New Student Member Appointed by Governor Mills to the Maine State Board of Education

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine State Board of Education announced the newest student member of the Board and newly elected officers.

The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor along with two nonvoting student members appointed by the Governor. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms and nonvoting student members serve staggered, two-year terms.

New Maine State Board of Education Student Member:

State Board Student Member

Ryan Hafener

Ryan Hafener of Hampden was appointed to the State Board of Education as a student member in May 2022.  He will fill seat 10 in the second congressional district.  Mr. Hafener is currently a Junior at Hampden Academy where he is an honors and AP student.  He is an active member of his school community and is a member of many extracurricular activities including Hampden Academy Student Council, the Tennis Team, Key Club, Spanish Club, Jazz Band and the Beekeeping Club.  Mr. Hafener is also a natural leader having been involved in organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, Key Club International and was a volunteer at the Bangor Challenger Learning Center, which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on teaching elementary and middle school-aged children the importance of STEM, and as Ryan notes, “an endeavor he is very passionate about”.  Ryan’s excellent academic profile, civic-engagement and community leadership will lend a positive prospective to the State Board of Education.

Committee appointments: Student Voices Committee

New Officers Elected to the Maine State Board of Education

At the June 15, 2022 State Board of Education Meeting, the Board re-elected Fern M.Y. Desjardins to serve as Chair of the Board and elected Paulette Bonneau to serve as Vice Chair of the Board for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

Fern DesjardinsFern Desjardins of St. Agatha was appointed to the State Board of Education in April 2018. She has served on the School Construction Committee (currently Chair), Certification & Higher Education Committee, Legislative Action Committee, Maine Charter School Commission and a number of other committees of the State Board. She represents the State Board on the Maine Education Policy Research Institute Steering Committee and on other education committees.  Desjardins was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Boards of Education in June 2019 and has served on a number of their committees, including being chair of their Public Education Positions Committee.  She was elected secretary-treasurer of the organization in October 2021 for a two-year term.  Desjardins worked for 43 years in RSU 33/MSAD 33 as a teacher, elementary school principal, and superintendent of schools before retiring in 2017.  She has taught graduate level courses for UMaine as an adjunct faculty member, worked as a facilitator for school systems, and served on various committees and special projects of the Maine DOE where she proudly continues to serve on the Multilingual Learner Advisory Council.  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.  “It is an honor and true privilege for me to continue serving as Chair of the State Board for a second year.  I am humbled by this outstanding opportunity to lead a board of very dedicated individuals committed to providing policy leadership and support for effective schools so all students are prepared to succeed in school, work, and life,” stated Desjardins.

Paulette BonneauPaulette Bonneau of Biddeford was appointed to the State Board of Education in June of 2021.  She serves seat 7 in the first congressional district.  Ms. Bonneau attended Stonehill College and received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ms. Bonneau became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker focusing on Mental Health and Substance abuse.  At the same time, Ms. Bonneau also worked as a School Social Worker at the John F. Kennedy School supporting students and their families from grades 3-5. In 2004, Ms. Bonneau was awarded her master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan and in 2006 received a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership/Administration from the University of Southern Maine. Shortly before getting her Graduate Certificate, Ms. Bonneau transitioned into the position of Assistant Principal at the John F Kennedy School and the Biddeford Intermediate School. Once again, she transitioned in 2007 into the role of Principal at the John F Kennedy School and remained in this role until 2015. From the John F. Kennedy School, Ms. Bonneau moved to her current position as the Director of the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology. Outside of her work, Ms. Bonneau is a member of the Biddeford Workforce Development Committee, the Maine Association of Adult Education, the Coalition on Adult Education, the York County United Way Early Child Development Committee and the CTE-EPS formula work group.
Committee appointments: Career & Technical Education Committee, Board Effectiveness Ad Hoc Committee (chair), and Legislative Action Committee.

MEDIA RELEASE: Three New Maine State Board of Education Members Appointed by Governor Mills

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and the Maine State Board of Education today announced the newest members of the Board and their committee assignments.

The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor along with two nonvoting student members also appointed by the Governor. Board members serve staggered, five-year terms and nonvoting student members serve staggered, two-year terms.

New Maine State Board of Education Members:

Mark Balfantz
Mark Balfantz of Portland was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2022.  He will fill seat 8 in the first congressional district.  Mr. Balfantz served in the United States Marine Corps for 10 years.  He is a Maine citizen who has served on his local school board in Portland for three years.  He is the Vice President, General Counsel and Lending Compliance Officer at Kennebunk Savings Bank.  Mr. Balfantz has years of experience as an attorney as well as a background in financial investment.  He understands policy and financing in addition to the comprehension of the Department of Education’s goals and challenges having served at the local level.  He holds a BS in Business Administration with focus on Finance and attended Temple University’s Beasley School of Law.  He has been a member of the Maine Bar Association since 2016.

