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UMPI, UMF partner on School Health, PE offerings

In a unique partnership designed to meet the needs of schools and educators throughout the state, the University of Maine at Presque Isle is partnering with the University of Maine at Farmington to expand Physical Education and School Health offerings. UMPI faculty will provide online coursework in Physical Education to UMF students and UMF will deliver online School Health coursework to UMPI students.

At UMPI, this will allow students in the Physical Education program to earn a credential to teach Health classes in public schools in addition to their Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. At UMF, it will allow students in its School Health Education Bachelor’s degree program to complete a Physical Education concentration.

“The University of Maine at Presque Isle is so pleased to partner with the University of Maine at Farmington on this effort to expand certification offerings for our students,” UMPI President Ray Rice said. “With UMF’s help, this will serve as an excellent new credentialing opportunity for our students who want to earn their School Health concentration and we are excited to be able to reciprocate by providing UMPI Physical Education courses for UMF students seeking PE certification. It’s an excellent example of how collaboration can be leveraged to better meet workforce development needs.”

This collaborative partnership creates the very first opportunity in Maine for a student to study on a single University of Maine System campus while completing coursework for School Health Education and Physical Education.

“Today, more than ever, teachers are critically important to Maine students, families and the fabric of our state,” UMF President Edward Serna said. “The University of Maine at Farmington is thrilled to be collaborating with the University of Maine at Presque Isle to create the academic opportunities that help our students succeed in the classroom, in their careers and in meeting the changing needs of Maine schools.”

For the School Health credential, UMPI PE students can take 8 classes with UMF faculty online. Courses will range from child and adolescent health to substance abuse and prevention. Students can achieve certification in School Health after passing the Praxis exam and completing one year of experience teaching. Similarly, for the PE credential, UMF students will take 8 classes online through UMPI, from motor learning to adapted PE to organization and administration of PE. Students will be able to earn their certification in Physical Education after passing the Praxis exam and completing one year of teaching experience. Both credentials are available completely online.

“We are very excited about this collaboration with the University of Maine at Farmington,” Barb Blackstone, UMPI’s Dean of the College of Professional Programs, said. “This School Health credential will make our graduates very marketable to a superintendent or principal in terms of what they would be able to offer as an employee. Having the ability to teach both Physical Education and Health is a depth and breadth that many Education students don’t have when they go into the job field. But most principals are looking for dual certified teachers so this is a pathway that will set our Education students up for greater success.”

Leo Saucier, UMPI Coordinator of Physical Education, explained that two years ago, when he took on the coordinator position, he reached out to schools throughout Maine to see how many Physical Education positions might become available in the next five years.

“I learned that there would be about 80 positions coming open in that time and really became conscious of the serious workforce development needs in the state,” Saucier said. “Because there’s such a strong need for PE educators in Maine, existing educators have been going back to school to get their PE certification. That’s really what started this collaboration.”

Saucier said he has about 8 current teachers taking UMPI PE courses online. He’s worked hard to accommodate these students by offering asynchronous classes and directed studies when needed. Several of these students will qualify for their PE credential after this semester.

“This is a great opportunity for us to collaborate with our colleagues at UMF and bring two good programs together,” Saucier said. “It makes our students much more attractive job candidates. I’m excited that they have the opportunity now through this collaboration.”

For more information about this new credential, contact Leo Saucier, UMPI Coordinator of Physical Education, at leo.saucierjr@maine.edu or 207-768-9421.