Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Announces 2023 Teachers of the Year and Honor Award Winners 

Every November outstanding professionals in the fields of health education, physical education, adapted physical education, and recreation are recognized during the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (Maine AHPERD) Annual Conference. This year the following four educators were named as the 2023 Maine AHPERD Teachers of the Year and honored during the Award Banquet at the Samoset Resort.

Awards were presented to a community partner and two individuals who are recognized as strong supporters of the mission of Maine AHPERD and the field. This year’s awardees were:

Additionally, six students were recognized as the 2023 Outstanding Future Professionals in health and physical education hailing from five Maine institutes of higher education.

Pictured L to R: Sarah Wentworth - University of Maine at Orono, Zachery Creekmore - St. Joseph's College, Brecken Sargent - University of Maine at Presque Isle,(Maine AHPERD President Kayla McGee), Tyler Calhoun - University of New England, Jonah Sautter - University of Maine at Farmington, Jacob Mulligan - University of Maine at Orono
Pictured L to R: Sarah Wentworth – University of Maine at Orono, Zachery Creekmore – St. Joseph’s College, Brecken Sargent – University of Maine at Presque Isle, (Maine AHPERD President Kayla McGee), Tyler Calhoun – University of New England, Jonah Sautter – University of Maine at Farmington, Jacob Mulligan – University of Maine at Orono

Check out the MaineAHPERD website for highlights and resources from the conference.


Two Maine Educators Explore How Artificial Intelligence (AI) can Benefit Adult Learners on their Career Journey

(Pictured: Sierra Melanson, Turner Adult Education Program; Dr. Thea Ducrow, AI Expert; and Kate Points, York County Adult Education Program)

Sierra Melanson (College and Career Success Coordinator at Central Maine Community College) and Kate Points (York County Career Advancement and Navigation Specialist) attended a Maine Development Career Association (MCDA) conference about Artificial Intelligence (AI) hosted at BerryDunn early this month. Sierra and Kate work for two Adult Education programs that help adults on their career journeys; the College and Career Success Coordinators and Career Advancement and Navigation Specialists. As part of the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the College and Career Success Coordinators are placed at each Maine Community College and help learners achieve their career goals related to workforce, certificate, and associate programs at the colleges. The Career Navigators help people in their communities to take the next step in their careers and they work with local employers.

Thea Ducrow, Ph.D., an expert in AI, presented Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work. She shared that the world is a fundamentally different place than it was in November, 2022. There were diverse opinions concerning AI in the room; some educators and professionals were concerned and worried about how AI would impact the workforce while others felt neutral or excited. What Dr. Ducrow shared was informative and practical for educators, career development professionals, as well as workers.

“There will be a critical point in time where the accumulation of AI capabilities will make certain roles obsolete while creating new ones,” said Dr. Ducrow. She encouraged the audience to take a “Creative AI Leadership Approach” by being proactive rather than reactive, to combine ideation and the science of data, and that AI can help career development professionals understand patterns and insights to drive innovation.

A few of the key points of guidance that Dr. Ducrow offered job seekers included “embrace digital proficiency –be an early adopter, understand data – learn data analytics regardless of one’s field, and gain practical real-world experience – anyway one can volunteer, pursue an internship, part-time jobs, etc.” Dr. Ducrow emphasized the importance of hands-on work experiences as they are foundationally relational and AI will not change the importance of relationships.

Fortunately, in Maine there are myriad opportunities for workers to gain meaningful work experiences; a few include workforce programs at Adult Education, Maine Department of Labor apprenticeships, and paid work experiences for young people through the Maine Career Exploration program. Resource experts like Sierra and Kate are available to help make those connections. The CMCC Success Coordinator, Sierra Melanson, notes that she plans to try ChatGPT to help learners in creating personalized career and academic plans based on what the student is studying or looking to study.

“The piece that struck me most from the conference was how ubiquitous AI will become in the next few years,” said Kate Points, York County Adult Education Career Navigator. “For my work with participants, it’s important to start addressing AI as a digital literacy skill as ‘regular folks’ will need proficiency with it, just like they currently need proficiency with word processing or spreadsheets.  For my own work, helping adults take the next step in their career, I think it will be helpful in learning about career fields I might not be familiar with.  I’m really interested in the possibilities!”

Across Maine, there are digital literacy classes available for learners looking to increase their digital knowledge and skills. Please contact your local Adult Education if you’d like to learn more.

Since the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan took effect in October 2021, the Mills Administration has delivered direct economic relief to nearly 1,000 Maine small businesses, supported more than 100 infrastructure projects around the state to create jobs and revitalize communities, and invested in workforce programs estimated to offer apprenticeship, career and education advancement, and job training opportunities to 22,000 Maine people. For more about Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, visit

To read the bios of Maine’s College and Career Success Coordinators, and learn more about the programs.


