Leigh Alley serves as a GEAR UP Maine regional facilitator for Washington and Hancock counties. The former Executive Director of the Washington County Consortium for School Improvement, and a longtime instructional strategist, Leigh understands the challenges and needs unique to rural Maine's educators and students. Today, whether serving on the Board of Directors for Maine ASCD, the Board of Editors for the Journal of Maine Education, traveling the Downeast region working as a "teacher teacher," or offering professional development opportunities at workshops and conferences statewide, Leigh keeps the people of this place she loves—and feels privileged to serve—at the heart of her efforts. A servant leader and proponent of Celebratory Learning, Leigh’s heart feels at home with Syntiro.
Sally Beaulieu is a Regional Facilitator for the Maine State GEAR UP Program. She works primarily with schools in central and western Maine. Sally had been a middle school teacher for over 23 years. She started her career at Solon Elementary School. Her last 18+ years in the classroom were spent at Maranacook Community Middle School where her focus was on students who needed an alternative pathway. Sally also works as an adjunct associate professor at UMF and Thomas College teaching graduate courses on organizational behavior and change.
Janice Brackett brings her love of data, accounting, and reporting to her role as Gear Up Bookkeeper. In the past, she has served as Data Analyst and Registrar for Bowdoin College, and as Data Specialist for the Lewiston Public Schools. A true believer in lifelong learning, Jan earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and continues to take classes to enhance both her work and her hobbies. Jan recently took a later-in-life "gap year" during which she rode her bicycle from the Gulf of Mexico to Niagara Falls and started building her soon-to-be-finished tiny house.
Mary Callan was born, raised and has lived in Maine all of her life. She has a deep appreciation for the natural beauty and uniqueness of this grand state. Mary has been an educator (teacher and principal) in several Maine districts including schools in Athens, Bingham, Solon and Readfield. She has most recently worked as a professional development specialist with Apple for the MLTI project, where she learned a lot about Washington County communities and schools. Mary has been an adjunct professor for the University of Maine and Thomas College for several years. Her educational and life experiences continue to offer her the opportunities to learn about Maine and the people that live here. Mary truly has a love for learning and all things Maine!
Dori Fellman is currently the College Transition Coordinator for GEAR UP Maine. Dori was formerly Cornerstone TRIO Student Support Services Director at University of Maine at Augusta. Her previous experience is as a College Access Counselor and Director of UMF Partnerships for Success (GEAR UP, MELMAC and Nellie Mae grants). Dori served as both president and secretary of MEEOA in the past and currently is the Vice President of NEOA. Other College Access activities include MaineCAN steering committee and state liaison to NEOA. Dori holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Maine at Farmington and a Master of Education from the University of Southern Maine. She has 2 grown children, a daughter who is also an educator and a son who is a Harley technician. Dori lives in the woods in Starks with her husband Carl and many wild critters.
Stephanie Ferland is currently the GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coordinator. Stephanie grew up in a rural mill town in New Hampshire, the daughter of a logger dad, who taught her love and respect for the natural world, and a stay-at-home mom, who taught her to read. She has been in love with school since her very first day of kindergarten. Her dream to spend the rest of her life in school, in some capacity or another, continues to be realized every day. She has a BA in Writing & Literature, Teacher Certification for K-8 regular classroom and middle school English, and is finishing her MATL at Mt. Holyoke College. She brings experience in both traditional and non-traditional classroom settings, ranging from kindergarten to high school, and believes everybody deserves a chance to learn as much as possible, for as long as possible. Stephanie lives in Portage and continues to marvel at the beauty of both nature and books.
Debbie Gilmer is the President of Syntiro and the Project Director of the Employment for ME Workforce Development System funded by Maine DHHS and VR to certify, support, teach and mentor Employment Specialists across the state. She directed the recently concluded Maine HEP program, a statewide high school equivalency program serving migrant and seasonal farm workers. She previously served as the co-director of the Healthy & Ready to Work National Resource Center funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau as well as the 2005 Maine State GEAR UP program funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Post-secondary Education. She has served as a special education teacher, transition coordinator and directed Maine’s statewide inclusive schools project, LEARNS for ten years while at the University of Maine. She is a board member of Disability Rights Maine, past president of Maine APSE and serves on the national APSE public policy committee. She has provided technical assistance and consultation to the Think College National Resource Center and served on their Advisory Committee. She has conducted technical assistance and training on transition and employment across the country for many years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Maine.
