Applying to graduate school is a big step, and it requires careful time and attention. It can be stressful and confusing at times, but if you follow all of the steps and prepare for what is required, it will be a lot easier. Follow these steps to make the application process as stressless as possible:
- 1. Research schools based on location and disciplines. Once you find programs in the area you want, research each program to find out exactly what research is being done, what you will be doing, and what the application requirements are. You do not want to just apply to any program that has your discipline, because the school and program itself might not be a good fit for you. To find graduate programs that fit your needs, click here.
- Reach out to grad school faculty and ask questions. This will show them that you are serious about the program and that you take initiative. It will also facilitate a relationship with graduate school faculty, who are usually the ones to make admissions decisions.
- Prepare for the standardized test you will need to take (Graduate Record Exam-General Test, Graduate Record Exam- Subject Test, Miller Analogies Test, Graduate Management Admission Test) and register for the test. Each program requires (if any) different tests, so make sure you prepare for any and all that are needed.
- Request letters of recommendation from undergrad professors, faculty, and internship/work supervisors. Professionals who can speak about your abilities, growth, passion, strengths, and about you as a professional overall are the best resources for recommendation letters. Do not include personal references unless specifically requested.
- Draft your essay/personal statement. Read it a few times, have others read it, and edit, edit, EDIT! Make sure it is perfect, because this is the first snapshot that grad school admissions will have of you.
- File your application by the admissions deadline. Make sure you know when any and all deadlines are.
Okay so now you know step by step what to do, but what about all of the in betweens? Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to do everything:
- Breathe and relax. Getting overwhelmed can cause you to make careless mistakes. Take each step one day at a time if necessary.
- Don’t wait until the last minute, because then you will be stressed and pressed for time, and you will be rushing to get it all done.
- Make sure you follow all of the application directions. Failure to follow directions could cause faculty to question your ability to follow policies and procedures.
- Make sure everything is spelled correctly and punctuated right. Poor spelling can have a negative impact on your application, no matter how high your GPA or tests scores are.
- Be clear about your goals and desires, your strengths and areas for growth, and your professional experiences and abilities. This shows that you have personal insight, know where you stand as a professional, and that you are determined to reach your goals.
- Communicate those goals/strengths/etc to those writing recommendation letters- these are important topics that they can touch upon and build up for you.
- Have a backup plan, just in case you do not get accepted to your top choice program(s).
Applying for and going to graduate school can be stressful, but it pays off in the end and is definitely worth it! If you are considering furthering your education or for more information about the graduate school application process, visit the UMF Graduate School Resources site.
The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to offer many various travel courses to students throughout the year. Travel courses are offered in January during winter break and in May/June once school is out. Each course is about two to three weeks and can be taken for 2 or 4 credits.
Recent travel courses have gone to the Virgin Islands, Cypress, Ireland, Japan and have studied topics such as business, anthropology, economy, and more! UMF travel courses are designed for all students, not just those in the field of study of the course! Brittany Jerome, an upcoming senior at UMF, is an early childhood special education major and just participated in the anthropology course to Peru. Ed360 caught up with Brittany after the trip to learn more about the experience she shared with peers.
When asked why she chose Peru, Brittany had one simple answer- why not?! “I love to travel, and Peru is such an interesting country filled with so much culture. I was taking an introduction course to anthropology with Nicole Kellett in the fall of 2016 and she told our class about the trip. I went to the first informational meeting and left knowing I had to go. Two and a half weeks in another country, getting credits for it, and learning from two professors who have spent a significant part of their lives in Peru and who have an enormous amount of love for the country and the people- how could I say no? I would never get an opportunity like this again, so I had to take advantage of it.”
Dr. Nicole Kellett and Dr. Lucas Kellett are both anthropology professors at UMF. They both lived in Peru during their graduate studies and have been back to visit many times on their own, with their children, and multiple times as leaders of the UMF travel course. The knowledge they both share about the culture, environment, economy, and the history of Peru makes them perfect leaders for such a trip.
The Peru 2017 travel course accommodated both of the Kelletts and fifteen students. Those students come from various majors and fields of study, such as anthropology, education, international global studies, psychology, community health, and more! “Anyone is able to make a connection to such a course and use the experience to grow both personally and professionally,” said Brittany.
