State attorney general tours Region Two, receives award

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills was in Aroostook County May 31 to get a first-hand look at the many programs offered at the Region Two School of Applied Technology.

In addition, Mills was presented with the 2018 Financial Capability Innovation Award, presented by the nation’s leading technology innovator, EVERFI Inc. The award recognizes the attorney general’s efforts to improve the financial capability of Americans through unique digital learning initiatives.

Dave Keaton, director of Region Two, explained the importance of the EVERFI program for seniors, many of whom gathered for the awards ceremony.

“We try to expose our seniors to a financial literacy background that is probably a bit more than what you would get at your high school,” Keaton said. “It’s one thing to put you through school to become a welder, but if you are not also competent in other areas, you are lacking when you leave us.”

The school became an EVERFI school in 2017, but the program was launched in 2016 through a partnership with the attorney general’s office. The partnership helped bring financial literacy to local students at no cost to schools or taxpayers. The web-based program uses the latest in simulation and gaming technologies to bring complex financial concepts to life for students in today’s digital generation.

According to Region Two instructor Robert Zabierek, who also is a member of the board of directors for the Maine Education Association, the digital program has become part of the school’s mission to support career development and teach life skills to students.

Zabierek was the first educator in Maine to earn a teacher certification in financial education through a partnership with EVERFI and Bloomboard.

“Our CTE director implemented the requirement that all Region Two program completers attain a certification in financial literacy,” he said. “Attorney General Janet Mills has provided us with that pathway through her sponsorship of the (EVERFI) program.”

Maddy Murphy, director of global partnerships for EVERFI, said the purpose of the program was to make students more well-rounded for when they either go on to college or enter the workforce.

“We are an online program that equips students with the knowledge and skills to become financially savvy,” Murphy said. “What that can entail is learning how to pay for college, knowing what a credit score means and learning what you need to be aware of as a consumer.”

To date, the program has reached more than 4,000 students across Maine, Murphy said

Mills said she was very impressed with the Houlton center after taking a tour of the campus.

“I am so impressed with everything they are doing here in Houlton,” Mills said. “The facility is clean, healthy and productive, and the students all appear very enthusiastic.”

She said in her time in the building, speaking with some of the students, the skills they are learning will play important roles in their future to help them become successful. Mills also expressed appreciation for the award recognizing her support for the EVERFI program.

“As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I take seriously the responsibility to protect Maine citizens from fraud and equip them with the tools to be savvy consumers,” Mills said. “I am honored to be recognized for the financial education we’ve provided to high school students over the years. My office strongly believes in the importance of teaching financial literacy to ensure our students grow up to become financially astute and stable adults.”