At the Educate Maine photo of the morning plenary session discussion were, from left, Kate Howell, director, Workforce Partnerships for Educate Maine; Amanda Leith, head of talent acquisition for FMI, A Spirit AeroSystems Company; Bank of America Maine President Brian King; and FocusMaine President Dana O’Brien. (Courtesy photo)

Education champions also were celebrated at day-long event focusing on innovative ideas, best practices, and timely strategies for helping all Maine people reach their highest educational potential

PORTLAND — More than 400 educators, business leaders, policymakers, students, and diverse citizens from across Maine convened in Portland on Dec. 9 at Educate Maine’s 2022 Education Symposium to share knowledge, innovative ideas, best practices, and timely strategies for helping all Maine people reach their highest educational potential. After two years of virtual engagement, this year’s event was held in-person through the generous support of many sponsors, including Premier Sponsor Unum, and in partnership with the MELMAC Education Foundation.

Workforce solutions through educational partnerships were the focus of the morning plenary session featuring a moderated armchair discussion with Bank of America Maine President Brian King, FocusMaine President Dana O’Brien, and Amanda Leith, head of talent acquisition for FMI, A Spirit AeroSystems Company.

Luncheon keynote speaker Kelsey Stoyanova, 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year, discussed the impact on students and communities when teachers and education allies work together to offer authentic and innovative learning experiences.

“It was great to bring together hundreds of educators, policy makers, business leaders, and other partners to both celebrate educators from across Maine and to engage in meaningful conversations about education and business partnerships, student career pathways, experiential learning, and early education,” said Dr. Jason Judd, executive director of Educate Maine. “I was proud to see so many business leaders collaborating with educators throughout the day on how they can work together to help Maine students thrive.” 

Longtime Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors was presented with Educate Maine’s 2022 Weston L. Bonney Education Leadership Award at the Symposium’s Leadership Luncheon. Each year, this award recognizes an individual, business, or group that demonstrates commitment to quality education for Maine students. Connors, who will retire from the Maine State Chamber soon, has been a champion for education throughout his nearly 30 years leading the state’s largest business association.

With more than 35 speakers and 20 breakout sessions throughout the day, symposium attendees learned about existing employer-educator partnerships in Maine; and heard from educators who are piloting new and innovative programming to integrate technology, social-emotional learning, and outdoor education into their classrooms. Students became teachers in a few sessions where attendees listened to presentations on how the students are engaging in meaningful conversations and leadership initiatives within their schools.

Breakout sessions included a focus on computer science education in Maine; meeting skilled workforce demands; practices that support success for Maine’s LGBTQ+ students; core instruction in CTE programs; practical ways to bring a community together around the critically important topic of early childhood education; apprenticeships as a strategy to address the childcare workforce crisis; how the offer of free college is changing the opportunities, options, and aspirations for New Mainers; and understanding the importance of equity, inclusion, and education of elementary level students using the Civil Rights team model. 

Please click here for the symposium’s full agenda, including descriptions of all breakout sessions, or visit

The 2023 Education Symposium is scheduled to take place on Friday, Dec. 8 in Portland.

Educate Maine champions career readiness by increasing the educational attainment of Maine people, enabling all students to succeed in postsecondary education and in the workplace. Landmark programs include the Maine Teacher of the Year program, Education Leaders Experience, Project>Login, and Maine Career Catalyst. More information is available at Educate Maine is a founding member of MaineSpark, a coalition of education and business leaders working together to achieve a common goal: by 2025, 60 percent of Mainers will hold education and workforce credentials that position Maine and its families for success.