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.

MEDIA RELEASE: Seven New Members Appointed by Governor Mills to the Maine State Board of Education

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

Tori Kornfield Victoria Kornfield
Victoria Kornfield of Bangor was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021.  She will fill seat 6 in the second congressional district.  Ms. Kornfield is a former long-time high school English teacher.  She served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives from 2012-2020.  From 2014-2020 she was the House Chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education from Syracuse University.  Victoria also has a certificate in educational leadership from the University of Maine.  She has been recognized for her commitment to education by the State Board of Education, Maine Education Association, and Maine Superintendent’s Association.
Committee appointments: Certification & Higher Education Committee, Legislative Action Committee, and ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) Subcommittee.

Cynthia Murray-BeliveauCynthia Murray-Beliveau

Cynthia Murray-Beliveau of Portland was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021.  She will fill seat 8 in the first congressional district.  Ms. Murray-Beliveau is an independent philanthropy professional. She is an alumna of Saint Joseph’s College where she is also the former President of the Board of Trustees.  Her volunteerism and advocacy on behalf of women and children earned her the Catherine McAuley Award in 2017.
Committee appointments: School Construction Committee and Maine Charter School Commission

Greyson OrneGreyson Orne
Greyson Elliot Orne of Camden was appointed to the State Board of Education as a student member in February of 2021.  He will fill seat 10 in the second congressional district.  Mr. Orne is a senior at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) where he is a Renaissance Scholar.  At MSSM he is very involved in the Key Club, jazz band, and Student Senate.  He has a strong interest in community service.  As an eighth grader he was awarded the Secretary of State’s Citizenship Award.  In addition to his interests in sailing, music, and science, Greyson is interested in politics and believes he can make a difference for Maine students in this role.  After high school, Greyson plans to apply to the three major U.S. Service Academies to become a commissioned officer in the United States Military.
Committee appointments: Student Voices Committee and Student Membership Committee

James FordJames Ford
James Ford of Brunswick was appointed to the State Board of Education in February of 2021.  He will fill seat 5 in the second congressional district.  Mr. Ford holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Hobart and William Smith College and earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Additionally, he holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Southern Maine.  He is a former teacher and is skilled in Lesson Planning, Teaching English as a Second Language, Classroom Management, Volunteer Management, and Differentiated Instruction.
Committee appointments: School Construction Committee, Student Voices Committee, and Student Membership Committee.

Cordelia_PitmanCordelia Pitman
Cordelia Pitman of Portland was appointed to the State Board of Education in April of 2021.  She will fill seat 6 in the first congressional district.  Ms. Pitman attended Middlebury College where she received her bachelor’s degree in Physics. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from Columbia University. She began her career as an architect with Sasaki Associates before moving on to Winton Scott Architects. Ms. Pitman remained with this firm for fifteen years before taking a job with her current firm, Wright-Ryan Construction. She has been with Wright-Ryan Construction for the past twelve years. Outside of her work, Ms. Pitman is a board member of the Blaine House Commission, the Maine Climate Council, Coastal Enterprises Inc., the Portland Society for Architects and the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition.
Committee appointments: Career & Technical Education Committee and Student Membership Committee. 

Paulette BonneauPaulette Bonneau
Paulette Bonneau of Biddeford was appointed to the State Board of Education in June of 2021.  She will fill 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, Nomination & Election Committee, and Student Membership Committee.

Joshua Leinwand
Joshua Leinwand of Yarmouth was appointed to the State Board of Education as a student member in June of 2021.  He will fill seat 11 in the first congressional district.  Mr. Leinwand is currently a Junior at Yarmouth High School.  He is an active member of his school community and is a member of many extracurricular activities including the school’s Debate Team, Student Senate, Class Council, Model UN Team and Math Team.  Mr. Leinwand is also an accomplished athlete having been a member of Yarmouth High School’s cross-country team, indoor track team and outdoor track team.  Alongside his education and extracurriculars, Mr. Leinwand is a member of the Trail Crew for the Royal River Conservation Trust.  Mr. Leinwand’s hard work is focused on helping him achieve his goal of one day becoming a US Senator. For him, being able to represent people is the most rewarding of feats.  Mr. Leinwand is a dedicated student and member of his community.
Committee appointments: Student Voices Committee.

New Officers Elected to the Maine State Board of Education

At the June 9, 2021 State Board of Education Meeting, the Board elected Fern M.Y. Desjardins to serve as Chair of the Board and Peter E. Geiger to serve as Vice Chair of the Board for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

Fern DesjardinsFern Desjardins of St. Agatha was appointed to the State Board of Education in the spring of 2018. She has served on the School Construction Committee, Certification & Higher Education Committee, Maine Charter School Commission, and a number of other committees of the State Board. Desjardins was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Boards of Education in 2019 and is currently Chair of NASBE’s Public Education Positions Committee.  She earned her Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Maine in 2005 and worked for 43 years in RSU 33/MSAD 33 as a teacher, elementary school principal, and superintendent of schools before retiring in 2017.  “I look forward to continuing the work of the State Board toward our vision and mission, developing a five-year strategic plan, and beginning the work to achieve the strategic goals once the new plan is adopted by the Board.  I am committed to working with education and community stakeholders to meet the needs and address the challenges of our education system,” stated Desjardins.

PeterGeigerPeter Geiger of Lewiston has served several terms on the State Board of Education, with the most recent appointment by Governor Mills in June of 2019.  Peter is the Editor of the Farmer’s Almanac and Executive Vice President of Geiger, a fifth-generation family owned business.  He established a nationally recognized Adopt-A-School Program with Montello Elementary School in Lewiston in 1988 and championed similar business/school partnerships throughout Maine.  Peter believes strongly on a hands-on approach to volunteering.  For the past several years, he has been involved in many arenas of community and educational organizations including Educate Maine.  Peter served on the State Board of Education from 1992 to 1997 – three years as Vice Chair and one year as Chair.  Peter was appointed to the State Board again in 2012 and served as both Chair and Vice Chair during his five-year term.  While serving in the 90s, he was also involved in the early stages of developing the Essential Programs and Services.

The Maine State Board of Education acts in an advisory capacity to the Commissioner of Education in matters concerning state education laws and makes education policy recommendations to the legislative and executive branches of state government. For more Board, visit their website.