""Maine State GEAR UP Program
Creating a College-Going Culture in Maine

GEAR UP Maine has had two AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers help in the administration of the grant. More about Maine VISTA

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Current News

Current News: Summer 2011

GEAR UP Friend and Colleague will be Missed!

Sister Margaret Marie Walsh, known by her GEAR UP colleagues and students as “Sister Peg,” died on July 24th, 2011. Sister Peg served as GEAR UP Liaison in the Hodgdon schools for the past four years. She was a great advocate for the students she worked with and an inspiration to her colleagues. We appreciate her dedication to all the students that she worked with and her perseverance in the face of significant health challenges.

Sister PegAs many of you may know, before joining GEAR UP, Sr. Peg spent many years working as a teacher in rural communities across Maine, and as a principal in Bangor and Auburn. She loved working with young people and freely shared her enthusiasm for learning and many talents with them. She touched the lives of all that knew her and will be greatly missed.

Bernadette Willette, the guidance counselor at Hodgden High School and a colleague, describes Sister Peg’s impact in the following tribute:

“As we learned at her memorial service ‘Joy’ was her motto. Sr. Peg was often the life of the party, or the teachers' meetings, or the professional development sessions. Her ability to enjoy life was contagious and came to be linked with GEAR-UP. GEAR-UP was the “happening" place because Sr. Peg was there - dressed to match the holidays, dressed to match the mood. Instead of high school students shying away from her antics, she drew them in; she drew us all in.

If there was a fundraiser to be done, Sr. Peg was first out of the gate, always. We had a couple of our students who were trying to get to Edinburgh, I can't remember why, but they wanted it and wanted it badly. They actually went to Sr. Peg to get help! And, before we knew it, there were Lia Sophia Parties, suppers, and a barrage of letters to every known businessperson in Southern Aroostook County. Soon, the two young ladies, both GEAR-UP students, were off to Edinburgh - an adventure of a lifetime! 

And, what can I say about her Christian values? She led our students by example and they followed. She had charisma and these kids - her students - found charisma to be a beacon for them. They followed her and they ended up better people, many went to college because she cared enough to get them there. She will be remembered in our district as a joyful nun who was always, always ready to tell the latest nun joke: "Two nuns were walking on the beach..." she would begin. And we would laugh. We would laugh and be joyful with her. Hodgdon's joyful nun will be missed by staff, parents, and students.”

GEAR UP student Rodney Banks Gets Mentioned in Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) Champion of Student Success Award Acceptance Speech the at the NCCEP GEAR UP Conference

Senator Susan Collins receives the Champion of Student Success award at the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) conference that took place July 17-20, 2011 in San Francisco, California. In her acceptance speech, Collins talks about the importance of supporting programs such as GEAR UP, as well as mentioning a quotation from Maine's Lee Academy senior and GEAR UP student Rodney Banks.

Gear Up Yearbook 2011

The newest edition of the Gear Up yearbook includes an updated list of all the participating Maine Gear Up schools, photos from the journeys and events people in Gear Up have taken and attended, and some impressive new data showing the success of the Maine State Gear Up program over the last few years. See below for the digital version of the yearbook, or email Coleen (coleen@syntiro.org) to be shipped a hard copy.

Gear Up Yearbook 2011


GEAR UP Students Get Hands-On Experience in the Dental Field

February 2011

The Gear Up Program, along with the Guidance Department at Sumner Memorial High School, provided students with an education about the dental career field from David Burtt, from the College of Dental Medicine at the University of New England. Students participated in a hands-on simulation where they could uncover a cavity and fill it, along with many other dental tasks.  Students used "real" dental equipment. One student who was asked if she was interested in a dental career replied, "I was not, but am now."

Sumner Memorial High School students try out dentistry

Cassandra Dana Second GEAR UP Student Featured in
Navigating the Real World

Cassandra Dana

November 2010 - Cassandra Dana, a GEAR UP student and graduate of Lee Academy, (you might recognize her as the GEAR UP student who attended the National Youth Leadership Summit in Washington, DC in July and who is featured on our Student Spotlight page,) was interviewed for Navigating the Real World, Inc. a Maine nonprofit organization that provides information to help young adults deal with important life decisions and challenging circumstances. Currently a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono, Cassie was asked to share her experiences preparing for and transitioning into college. Look for her interview, including what she'd do differently in high school and what has helped her deal with challenges, on the Navigating the Real World website: http://navigatingtherealworld.org/content/cassandra-dana-intro

Maine College Access Challenge Grant Program

Bridging the Gap logo

Syntiro has recently been awarded a grant from the Maine College Access Challenge Grant (MCACG) Program. The federal program is designed to significantly increase the number of underrepresented students who enter, and remain in, postsecondary education. The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) sought out proposals from programs based in schools or colleges designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.  Syntiro’s grant, entitled Bridging the Gap: Ensuring College Success for GEAR UP Graduates, is a project that is designed to address the unique and complex challenges faced by GEAR UP graduates as they embark on their college journeys.
GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programming) is a federal discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP graduates in Maine represent a subset of underrepresented students from school units throughout the state. Bridging the Gap, drawing on the most current research and data, will provide personalized mentoring and support for GEAR UP graduates on three Maine college campuses: the University of Maine; University of Maine, Machias; and Washington County Community College
Mentors will share findings and data from this project to inform the efficacy of the existing college support programs, identify potential barriers or resource gaps, and serve as a resource to the institution in adapting, adopting, or creating more efficacious supports for underserved student populations. Data from this project will be analyzed quarterly to continuously review and improve project activities and outcomes. Additionally, the research and information garnered through this project will be shared among GEAR UP high schools to continually improve their college access programs, and disseminated among project partners and others invested in ensuring Maine students achieve postsecondary success.

