A familiar office on the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus is changing and expanding – including the addition of five new staff members – after receiving a five-year, $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help middle and high school age students prepare for and enroll in college, and succeed once they get there.
UMPI's TRiO Upward Bound office is taking new shape with a new name – TRiO College Access Services – after receiving word last fall that its application for a TRiO Educational Talent Search (ETS) program had been selected for funding through a competitive grant process. The Office of Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education is funding the program for five years, at $230,000 per year, to serve 500 middle and high school students.
This new ETS program joins two other pre-college programs at UMPI: the TRiO Upward Bound "Central Aroostook" project, serving eight high schools (69 students) in the central area, and the TRiO Upward Bound "UMPI/UMFK Aroostook Consortium" project, which serves eight high schools (50 students) in the St. John Valley and in southern Aroostook and is a collaborative effort with UMFK.
While Upward Bound and ETS share an overarching goal, there are important differences, explained Darylen Cote, who directs all three programs. ETS staffers work with students as early as sixth grade while students are accepted into Upward Bound at the ninth or tenth grade levels. Academic preparation is intensive in both programs but offered in different ways.
ETS follows the school calendars and advisors meet with students individually or in small groups following a curriculum appropriate to each grade level. Upward Bound holds whole group "Saturday College" events several times during the academic year, along with individual advising meetings at the host schools. In addition, Upward Bound includes a residential summer program where students live on the college campus for up to six weeks in the residence halls, taking academic enrichment courses, electives, and participating in work experience or taking college courses for credit, and generally getting a taste of what college life entails in a protected, supportive environment.
Both programs offer services such as tutoring, college visits, assistance with college, scholarship and financial aid applications, college entrance test preparation and numerous other services meant to address specific barriers to college. In both programs, parents and partner schools team with TRiO College Access Services to insure that each student has the best opportunity possible to achieve his or her college dreams.
With the advent of the new ETS program at UMPI, the TRiO office has been administratively reorganized to gain efficiencies, and five new professional staff members have been hired. The goal of all three programs is to help students with the motivation and skills they need to get into college, and then to succeed and earn a degree.
Cote announced that Assistant Director Carol McGlinn will assume coordination of the ETS program along with continuing her role as Academic Coordinator for Upward Bound. In addition, Danette Madore will take on the new role of Coordinator of Upward Bound. In that capacity, Madore will supervise three Upward Bound advisors as well as provide direct services to students during both the academic year and the summer residential program for Upward Bound.
A total of five new ETS advisors have now joined the staff of TRiO College Access Services and have already started to recruit students and provide services. Calvin Hall is assigned to Limestone Community School, Fort Fairfield Middle/High School and Central Aroostook schools. Barb London is serving students in Houlton and Hodgdon at Houlton Jr./Sr. High, Mill Pond School and Hodgdon High School. Charlotte Durr is covering Southern Aroostook Community School and Katahdin Middle/High School. Michelle Labbe is serving Fort Kent Elementary and High Schools, Wisdom Middle/High School, and Madawaska Middle/High School. Tyna Rolon will work with Washburn and Ashland middle and high school students.
Calvin Hall is a native of Augusta and a graduate of Cony High School. His early career involved positions with the Kennebec Valley and Boothbay Region YMCA's, where he managed the aquatic departments and developed and directed the youth leadership programs.
Hall and his family moved to central Aroostook in 1980, where he took a position with the then Maine Department of Human Services working with older children in foster care. During his career, he provided casework services in all three youth programs within DHHS, moving to Adult Services prior to retirement in 2011.
Over the years, Hall has been active as a teacher and youth leader with the Presque Isle Congregational Church and has served on numerous boards and commissions in the area. His community leadership includes terms on the Westfield Board of Selectman and the Presque Isle City Council. Hall holds an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor's degree in Education, and a Master's degree in Public Administration. He is a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Maine.
Barb London grew up in Houlton, but lived around the world for 20 years. She has over 25 years of experience working in Special Education and with behaviorally challenged students. London has worked in special education in Florida; Scotland; Fort Devens, Massachusetts; Okinawa, Japan; and Hancock and Houlton, Maine.
London graduated from UMPI in 2000 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Social Development. After graduation, she assisted in developing and implementing a Behavior Intervention and Modification Program at Houlton Junior/Senior High School. As part of this program, she did crisis intervention and crisis counseling. London also taught a "Reconnecting Youth" class to high-risk adolescents.
London lives in Houlton with her life partner, Greg. Together, they have three children and four grandchildren. She enjoys living at East Grand Lake in the summer, boating, fishing, four-wheeling, antiquing, and making unusual jams and jellies.
Charlotte Durr was born and raised with three siblings on a potato farm in Dyer Brook. She graduated from Island Falls High School. She received her Bachelor's degree in education from Farmington State College and a Master's degree in guidance education from the University of Maine. Durr worked in public education for 43 years; 30 years in elementary education and 13 years as guidance director. She has worked in Canton, Maine; Newberg, Oregon; and East Millinocket, Sherman, Stacyville, and Dyer Brook, Maine. She retired in 2010 from public education.
For 24 years, Durr has been an advocate for higher education through her involvement in Southern Aroostook Dollars for Scholars. She has worked for this organization since 1988 and has been treasurer since 1991. Each year, this organization raises money to award to graduating seniors at Southern Aroostook Community School. Dollars for Scholars awards at least $30,000 each year to students continuing their education. Totally, this organization has raised and awarded $680,238 to local students.
Durr enjoys traveling, playing cards, reading, and spending time with her dog, Sam, and her cat, Augusta (Gussie).
Michelle Labbe moved with her family to Aroostook County in the fall of 2009 to be closer to her husband's family, which hails from and around Fort Kent. Labbe's family is originally from Quebec and New Brunswick. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts.
After college, Labbe moved to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a "triple threat." To support her endeavors, she began teaching drama at the Hudson County Area Vocational Technical School in North Bergen, NJ, and discovered that she loved teaching. She studied Opera with Ray Evans Harrell in New York City, performed at various theaters and made several recordings including the movie soundtrack M. Butterfly for Warner Brothers.
Along the way, Labbe has also worked as an executive assistant, a financial analyst, and in various sales positions. She never forgot her passion for teaching and has always managed to surround herself with children. She and her husband Glenn reside in Fort Kent with their two sons.
Tyna Rolon, a Caribou native, graduated from UMPI with a Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and a BLS in Business Psychology. She began her professional career in business in Massachusetts. She worked as a drug store manager and 401K specialist prior to returning to graduate school to earn a Master's in School Counseling from Rivier College in Nashua, NH.
Rolon has worked as a school counselor at all grade levels (elementary, middle and high school) and has coached cross-country running teams at the middle and high school levels. She enjoys volunteering as a youth mentor and as an educator at her church.
In addition to these five new staff members, TRiO College Access Services has made two more staffing changes. Michele Green is being promoted from secretary to Administrative Assistant I with her new responsibilities for ETS, and Sarah Brooks is returning as an Upward Bound staffer. Brooks joined the office last year as a temporary employee, and is continuing on this year.
Cote said all staff members are eager to help youth in the region achieve their college aspirations.
"The jobs of the future will more often than not require some form of higher education," Cote said. "In addition, study beyond high school is linked closely with higher salary levels, and steadier employment, even in a recession. Knowing those facts doesn't mean that getting there and actually earning the postsecondary degree is an easy process. Just saying it won't make it so. Almost all families can use a helping hand now and then to make sure those educational goals become a reality. That's what TRiO College Access Services is all about."