Emily Albee (’06, ’09G, ’12G) says her high school students are often surprised to learn that she wasn’t fully prepared for college when she first started attending the University of Maine.
Hampden Academy’s social studies teacher is a self-proclaimed military brat who grew up in Colorado, Hawaii and Maryland. But both of her parents were from Maine and decided to move home around the time Albee graduated from high school.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but my parents basically threatened me if I didn’t go to college, and I’m grateful they did because I spent 10 years at UMaine,” recalls himself Albee laughing. “I had some cousins who went there and it seemed like a good fit when I visited them. But I really had no idea what I was doing in the beginning. I learned how to study at UMaine.”
Albee was a double major in elementary education and history. She joined the Delta Zeta sorority where she participated in leadership and community service opportunities. As a student in 2003, she helped organize a lecture on the campus of Francis Bok, a Dinka tribesman and former slave from South Sudan. Albee says the experience was transformative for her.
“I realized I had a passion for social justice,” she says. “After that, a group of us worked through the Office of Student Life to start a human rights awareness week.”
UMaine is also where Albee discovered her love of travel which has taken her to destinations around the world including New Zealand, Cuba, China, Peru, Guatemala, Ireland and several countries in Europe.
When she finished her teaching degree in December 2006 and earned a bachelor’s degree, Albee stayed at UMaine and went straight into a graduate program. She got a job as a research assistant in the Office for Research and Funding Programs and Industry Cooperation. She was assigned to a scholarship administered by Bruce Segee, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“The project aimed to bring supercomputing technology for dynamic Earth modeling into middle school classrooms,” she says. “I helped develop a curriculum for 7th and 8th graduates, presented research at national conferences, and helped submit grants to various state and federal sponsors.”
In May 2009 she received her Master of Education with a focus on Intermediate Social Studies. At the time, she was looking for a full-time teaching position, but the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis made it virtually impossible to find one. Albee ended up taking a 25 percent position as 7thth Social studies class teacher at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. She continued to work with Segee on the NSF grant and accepted a position as an educational assistant at the Foster Center for Student Innovation in UMaine.
Not graduating from college, she enrolled in two other graduate programs: a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) from the College of Education and Human Development and a Graduate Certificate in Innovation Engineering through the Foster Center.
“I was working and attending classes at UMaine in the mornings and teaching in the afternoons,” she says. “I did that for a year, then got a 50 percent apprenticeship and finally worked my way up to a full-time job.”
Albee spent a year between Reeds Brook and neighboring Hampden Academy and began working only at the high school in 2011. In 2015 she got a full-time apprenticeship there.
All of these experiences helped foster Albee’s interest and active involvement in local and state educational associations.
“The benefit of going to UMaine is that you have access to all these incredible people,” says Albee. “People like Jake Ward, Mike Hastings and Bruce Segee. Phyllis Brazee, Barb Blazej, Ed Brazee and OJ Logue in the College of Education and Human Development, Renee Kelly in the Foster Center, Nathan Godfried, Elizabeth McKillen and Stephen Miller in the History Department. These are all dear mentors and friends.”
In May, Albee was named the 2022 Penobscot County Teacher of the Year. She was also a finalist for Maine Teacher of the Year 2023, which ultimately went to Matt Bernstein, a Portland high school teacher. But she says the experience allowed her to reflect on her teaching and gave her the opportunity to delve more into educational issues that interest her.
“It’s been a year of service since you were named district teacher of the year and it’s definitely filled my cup after teaching for a couple of years during the pandemic,” she says. “I’m ready to shout from the rooftops to highlight the importance of education in Maine and to champion policies I believe in, like free school breakfasts and lunches, and making sure the state continues to do its best.” Commitment to pay 55 percent of the cost of K-12 schools.”
Ultimately, Albee says she plans to continue contributing by having conversations.
“We all want our children to have successful academic and social-emotional learning experiences,” she says. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned at UMaine, it’s that talking to people about these issues — at the local, state, and national levels — and using your personal and professional network to help resolve issues can make a world of difference.”
Contact: Casey Kelly, email@example.com