Maine State GEAR UP Day

We are excited to share with you that Governor Baldacci has proclaimed September 30th as GEAR UP day in Maine!

Our GEAR UP schools have many fun activities prepared to celebrate this day including:

  • Faculty and staff wearing college shirts, hats, etc.
  • GU trivia being announced over the loudspeaker throughout the day
  • Special treats and goodies being served
  • College awareness competitions
  • College fact scavenger hunts
  • Teachers talking about their college experience in homerooms

Download the Press Release (pdf)
Read the Proclamation (pdf)

Larissa MoodyGEAR UP student Larissa Moody featured online and in print

Maine State GEAR UP student Larissa Moody is featured on Navigating the Real World.org. Larissa grew up in Portland and graduated in 2010 from Portland High School. She has worked at least 40 hours a week throughout her high school career and while she still lives at home she has been supporting herself for several years. After her father's death during her junior year of high school she left school, but continued to work full-time at Subway. After four months she returned to school and graduated with her class in May. In the fall she will attend CMCC and plans to have a career in radiology.

Read more about her experiences and hear her story told through video online at: http://navigatingtherealworld.org/content/larissa-moody-intro


Scrub Club 2010 - photo by Ann Bryant/Sun JournalDay camp students get experience in medical field.

>>Read the article that appeared in the Sun Journal, August 6, 2010 about high school students attending the annual Scrub Club at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Maine. Article and photos by staff writer Ann Bryant.



UNE, in partnership with Maine State GEAR UP, trains high
school students in dentistry.

Watch the WCSH6 news clip.PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For years, Maine has been struggling with a shortage of dentists. The University of New England is hoping to change that with a 4-day camp it's offering to high school students.

Working alongside Maine GEAR UP, a program working to get more kids into college, UNE is giving the students the chance to experience the healthcare profession first-hand at the Coleman Dental Hygiene Building.

The students even got to practice their drilling skills on a patient simulator.

Watch the WCSH6 news clip: http://tinyurl.com/gudental

FAFSA logoFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on the Web Worksheet Now Available

The U.S. Department of Education has indicated that the FAFSA on the Web worksheet for 20010-2011 are available.

Adventures of the Cat Princess Warrior by Sammie Williams

Guilford GEAR UP Student Samantha "Sammie" Williams Gets Published!

Read the article from the Bangor Daily News published January 21, 2010 entitled, "She let the "Cat" out of the bag" by Diana Bowley about 16-year-old Samantha "Sammie" Williams who just had her first book published. You can also purchase the book Adventures of the Cat Princess Warrior at Amazon.com.



GEAR UP 10 Year Anniversary

GEAR UP Celebrates its 10 Year Anniversary/
September 18 is National GEAR UP Day

Nationwide people are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the GEAR UP program, and in recognition of this Maine State Governor John Baldacci has issued a proclamation that September 18th is National GEAR UP day.

GEAR UP Updates its scholarship guidelines!

The rules for receiving the GEAR UP scholarship have changed this year, including allowing the scholarship to be given to students attending colleges and universities out of state, and removing the "one year off" minimum.

How Much Student Debt Is Too Much?

The New York Times editorial that is a must-read! Written by the Editors of the Times and published June 14, 2009.

TRiO in Maine Yearbook 08-09

TRiO's 08-09 Yearbook

Maine State GEAR UP is thrilled to have partnered with Maine State TRiO programs on the 08-09 TRiO Yearbook.  Two GEAR UP graduates are highlighted — Shelbi Cote from Sumner High School who now attends the University of Maine, and Amy Dyer from Lawrence High School who now attends Kennebec Valley Community College. TRiO Programs in Maine (Educational Opportunity Centers, Educational Talent Search, Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Upward Bound Math/Science) and GEAR UP share common objectives and all are funded through the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education.  The Yearbook can be downloaded at this link: http://www.meeoa.org/.

GEAR UP Yearbook 2008

GEAR UP Yearbook

The GEAR UP 2008 Yearbook (pdf) is ready to download! If you would like a paper copy please email Jenny (jenny@syntiro.org) to request one including your name and mailing address.


Six GEAR UP schools received new 2008 MELMAC grants

All Maine GEAR UP schools were encouraged to apply for this year's round of MELMAC grants. We are happy to say that six of our schools received one! Congratulations to: Old Town High School, Piscataquis Community High School, Shead High School, So Aroostook CSD School, Sumner High School, & Carrabec High School. To find out more about the MELMAC Foundation, visit Partners.

New podcast episode

"Clear-minded," "straightforward," and "wise beyond his years" popped into the mind of GEAR UP representative Joshua Kierstead as he interviewed Will West, a UMO senior and GEAR UP scholarship recipient. (Published March 2009) .To listen, learn more about, or read the transcript from this podcast episode, visit the Podcast section of this site.

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Maine Department of Education Logo Syntiro The Maine State GEAR UP program is funded through a grant (reference #P3345050037; James Davis, Project Officer,) from the U.S. Department of Education to the Maine Department of Education and is managed by Syntiro.
Contact Us Maine State GEAR UP 11 South Road Readfield, ME 04355
p: (866) 291-0004 f: (866) 883-9271 beth@syntiro.org