Supporting Teaching and Learning in Aroostook County, Maine
The Central Aroostook Council on Education (CACE) is a PK-16 partnership consisting of Easton, MSAD #1, MSAD #20, MSAD #32, MSAD #42, MSAD #45, RSU #39, MSSM, Union #122 and the University of Maine at Presque Isle. CACE has been in existance since 1994 and evolved from an earlier collaboration (ATLAS) between the superintendents in Presque Isle, Fort Fairfield, Mars Hill and Caribou. Realizing the benefits of a PK-16 partnership, CACE was organized by expanding the original partnership to include the University of Maine at Presque Isle and additional schools in geographic proximity, Easton and Limestone.
The leadership for CACE originates with the Executive Committee consisting of superintendents from each of the public school districts, UMPI President, UMPI Education Chair and a full time Executive Director.
The major goals of CACE are to:
- Provide high quality professional development.
- Save money by purchasing products and services in bulk.
- Strengthen the pre-service teacher education program.
- Develop a collegial relationship PK-16.
Providing timely, affordable and relevant professional development is a top priority among the CACE membership. Valuable input for professional development activities can originate directly from the Executive Committee, which meets monthly. In addition, the CACE In-Service Committee, consisting of representatives from each of the member school districts, meets on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss professional development needs. These curriculum coordinators, principals, UMPI faculty and Ed Chair select topics and formats for ongoing workshops and professional development activities based on district and teacher needs. They also organize a fall workshop day that is attended by over 500 teachers. A common calendar day is built into each district’s calendar to accommodate this tradition. By pooling financial resources, CACE has been able to engage nationally recognized guest speakers and consultants. In addition to a keynote presenter, these one day events often include a wide variety of breakout sessions.
Additional input for professional development comes directly from the front line educators who are consistently asked to provide ideas for future workshops on the evaluation forms completed at each CACE sponsored activity.
Some recent professional development topics include: College Ready Curriculum, Wellness, Classroom Management, Education Technician Series, Autism, Bullying, Developmental Assets, Aspirations, Generational Poverty, Content Literacy, School Law, Drug Testing, Technology, RTI, Legal Issues, Singapore Math, Using Data to Improve Achievement, RTI, Reading Strategies for Boys, 6+1 Trait Training, NWEA Users, Small Group Reading Strategies, Positive Behavior Support and Maine Course Pathways.
CACE has also assisted both UM and USM in delivering masters programs to the local schools. CACE has recently completed an agreement with UM to offer an Ed Leadership Masters Program in the County. CACE leadership is also providing support to the University System and the tri-campus consortium to offer a rural masters program for area educators.
Recently, CACE worked closely with the UMPI College of Education to create and implement a formal professional development school pilot project involving schools in Caribou and SAD #1. The program places UMPI student interns in the school setting one day per week for the entire school year. Their presence in the school on a dependable schedule provides teachers with additional support for high need children. Organizers hope to expand the program to other CACE schools in the future.
Another “quiet” accomplishment of CACE is the organization of yearly bids or bulk purchases such as: paper products, office supplies, petroleum products, milk, juice, bread and other hot lunch items, facilities assessment, asbestos inspection, breathilizers and hazardous waste removal.
Over time, bulk purchasing has provided significant cost savings to member schools.
The importance of the University of Maine at Presque Isle participation in this partnership should not be understated. UMPI faculty and students attend professional development activities with the PK-12 educators. Many of the public school teachers and administrators serve as adjunct faculty for the university. This “cross pollination” benefits all stakeholders as they work collaboratively to provide an affordable high quality education for youth and adults in the Central Aroostook area. The local schools have welcomed pre-service students into their schools for observations, student teaching and other field experiences.
Funding for CACE activities comes from per pupil fees paid by the public school members, a large contribution from the University, including office space and a variety of grant sources. As funding from the Department of Education has disappeared, securing grant funding has become more urgent. Over the years CACE has collaborated with other state organizations such as Maine Support Network, Maine Math and Science Alliance, Regional Teacher Development Center and Department of Education and many others.
In summary, since 1994, CACE has provided cost effective, continuous, ongoing and high quality professional development opportunities to the membership schools. CACE has shown that collaboration and honest conversations between Pk-12 schools and the University can assure strength and stability in an ever changing educational climate.