The students that traveled to Peru were busy, that is for sure! Over a course of eighteen days they stayed in six locations, hiked two mountains, visited many archeological sights, and learned more than they ever would in a classroom. Brittany gave the following summary of their time abroad:
“We arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru, late on a Tuesday night. Over the next few days we ventured out into Lima. We got to visit an archeological sights, including Pachacamac [pictured right], which was on of my favorites! We also got to visit a cathedral and a few museums. A couple of days later we departed from Lima and flew into the Andes into a community called Andahuaylas.
In Andahuaylas, we stayed in this cute camp-like place called Munay Wasi. We spent our first full day visiting the archeological sight of Sondor and hiking Achanchi, a peak that was part of the Andes Mountain Range! We had lunch on a lake and got to meet some of the Kelletts’ family friends. The next day we went to Sacclaya, a beautiful community that is tucked away in the mountains. Luke and Nicole lived in Sacclaya for a year at one point, so they knew some of the locals. We got to tour the schools, play with the children, eat a traditional Peruvian dish of cuy (fried guinea pig- don’t knock until you try it!) and play soccer with some of the women in the community. It was such a fun day! The next day, Sunday, we got to walk around the regional market in Andahuaylas, which is the second largest market in Peru. People were selling food and fresh juice, jewelry, textiles, clothes, toys, and even some animals. It was really cool to see how the economy in such a rural community works on such an important and busy day to the locals.
The next day we took a long bus ride to Cuzco, where we got to explore some interesting archeological sights surrounding the city. We also took a tour of the Sacred Valley, including sights such as the the Pisac market and ruins and Ollantaytambo. We then took the train to Aguas Calientes, where we spent the night before visiting Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was incredible. You see pictures of it online and in books, but nothing is as breathtaking as seeing it in person. We walked around the sight and then hiked Hyuana Picchu, the big peak that sits right behind Machu Picchu. On our way back to Cuzco we were able to visit some salt mines and Inca terraces. The next day, we traveled to the Amazon Rainforest.
The rainforest was amazing. We first got to visit a community and a school, where the children put on a dance performance for us and played various games with all of us. Then, we rode a motor boat up an Amazon tributary called the Mother of God, where we were able to jump off of a rock into the tributary and ride the current down to the beach. We then ventured into the heart of the jungle where we spent two nights. The guides that we had were so kind and knowledgable- they could just look at a plant or a butterfly or a bird and know the exact species and how they live and survive. One guide took some of us on a night walk where we crept through the dark in search of anything interesting (we mostly just saw a ton of spiders). They also taught us about the resources in the jungle, such as medicinal plants and various foods. One of our guides even used his personal experience to tell us how to survive if we are to ever get lost in the jungle. I was amazed by the rainforest.
We had one final day in Cuzco before departing, where some of us shopped, some went to a few museums, and others just enjoyed exploring the city to it’s fullest. While in Peru we spent time in rural highlands, the lush rainforest, and bustling cities. There was something for everyone to enjoy.”
Sounds like there was a lot to do, and everyone, despite their field of study, was able to make a connection somehow. “While the course was titled ‘Andean Exploration: Past and Present’ and we focused mostly on the Incas and the development of Peru over the years,” said Brittany, “when you spend as much time in another country as we did you learn and take in so much more information that what is academically provided. As an education major, it is important to be culturally competent and understand that other cultures may do things that you do not understand, but you need to respect them. Really, being culturally competent is important in any field where you will be working with people. I think anyone can really make a professional connection when traveling and use their experiences to build on their professional development.”
When asked about her favorite part of the trip, Brittany warmly said, “Out of all of the amazing things we saw and did, my favorite aspect of the trip is the family we became by the end of it. Most of us did not even know half of the people on the trip when we started, but even by the third day we had all made connections, learned from and supported each other, and made some awesome friendships. Other than that, I really enjoyed visiting Sacclaya and playing with the children there. Even though there were some language barriers, I was able to interact with the children and have fun!”
Museums, archeological sights, hiking, cities, this trip offers something for everyone! You do not need to be a world traveler, a trained mountain hiker, or an anthropology student to enjoy a trip like this, you just need to be open minded and have the desire to learn and explore! “If you have the opportunity to go on a travel course, do it!” said Brittany. “You will not regret it. You’ll be learning from experts and sharing this experience with other UMF students who have similar interests. I wish I had known about these courses sooner, I would do one every year if possible!” For more information about the travel courses offered here at UMF and other UMaine System schools, visit the Travel Course and International Exchange Programs page.
