November 15th through 17th, district representatives from each of the GEAR UP Maine teams came together at the Samoset Resort in Rockport for the first annual Building Bright Futures conference. In convening the teams, Syntiro sought to celebrate the districts' work to date, and give them the opportunity to collaborate with GEAR UP personnel from around the state, as well as come away with new tools and knowledge to begin the work of the second grant year.
Ranjit Sidhu, President and CEO of NCCEP, kicked off the event, with a keynote highlighting GEAR UP as a movement, underscoring the many reasons we have to feel optimistic about the impact of our college aspirations work across the nation. Matthew Marks, CEO of Associated General Contractors of Maine, also delivered some special remarks, encouraging an expanded definition of college that highlights all postsecondary experiences and emphasizing the need for skilled tradespeople across the state. The perspectives they shared were a powerful segue to the learning sessions that followed.
The Syntiro team led sessions covering topics from College Going Culture, Leadership, Family and Student Engagement, Students with Disabilities, and Poverty and Learning. Rounding out the experience were informational sessions on tools such as Virtual Job Shadow and EduGuide, as well as sessions on state and national initiatives. The capstone of the conference was a sharing session that highlighted best practices currently being implemented throughout Maine's GEAR UP districts.
Planning for the second annual conference will shortly be underway. Volunteers interested in helping to shape that experience can reach out to the Syntiro team
of GEAR UP Maine.