Kristin Bishop
Kristin Bishop of Madison was appointed to the State Board of Education in April of 2022.  She will fill seat 4 in the second congressional district.  Ms. Bishop is not a stranger to serve on the State Board of Education as she served as a student member of the Board from 2012 to 2014.  Currently, she is the Program and Outreach Coordinator for Civic Engagement at Colby College.  Ms. Bishop holds a BA in Education and Government & Legal Studies from Bowdoin College.  She is currently pursuing her graduate studies at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine and expects to complete her MBA the summer of 2022.  Ms. Bishop holds a lifelong dedication to public service and community engagement and has been involved with numerous higher education service and civic organizations.
Committee appointments: Career and Technical Education

Thomas Keller
Thomas “Tom” Keller of Newcastle was appointed to the State Board of Education in March of 2022.  He will fill seat 6 in the first congressional district.  Mr. Keller is a retired educator and has been a classroom teacher, a school administrator, a Scientist and educational researcher.  He’s worked in education policy, and is the Founding President of STEM Education Strategies, LLC, an organization in which he works collaboratively with educators and institutions to streamline the system of science education.  He believes that there is value in interconnecting various sectors of education, that good assessment facilitates good instruction, that teacher competence breeds confidence, and that policies must support high-quality learning.  Dr. Keller has served as an Executive Director of the Maine STEM Council, he is a member of the University of Maine at Augusta Board of Visitors and serves in many other educationally formulated organizations.  Dr. Keller holds a BS in Zoology from Texas A&M University and his Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Committee appointments: Certification and Higher Education Committee

Fern Desjardins, Chair of the Maine State Board of Education, stated that the new members have brought knowledge and experiences that already benefit the work of the Board in carrying out its duties and responsibilities.

“Their energy and enthusiasm in getting appointed to the board’s committees and in being of service in any way needed to help the board accomplish its goals is greatly appreciated. Their contributions will help advance the work of the State Board in carrying out its policy-making, administrative and advisory functions,” said Desjardins.

For more information about the State Board of Education, visit their website https://www.maine.gov/doe/about/leadership/stateboard.

PRIORITY NOTICE: State Board of Education Adopts New Chapter 115 Regulations for the Credentialing of Education Personnel

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that on May 11, 2022, the State Board of Education voted in favor of final adoption of Rule Chapter 115: The Credentialing of Education Personnel. These changes come after more than two years of work with numerous stakeholders to ensure unnecessary barriers were removed, and that Maine continues to have well-prepared educators to work with students in our schools. The final version includes changes required by the Maine Legislature.

Some of the highlights of the new rule include:

  • Praxis exams are no longer required.  Instead of this specific requirement, an applicant for certification may choose to pass Praxis I, utilize a summative grade point average (gpa) of 3.0 for courses required for the certification, or submit a portfolio for review.
  • References to the latest versions of professional standards for many certificates have been updated.
  • Language was enhanced to include greater flexibilities with degrees, as well as work and academic experiences.
  • Course requirements for human development as well as diversity-centered content related to today’s classroom have been added.
  • Many updates to Career and Technical Education certificates and endorsements have been made.
  • Some grade spans have been expanded to include pre-kindergarten.
  • Greater flexibilities for international teachers and alternative education teachers have been added.
  • Renewal requirements for some administrator certificates have been changed.

The new regulations will now be filed with the Maine Secretary of State and become effective 30 days after. The new rule will be posted here.

To assist in understanding the new regulations, the DOE is offering a webinar series, which will be recorded, for anyone in the field.  Please see below for dates, topics, and a link to the webinars:

May 18 – New Ch. 115 Regulations: How Did We Get Here? 

May 25 – Overview of Chapter 115 Changes 

June 8 – How to Best Support Educators Through the Certification Process 

The Certification Team is hard at work implementing the new changes and providing updated resources on the website www.maine.gov/doe/cert. The best way to reach the team is to email cert.doe@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Application Process Open for Student Position on Maine State Board of Education

Student voice is critically important to the Maine State Board of Education, and they are seeking applications for the newest student member to join the Board. Applications are being accepted February 1, 2022 – March 1, 2022.

The Maine State Board of Education has two nonvoting student members who join the Board as high school juniors and serve for two years, one enrolled in a school in Maine’s First Congressional District; the other enrolled in a school in the Second Congressional District. At all times, the State Board has one high school junior and one senior as members, with staggered appointment.

Applications are currently being accepted from students who attend school in the Second Congressional District (includes Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, Washington counties, and part of Kennebec County) and are currently a high school sophomore.  Application materials are available on the State Board of Education web page. The Board has also emailed and mailed application materials to all Second Congressional District high school principals and school counselors. Completed applications should be mailed to:

Mary Becker, Maine State Board of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023

After applications close on March 1, 2022, they will be reviewed according to the process described in Maine Education and School Statutes, Title 20-A, Chapter 5, State Board of Education. Semifinalists will be interviewed in March 2022, after which three finalists will be chosen. The names and application materials of the finalists will be sent to the Governor’s office for final selection. The selected student will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Maine State Senate.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for Maine students to practice civic engagement while serving as both a representative of Maine students and an active education leader in our state.

For further information please visit the Maine State Board of Education web page or contact Mary Becker, Board Assistant, at 624-6616 or via email at Mary.Becker@maine.gov.

Maine State Board Member Elected as Secretary-Treasurer of National Board

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has announced the election of Fern Desjardins, chair of the Maine State Board of Education, as secretary-treasurer for a two-year term on its board of directors.  Desjardins previously served a two-year term as new member representative on the NASBE and was also chair of NASBE’s Public Education Positions Committee.

Janet Cannon, a member of the Utah State Board of Education, became NASBE’s board chair at the close of the organization’s virtual Annual Conference and business meeting this year and Christine Benson, a member of the Illinois State Board of Education, was voted NASBE’s chair-elect also.

A former Superintendent of Schools in MSAD #33, Desjardins has spent a 43-year career in public education in Maine and has served on Maine’s State Board of Education since 2018. She has 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.

“NASBE’s board of directors plays an important role in helping the organization achieve its mission of developing, supporting, and empowering state boards to fully embrace their role as citizen leaders,” said NASBE President and CEO Robert Hull. “This board is primed to work closely with incoming President and CEO Paolo DeMaria to expand the robust work of developing state boards’ capacity to lead in these important times of high needs and unprecedented resources.”

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.