For the past few years Early Childhood Education professor Dr. Patti Bailie has been implementing an assignment that requires students to plan, design, budget for, and create a visual of a proposed childcare center. This is a very in depth, hands on assignment that allows students to express their creativity while learning about the processes that go into planning an environment for young children.
Planning Environments for Young Children (ECH 420) is an upper-level course offered every fall semester and has evolved greatly over the years. Students engage in a three-phase process of designing a learning environment that incorporates indoor and outdoor spaces. First, students are put into groups of three and interview early childhood educators and directors to get their input on what is important to include in the space. They then write a program for their proposed center, draw out the environment to scale, and decide what materials need to be in the environment. This assignment requires a lot of work and new knowledge, as students need to draw the space with proper dimensions that align with childcare center policies, create a budget and a list of all of the materials they would need, and consider any challenges that may evolve through this process.
Another interesting aspect of this assignment is the implementation of nature based education. Professor Bailie has expertise in the field of nature based education, which is the promotion of using the natural outdoor environment to encourage children to explore and learn from their organic surroundings. “The whole idea of nature based education and nature play areas is taking hold in preschools and elementary play environments, so I am excited to implement it more,” said Professor Bailie. “I am excited to see pre-educators taking this mindset and enjoying this topic as well.”
Not only do ECH 420 students engage in planning the environment, but geography students have played a part in the past, as well. In the Fall 2015 semester, geography Professor Matt McCourt partnered with Professor Bailie to create a co-lab, incorporating the expertise of students in both fields to create a sustainable nature based environment. Geography students surveyed the land next to the Sweatt-Winter learning center located on campus to determine where the sun hits the land the most, how wind effects that area, rain drainage, and more. Early childhood students then used this information to design and implement a nature based outdoor area for children to use. They created tree stump seats, mud kitchens, and willow tree tunnels to encourage children to engage in the natural resources that surround them. This was a very hands-on experience, as students used chainsaws and other tools to create the materials for the outdoor play area. They then watched their ideas come to life, as the children enrolled in Sweatt-Winter then got to explore the space and learn about the various materials from the students.
There has been talk about relocating Sweatt-Winter and building a new space for the center. In the Fall 2016 semester, Professor Bailie’s students proposed ideas which were presented to various faculty and community members in January, including President Foster. While there are no set plans for the new center yet, those involved in the process did write down common themes or ideas that ECH students had that could be implemented in the new center.
Professor Bailie is always impressed with the ideas that students have. One group designed an outdoor trampoline area that incorporated the use of technology, one group created a circle-shaped lobby that had pods extending around it for kindergarten, first, and second grade classes, and one group included various rooms and resources for parents as well. While some groups had similar ideas, no two design proposals were the same. Through this class, students are able to get a taste of what goes into planning a learning environment, budgeting, following policies, and collaborating with other professionals in order to create the best space possible. This is a great assignment that allows students to use their individual creativity while planning.
When asked what her favorite part about this assignment is, Professor Bailie said she loves watching it all come together. “Students start off feeling very challenged, but by the end of the semester they are drawing and designing and are excited about their ideas! I like to see the change in students’ attitudes over the semester as these projects come together.”
Are you interested in nature-based education? Professor Bailie has taught an honors nature-based education class in the past, which may be offered again. UMF is also working on developing a nature based education minor program available to all students, not just education majors. Keep an eye out for more information about various nature based programs offered at UMF, including the Nature Based Education Summer Institute taking place on campus this summer!
For more information about the co-lab that took place in 2015, read the article about it here.
It is a bittersweet moment when a beloved professor and faculty member leaves the University of Maine at Farmington. Professor Rick Dale is closing the chapter on his time at UMF as he prepares for his retirement. After 11 years as a professor of special education at UMF and 38 years in the field, Dr. Dale has made many positive impacts on the students and colleagues he has worked with.
Dr. Dale was working as a special education professor at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania when he came to UMF in 2006. After previously working as a practitioner, Dr. Dale wanted to focus more on the teaching aspect of special education as opposed to the research process. “My focus was to be a teacher and not focus on research, and thats what the program here does,” stated Dr. Dale. “Research is important too, but it is not what I wanted to do.” The geographic location of UMF was also appealing, and the small size is similar to that of Mansfield University, which is something Dr. Dale enjoys.
