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!
Alyssa Cropley is a Data Entry Assistant for the Maine State GEAR UP program. After graduating from Kaplan University with an Associates Degree in Applied Science, she worked in the medical field in Central Maine. Upon relocating to northern Maine with her family, Alyssa began working in the Special Education Department of the local school district as an Administrative Assistant. In addition to working for GEAR UP, Alyssa is a stay at home mom of three. Most often she can be found cheering on the sidelines at one of her kid’s sports games or creating at her sewing machine.
Noelle Federico has previously worked with many different education grants including roles such as Data Entry Specialist and Program Assistant for a GEAR UP Partnership Grant. Before coming to Syntiro she was Site Coordinator for a 21st Century Grant. Noelle has lived in Maine her whole life and enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and camping.
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.
Mary Freeman is a Regional Facilitator for the Maine State GEAR UP Program, working with schools in central and western Maine. She spent all of her 21 1/2 years of teaching at Maranacook Community Middle School There, she served as the advisor coordinator, working to nurture, maintain and improve their outstanding advisory system. Mary loves to cook, quilt, and spend time outside. She is passionate about helping and supporting others, and strives to have a positive impact on those she works with and interacts with.
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.
Michael Muir quips that he has had one job for more than 30 years: helping schools reach more students (especially disenfranchised learners, students in poverty, and children from rural/isolated areas), only who pays him keeps changing! Right now he is being paid to be a GEAR UP Proficiency-Based Learning Specialist. Mike has been a high school and middle school mathematics teacher, a middle grades technology integrator, a university teacher educator, an educational developer and manager (including projects in Philadelphia, PA; Chester, PA; Fairbanks, AK; and Buffalo, NY), Maine's Learning Through Technology Director. He was active in developing and supporting MLTI, the country's first statewide 1to1 technology initiative, as well as the first districtwide 1to1 iPads in primary grades initiative (Auburn, ME). In addition to helping schools leverage technology for learning, Mike has supported large-scale school change initiatives, customized, proficiency-based learning work, proficiency-based professional learning and micro-credential program development, and efforts to motivate underachieving students.
Sylvia Thistle is a retired social studies teacher and team leader from Skowhegan Area Middle School. She received a M.ED from the University of Maine at Orono and has twenty seven years of teaching experience. For the last three years, she has worked in retail at Edgecomb Potters. She brings energy, organization, and people skills to her part time office assistant's roll at Syntiro. Sylvia lives in Skowhegan and enjoys golf, fly fishing, and skiing -- her real passion, however, is interior decorating and working about her home,
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.
Christopher Young joins the Syntiro Staff after more than 25 years working with Maine High School and College students. For the past twelve years Chris taught Social Studies at the East Grand School in Danforth, Maine. He will be working with the Aroostook Scholars Program and Gear Uo.