Samantha Poll: UMaine graduate receives national recognition for STEM teaching

Samantha Poll grew up in Winterport, the same tight-knit, central Maine town where she’s now a teacher. 

“I know the families, and I know how it feels to be sitting at one of those desks,” said Poll, an eighth grade science teacher at Samuel L. Wagner Middle School. “It’s very important to me to show kids that they can stick around and that there are opportunities here locally.”

Recently, she was one of nine teachers selected to participate in the National STEM Scholars Program, a professional development opportunity providing advanced training, network building and support for a “big idea” classroom project. The program is specifically designed for middle school science teachers and comes with a $2,000 award to support the applicants’ proposals.

When she graduated from the University of Maine’s College of Education and Human Development in 2015, she earned degrees in elementary and secondary education with a minor in French. During her time at UMaine, she fell in love with science teaching and discovered the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center) and its Maine STEM Partnership program. 

“I became a teaching partner at the RiSE Center when I was still a student,” Poll said. “Most of the other teaching partners were experienced educators, but they embraced me and I started working with the curriculum that I still use in my classroom.”

Since graduating, Poll has continued her involvement with the Maine STEM Partnership at the RiSE Center, sharing resources and knowledge with other science educators throughout the state. She also returned to UMaine to complete a Master of Education and an education specialist degree in curriculum, assessment and instruction through the College of Education and Human Development. 

“When I talk to my students about opportunities in this area, UMaine is a big one,” she said. “There’s amazing things happening and a great school right up the road.”

Read a longer profile of Poll on the UMaine College of Education and Human Development website.

Contact: Casey Kelly;