Aroostook Aspirations Initiative’s Monday morning Segment on WAGM assures I take time to learn and explore opportunities available to students in Aroostook. (Visit our YouTube channel for for Monday Morning segments on WAGM) I meet with businesses, interview students, and have a chance to sit and chat with incredible people. Aroostook Aspirations Initiative is the center in all of those discussions, in all of my work, and in every interview. One of the best parts of being the executive director, is the opportunity to learn all about amazing employers and schools in Aroostook. Last week I had the chance to tour Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton. I met a few of the 200 or so students who are enrolled in Region Two and taking advantage of this incredible resource. Region Two offers 12 different programs for students in Schools in the southern region of Aroostook. Five school systems (all four of the schools in the southern region of Aroostook and one school from Washington County) send students. The high schools run on a block schedule, assuring students are able to get the best of both worlds, academics and vocation, and allowing students who attend region two to spend the entire day in their program of choice.
Region Two offers auto-body, automotive, culinary arts, early childhood education, emergency medical technician, forestry, health science, law-enforcement, and welding. Next year the Region will expand again and offer an electrical program. They are also growing their Bridge Year, a program that offers students the chance at dual enrollment, an opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.
As part of my weekly WAGM segment for Aroostook Aspirations, a segment that allows me to focus on education and industry throughout Aroostook, I visited Region Two and met with six students. Here you see Kim Stoddard, Jake Jones, and Samantha Rose.
And here you see Aaron Sewell, Isaiah Littleton, and Mariah O’Neil.
I asked the six students tons of questions, including what they thought their week would be like without Region Two. It was hard for them to imagine their weeks without Region Two every other day. During the interviews, the students mentioned professionalism repeatedly. They also talked about structure, discipline and fair treatment. It was amazing to hear their plans for the future, and how much they believed Region Two would help them achieve those futures. Aaron wants to be a Game Warden, Isaiha wants to join the FBI, and Kim wants to be an engineer. Sam and Mariah both want to join the Air Force; Mariah has dreams of being a pilot. Although the six of them are not enrolled in the same program, their answers were similar. Region Two is their favorite part of the week. They are heavily connected to their instructors, Dave Socoby, a retired Maine State Trooper in one of those instructors.
At Region Two it isn’t just about vocation. The program, managed with grace and excellence by Dave Keaton, also offers the Bridge Program, allowing students to be enrolled in high school classes and earn college credits. As juniors and seniors students work through their first year of college, completing a “semester” each year. The classes have to meet the criteria of classes from the University of Maine in Augusta or the University of Maine in Orono, and are taught by their high school teachers. Students earn college credits with successful completion and can transfer the credits to their college of choice upon graduation. This program encouraged Mariah to stay in High School for the traditional four years instead of graduating early like several of her classmates. Kim also mentioned the chance to graduate early,and that her plans for that changed because of the opportunity she has with Region Two.
As I toured the facility, I had the chance to see every classroom and meet the teachers. Region Two has a culinary arts program for students that offers lunch every Tuesday and Thursday to the community. They also bake cookies, pastries, and healthy snacks for students to grab during breaks. Their autobody and automotive classes have real cars and trucks in the garage, and even some antique motors for students to learn from. The Early Childhood Education program has its own building, and partners with Head Start, assuring the high school students a chance to work with preschool age students. The welding program has state of the art equipment and a huge work space. Forestry has a location just beyond the Region Two center and uses the woods and space outside their facility to help students make connections between community and natural resources. The EMT students are bussed to the fire station in Houlton where they receive training from professionals in the field, and the Health Sciences program has the look of a true hospital, complete with patients, beds, and IV’s. Unless you see this program, you would never believe how much it really offers students.
As the wife of a police officer, I was very interested in the criminal justice program. In the mornings, instructor Socoby has a the classroom television on a news station as students arrive. Notebooks and pens come out as students walk in. They watch current events (national, state, and local) that relate to the field of criminal justice. Students get to experience a “situation” room, a place Instructor Socoby sets up to mirror real life calls as professionals in the field.
The students work with the National Guard and Customs on physical fitness, run drills every day, and learn take down techniques and defense moves from men and women in the field. In addition to all of the cool hands on learning, Socoby’s students are also required to write reports, document their training, and submit papers to their instructor. The students are held accountable for their behavior, and that accountability is one of the reasons students love Region Two classes. When a student is at Region Two, they want to be there. I understand; I would too!
AAI sees the vast opportunities that are quickly emerging in our County; forestry, industry, manufacturing, and of course agriculture are growing. We need skilled workers, like the six students I spoke with at Region Two, to fill the jobs that are open even now in our County. Aroostook Aspirations has a goal: reversing the outward migration in Aroostook County. How will we do that? By making sure our students are aware of the opportunities that surround them, and assisting Aroostook students while they pursue the education and skilled training they need to fill those opportunities. Help us help them. Donate to our cause.
There are so many needs in Aroostook, so many places to donate, so much to be done. Here is what we can promise you: every dollar you give is put back into Aroostook to help students achieve a college degree. We reinvest you dollars in the students of this County, invest in their dreams, their futures. Invest with us! Help us give this opportunity to more County kids. Take a few minutes and learn about AAI: www.gauvinfund.org. It is a remarkable program.
Take a few minutes and watch the WAGM-TV segment on Region Two. Have an idea for a WAGM morning segment? We would LOVE to hear it. Drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a blessed week week my friends! Enjoy the sunshine!