Franklin Countys First News

Western Maine Educational Collaborative: working smarter, together

FARMINGTON - More than 70 educators from 10 local-area school districts will be sharing their knowledge of elementary mathematics next month, in the latest program developed by the Western Maine Educational Collaborative.

"Our whole purpose is to ask 'how do we work smarter, together?'" WMEC Executive Director Mona Baker said. "How do we maximize resources?"

WMEC, in its fifth year of operation, is a non-profit, 501-3c organization that represents 11 local school districts, including all four of the Franklin County districts. Since 2006, the collaborative has worked to offer its generally small member districts the opportunities and savings typically extended to larger entities. One of its earliest accomplishments was purchasing library automation software necessary to run school libraries, which allowed school districts to share a software identity and avoid purchasing multiple copies.

Baker said that each district chooses which initiatives to participate in and which ones to skip; she believes the only program that actually included every member district was the library software identity purchase. WMEC also provides professional development workshops and material for teachers; literacy training, practical and legal advice for Special Education programs regarding students' learning plans and a number of collaborations through the University of Maine at Farmington.

Recently, Baker said, MWEC districts had noticed a lack of resources for kindergarten through fifth-grade mathematics, and have organized a week-long series of seminars in August.

"A good amount of material about literacy exists," Baker said, "but we're looking for more resources and more expertise in teaching mathematics to younger students."

Educators, including classroom teachers, Special Ed instructors, Gifted and Talented coordinators and math interventionists, will volunteer their time to learn from WMEC districts' top math teachers in the UMF Olsen Student Center. In return, their districts have agreed to give participating teachers a $250 voucher for supplies.

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