Over the past eleven years, Dr. Dale has seen many changes to UMF. During his first semester his office was in Franklin Hall, but he soon moved to the Education Center. There have been changes made to the special education department as well, as Dr. Dale and his colleagues have continuously worked towards improving things that do not work and maintaining those that do. Also, when Dr. Dale came to UMF in 2006, NCATE was the accrediting agency, but now it is CAEP. “There have been many changes in what needs to be done to reach the CAEP standards,” he said, “as well as the focus on Common Core teaching standards and the standards for students.” Dr. Dale has worked very hard to alter the curriculum in order to prepare future educators as they begin to enter the field of special education.
When asked what some of his greatest career accomplishments are, Dr. Dale spoke of his dedication to the field. “I stuck to and stayed in a career that serves a very vulnerable population,” he said. “I started right after college and this is my 38th year in the field. I gave up other career paths that would have made more money, but this was more satisfying and I can look back and say ‘I had an honorable career and I am proud of that.'” When working at the Department of Education in Pennsylvania, Dr. Dale oversaw important regulatory changes in special education as the Regional Service Director in the department. As an administrator in PA and a director of special education, he was very successful in creating and growing programs to help students in the area. Dr. Dale has also been published in Teaching Exceptional Children, writing about influencing IDEA regulations. He was also faculty president for a year at UMF and then became chair of the division. “It’s about the day to day accomplishments of doing what you do,” said Dr. Dale, as he is most proud of the little things that make a big impact.
While being a professor of special education at UMF, Dr. Dale has also repeatedly taught a First Year Seminar class titled, ‘What Would Kerouac Do?’, which was a wonderful opportunity. Typically, Dr. Dale teaches upperclassmen, so teaching First Year Seminar also exposed him to the freshman classes each year. He was able to incorporate his own personal hobby and interest in the works of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation into his teaching curriculum while also working with students from various majors that he might not otherwise have the opportunity to do. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to teach first year seminar,” said Dr. Dale. “It’s a great chance for professors to teach outside of their discipline, which I did for 5 years.”
When asked about post-retirement plans, Dr. Dale said that he wants to do the things he does not have time to do now, such as travel, read, exercise, and write. He is currently planning a trip to Europe in the fall and plans to visit his family in California. What better way to spend your time than doing the things you enjoy with the ones you love?
Students and colleagues speak very highly of Dr. Dale and his work at the University of Maine at Farmington. He will truly be missed, but the impact he has made on the lives he has touched will never be forgotten. “UMF has been a great place to work and is a great place to finish my special education career at,” he said. “I’ve always felt very supported here and have great colleagues in my program. Special education is a very rewarding career and I encourage anyone interested to consider it as their career path.” Thank you, Dr. Rick Dale, for your work and contributions not just here at UMF, but in the field of special education.
Congratulations on your retirement from all of us here at UMF!
The Maine Department of Education has launched a state-wide initiative challenging parents, educators, and anyone who interacts with children to spend at least fifteen minutes a day reading to children in order to increase their literacy. Various UMF students and faculty participated this year at three different locations, making an impact on many young children in the area.
Kathryn Will-Dubyak is an assistant professor of literacy education in the elementary education and early childhood division and has been working here since August of 2016. She collaborated with Julie Farmer, the director at Sweatt-Winter, and Tracey Williams, the principal at WG Mallett School to organize read-in sessions at each school on February 16th and 17th. Sweatt-Winter had eight participants that spent a total of one hour reading to the children, and Mallett had sixty participants that read to all of the students for about 45 minutes. Participants included UMF students, professors, and staff. The UMF Women’s Softball Team also took on the #ReadtoME challenge and visited Phillips Elementary School to read to children there. When one of the softball players explained that she might struggle with pronouncing some of the words, a first grader said, “Well, if you don’t know a word, remember to slow down and sound it out!” How inspiring!
“This is a great program organized to encourage the power to reach to children early and often and to spread the word on social media,” said Professor Will-Dubyak. “The children loved it. Chompers came and some children read to him, which they really enjoyed!”
#ReadtoME is an annual event, so if you are interested in taking on the challenge keep an eye out for next year’s events! “Stay tuned,” said Professor Will-Dubyak, “we are going to make it bigger and better!”
