Elected Leaders Get Much-Needed Lesson

From inside her 6th grade classroom at Gorham Middle School, teacher Theresa Arsenault, shared the importance of exercise as part of her daily lesson. The difference on this day, House Majority Leader Maureen Terry looked on as part of the school’s Legislator for a Day program. The day sent elected leaders, both state and local, into the school to get a firsthand look at teaching and learning in action with the goal of better understanding the needs of those in our public schools.

“It was wonderful to be able to share successes and concerns with decision makers that listened with sincerity and are fully invested in creating solutions that will strengthen public education,” said a Gorham Middle School teacher.

Heather Whitaker, the 2020 Teacher of the Year (TOY) and Gorham educator, helped make the day possible at the school both to help her colleagues, and to honor a former TOY, Kevin Grover-a Falmouth educator who died suddenly on Thanksgiving Day in 2012. It was Grover’s mission to “open” classrooms to the public so people would have a better understanding of what happens in our schools. The day, in honor of Grover, accomplished both goals.

Jen Belanger, Aspire Gorham, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates seen with Maine’s Education Commissioner,
Pender Makin

“I recall Kevin saying that “more than likely, many legislators who are making policy decisions, haven’t been in a classroom since they were students themselves, so let’s change that!” said Dolly Sullivan, the State Coordinator for the Teacher of the Year Program.

House Majority Leader Maureen “Mo” Terry and State Senator Stacy Brenner

Bringing both school board, local city council members, state lawmakers, and the Maine Commissioner of Education to the school is part of a bigger plan to bring this type of program to as many schools around the state as possible.

“I felt seen and heard and for the first time in a while, I was filled with hope! We have elected some good people in our community and state,” said a Gorham educator.

Educator Terri Dawson shows elected leaders students’ work from the technology classroom at Gorham Middle.

“Really the only way to fix all the problems is to have open discussion directly with the people that are knee deep in it. I’m sure we can get more done when we meet like we did today,” said House Majority Leader Maureen Terry.

And that was exactly what Kevin Grover would have wanted.

Kevin Grover pictured with President of the United States
Joe Biden.