Brighter Days Story: Lillian from LearningWorks Afterschool

When the pandemic hit, a lot changed for 7 year old Lillian and her family. School, which she loved more than anything, all of the sudden meant learning on a screen at home. It also meant that her mom, a single parent, would be away at work each day, while Lillian and her older sister stayed at home to study. Lillian struggled to get used to this. One of her teachers could tell she needed some extra support and connection and recommended her family to the LearningWorks Afterschool program.

When she first signed in to Zoom, she kept her video turned off. “Mommy, I’m nervous! I don’t want them to see me!” she’d say over the phone when her Mom called to check on her. The program started with lots of fun games, and soon Lillian was laughing, had turned on her camera, and changed her Zoom name to “Lillian Rocks!” A few weeks into the program, her Mom said she noticed a new maturity in Lillian. She’d call home from work to make sure she was ready, and Lillian would be sitting at the table, eager to sign into Zoom early.

Her LearningWorks teachers, Ms. Molly and Mr. Matt, have become household names. Each week, Ms. Molly delivers a STEAM kit to Lillian’s doorstep. Oftentimes Lillian is waiting. The kit has art supplies as well as materials she’ll need for activities such as Wacky Science Wednesdays. Lillian features her favorite items from these kits on her desk in her room. She loves reading the instructions and knowing the plan for the week ahead of time. She has a special lab coat for her LW science experiments (such as making homemade slime) and her Mom says Lillian often wears the lab coat around the house, while teasing her older sister who is studying to become a doctor. She tells her, “You’re just studying with your books all the time, but I’m already a doctor, look at my coat!”

Her interest in science and math has skyrocketed this year through her lessons with LearningWorks. She’s begun to develop a critical and process-oriented mind — often very focused on the steps it takes to solve a math problem or discover a truth. “Some people just believe things right away — I want to understand how it actually works,” she says. Lillian’s mom has noticed how this way of thinking has translated to her experience of the pandemic and the rules around mask wearing and social distancing. Because Lillian genuinely understands the thinking behind these health & safety measures, she wholeheartedly follows them. LearningWorks has become a fun place for her to experiment, to connect with others, and to nurture her inquisitiveness. She’s begun to find the language and confidence to express her clear and discerning mind. “This program is special to me,” she says. She thinks it could be for other kids too. Her message to them: “Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do it. Then…do it!”

Information for this article was provided by LearningWorks Afterschool, a 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. Photos and story by Molly Haley.

York Adult Education Hosts Annual Celebration of Learning

York Adult Education held its annual celebration of learning on June 3, 2021 to honor all of their students’ accomplishments.  The students recognized were receiving diplomas, CNA certification, and Comptia A+ Academy certificates.  Also celebrating their success were students of English as a Second Language classes. Each student has worked hard for at least the past year, and some for as long as 5 years, attaining their goals. All of them had to juggle their efforts with jobs and families.

The students created a special video presentation, Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

The Perseverance Award was given to Xue Zheng for logging over 400 hours of classes. This amazingly intelligent and hardworking woman earned her high school diploma in English, while learning the language, starting a restaurant, and raising a family.

In addition to the in-person attendees, some students were virtually present and for others the event was recorded (ceremony starts at 10:20). Family and friends, as well school staff members, York Schools’ Superintendent, and the director of Special Education attended to support the students.

Director of Adult Education, Lisa Robertson, bragged on all the students had overcome. “Let’s look at what it took for these learners to get here today. First of all, I’ll give a brief nod to COVID and how that changed the delivery of education.  For some, that was quite a deterrent to learning.  They needed an alternative.  Our instructors continued teaching classes live over video streaming, until in person classes could resume.  I am very proud of the quality of education that our teachers brought to each class.  COVID also brought other barriers to our learners – anxiety, loss of income, and to some, illness.  But they all persevered:

  • One built a motor powered bike to take her to work.
  • One served her community with 78 hours toward her Girl Scout Gold award, the highest award the Girl Scouts give
  • One started the foundations of an artist entrepreneurial enterprise with mini sculptures
  • One started a restaurant business, and kept it thriving through COVID closures
  • Two students had personal or family illness which disrupted their education in the 9th grade.  They both have amazing academic ability and are graduating today on time or before their peers.
  • Three got their driver’s license.
  • Three took college classes for high school credit, totaling over 100 credits combined.
  • All were working jobs this year.

Let’s give them all a round of applause.”  Director Robertson then shared about being “Opportunity Ready”. She encouraged volunteering, studying and networking to help one get what they want or need in life. Dave Herbein, of our York School Committee invented the five P’s of graduating: Plan, Persevere,Persistence, Purpose, Pride.  He talked about how all five were demonstrated by the graduates.

All of the “Pomp and Circumstance” was observed, from music, to caps and gowns, to flipping the tassels.  It was a fitting and lovely ceremony in York High’s Auditorium.

If you, or someone you know, would like to complete their high school diploma, gain skills to go on to college, or earn an industry recognized credential, check out York Adult Education Program offerings at our website, www.yorkadulteducation.org, or  give them a call at 363-7922.

To learn more about Adult Education Programming across Maine visit: https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/adulted

Information for this article was provided by York Adult Education Program as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Maine Biz: New Mainers Land Teller Jobs

The following article was found in Maine Biz, written by Renee Cordes.

Training program opens doors for immigrants.

In 2015 after Chis Mbalazamo arrived in Maine from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he opened an account at C Port Credit Union. He’s now a teller at C Port’s Riverside branch Portland, after graduation from the 12-week New Mainer Teller Training Program. It was launched in 2020 by Portland Adult Education in partnership with six financial institutions, including C Port.