For more information about the #ReadtoME challenge, visit the Maine DOE website here, or search for the #ReadtoME or #UMFReadtoME hashtags on Twitter.
While the spring semester is halfway through, most students and faculty are preparing for final projects and exams, symposium, and graduation. Some faculty, however, are closing the door on their time at the University of Maine at Farmington and are preparing to retire. One of those faculty members is Dolores Appl.
Dr. Appl is a professor in the Early Childhood Special Education department and is the facilitator of the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup on campus. Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen and contributed to many positive changes at UMF and has made a difference in the lives of students and young children.
Dr. Appl was working in Pennsylvania as an early childhood special education instructor when she applied to UMF in 2002. When asked what is was about UMF that she liked, Dr. Appl started listing various appealing attributes. “I liked the birth-5 ECS certification, I liked the small size of the school, the ability to work with students over the years, and being able to live within walking distance of where I work” she said. Another quality that drew Dr. Appl to UMF was the available space to implement the PIWI-inspired playgroup.
Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) is a playgroup designed to encourage and facilitate parent-child interactions to help parents create a bond with their young children while contributing to their development. The PIWI Playgroup was founded by professors at the University of Illinois. One of the founders was Dr. Jeanette McCollum, Dr. Appl’s advisor and mentor during her graduate studies. When Dr. Appl came to UMF, she implemented a similar PIWI-Inspired Playgroup that served as a practicum site for students and as a resource for parents. ECS students that implement their practicum with the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup plan various activities and topics of discussion for each weekly playgroup. Students then lead and facilitate the discussions and activities, assisting parents in engaging actively with their children. Dr. Appl mentors the students and helps guide them through planning and instruction. The PIWI-inspired Playgroup meets on Maguire street next to Public Safety and has a generous amount of space and materials for children and families to use.
Below is a photo of Dr. Appl and Dr. Jeanette McCollum at the 2015 Division for Early Childhood (DEC) conference, posing with Dr. Appl’s poster on research being done on the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup. This Playgroup has been a great resource for UMF students and community members and families!
Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen many changes in UMF. When she started here, most classes were worth 3 credits and most professors taught four classes a semester at 3 credits each. Once the classes became 4 credits each professors started teaching three classes a semester. This was a shift that required a lot of changes in the curriculum to be made, which Dr. Appl assisted in. The accreditation system as also changed considerably, and the ECS program was revamped by Dr. Appl and Lorraine Spenciner.
Dr. Appl has made many great accomplishments throughout her career. Implementing the Playgroup at UMF is one of her greatest, including her publications and presentations about the playgroup. “Since being at UMF I have been published in peer-reviewed journals ten times, six of those including collaborative work with students.” Dr. Appl also contributed to the creation of the individual progress monitoring document (IPMD) which helps ECS students keep track of various assignments that line up with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and DEC standards in order to better organize final portfolios. Dr. Appl has enjoyed working with students during symposium and served on the Institutional Review Board, reviewing research done by faculty and students. Dr. Appl certainly has been very involved over the years.
When asked what her post-retirement plans are, Dr. Appl listed an array of options. “I am thinking about doing accreditation through CEC and increasing my involvement with CEC and DEC. I plan to consult with the UMF playgroup, try to implement playgroups in Texas where my kids live, travel, and spend time with family. I plan to stay in Farmington for a while and will probably volunteer somewhere nearby.”
Dr. Dolores Appl has made tremendous contributions to the University of Maine at Farmington and the early childhood special education department. The PIWI-Inspired Playgroup will carry on and will be taken over by the incoming ECS professor. While Dr. Appl will be missed at UMF, the impact she has made on students and children will be remembered. Thank you, Dr. Appl, for your hard work and dedication over the years.
The University of Maine at Farmington currently has four teacher candidates conducting their student teaching at the Daegu International School in Daegu, South Korea. The Daegu International School (DIS) has a partnership with UMF that allows students to conduct their student teaching internationally while meeting all of the requirements to receive their degree. Tori Lands and Kayla Girardin were able to share their experience and discuss various challenges, opportunities, and stores from their experience.
