Maine high school students from Kittery to Gray, and several points in between, visited the University of New England’s coastal Biddeford campus June 24-27 to participate in the School of Education’s second Future Teachers of Maine Summer Institute.

Thirty-four Maine high school students participated in the University of New England’s Future Teachers of Maine Summer Institute. Contributed / University of New England

This year saw 34 high schoolers participate, more than double the number of last year’s inaugural summit.

According to a July 3 news release, the now-annual institute aims to equip rising high school seniors with the tools and resources to follow their goals of becoming educators and support the national teacher shortage. The high school students — many of whom come from underrepresented communities or are first-generation — are mentored by students from UNE’s School of Education during their stay at UNE, a symbiotic exercise in peer-to-peer learning.

“This is a wonderful program to cultivate the next generation of teachers in Maine,” said Lane Clark, associate professor and academic director of the School of Education, in an email. “It was amazing to see how engaged and excited this group of high schoolers were about entering a teacher education program.”

Each day, the group visited with two classroom teachers at various grade levels to hear about their experiences as educators and ask questions. They partook in mock college classes in various topics, including trauma-response education and classroom technology, and met with representatives from a number of Maine colleges and universities, the Maine Department of Education, and UNE staff to learn about college life and the needs faced by teachers amid today’s educational landscape.

“These presentations gave students a glimpse into what being a teacher is like and advice for moving forward,” said Shauna Curran (Elementary Education, ’26), who served as a mentor for the high schoolers. “Most importantly, the participants are walking away with a mentor and faculty in their corner who are here to support and guide them moving forward.”


A chief goal of the program is to alleviate the national teacher shortage by encouraging students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in education, said Krysten Gorrivan, assistant teaching professor and director of the institute.

“We were able to recruit students from 14 different high schools for this year’s institute and developed programming to make them see that they can really do this college thing,” Gorrivan said, adding that 93% of students who attended are likely to enter a teacher preparation program in the state of Maine following their experience at the institute.

The summit was funded by a two-year, higher-education workforce grant from the Maine Department of Education called Future Teachers from Maine for Maine. The grant has been extended and will fund a summer institute at UNE in 2025.

“Being a mentor for the Summer Institute has provided me with firsthand experience on how to handle disagreements amongst students and how to bring large groups together,” said Curran, of Windham, New Hampshire. “Some students entered the week not knowing a single person’s name and have now walked away with new friends who have similar goals as them. I am hoping to take what I learned as a mentor and use it in my future classroom to ensure my own students feel connections and are supported by one another.”

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