the press and public so that people are able to have an inside look at all the ways schools and educators support students and the amazing, innovative things happening in classrooms across the state. That’s such a central way to strengthen the bond people have with their local schools. The best part of my job is anytime I’m able to visit a school to experience these amazing things firsthand.

How or why did you decide on this career?

Public school made me who I am. Growing up, school was my only safe and stable place and full of adults I could trust and who believed in me. I do this work to make sure every kid has those same opportunities and supports, and every educator and school can provide the safe, nurturing environment for students to learn in and thrive.

I sent my first media advisory and press release in 10th grade (and yes, got media coverage for the event), so I guess being Communications Director has always been a natural fit.

two black labsWhat do you like to do outside of work for fun?

After two decades of city life, I try to be outside now as much as possible enjoying all that Maine has to offer. I enjoy hiking and exploring Maine with my two dogs, Abigail and Lady Bird. Living in the Midcoast, I love spending lots of time on, in, or near the ocean. You can find me at Fenway pretty regularly during baseball season, I like hunting for vintage furniture finds, my favorite travel spot is Mexico City, and I have two classic Fords from the 60s that I that I love taking out for long Sunday drives.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Julie Smyth

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

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Director of the Office of School and Student Supports.  This office oversees three teams – the Climate, Culture, Resilience Team; the Coordinated School Health Team; and the School Approval/Enrollment Team.  We refer to ourselves as the O-Triple-S (or O3S).  ​

What do you like best about your job?

I work with amazing professionals and feel so supported across the department.  I love to introduce ideas and to brainstorm, and my ideas and energy have been met with enthusiasm and appreciation.  It’s a wonderful feeling to work with others who love Maine and the field of education as much as I do.  I am so proud of our educators and school personnel in the field, and anything I can do to provide them support and to show my appreciation for all that they do is an incredible feeling.  It drives me daily and fills me with immense purpose.​

Julie Smyth Cross Cafe
I’m a huge fan of the Spicy Dill Pickle Chips in the Cross Cafe (shout out to Matt and Matt), so my first day at the Maine DOE in November 2021 would not have been complete without a selfie for my former co-host at Maine Ed. Matters podcast.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I like to think that education chose me.  My family had limited college experience, and I walked on the Bates campus in 1989 thinking I’d study pre-law.  I gravitated toward English courses, and in the spring of my first year, an opening was available for a class titled Introduction to Teaching.  The rest is history! I knew immediately that I belonged on this track, and I have never regretted my decision.  I taught high school English in Windham for thirteen years and then moved into the administrative route, where I spent time in the Old Orchard Beach and Saco systems.  Although I miss the daily interactions with staff and students, I LOVE working for the Maine Department of Education and could not be more proud of the work of the O3S!

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

I surround myself with amazing family and friends! My husband Curt and I enjoy spending time on the beaches in Biddeford and cheering on our two teenagers from the sidelines as they participate in soccer, basketball, track and baseball.  Our two Biddeford Tigers fill us with a lot of pride! We also have quite a fierce tennis rivalry going – mom and son vs. dad and daughter!  The more active we are the better!