UMS, Maine DOE expand whole-student supports for Maine schools

More K–12 students and educators in Maine are set to benefit from stronger social, emotional and behavioral supports thanks to Maine PBIS, a collaboration between the University of Maine System and Maine Department Education, which is adding 21 new schools to its professional development cohort.

The schools, which will participate in the initiative over the next three years, are located in communities throughout the state, including Berwick, Boothbay Harbor, Brooksville, Bucksport, Damariscotta, Edgecomb, Litchfield, Madawaska, North Berwick, Sabattus, South Portland and Westbrook.

“Teams of educators from these schools will learn and practice together for the next three years, joining more than 30 schools that are currently part of our professional development model and more than 75 schools statewide that have already implemented sustainable supports for Maine students,” says Courtney Angelosante, Maine PBIS coordinator at the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, is a nationally recognized framework providing a multi-tiered continuum of supports in K–12 schools, promoting positive social and behavioral outcomes for all students. It is based on a community health promotion model. In schools that have implemented PBIS, it is expected that 95% of students will have most of their social, emotional and behavioral needs met before schools have to implement the third, or most targeted tier of interventions.

Maine DOE, in collaboration with UMS, supports schools and districts to implement PBIS through a cohort model that matches Maine-endorsed PBIS trainers and coaches with district and school-level teams. Maine PBIS’s professional development efforts have received national and international attention as a particularly effective example for rural schools and communities.

“Being able to work with our PBIS coaches multiple times a year made our school’s efforts towards Tier 1 implementation much smoother,” says Sierra Bloom, a first-grade teacher at Surry Elementary School, which has already taken part in the UMS-Maine DOE initiative. “Our coaches were always there to support our work directly and led us to a solid foundation for our work in PBIS.”

Bloom adds that being able to work with other schools in the cohort model was beneficial. 

“We were able to collaborate and share ideas for success, while also gaining support towards common struggles,” she says.

This summer, Maine PBIS will host a five-day training institute for educators who are part of its professional development cohort. The training, which is limited to 50 participants and will take place at Husson University from July 10–14, will be designed to help teachers identify why a behavior is happening through a variety of assessment tools and procedures, leading to the development of a positive behavior support plan individualized to a student’s strengths and needs. More information about the Maine PBIS Advanced Tiers Summer Institute is online.

“The supportive and inclusive practices of PBIS have elicited overwhelmingly positive responses by administrators, educators, students and families. Our office looks forward to supporting and sustaining schools and districts in this work,” says Tracy Whitlock, Special Projects Coordinator in the Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education at the Maine Department of Education.

The department provides funding for the Maine PBIS initiative through a federal State Personnel Development Grant. The funding is helping scale up capacity for PBIS in the state through a UMS Microcredential for PBIS Coaching and Training. The second cohort of educators seeking the micro-credential endorsement will begin in fall 2023. Applications, which are available online, are due June 15.

Contact: Casey Kelly,; Marcus Mrowka,