Michelle Strattard Named 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Michelle Strattard, a teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School has been named the 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The selection of the award winner in Maine is facilitated by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) by Joe Schmidt, Social Studies Specialist for the Maine DOE.

In 2021, parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Michelle rose to the top in Maine.

In 2012, Michelle earned a Master’s of Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine after completing the Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP). She previously earned a BA in History from the same institution.  As an alumna of Gray-New Gloucester High school, she was proud to join their faculty in 2015, eventually coming to teach the very class that inspired her love of local history as a student, Shaker Studies. She brings this love of local history to the classroom so students can see where they fit into the larger picture. Students engage in historical research, exploration, and inquiry in the classroom to build academic skills and become engaged citizens.  Michelle also serves as a board member of the Maine Council for the Social Studies, helping to support social studies educators around the state.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Michelle’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in Maine.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, September 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®

Nominations for the 2022 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy. The deadline for 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.

Water Treatment Provides Opportunity for Adult Education Program

Maine Adult Education Hub 9 staff, Biddeford Adult Education students and some of their college aged children attended a professional Water Treatment forum at Southern Maine Community College recently.

Across the county, a growing need is present for trained water treatment professionals. As such, Southern Maine Community College has partnered with Northern Maine Community College to create a training program for the profession at the South Portland campus. Their lectures can be accessed remotely, however, hands-on laboratory exercises guided by trained faculty members are taking place on campus.

The Hub 9 group learned about scholarship and apprenticeship opportunities, and toured the learning lab. Industry professionals were available to discuss the great need for new water professionals and how dynamic and exciting this important work is, an exciting experience that the group intends to bring back to their learning community in Biddeford.

Visit Maine Rural Water Association and Maine Water to see current job postings. Anyone interested in discussing this as a potential pathway into the field, can contact their local adult education student advisor.

This article was written by Marci Dionne, student advisor at Biddeford Adult Education, in collaboration with Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani 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.

CTE Summer Camps Offer Safe, Hands-on Learning to Middle Schoolers

Middle School Career and Technical Education (MS-CTE) summer camps are keeping it cool this summer! There are currently nine Career and Technical Education (CTE) schools across Maine that are hosting summer camps specifically for middle school aged students this year as part of an on-going effort to bring career and technical education opportunities to students at the middle school level.

Students participating in these excellent summer programs are exploring careers, participating in hands on experiences in culinary arts, media technology, automotive, engineering, welding and carpentry, just to name a few. The MS-CTE camp experiences are offered either for one or two weeks for two to five days per week. Maine’s CTE instructors are enjoying the opportunity to share many career options available in Maine to middle school aged students, a younger audience than the traditional high school age of students that attend CTE schools throughout the school year.

Students, too, are excited about the opportunity to spend a few weeks of the summer learning about career options and engaging in hands-on learning opportunities. “I am the happiest girl in the world right now,” said one of the students currently participating in a MS-CTE summer camp.

There are 21 CTE schools across Maine that are piloting MS-CTE programs which have allowed students to experience career options through hands on activities. The pilots have ranged from in-school programming, online career exploration, mentorships as well as the camp experiences currently taking place this summer. All programs offer a hands on component and a career exploration element as required by the standards.  

Check out this recent Portland Press Herald news article highlighting this excellent work: Summer camps build on effort to extend vocational programs to middle schoolers.

For more information about Maine’s MS-CTE programs, visit the MS-CTE website at or contact the Middle School CTE Specialist Margaret Harvey at Margaret.Harvey@maine.gov    

Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education Celebrates Graduates

Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education awarded five diplomas in a ceremony on Monday, June 7th. While the heat caused a venue change, it didn’t dampen the spirit of the celebration and the students receiving their hard-earned High School Equivalency Diplomas (HiSET, formerly GED). A total of eight students earned either a HiSET or Adult High School Diploma during the 2020-2021 school year.

