Aspiring Educators Club Strives to Create Prepared Teachers

By Madison Lecowitch Contributing Writer

    The UMF Aspiring Educators Club inspires students to be lifelong educators who are passionate about teaching the next generation of leaders.

   Bradley Howes, a junior at UMF, has participated in Aspiring Educators Club since his sophomore year. He decided to join when a former member came into one of his special education classes to promote the club.

   Howes became the club’s treasurer once he realized the benefits that came with being involved in the club. “I enrolled for the treasurer after I came up with some fundraising ideas that met the clubs financial obligation,” said Howes. “It was once that I became the treasurer that I realized all the stuff that I could do that wasn’t written in the rules.”

   The “stuff” that Howes was referring to includes setting up events, fundraising opportunities and promoting the club through class discussions around campus. Anyone who joins the club is encouraged to set up their own educational events. “If the students have an idea they want to do, they can come to any of us, and we will make it happen,” said Howes.

   Jamie Dillon, president, joined the club to create opportunities for herself, to learn how to make connections with other educators and to provide connections for other people.

   Dillon wants to see students in education majors thriving at UMF and in their careers. “[I hope to see] future educators more excited and less discouraged to go into the teaching field, so that they can make personal connections with one another and have strength in numbers and be more confident when they go out and get real jobs as teachers.”

   The club was created five years ago with the goal to benefit students from all education majors. Howes encourages everyone who wishes to gain experience as an educator to join.“Pragmatically it makes you look good, because when you put that on a resume it shows you’re trying to be a lifelong learner and continuingly improving educator,” Howes said. “That’s a big thing that a lot of schools are looking for that a lot of people overlook.”

   One of the greatest benefits that come with joining the club is the connection with the Maine Education Association. “[MEA] oversees all of the educators within the state of Maine, which includes preservice educators. We collaborate with their student collaborator, Dan Allen, to make sure we’re meeting their obligations,” said Howes. “He provides us with opportunities, we provide them with data and interest and what one of the best teaching schools in Maine is talking about. It is a mutually beneficial relationship where they want to get new blood and new information and we want their experience and their tips for us.”

   Memberships to join the MEA are $28 for students. The club usually leaves money in the budget for free memberships that are need-based. A membership with the MEA allows you to attend two conferences, one in the fall that is held in Rockland and one in the spring that is held at UMF. In addition, you also receive access to the MEA magazine where there are helpful tips and information for future educators.

   Howes encourages students to join the club as early as possible. “It is probably most beneficial for people to start early in the club around your freshman age. I started around my sophomore age, which means I got into my position as a junior and realistically that only gives me a year and a half to participate in it,” said Howes. “And then I have to student teach and that becomes my full attention.”

   The Aspiring Educators Club meets every Tuesday at 7:30 pm in the Ed. Center, Rm.107. Howes encourages anyone who wishes to participate to come to the meetings. If there are any questions, students can contact Howes, or the rest of the Executive-Board at any time. The E-board includes Jamie Dillon, Danielle Bowler, Bradley Howes and Michaela Wright. “Anyone on the E-Board is open for questions,” Howes said. “Jamie Dillon is the president and you can email her at [].” Howes’s email is

How UMF Helped to Establish Ms. AlLee Cookson

How UMF Helped to Establish Ms. AlLee Cookson

By Audrey Carroll Contributing Writer


AILee Cookson’s 2018-2019 school photo for Carmel Elementary. (Photo courtesy of AILee Cookson)

In the summer of 2017, AlLee Cookson was on track to graduate a semester early from UMF. All that stood between Cookson and her diploma was one general education course and the student teaching requirement of the Education Program, which she would obtain credit for during the upcoming fall semester – allowing her to graduate in December of 2017, instead of May. However, in August, before she had acquired any student teaching experience or her diploma, Cookson accepted a job at Glenburn Elementary as a fourth grade teacher.

   At the start of the school year in September 2017, Cookson stood in front of a classroom full of fourth graders with no field experience to guide her through this sudden and unfamiliar journey. “It was terrifying,” said Cookson, “I had no student teaching. I had my practicums, but those were only two days a week. There was only so much I could get from that.”

  Cookson feared that inexperience would lessen her success in the the classroom, despite the hard work that led her to this wonderful opportunity. Regarding the first day of teaching in her own classroom, Cookson said, “I remember being really nervous, and unsure of what was going to happen, or how I was going to connect with [the students]. There was just a lot of uncertainty.”

