Sally Beaulieu, GEAR UP Maine Pilot Coordinator
My two favorite words are passion and persistence. As a first generation college student from rural Maine, my passion is helping students find what they are passionate about and identify people who can help them persist in making a living at it. I coordinate three pilot studies being conducted by GEAR UP Maine: raising aspirations for middle school students, connecting career exploration with postsecondary education for high school students, and breaking down barriers for high school graduates to encourage them to persist into their second year of postsecondary education. As the coordinator, I assist the teams in developing an annual plan and budget, create agendas for meetings I facilitate, as well as collect, analyze, and report data which informs how we move forward. I am also a coach for high school graduates. I meet with students one-on-one the summer between graduation and entering postsecondary education. In addition, I am on-call for those students to respond to texts or meet face-to-face when they have questions, encounter hurdles, and/or want to share their successes. Both of these roles require me to be able to build and maintain trusting relationships which I often do through humor.
Janice Brackett, Syntiro Finance Director
I am a systems designer...
In my current position as Finance Director for Syntiro, a non-profit organization in central Maine, I take both a big-picture view (budgeting, planning, reporting) and a detailed (to-the-penny, daily-balancing and reconciling) view of the organization’s financial health. I design procedures, systems, and reports that help the organization monitor spending, cash flow, and compliance with grant and financial regulations.
Mary Callan, GEAR UP Maine Project Director
Working in rural Maine for over 3 decades has given me a deep understanding of the unique challenges fostering a postsecondary culture in Maine schools. As a teacher, principal and educational leader, I have facilitated professional development in a variety of curriculum and instructional practices and modeled whole systems change. Currently, I direct the GEAR UP Maine project, supporting 52 schools in some of the most rural and isolated communities in Maine. These schools are implementing evidence based practices that promote postsecondary aspirations. This project requires me (as the Director) to have a strong focus on strategic planning, program oversight, and evaluation in collaboration with GEAR UP staff, colleagues and a variety of stakeholders. Because GEAR UP is a federal grant, I am also responsible for compliance with the various federal regulations and policies and required federal reports related to the project.
Suzanne Caron, GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coach
After 26 years in public education I can easily say that the very best part of my career was being an advisor and advocate for learners. Being a scholar coach with GEAR UP Maine allows me to continue with that passion. I'll be here to support and guide our scholars during their transition from high school to college. Being a first generation college student myself, I understand not always knowing where to find answers and how to overcome barriers. I'll be here to help provide answers, help navigate, and to encourage self-advocacy with the scholars I have the privilege to work with. My love of learning, enthusiasm for education, and my excitement to work directly with students makes me happy to go to work everyday!
Alyssa Cropley, GEAR UP Maine Data Assistant
My work in education began as an Administrative Assistant in the Special Education Department at my local school district. My work included management of Special Education documents and supporting education for ALL students K-12th grade. My work in Special Education motivated me to work alongside GEAR UP Maine in changing the culture of rural Maine to provide post-secondary aspirations for ALL Maine students no matter their economic challenges. My role at GEAR UP Maine provides support to rural Maine schools through data entry and supporting grant management through monitoring data integrity providing my team with the ability to implement data driven decisions.
Cynthia Drake, GEAR UP Maine Program Assistant
I am an avid outdoors person and biological researcher who now researches ways to help school districts create a culture of continuing education and career preparedness while students are in K-12 and beyond. I have extensive experience using databases, spreadsheets and other manners of informational accountability. I have a desire to improve the lives of todays’ children and improve lives in rural Maine; my work experiences in Maine public schools and raising a family in rural Maine myself motivated me to work with GEAR UP Maine. I am a creative problem solver and freedom of ideas while maintaining the structure to get the work done. In addition to hiking and cross country skiing, budgets, financial accountability, report writing and spreadsheets are things that I consider fun!
Noelle Federico, GEAR UP Administrative Specialist
I am the Administrative Specialist for Syntiro and GEAR UP Maine. Syntiro is a small nonprofit in rural Maine that is committed to working for equity and social justice, access and opportunities that enhance and improve education and employment outcomes. At Syntiro, I am the Human Resources contact responsible for coordinating benefits, personnel files, mileage and expense reimbursements, and employee time tracking. I serve as one of the point people to field incoming questions to the office and outgoing contact to trainees. I have close to 13 years experience working with GEAR UP grants both partnership and statewide.I work on special projects for the program such as travel logistics, creating and maintaining spreadsheets, as well as tracking staff and district information. Part of my role with Syntiro involves working with the Workforce Development Grant by creating, sending and tracking all information associated with the registration process for our trainings and workshops through Cvent
Dori Fellman, GEAR UP Maine Special Projects Coordinator/Scholar Coach
I work with students as they transition from high school to college with specific attention to disadvantaged students in rural areas with focus on removing barriers that prevent students from attending college. I coordinated the visionary work of GEAR UP Maine scholar program. I have also worked on an Active Research Project that is currently in it third year in a very rural isolated part of the state. The project has focused on Summer Melt and barriers students encounter on their process getting to and persisting in college. My background includes working with middle and high school students to prepare for college and beyond. I have extensive experience working with both high school and college students through GEAR UP and TRIO programs. I am liaison with the TRIO community and other college access programs. I am trained in FAFSA completion and financial aid. I am committed to helping ALL students into a post secondary tract. Being a first generation and a TRIO Alumni myself, I am committed to this work and can give the insight from being there, done that myself. This gave me the background to teach First Year Experience course at the college level which address students learning the soft skills needed to persist and graduate. I have written several successful education federal and private grants. I have knowledge in federal regulations that pertain to both GEAR UP and TRIO. Skills that I have are students easily relate to me because I meet them where they are at. I believe deeply that ALL students can go to college and succeed I am able to share with them strategies to succeed. I am able to find creative solutions to roadblocks that students may encounter in the process. I have grant writing and management skills. I also have a strong background in data and financial management of large federal, state and private grants.
