Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Jen Robitaille

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

What are your roles with DOE? 

I am the Elementary Mathematics Specialist and Cumberland County Regional Rep and I am part of the Early Learning Team.  I work to design and deliver professional learning to the field in the area of mathematics as well as support assessment, standards, and best practices in elementary mathematics.  Most recently I have been working on delivering a virtual professional learning math series specific for ed techs and managing a group of grade 2 teachers working on the CL4ME module project.

What do you like best about your job? 

The aspect of my job that I like best is being able to share new learning opportunities with educators around the state.  Educators in different parts of the state have had a variety of different opportunities to engage in mathematics professional learning, so being able to offer some consistency in best practices and math resources is a highlight of my work.

How or why did you decide on this career? 

After working in the local elementary school for 16 years (classroom teacher, title 1 math specialist, and math coach) and continuing to push into more leadership roles, this seemed like the natural progression of my work in the area of mathematics.  I feel that I have a lot to offer to mathematics teaching and learning and I enjoy being able to share with others.

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

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family; I have a young niece and nephew that I am very close with.  I also enjoy camping, taking the time to relax, and making personalized crafts with my Cricut machine.

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Brenda Vigue

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

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Office Manager of Higher Education and Student Support Services. My main focus is Certification

What do you like best about your job?

The variety of the things I do and the business of the job.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I worked in at DHHS for most of my state career and needed a change and the opportunity came up in Education. I am glad I ended up here as I have met a variety of people in DOE and the education field.

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

I like to spend time with family! My grandson just graduated from high school and I am so proud of him to have graduated during this pandemic.  He was born right after 9/11 so I expect good things to happen in his future.

I am taking my last two classes in the fall at UMA and will be graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. It has been a long adventure but my hope is to inspire my daughter and two grandchildren that it is never too late in life to pursue your educational dreams! My husband and I, and our 2 dogs like to take rides and walk on the beach and in the mountains!

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Amelia Lyons

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

What are your roles with DOE?

I currently wear two hats at the DOE: Migrant Education and Homeless Education. I work with the children of migrant agricultural workers, who move so their family members can work in agriculture or fishing, and we support them in their education. In Maine, the common industries we see eligible migrant students in are blueberries, broccoli, seafood processing, tipping for wreathmaking, and elver fishing. Many people confuse the word “migrant” with “immigrant” but for the purposes of our program, “migrant” just means “moving.” Any child in Maine may qualify for this supplemental support if they have moved across school district lines and have someone in the household who’s worked in agriculture or fishing. If you think you know of a family who may qualify, please reach out.

I also recently started as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education consultant. This includes supporting districts in their work with students who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence, which can include students who are living “doubled up” with another family. Each district has a McKinney-Vento Liaison who is tasked with identifying and serving students who qualify. I’m always happy to talk to folks about this population as well.

What do you like best about your job?

My favorite part of my job is when we can work collaboratively to solve some problems! I like when we put our heads together with families, school staff, and community partners, and find out how to best support students in their academic journey, in a way that is culturally responsive and strengths based. An important part of my role is acknowledging the many external factors and systemic barriers that significantly impact students’ lives. This position has allowed me to work with local districts to build relationships and resources to support students’ rights.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I believe in the power of education and have seen the amazing things a single dedicated teacher can do for a child. Migrant students and students experiencing homelessness have significant funds of knowledge and have rights to the same opportunities as other students. I chose this career because I am able to advocate both for and with these populations in this role. It’s motivating for me to be learning about and working on more equitable and inclusive policies so that each student can be valued for the unique strengths that they bring. I am continually learning!

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

Trying to keep up with my one year old is a lot of fun! I also enjoy doing anything outside this time of year, traveling, and learning about different cultures and languages.

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Colene O’Neill

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

What are your roles with DOE?

I work on the Special Services team at DOE. Day to day I support the State Director and the entire team with various administrative tasks and legislative bill monitoring. I also support special education directors and educators across the state with local entitlement grant questions, questions regarding regulations and fielding other calls and emails.

What do you like best about your job?

I like that I do something different every day. From working on a team helping to rewrite regulations, to setting up and working with multiple calendars to facilitate meetings and trainings or scheduling interviews for the hiring process. I enjoy being involved in the internal policy committee and the morale team at DOE.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I have a business background and have always been on the administrative side of business office management, human resources and technology.  I spend 12 years as a bookkeeper for a school district and was pleased to be able to apply that knowledge to my current position.

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

One of my passions has always been cooking and entertaining. I own a catering business and love helping people celebrate life’s events with food. I also love nature walks, yoga, traveling and spending time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to the birth of my first grand baby in November!

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Daniel Weeks

Maine DOE team member Daniel Weeks is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Camping. Learn a little more about Daniel in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE? 

Currently I work as part of the ESEA Federal Programs team and I am the Title V (Rural Education Achievement Program or REAP as many know it) Coordinator, Title I Data Specialist, and the point of contact for the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TCLI) program.

What do you like best about your job?

I really enjoy advocating for the rural school districts in the state, ensuring that they receive accurate information related to which program (state or federal) they should apply for as well as providing them with the knowledge as to what it means to receive Title V funding and the flexibilities that come with it.

How or why did you decide on this career? 

After going to Johnson and Wales and getting my degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, I realized that the food service industry wasn’t where my heart was at, plus they made me work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It was my time at J&W that made me realize that what I really wanted to do was become a math teacher.  As I finished my degree at UMF the only thing I knew was that I wanted to have as big of an impact as I possibly could.  After 5 years in the classroom I decided to get my masters in Education Administration so my area of impact could expand to an entire school rather than a single classroom.  Upon completion of my degree the job at the Department opened up and I jumped on it, knowing that my impact could span across the state.   I’ve been fortunate in my work to not only have impact in the state, but also some national impact as well.

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

This year I’ve gotten into gardening and built my own raised garden beds where we are attempting to do some “square foot” gardening to maximize our vegetable yield to help reduce what we spend at the grocery store.  I love spending time with my wife and 6 year old daughter.  I also love games (both tabletop and video games) as I have a need to constantly be thinking, strategizing, and using my brain (I have a hard time sitting and watching TV as it just doesn’t engage me).