   Cookson’s apprehension lasted the entirety of the first day, and was not self-alleviated. In fact, Cookson credits much of the confidence that she now holds to her coworkers at Glenburn Elementary. Another UMF Alumni, Alexandra Crocker, comforted Cookson on her first day at Glenburn. “When I first walked in, [Crocker] was like ‘We went to Farmington, we’ve got this,’ and that really helped,” said Cookson, “I just needed to prove to myself that I could do it, and embrace that this was my moment.”

   Cookson’s uncertainty of her worth in the classroom persisted due to parents. UMF is well known for preparing aspiring teachers to work with students everyday, but it can’t provide thorough direction regarding their parents. “There was a parent who found out that I wasn’t certified because I hadn’t finished the program yet,” said Cookson. “She told me that she didn’t think I was qualified to teach her child, and that I shouldn’t be teaching there.”

   However, at the end of the year, the same parent thanked Cookson for how well she had taught the children in her classroom. “She was so proud of how her child’s report card looked,” said Cookson.

   Though Glenburn Elementary provided Cookson with remarkable and irreplaceable teaching experiences, Cookson moved to Carmel Elementary the following school year where she taught  second grade.

   Soon after settling in at Carmel Elementary, Cookson became the Glenburn Middle School cheerleading coach. Through this position, Cookson noticed both profound similarities and many differences between coaching and teaching. “I noticed that with coaching there was a lot less structure,” said Cookson, “I didn’t feel as much pressure to meet ‘the standard’ – although there is a standard of what you expect – but it was really just me setting the standard for the girls.”

   Because of her experience with a wide range of grade levels, Cookson feels confident that she could handle any teaching position thrown her way: “To go from teaching fourth grade, and teaching second grade, and coaching middle school it feels like I have a whole realm of possibilities for my career of coaching and teaching.”

   UMF provided Cookson with the opportunities that allowed her to pursue her dreams very early on, before she had even graduated, and for that she will always be grateful

Professors with Pets getting a “Paws”-itive Response on Social Media

Professors with Pets getting a “Paws”-itive Response on Social Media

Alexis Wyman-LaBelle

Maybury’s cat, Steekle, showing off his muscles (Photo courtesy of Karol Maybury)

 Contributing Writer

   Pet Instagram accounts are a growing trend on social media, and two UMF professors, Karol Maybury and Misty Krueger, have accounts for their pets and have received a “paws”-itive response from their audience.

   “A few years ago I adopted an eight-year old cat named Fluffy from the Kennebec Valley Humane Society,” said Misty Krueger, an English Professor.  “[I] decided to create the page “What Would Fluffy Do?” to honor her greatness.” Krueger said that the name was inspired by “What Would Jesus Do?” which is a popular meme, along with another inspiration; grumpy cat.

   Krueger thinks the outcome from the Instagram page has been overwhelmingly positivity not only for her but her cat as well. “I think they enjoy her cat-itude.” Krueger added that it was a creative outlet for her to post things in Fluffy’s perspective to share with the 60 followers her cat has.

   “[It’s] a reminder that pets are fun and have funny personalities,” Krueger said, “and pets make people happy whether they are right in front of you ready for petting, or in pictures looking cute.”  

  Karol Maybury, a Psychology professor operates and maintains an Instagram account for her cat, Steekle, and his brother, Cinders. “[It started with a Facebook page] in 2015, as an ongoing joke with my kids,” Maybury said. “After seeing posts on Instagram about people and their pets, and I thought Steekle needed one too. It’s turned into a hobby.”

   Maybury pointed out a correlation between Instagram and envy, and referred to Instagram as a “highlight reel” of people’s lives, and the pet accounts act as a “relief” from expectations of what a “perfect life” looks like. “I try to think of funny or witty things to post to interrupt the ‘look at this fabulous life’ that we see all too often,” Maybury said. “Research even says that the more time you spend on Instagram, the more unhappy you’ll be.”
   “We do a cat of the month,” Maybury said jokingly. “It’s kind of funny because there’s only two of them. I’ll post little flyers around the house saying why they were chosen.”

   The cat of the month is rewarded for little things like great posture, ability to meow and yawn at the same time, and bravery during medical testing (vet visits).

   Between the two of Maybury’s cats there is a slight sibling rivalry. Steekle posted a picture of his brother, Cinders, when he was awarded cat of the month with a sarcastic caption, ‘Even if the Great Bacon Incident hadn’t disqualified me, Cinders still deserves his moment in the sun.’

