FARMINGTON – Lacey McQuarrie of Houlton, a special education teacher in Aroostook County, is looking forward to graduating from the University of Maine at Farmington in spring 2022 with a master’s in Educational Leadership. Being able to take her graduate classes remotely has made all the difference to her.
Normally, the program is taught in a blended format with 70 percent of classes online and 30 percent face-to-face. This past year, however, Covid temporarily changed some of those face-to-face classes to online.
“I feel very fortunate that Farmington offers graduate programs in a format that makes it easy to both work and stay on track with my education, especially this past year,” said McQuarrie.
She has been teaching at the Hodgdon middle school and high schools in Aroostook County for three years, and knows how critical it is that rural Maine counties have well-prepared educators. She began her career with a degree in secondary education with a concentration in social studies, but was quickly recruited to teach special education while pursuing courses for certification.
She now oversees the resource room where she teaches mathematics and English Language Arts to 27 middle and high school students needing additional educational support.
Some of her students need assistance with organizational skills or in verbalizing their thoughts. In addition to teaching math and English language arts, McQuarrie oversees six education technicians and creates individualized education plans for each student.
“This degree will offer me new opportunities in the future while teaching me the skills needed to be a leader in any setting,” she said.
The UMF program is specially designed for teachers who want to become leaders in their classrooms or school districts and is offered in a cohort format that groups students to work together through the same curriculum.
“The professional networking and collaboration in the UMF program are so important,” said McQuarrie. “They provide the kind of expert support that makes me a better teacher, better leader and a better person.”
Marley Smith of Windsor is taking UMF’s new master’s in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Creative Arts Program. She is also planning on graduating in 2022.
Smith was attending medical school at St. Georges University in Grenada, but decided she wanted a wellness model with more acknowledgment of the human condition.
“This last year of school really confirmed my decision,” said Smith. “There are so many ways to touch someone’s life and help them onto the road to healing.”
This UMF Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology program recognizes that not everyone can express their difficulties in words. Some individuals more easily communicate their experiences and struggles through the arts. The program is unique in that students learn how to integrate the creative arts into a mental health practice. The goal is to provide students with a foundation in counseling skills, as well as additional techniques using the creative arts, so that they can connect with a wide population of people seeking mental health treatment.
The UMF program promotes an approach to counseling through professional clinical training and immersion in various creative endeavors. It has been designed to assist students in their preparation for State of Maine licensure as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC).
“Our students complete a practicum and an internship at mental health agencies in Maine,” said Lisa Henry, program director. “In my conversations with these agencies, they have stressed that the need for mental health clinicians, especially in rural areas, has reached a crisis level. We are pleased to be educating students who can help meet the need for mental health and substance use services in our communities.”
To complete her degree, Smith is starting her clinicals this summer with a 100-hour practicum and a 900-hour internship in the fall.
“Working towards this master’s degree is so important to me because mental health is an issue globally. There are currently not enough well trained providers to support all the needs in the communities, not just here in Maine, but across the country,” said Smith. “This unique approach to mental health will prepare me and my colleagues to treat our clients more holistically and support a well-rounded path to healing.”
For more information on UMF Graduate Programs visit https://www.umf.maine.edu/grad-studies/.