Hancock County Technical Center Teacher Meghan Stubbs Surprised with National Recognition

Meghan Stubbs, a career and technical education (CTE) teacher at Hancock County Technical Center, found herself at the center of a heartwarming surprise during a schoolwide assembly earlier today. The visit by Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin to commend the school’s CTE programs also honored Stubbs’ individual contributions with a Milken Educator Award, a distinguished recognition bestowed by the Milken Family Foundation. The Award honors outstanding educators across the country for their innovation, achievements and exemplary leadership, and it includes $25,000 that the recipients may use however they choose.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 2023-24 will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to “Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate” the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career.

“Dedicated, an advocate, a leader, and an all-in educator: That’s how Meghan Stubbs is known at Hancock County Technical Center,” said Commissioner Makin. “Meghan is constantly seeking ways to support her students, lift up her colleagues, and foster connections with the community. Being one of her students means not just gaining the skills and knowledge needed to be an early childhood educator but also getting real-world experience through the childcare center she established at the school, competing in state and national competitions, and developing a strong civic voice through visits with legislators at the State Capitol. We are proud to join the entire Ellsworth community to honor and celebrate Meghan Stubbs for her extraordinary contributions to her students, colleagues, and public education in Maine.”

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are sought out while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the Award. The Maine DOE led the selection committee process for the Award.

More About Meghan Stubbs

Enrichment Through Civic Responsibility: Stubbs cultivates a welcoming, safe atmosphere for students in her highly regarded Career and Technical Education program, focusing on early childhood education. This program not only equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership roles in their school and community, but also emphasizes the importance of civic involvement. For example, Stubbs organizes field trips to the state capital where her students advocate for early childhood education and positive changes in childcare practices.

Hands-On, Early Childhood Instruction: Leading by example, Stubbs established the “Caterpillar Clubhouse,” an on-site, part-time childcare center at the school. Under her guidance, students have the unique opportunity to mentor 3- and 4-year-olds, creating a rich learning experience that extends beyond textbooks. Collaborating with the local elementary school and YMCA, Stubbs provides her students with hands-on experiences across different age groups, and most of her students go on to earn their Certified Early Childhood Assistant certification each year.

Fostering Pathways to Success: Stubbs leads one of Maine’s most active chapters of SkillsUSA, a student-led organization that connects young adults to trade industries for career opportunities. Stubbs serves as a SkillsUSA advisor at both the state and national levels and volunteers on the SkillsUSA Maine Board of Directors. Her students have excelled at SkillsUSA competitions, with some earning gold medals and serving as state officers. Stubbs is active on Hancock’s MELMAC committee that works with students to make informed decisions about their futures, starting with advancing successfully to college or post-secondary training. New teachers look to Stubbs’ guidance and support to instill these values in their own students.

A Role Model Beyond the School: Stubbs’ generosity extends to the community, where she spearheads initiatives such as food and clothing drives. She is also engaged in Comfort Cases, a project that assembles backpacks with essential personal care items for youth entering the foster care system.

Education: Stubbs earned her Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education and child and family studies from Lesley University in 2012.

How Mt. Ararat High School is Integrating their Community Pathways Program Across the Curriculum

Doug Ware’s role as Community Learning Coordinator is to develop and facilitate Mt Ararat High School’s relatively new Community Pathways program. The overarching goal of the program is to enhance the traditional academic curriculum for the school’s full diversity of students by providing credit-bearing extended learning opportunities. These offerings are intended to engage students in their interests, passions, and potential career paths through discovery, exploration, and experience.

Along with this, Ware has also been working to connect students and classrooms to opportunities in the community through several initiatives including a new Community Pathways Career Exploration Series which brings in a range of guest speakers to the school to discuss their work. He also works to facilitate field trips and other such events in an effort to connect students to both opportunities and place-based experiences.

Ware also co-leads a new “Mt. Ararat Eagles SOAR” summer program, which provides students who may most benefit with the opportunity to engage in traditional boatbuilding and more than a dozen outings over the course of the summer.  This year’s cohort had the great fortune of building a traditional wooden skiff at the Maine Maritime Museum under the guidance of their expert boatbuilders.

“I value the opportunities to work with students of all backgrounds and abilities, enriching their lives with relevant, immersive experiences that meet their individual needs, passions, and aspirations,” said Ware.

“We are working to forge Community Pathways collaborations with both external partners and with other programs within our school and district,” added Ware.

Some examples include the incorporation of the Career Exploration Series into the sophomore advisory curriculum, collaborating with the school’s Project GROW school garden club, and countless collaborations with other educators at all levels from elementary right on up to high school where he has been initiating a teaching assistant program. Ware has also involved the district technology integration team, the district gifted and talented, and has also worked with the Facilities and Grounds department at Mt. Ararat to give students career and community exploration experiences.