Kayla Hopkins is the Communications Specialist for Gear Up Maine. She designs, develops and maintains promotional materials, websites and social media platforms for Gear Up and Syntiro. Prior to coming to Syntiro, Kayla was the public relations specialist for Tri-County Mental Health Services in Lewiston. Kayla has a gift and a passion for photography and singing--key attributes for the creative and innovative work of Syntiro. Kayla earned her B.A in public relations from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives in Minot and enjoys spending as much time outside as she can, taking advantage of the beauty Maine has to offer.
Corda Ladd Kinzie is an educational consultant/coach who is fun to work with, and passionate about learning and teaching. She has worked with individuals, teams, teachers, schools, school committees, districts, health care, and businesses. Her mission is to facilitate the change process with care, thought, and purpose. She is a master teacher/coach who has conducted many professional development activities designed to enhance teaching and student learning by differentiating instruction using Celebratory Learning attributes and strategies. Corda’s areas of expertise include: wellness coaching, using current brain research to inform learning, understanding the change process, generating strategies for teaching ALL learners, social skills and team development. She has a systems view of the change process which allows her to create transformative learning environments. At Syntiro, Corda has worked on Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions, Content Area Teaching, Cooperative Learning, Celebratory Learning and Life Coaching programs.Corda raised 3 sons, Brooks, Spencer, and Arthur. She is proudly grand-parenting 4 grandsons, MacKenzie, Roland, Nathan and Matthew. She loves "camp" in Oakland where she watches eagles and osprey and listens to loons with all the boys!
Joyce Lang has been with Syntiro since 1994. She is an Office Assistant for Syntiro and plays a critical role as the Administrative Assistant for the Maine HEP program. For Maine HEP, Joyce schedules project activities, coordinates travel and works directly with the Project Director and project staff to assure all project timelines and reporting requirements are met. She is also responsible for designing professional development flyers and registration sites for Syntiro and maintains the organizations calendars and address books. She assists with other Syntiro’s initiatives as needed.
Kate Leveille is joining the GEAR UP team as the Maine College Access Network’s Project Coordinator. As a lifelong Maine resident, Kate is passionate about helping to raise the aspirations of Maine students. Her primary role with MaineCAN will be to help bring together college access opportunities for Maine citizens. Previously Kate has worked to bring a college and career exploration program to students and families in Maine. She has an extensive college planning background having served as the Director of College Counseling at Bridgton Academy. Kate earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Southern Maine and her master’s in Leadership from Duquesne University. Currently she serves as the co-chair of the Jump$tart Coalition of Maine’s Board of Directors.
Eleni Margaronis received her Masters of Education in Educational Leadership in 2014 from University of Maine at Farmington. As a national exchange student, Eleni studied Elementary Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and completed her B.S. in Sociology, with a minor focus in Elementary Education from University of Southern Maine in 2009. Eleni is currently enrolled at University of Maine at Farmington to receive a certification in Educational Technology. Her prior experience includes working with grants designated by the State of Maine that focus on education and civic engagement in addition to special education from the elementary level to adults. Eleni is a first generation college student and has lived in the north (county), central, southern, and now western Maine, Eleni brings her work and personal experience to the GEAR UP team.
Frank McElwain is the Regional Facilitator for GEAR UP in Aroostook County. He recently retired as superintendent of RSU 39 (Caribou, Limestone and Stockholm) after 37 years in public education. Frank holds a BS in Agriculture, MA in Public Administration, and a CAS in Education Leadership.
Coleen Souza is the Administrative Manager at Syntiro. She is responsible for maintaining the overall efficiency of all office operations and keeps staff on task and on schedule. She brings previous office management experience to Syntiro, including human resources, payroll, and administrative responsibilities. Coleen is an integral member of Syntiro. She offers clear directives, vision and superb people skills. Her energy keeps the momentum going on Syntiro initiatives. Coleen lives in Winthrop with her family. Coleen looks forward to working on her bachelor's degree in Business Management in the near future.
Becky Young was a teacher in several schools in Somerset County with experience working with students, K-12. She taught in a one-room school for ten years, was a technology coordinator, a literacy specialist, a curriculum coordinator, and conducted numerous professional development activities. She was involved with the management of several grants including a Gates Foundation grant, a Comprehensive School Reform grant, and a district Title I grant. Recently, she was an adjunct instructor in the graduate studies program for UMF. Becky enjoys reading, skiing, traveling, and Scrabble competitions with her husband, Chris.