Newsletter ? Spring 2011

WMEC?s Partnership with UMF Benefits Both Collaborators

Submitted by Pam Wilson and Angela Blaise from UMF

Mutual commitment to quality professional development for educators has formed a firm foundation for collaboration between WMEC and UMF?s Office of Educational Outreach since WMEC was first established.? This collaboration has produced benefits for both agencies far beyond anything originally envisioned.

Course Work

The first natural collaboration was to provide meaningful and tailored graduate level-course work for teachers in WMEC districts.? WMEC?s surveys of its members? needs continue to produce many quality graduate courses to support identified professional development needs.? These courses have often differed in both content and format from other UMF graduate courses, helping UMF to serve practicing educators in more meaningful and appropriate ways.? For example, courses developed with WMEC have involved efforts to :

  • incorporate extensive in-class coaching to enhance teachers? literacy instruction across the curriculum,
  • see and positively address the critical need for quality math education in middle schools/high school, and
  • utilize the Tandberg distance education system as an effective instructional resource.

These courses are also helping WMEC teachers make connections with UMF?s Masters of Science in Education degree in classroom leadership.? In the first cohort of this master?s degree program (whose participants graduated this spring),? ten WMEC teachers transferred a total of 20 courses into their concentration, saving districts several thousands of dollars in tuition.

60/40 Tuition Sharing

Early in our collaboration, WMEC and UMF negotiated shared responsibilities for developing a course which resulted in an agreement to share tuition revenue.? UMF now returns to WMEC 40% of all tuition received in return for WMEC handling all recruitment for its WMEC courses and selecting and paying its own instructor.? This agreement has since become a model for all campuses in the University of Maine System, strengthening collaboration between the System and the school districts served by each campus across the state.

Collaboration on Grants

More recently Mona Baker (Executive Director of WMEC) worked with UMF to apply for a three year grant to provide professional development activities for special educators throughout western and central Maine.? The grant was awarded in 2010 and is known as SPOC (Special Education Outreach Consortium).? Its three main goals are to:

  • increase the number of 282 certified special educators,
  • ?provide professional development to all educators, and
  • recruit individuals into the field of special education.?

As a partner in this grant WMEC has provide significant connections to schools that are members of WMEC.?
Mona Baker sits on the Executive Committee for this grant.? As a member of this committee, she has been a key player in the development of SPOC?s iPad pilot project and in planning Dine and Discuss nights by helping the group to focus on key topics of interest to educators. Along with selecting topics, she has also helped to find presenters for these events.? Mona has also been a major contributor of ideas for activities to include in the each year?s proposal renewal for the grant.?
SPOC?s collaboration with WMEC has been a reciprocal one in that both parties have been able to benefit.? The grant has provided a small stipend to support Mona?s work.? As a result, she has helped SPOC staff arrange trainings for UMF faculty and staff which focused on NWEA and the use of the Tandberg system in the classroom.? She also opened up the IEP training that WMEC offered this year to include UMF faculty and staff, and the SPOC grant has financially supported WMEC?s Principals Networking Group and the K-5 Summer Math Academy to be held this summer.


WMEC?s work is built on the foundation of collaboration, and UMF looks forward to continuing to be part of that foundation.?? This has been a relationship that strengthens both organizations and, more importantly, continues to produce quality professional development opportunities for educators in western and central Maine.?

A Look to the Future

The summer work for WMEC is be focused on a few major efforts ? some new and some a continuation of great work already begun.

The two MAJOR new efforts are the planning and delivery of a K-5 Summer Math Academy happening August 8th ? the 12th and the further development of the Speech and Language Telepractice Pilot with the University of Maine.? Both of these efforts have potential of being further supported by additional grant funds ? announcements about awards are eagerly awaited.
Continued work will include the beginning of a new Cohort for the Middle/High School Math RTI initiative; shared work by business managers from across the region; development/ implementation of training with principals and next steps for the special education IEP training.

This Center for Best Practice is a collaboration between the Maine Department of Education and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made possible by the contributions of the Maine schools that share their stories.