Ware has also facilitated regular and ongoing collaboration between Mt. Ararat H.S., Brunswick H.S., Morse H.S., Freeport H.S., Midcoast Youth Center, Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber, Retail Association of Maine, Maine Tourism Association, Maine DOE, MDECD, and JMG.  This effort is to help develop a regional and cooperative career exploration program.  The hope is to expand the program’s offerings in several areas including internships, career exploration bus tours, guest speakers, job posting services, and other events/fairs. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are hands-on, credit-bearing courses outside of the traditional classroom with an emphasis on community-based career exploration. These opportunities are personalized for students and help them explore options for their professional lives. They help students engage in learning through instruction, assignments, and experiential learning. The Maine Department of Education (DOE), along with state-wide partner Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG), have made a concerted effort to provide working models, support, and funding opportunities for Maine schools to set up ELO programs within their school communities. To learn more about Maine’s initiatives with extended learning opportunities, visit: or reach out to Maine DOE ELO Coordinator Rick Wilson at

DOE Podcast Features Yarmouth High School Students Engaged in Hands-On, Real-World Extended Learning Opportunities

Commissioner Makin Talks with Sarah Hinson About Her Veterinary ELO and Liam Hannah About His Summer ELO Building a Robot that Serves Drinks. The Maine DOE Has Invested $5.6 Million to Expand ELOs Across Maine

On the latest episode of her What Holds Us Together podcast, Maine Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Pender Makin spoke with two Yarmouth High School students about their experiences pursuing what they are passionate about through their school’s Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program. Yarmouth senior Sarah Hinson gets school credit and paid work experience through her ELO at Portland Veterinary Hospital and junior Liam Hannah engaged in a summer ELO to program and build a drink serving robot which also earned him school credit.

Listen here.

Extended Learning Opportunities offer students creative and flexible opportunities to explore what they are passionate about develop skills and knowledge that will set them up for success in school and life, all while gaining school credit and the option of paid work experience. The Maine DOE has awarded $5.6 million in Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan (MJRP) funding to 26 school administrative units and community-based organizations to create or expand ELOs across the state.

“We’re going to be discussing an exciting, innovative approach to interdisciplinary, hands-on, real-world learning called Extended Learning Opportunities,” said Makin in the podcast’s opening. “I met Sarah, Liam, and several of their classmates when I visited their school to hear more about these ELOs. What I heard was so impressive and inspirational that I wanted to have them on this podcast to share what they’ve been doing with everyone.”

Dozens of students participate in ELOs at Yarmouth High School. On her recent visit, Makin talked with students who were studying cognitive neuroscience and the science of wellbeing, civics, interning for non-profits, working on policy issues, building skills to have constructive conversations and debates about issues, promoting work opportunities for New Mainers, and so much more through their ELOs. Students meet with the school’s coordinator Brittany Brockelbank to design their ELO and meet regularly to discuss their progress and showcase what they’ve learned. Makin invited two students on the podcast to share more about their experiences.

“I’m doing a work study. I’m now on my fifth semester and I get credit for what I learn in the ER. It’s a very unique opportunity to learn about what I’m passionate about and what I’ll do after high school while getting school credit,” said Sarah Hinson describing her ELO on the podcast.

“It’s an incredibly flexible program. There are endless opportunities for what you can do and it’s very individualized with the learning that you do,” said Liam Hannah about what he liked about his ELO. He said he got his idea for his drink serving robot after seeing a similar one at a sushi restaurant. He had taken coding and machining classes at school and also had a student mentor to provide support for his ELO. Hannah also utilized ChatGPT to help him troubleshoot when we ran into coding or other obstacles.

Both students highlighted connections between what they’ve learned through their ELOs and how they’ve applied it to their other classes and in life. They also discussed how ELOs offer opportunities to engage students who may not find that same kind of engagement in traditional class settings.

“I remember sophomore year we were doing something in my biology class with sodium chloride bonding and I work with sodium chloride all the time. I use it every shift and I know a lot about it…so my job in certain situations has connected back to school but in many ways it’s very different. School does provide me with the knowledge that I need to get into the field—I can’t go into the field if I’m not good at math,” said Hinson. “In my job I’m learning something that I really am going to apply in my work on a farm with over 50 animals. It gives students that don’t fit the square box of what school and a student should look like [the opportunity to learn something we like].”

“This ELO, it really helped me develop a schedule and think really far out with my plans which I was never really great at and definitely helped me develop that,” said Hannah on how his ELO helped him build stronger time management skills.

The students were enthusiastic in what they would tell other students or school leaders about ELOs.

“It’s super fun—it’s the most fun I’ve ever had in a learning environment. I think every school should have the option for an ELO,” said Hannah.

“Do it! Find what works for you. There are so many ELOs available—group, individual, summer, learning ones, and working ones,” said Hinson.

Makin closed the podcast by highlighting the Maine DOE’s efforts to expand ELOs across the state.

“Our Department of Education is promoting ELOs across the state and anything that is hands-on, interdisciplinary, and applied learning. We’re really hopeful that Maine is going to lead the way nationally,” said Makin.

The Maine DOE website features highlights and stories from ELO programs across Maine.

What Holds Us Together is a monthly podcast hosted by Commissioner Makin that highlights the great things happening in public schools across Maine and how public education connects us through conversations with educators, school staff, and students. The podcast launched last month with a conversation between Makin, 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year Matt Bernstein, and the newly named 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year Joshua Chard.

What Holds Us Together can be listened to and subscribed to on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Spotify. New episodes are released on the third Thursday of every month.