UMaine summer institutes for educators to inspire, engage K-12 teachers, school leaders

The University of Maine College of Education and Human Development and Summer University are partnering to offer a series of institutes for K-12 school personnel looking for personal and professional growth and innovative solutions to the unique challenges facing today’s schools.

The third annual UMaine Educators Institute will be held June 17-18, featuring a keynote speech from Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin. The event will be held at UMaine for the first time, after being virtual in both 2023 and 2022. Participants can attend workshops in two strands: “Mathematics/STEM Education” and “Social-Emotional Learning and Teacher Wellness.” Associate professor of mathematics education and instructional technology Justin Dimmel will lead educators on visits to the Versant Power Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium, and associate professor of curriculum, assessment and instruction Rebecca Buchanan will deliver a talk on teacher leadership.

The next event in the series is the 2024 Summer Middle-Level Education Institute, June 24-26, also at UMaine. The three-day conference is designed to help middle school educators understand and respond to changes observed in today’s students; rethink and improve student engagement in learning; design wraparound support for students and adults; and gain tools to inspire positive change in schools and communities. The theme of day one will be “From Vulnerable to Vibrant: Embracing Today’s Young Adolescents;” the day two theme will be “Creating Calm, Engaging and Empowering Learning;” and the theme of day three will be “Breakthrough Change.” Teachers are encouraged to come as a team and bring their own relevant projects to address during the institute. 

“As a former middle school teacher, I’m thrilled to bring this exciting institute to UMaine this summer,” said Penny Bishop, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. “Our expert presenters have incredible knowledge and practical solutions that can help middle-level educators tap into the amazing potential of their students.”

The directors of the Middle-Level Education Institute include Nancy Doda, president and founder of educational consulting firm Teacher-to-Teacher; Mike Muir, technology director for Maine School Administrative District 44 in western Maine; Caitlin Hutt, an eighth grade social studies teacher at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast; and Gert Nesin, principal of Old Town’s Leonard Middle School and a former UMaine faculty member. 

“One of our goals is for the groups of teachers to bring actionable projects back to their schools,” said Nesin. “As a principal and longtime middle-level advocate, I’m excited to see what issues they choose to address and the creative problem-solving they come up with to inspire and engage their students and coworkers.”

The last in the series is the 2024 Summer Technology Institute (SummerTech), now in its eighth year as a virtual event. The conference will be August 6-8 and will feature workshops, plenary sessions, community building, networking and learning with leaders in library science and educational technology from across Maine and the United States. Author, consultant and educator Carl Hooker will be a featured speaker. His latest book, “Learning Evolution: The New Era of AI in the Classroom,” explores how K-12 educators can thoughtfully and ethically use artificial intelligence to enhance teaching and learning. SummerTech is hosted by the collaborative graduate program in instructional technology, housed at the College of Education and Human Development with faculty from UMaine, the University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Southern Maine.

Educators who register for the summer institutes can choose to earn professional development contact hours/CEUs, or three graduate credits by enrolling in an accompanying summer course.

More information can be found online or by contacting Raphael Okutoro at