Student teaching abroad provides students with the opportunity to use and build on their skills and professional development while traveling and immersing in a new culture. Tori always had an interest in studying abroad but was not sure if it would work out for her in an education major, until she learned about student teaching abroad. “I believe that one of the most important responsibilities educators have is to help guide students to becoming global citizens,” says Tori, while discussing some of the reasoning behind her decision to go abroad. “I feel as if my time at UMF both as a secondary education/ social studies major and an International Global Studies minor have greatly influenced my ability to be a compassionate and conscientious member of society. I hope to be able to foster these qualities in my future students and feel as if going abroad is allowing me to build on the foundation UMF gave me as well as develop my own understanding of what it means to be apart of the global community.”
While teaching abroad, students are exposed to a different school system and classroom structure that they may not be used to. It can be challenging going into a new classroom with expectations and situations that you may not have experiences with. Kayla found this to be a challenge at first. “Many of my students are ESL (English as a Second Language), which challenges me to differentiate instructional strategies,” she said. “There is no Special Education here, so there may be students with learning differences who do not receive services because there are none to offer. It is interesting for me to see the difference between the way disability is perceived here compared to the United States since I have a minor in Special Education.” Kayla has since adjusted to these challenges and has been able to connect to her students, which she believes is the most important aspect of teaching.
Tori has found the cultural differences between Maine and the students she teaches at DIS to be most interesting. Maine is not as diverse as DIS, as Tori has students in her classroom from Korea, America, China, the Philippines, Japan, Australia- just to name a few. The diversity in her classroom has allowed her to learn from her students as well. “Instead of just reading about different cultures and countries these students can share personal stories and experiences,” Tori said. “It has been challenging to make sure I am sharing content in a way that makes sense to all the different learners in my classroom and making U.S. history relevant to students who may have only been to the states once or twice is interesting.” Both Tori and Kayla believe the cultural experience that students gain when teaching abroad has been much richer than teaching at home in the states.
Are you interested in students teaching or studying abroad, but don’t know where to start?
There are many resources on campus to help, including your academic advisor, the Financial Aid department, the Study Abroad office, and more! “The logistics of planning for the trip can get hectic and overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask questions,” advises Kayla. “Reach out to people who have done it before and see what they have to say about it. Research the country you’re going to and be aware of the culture, history, and language. See if there are any places nearby you would like to travel to during any breaks and work those costs into your budget. If you’re going to be abroad, make the most of it! Your student teaching responsibilities come first, but don’t forget to truly experience the country you’re in. Get involved as much as you can with the school as well because it will help you make more connections with teachers and students.”
It can be scary and overwhelming to go abroad, but students find it to be very worth it. “I think it is easy to stay in places and environments that are comfortable and when thinking about the joys and obstacles that come with student teaching it may seem overwhelming to go abroad, but I have already seen growth in both myself and my teaching because of this experience,” says Tori. “I am confident that it will have lasting benefits in both my personal and professional life.”
If you are interested in studying or teaching abroad, you are encouraged to talk to your advisor and whomever else might be able to provide more information about the process. Take advantage of the opportunities that UMF offers, as these opportunities may not present themselves again.
Thank you Tori and Kayla for sharing your expereince in South Korea so far. On behalf of the UMF community, we wish you luck with the remainder of your endeavors.
The University of Maine at Farmington values the partnerships held with various community members and organizations. These partnerships allow UMF students to get involved in the community while building on their field experience and engaging in a hands-on learning environment.
The Franklin County Children’s Task Force provides extensive employment, practicum, volunteer, and internship opportunities for students, including their 21st Century Kids of F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N After School Program. Thomas Desjardins, Program Coordinator, was able to give an insight into the program, the opportunities it provides for UMF students, and the value of this partnership.
“The Franklin County Children’s Task Force generally assists families in need in Franklin county,” Mr. Desjardins explains. “Specifically, my program is the 21st Century After School Program and the mission of this program is to provide quality after school programming with intensive academic supports at no cost to the students in both Farmington and Wilton and the Mt. Blue school district. We provide a safe space for parents to leave their kids when they are at work. We know how much child care costs, but we want to do more. It is more than just a safe space. We want to promote positive interactions and academic achievement in these children. It is all about caring about the people in the community.”
Out of the 31 staff members, 28 of them are UMF students. Kathy Kemp, a UMF Rehabilitation Services professor, is also on the Task Force Board of Directors. Partnering with the University has given the Task Force and the 21st Century Program numerous cooperative and valuable contacts within the community.