Read the full article in Maine Biz

This article is part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Maine Virtual Career Fair for High School Students Offers Dynamic, Professional Experience

Maine Community Coordinators Collaborative (Maine C3 ), in collaboration with the Association of Computer Technology Educators in Maine (ACTEM) and Educate Maine offered a unique opportunity for high school students across Maine, from Caribou to Kittery, to engage together in real-time with representatives from a wide swath of cross-sector Maine companies and nonprofit organizations.

During the Maine Virtual Career Fair, students self-selected from the 168 live-streamed sessions and learned about the unique job expectations, skills, and potential career pathways of different jobs in large and small Maine companies and nonprofit organizations.

For students, the ME Virtual Career Fair offered a window to feed their curiosity, aspirations, plans and actions towards a vision they have for themselves. For teachers who attended the sessions with their students, the ME Virtual Career Fair offered an opportunity to make direct connections among the learning targets in their classrooms across all content areas and the skills, understandings, and context of the job expectations and potential career pathways to the jobs.  For Maine companies and nonprofit organizations, the ME Virtual Career Fair provided an opportunity to make connections with students, be a part of building student aspirations, and offer examples of the value of living and working in Maine.

During the live-streamed sessions, students communicated with the presenters by typing their questions into a chat space. The 30 minute live-streamed sessions gave students ample time to deepen their understandings with follow-up questions. Maine C3 educators served as the moderator of the sessions by keeping the questions flowing and making connections. Presenters often shared their own career journeys to their current positions, sometimes surprising students in the way skills, knowledge, and experiences build and transfer across career clusters.

The ME Virtual Career Fair offered a dynamic, professional career exploration experience for Maine high school students to engage with companies and nonprofit organizations from across Maine and hear the thoughts and questions from other students. The concept for the virtual career fair grew out of a deep desire to create a statewide experience and offer all high school students the opportunity to explore a variety of career options together in real-time and see possibilities for their lives.  Maine C3 has created an experience worth repeating  and they are committed to making this an annual event.

For questions regarding Maine C3 and the 2021 ME Virtual Career Fair, contact Planning Committee  Co-Chairs, Samantha Brink at sbrink@sanford.org or Sheree Inman at inmansh@spsdme.org.

For questions regarding the Maine Learning Results Life and Career Ready standards contact Maine DOE Life and Career Ready Education Specialist, Diana Doiron at diana.doiron@maine.gov or 207-592-2128.

Merrymeeting Adult Education Awards 52 Diplomas on May 25th

Merrymeeting Adult Education awarded 52 diplomas on May 25 in a very special hybrid ceremony held both on Zoom and in person under a tent at Mt. Ararat Middle School. These adult learners completed either the High School Equivalency Tests (HiSET, formerly GED) or traditional high school diploma during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years.

Director Allen Lampert led the celebration, followed by opening remarks from Bob Lucy, interim superintendent of Maine School Administrative District 75.

Faculty members Jan Crosson, Kathy Ingmundson, Bob Goddard, and RSU 1 site coordinator Dawn Wheeler welcomed Elizabeth Begin, Diego Howard, and Alyanalyn Saenz to the National Adult Education Honor Society. College Transitions student Benedita Kakahuba achieved this distinction, as well.

Commencement speeches by Sharrod Mosley, David Namwira, and Alyanalyn Saenz were followed by the inaugural presentation of Merrymeeting scholarships.

In memory of the longtime office administrator who passed away unexpectedly Feb. 2, 2020, the Carolee Tupper Memorial Scholarship was awarded to her daughter Kiley Tupper, a senior at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Two additional scholarships were presented to David Namwira, who attends Husson University in Bangor, and Benedita Kakahuba, who attends Southern Maine Community College.

Diplomas were presented by Lampert and Wheeler to the following graduates who attended in person. Class of 2020: Joseph Bellevue, Bethany Cole, Jeff Joy, Jr., Sharrod Mosley, and Spinoza Leboundoza (RSU 1). Class of 2021: Richard Evens, Diego Howard, David Namwira (RSU 1), Alyanalyn Saenz, Duane Wilcox, and Margery Whelchel.

Douce Namwira, Class of 2020, and Nevaeh Pinkham (RSU 1), Serenity Ross and Grady Suhr, Class of 2021, attended the ceremony on a Zoom webinar hosted by Paul Elisha, academic counselor, and his wife – and HiSET proctor – Elsbeth. Forty guests joined them.

Additional diplomas were awarded to Class of 2020 graduates Heather Adams, Zachary Blair, Sarah Blake, Noelle Brown, Taylor Chubbuck, Jonas Cloukey, Robert Creamer, Alexis Deguio, Antonia DiPietro, Laelin Fischer, Elizabeth Felkey, Richard Griffin, Narcisse Isafamba, Will Kinney, Spencer Letourneau, Emily Mitchell, Robert Mitchell, William Panzino, Pirx Rhodes, Marina Tuefel, Quinn Underwood (RSU 1), Trevor Wallace, Sean Webster, and Syan Wheeler (RSU 1).

Additional Class of 2021 diplomas included Elizabeth Begin, Amanda Bisson, Devon Blodgett, Cody Caron, Alexandra Cook, Matthew Plutchak, Jr., Mark Proctor, Alyssia Russell, Miranda Vining, and Michael Pinkham (RSU 1).

Merrymeeting Adult Education provides opportunities for adult learners to complete a traditional high school diploma, earn a HiSET, prepare for college, train for careers, and develop skills and interests in a variety of personal enrichment classes, everything from canoe paddle making to private pilot ground school.

For more information about Merrymeeting’s academic and enrichment classes, visit merrymeeting.org or call 729-7323.

Information for this article was provided by Merrymeeting Adult Education Program as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.