Mary Freeman, GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coach
I am a deeply dedicated educator who believes in improving the future for all learners and having a positive impact on the lives of others is something I greatly value. As the GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coaches Manager, it is my responsibility to lead the development and implementation of a college access and readiness program that works with 7-12 students, school personnel and faculty and staff at Institutions of Higher Education throughout Maine. From experience, building relationships is the cornerstone to an effective program and being detailed oriented, collaborative, innovative, and a creative problem solver are all traits which allow me to excel in relationship building.
Debbie Gilmer, Syntiro Executive Director
I am an experienced Executive Director/CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. I have strong business development and management skills, building coalitions, advocacy, community organizing, and policy.For over 40 years I have been committed to introducing and supporting new and innovative strategies to build inclusive communities in Maine: schools, workplaces, and communities. I have been a leader working collaboratively with stakeholders to design innovative programs that address challenges facing the state of Maine.
Kayla Hopkins, GEAR UP Maine Communications Coordinator
What entices YOU to read a document? Non-profit communications coordinator with 8 years of experience in communications, digital media and public relations. My passion for design, photography, event planning, and relationship building are evident in my monthly newsletters, stakeholder communications, and all of GEAR UP Maine’s branded documents . I’m constantly looking for the most efficient and effective way to produce quality work even when faced with short notice. My end products always have the user experience (UX) in mind.
Eleni Margaronis, GEAR UP Maine Program Manager
As the GEAR UP Maine Program Manager I manage and coordinate the 7 year federal GEAR UP Maine State grant. Skilled in Strategic Planning, Program Development and Management, Grant Management, Organizational Change, Leadership, and Educational Technology. Strong Business, Non-Profit, and Education professional with a Masters Degree focused in Educational Leadership from The University of Maine at Farmington.
Michael Muir, GEAR UP Maine Special Projects Manager
I have worked in education for more than 30 years, helping school leaders and educators reach more learners. I am an experienced Education Strategist with a demonstrated history of leadership and support for school change, including leadership development, educator and leader capacity building, instructional design, and educational technology. I have been working with schools for more than three decades and have strong education professional skilled in Educational Technology, Leadership Development, Micro-credentials, Professional Development, Shared Leadership, Technology Integration, and Instructional Design. I’m not afraid of working hard or taking on challenging projects. I am passionate about building better schools and learning experiences for all learners (especially through technology), better professional learning and PD systems for nudging teachers into new roles, and better leadership models so we can create the schools kids deserve and need. I am good at creating a collegial, lighthearted work environment for my team, while accomplishing high-quality, serious work. My current responsibilities include managing the development and implementation of a set of a micro-credentials for College Access Coaches.
Brittany Rumery, GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coach
As a Scholar Coach I am improving first-generation and rural student populations access to education. I guide students through barriers that arise in education which helps reduce summer melt, and support students in becoming self advocates starting in their senior year of high school throughout their first year of postsecondary education. When I’m not working directly with students I am collaborating within GEAR UP Maine and across statewide organizations to build lasting relationships, discover student supports, research and design professional development, plan and support student programs, and ensure the goals of the grant are being met. I’ve spent many years working in education, mainly in Financial Aid but most recently as a classroom teacher. This variety of experiences have allowed me to hone my skills in communication, organization, flexibility, and creative problem solving.
Sylvia Thistle, GEAR UP Maine Office Assistant II
I’m definitely a people person! The part of my job that I like the best, and the part I’m best at is dealing with people who work in the office and people who visit us. Probably at this office I’m most appreciated for putting together workshops, planning for meetings, and ordering materials. I organize day to day maintenance for the building - dealing with and hiring staff for that work. I create and keep spreadsheets for contacting and scheduling school visits, employee information etc. I organize school visits and research materials to be used at meetings.
Becky Young, GEAR UP Maine Data Coordinator
Marcel Proust, famously said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” When students are shown how to have new eyes, they may see their future with more optimism. GEAR UP is all about helping students have new eyes. I am part of a team that works to make a difference for rural Maine students.In my role, I must always be asking, “How might we...” questions to ferret out the data that not only verify GEAR UP’s successes, but also the data that point the way to creative and untapped ideas that affect students. Uncovering not just symptoms, but also the causes, examining the research behind the data, and collaborating with a team to have new eyes are all part of my responsibility. Without empathy for the affected students and a genuine interest in their lives, numbers are just numbers. I enjoy creating infographics and figuring out ways to tell a story with data, stories that intrigue decision-makers. This role demands that I am organized and meticulous. The role is also integral to my team’s efforts to use data to inform our decisions.
Christopher Young, GEAR UP Maine Scholar Coach
I am currently an interventionist / scholar coach for GEAR UP Maine. A federal 7 year grant awarded to Maine to help improve transition to College. Since my arrival, I have been actively involved with an ongoing research project (Aroostook Scholars) which is actively working with first generation and low income students transitioning to college from six remote Maine High Schools. I have also been working to bring college transition and issues related to the barriers that first generation students face to partners and stakeholders across the state and nation. In my position I carry out daily activities associated with a three year research study into college transition and persistence (data collection, virtual and live interventions, and collaborative problem solving). In addition I am working with GEAR UP Maine on implementing the findings of that work into a large scale program to support students, along with a credentialing program for college access professionals.