UMF students that are employed through the 21st Century Program have the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to this program, as they are involved in lesson planning and implementing those lessons at Mallet or Academy Hill Elementary School. UMF students serve in the role of enrichment facilitator, academic tutor, homework helper, and as the site coordinator. They plan various STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, provide academic supports, kinesthetic activities, visual and performing arts, and health prevention education.”
As a previous school principal, Mr. Desjardins enjoys coaching and supporting new teachers and helping others build on their own skills. “[UMF students] learn how to interact, manage, teach, plan- all aspects of being a school teacher. It’s not babysitting, it’s more like being paid for student teaching or practicum. They participate in monthly staff meetings and professional development, they bring in professionals from various fields, and engage in professional discussions around teaching and learning.” Mr. Desjardins values the “organic connection” that students have with him and his program. “Students look for opportunities to further their craft outside of the classroom. It’s a win win situation, they get the experience and I get to coach them. And they get a paycheck!” Mr. Desjardins said with a chuckle.
When looking for prospective candidates, positive energy and good character are the most important qualities for a potential employee to have. “My realization is that in your early 20’s as a student you have a lot of capacity to be built, but you do not have a lot of tools in the tool box,” says Mr. Desjardins. “It is incumbent upon me to expand your tool box. I run this program as if I am a principal and these employees are my teachers.”
Thomas Desjardins and the 21st Century After School Program are valuable assets to the community and the University. Mr. Desjardins cares a lot about the community, families, and his employees. His experience as a school principal gives him the skills and knowledge to work with future educators and help them build on their own skills to reach their full potential. He is a tremendous leader, educator, coordinator, and partner. The University of Maine at Farmington and the Franklin county are lucky to have him as a partner and a supporter.
The Franklin County Children’s Task Force and the 21st Century Kids of F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N Program are always recruiting UMF students for practicum, student teaching, volunteer, and employment opportunities. For more information about this program and how to get involved, please contact Thomas Desjardins at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 778-6960, or visit the Franklin County Children’s Task Force website.
On behalf of the UMF community, we would like to thank Mr. Desjardins and his program for all that they do for University students and the community. “Franklin County Children’s Task Force, strengthening families for over 30 years.”
College is expensive for everyone. The fees, tuition, room and board, and everything else that is factored in can add up to a hefty dollar amount. Did you know that there are loan forgiveness programs and UMF scholarships designed for education majors? Read below to learn about some of these options.
Loan Forgiveness: The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, if you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. If you have PLUS loans only, you are not eligible for this type of forgiveness. Participants in this program must have a bachelor’s degree in education to be considered a qualified teacher, and ust have completed their five years of full-time teaching before applying for Loan Forgiveness. You may visit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness website to learn more information about eligibility requirements, loan qualifications, or to fill out an application.
UMF Scholarships: UMF offers over one hundred academic scholarships for students, and many of them are dedicated to students in the education field. Many scholarships have very few requirements to be eligible, and they are designed to help all students that are deserving. Below is list of just some of the scholarships offered to education majors at UMF. For a complete list of UMF scholarships and recipient requirements, visit the UMF Scholarships website.
Scholarships for Education Majors (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Allen, Grace Stone Award
- Ambrose, Dr. Edward S. and Barbara Dickey Scholarship
- Arsenault, Katie J. Memorial Scholarship
- Brooks, Leonard Knowles ‘58 Scholarship
- Clawson, Gene and Sue Scholarship
- Cobban, Margaret R. Scholarship Fund
- Cramer, Rowena Titcomb Scholarship Fund
- Currie, Edmund D. Scholarship Fund
- D’aiutolo, Sadie Redding
- D.A.R. Scholarship
- Genthner, Grace Berry Scholarship
- Irwin, Charlotte M. Brett
- Johnson, Alice Miller (Class of 1939) Scholarship
- Kaulback, Vera Macbean (Class of 1940) Scholarship
- Lake, Doris Francis Scholarship
- Lockwood, Helen E. Scholarship
- Macinnes, Beatrice Hudon Memorial Scholarship
- McGary, Ruth Webber (Class of 1950) Scholarship
- Mosher, Nettie Taylor Scholarships
- Nickerson, Clement (1956) and Patricia Craig (1959) Scholarship
- Parlin, Millard S. Sr. and Alverna, W. Scholarship
- Richards, Leona Coy Scholarship
- Verrill, Joan R. Scholarship