I am a Maine native, with a family history that dates back to the early 1600s. I graduated from Bangor High School in 1982, and have an undergraduate degree from UMaine Orono in International Studies. In 1986, after graduating from UMO I moved to Portland where I have stayed ever since (minus a 6 month stint in Key West, but being a true Mainer, I missed the change of seasons). After a few years kicking around Portland and getting really good at waitressing and bartending, I discovered that I loved horseback riding and volunteering with a therapeutic horseback riding program for people with disabilities. From that experience, I set a career course on special education and got a master’s degree in Exceptionality (Special Education).
In 1996, I received my master’s from the University of Southern Maine and have been teaching content area subjects (History and English) to students with disabilities and have logged many hours helping students explore options for post-secondary opportunities, a.k.a Transition Planning. It is from this experience that the idea of Destination Occupation was born. Teachers spend countless hours arranging visits to local businesses, colleges, and other activities. The purpose is to create opportunities to explore career or post-secondary options for students, to open their horizons. But the reality is, there are way more opportunities and options for students than can be covered from high school field trips. So the idea of creating a library of videos for students to be used to “visit” a variety of businesses and educational programs from their high school felt like a deal changer, a “no brainer,” especially in a state as geographically challenged as Maine.
I believe that education, whether it is learning your three R’s or learning about career options, is critical to independence. We want our students to go out into the world with a good plan, with good skills and a good chance to succeed. Education is a means to independence, self-reliance, self-worth.
This applies to people who are adults and are looking for a career change or who have been left out of the workforce for any number of reasons. Or for people like me, who in their younger years are trying to figure out what is next. That is why I do this. I love Maine and want it to continue to be the “way life should be” for those who choose to live and work here, because there are opportunities and options. You just have to know about them.