Director Stephanie Haskins and Program Coordinator Theresa Boynton, and Adult Education Faculty, Maureen Mitchell, Sheila Myhaver and Laurie Wells recognized each graduate in five individual ceremonies. Graduates invited special guests to the ceremony and each received a personalized cake to continue their celebration at home.

Diplomas were presented by Haskins and Boynton to the following graduates who attended the ceremony: Joseph Amend, Eunice Burns, Dayla Davis, Kassandra Mercer, and Leila Nelson. The following students earned diplomas during the 2020-2021 school year and were awarded diplomas in prior ceremonies: Lucas Rogers, Makayla Smart, Zachary St.Clair, and Adam Tarsetti. Students who earned their diplomas during the 2019-2020 school year, and were recognized in individual events were: Crystal Jordan, Devin Julian, Aric Lutz, Jessica Roberts, Hunter Russell.

Kassandra Mercer was recognized as an outstanding adult education graduate, and received the Courage to Grow award from Central Maine Community College. The award provides a scholarship to the recipient for three credit hours of tuition for the upcoming fall semester.

Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education provides individualized programming in a friendly environment to help adult learners achieve their academic, career and personal goals. Programming includes high school diploma and high school equivalency preparation classes, college and career advising, college preparation, career training, as well as personal enrichment classes.

For more information about Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education’s programming visit gngadulted.org or call 657-9612.

This article was submitted by Gray-New Gloucester Adult & Community Education Program as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit an article or a story idea, email Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

New Maine Initiative to Build Ag Literacy Through Immersive CTE Culinary Arts Programs

A new University of Maine initiative to build agricultural literacy through an immersive culinary experience for career and technical education (CTE) culinary arts instructors is one of 21 projects funded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA has invested $6.2 million in the Professional Development and Secondary School Teacher grants to increase the number of K–14 teachers and educational professionals trained in the food and agricultural sciences. The grants to prepare more educators in food and ag science, and support best teaching practices that enhance student learning outcomes, are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

UMaine’s Building Agriculture Literacy Through an Immersive Culinary Experience project, which received a $300,000, four-year grant, is led by Kathy Savoie, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor; Willie Grenier, executive director of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom; and Rob Dumas, UMaine food science pilot plant manager. CTE culinary arts instructors will receive professional development experiences to increase their agricultural literacy, and enhance the connectedness between agriculture and food service in their culinary arts curricula.

A goal of the project is to help create a skilled, educated workforce that will increase the use of Maine grown, processed and produced foods in their programs and careers by changing the way students — tomorrow’s food professionals — think about the importance and value of local food, according to the researchers.

“Providing professional development experiences for CTE instructors will help to shift culinary arts programs toward local food system education with the end goal to create a workforce that is proficient in Maine agriculture, and that will be poised to meet today’s consumer needs and ultimately boost our state agriculture” says Savoie, the principal investigator on the initiative.

The project provides a holistic approach to uniting community partners to identify the best practices for agriculture literacy education at CTE culinary arts programs in Maine. UMaine Cooperative Extension and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom will collaborate to provide experiential learning opportunities for CTE culinary arts instructors through a week-long Immersive Culinary Arts Summer Institute. Project activities will include hands-on experience in local food procurement practices, demonstrations of food system lessons, educational field trips, financial support for experiential activities through their existing school restaurants, participation in a UMaine Local Foods Competition and coaching during the school year.

The CTE instructors also will experience the educational power of job shadowing, flipped classrooms and working relationships with employers that could help students make career connections. Participating instructors will be eligible to receive mini-grants to support nontraditional learning experiences — on-site learning opportunities with farmers, food processors and butchers, for example, and at food hubs, food incubator labs, aquaculture facilities, food pantries and restaurants — to increase students’ understanding of local food systems. In addition, the UMaine Food Pilot Plant will host local food competitions for CTE culinary arts students, challenging them to use Maine foods in creative and innovative ways to meet the demands of today’s consumers.