   Both Krueger and Maybury see the positive impact that these humorous posts have on their following. Steekler, Maybury’s cat, has 125 followers that like the witty posts told in his perspective. A popular photo of Steekler’s is a photo where he is showing off his biceps while sitting in a chair, and another one where his ‘human sister,’ Grace McIntosh, is grooming his stomach with the caption ‘If you’re seeking a valentine in 2019 (I personally love my life as a bachelor) I have one word of advice: grooming! Don’t forget the oft-overlooked tummy region. I’ve found it’s the first place a lady looks to see if a gentleman takes care of himself.

   Maybury proposed implementing a cat-friendly dorm, in which the pets would be guaranteed to have their shots up-to-date and to be certified therapeutic animals. Maybury says it could be limited to one dorm in which the students don’t have allergies to the animals. The goal would be to help provide a little extra love to those students away from home.
   People interested in following these pets on social media can find them at @_steekle_ on Instagram and @whatwouldfluffydo on Facebook.

Colombian Psychedelic Rock – Wait, What!?

By Milo Fitzgerald Contributing Writer

    Every Monday from 6pm to 8pm, Ale Zarco takes to the small, dark DJ booth across from the Dining Hall armed with an array of nearly unknown music genres and history lessons for cultural context, she challenges listeners to step out of their comfort zone through her radio show What!?

   “What!? is supposed to be a place where you hear things that challenge your ears a little bit,” Zarco said. They make an effort to share music that won’t be played on any other radio station. However, like most people, Zarco has their standards. “I do a lot,” Zarco said, “But I don’t do classic, and I don’t do white country music.”

   Zarco instead shares black country artists, who are “more representative of the beginning of country music in America.”

   “Pioneers of music and music styles, people who stood out for how they changed the genre,” Zarco said are the type of artists they enjoy featuring on What!? British-Iraqi hip hop, psychedelic cumbia, African blues, Egyptian pop, and Latin American jazz are just a few of the various genres featured on the show.

   Along with discovering new artists, Zarco takes inspiration from music she has collected over time.  “I have four years of playlists on Spotify that I draw upon,” they said. The playlist titles are as diverse as the music itself, from “Moondayz” and “ThissHeavy” to “friends with stress”, “wqit actually what is this?” and “soothing nuclear ear candy”.

   “I like it when people start dancing to some music that they would have never heard on any other radio station,” Zarco said.

   For most people, music is catalyst for expression and has the power to elicit strong emotional responses. Through consideration, representation, and unification, “music is a way for people to express themselves,” Zarco said. “I think music can be a tool for building compassion and building understanding between people.”

   Zarco shares her public Spotify playlists on Facebook on the evening she will be playing them. Recently, they posted a playlist called “Dubby Queen” with the caption “Gonna be playing music that brings a healing sound to ill societies. Peaceful beats against a marching army. Beautiful melodies to soothe the pain of hardship.”

   Music is also a universal language with the capacity to transcend place. “Borders don’t stop music, and music is a traveling thing and can be moved across different cultures, for good reasons and for bad reasons, I guess,” Zarco said. “I definitely like finding people that I think respect the genres that they use, and try to add something new and authentic to it.”

   Her current favorite genre of music is Colombian psychedelic cumbia, which came of age in the 1960’s. Cumbia is an Afro-Colombian genre that became popular in coastal cities in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico. The fusion of psychedelic rock and cumbia began as a result of globalization and opposition to the Vietnam War, which made the cumbia genre more accessible to younger generations.

   In this sense, it is clear that music never really goes out of style, but is constantly evolving and reviving over time and space. Music is never static, and What!? is here to remind us of that.


Dear Bite,

I keep getting late night texts from this guy, asking if I want to get coffee or see a movie but I’m not sure if he’s being friendly or trying to flirt. Should I ask, and how do I do that without making things weird?

-Missing Signals

Dear Signals,

Make coffee for him and write at the bottom of his cup, “You’re poisoned. Date me for the antidote.” Whether or not there’s actually poison is up to you, I hear placebo effects are pretty wild. This is how the truest of loves begin.


Dear Bite,

It’s your mother. I just wanted to check in because you haven’t called in awhile. Do you know your cousin just got engaged to a doctor? Funny, I can’t remember the last time you brought someone home for dinner. One of my best friends in college was gay, you know, and we were friends for years.

-Love, Mom

God dammit Mom,

How did you even find out about this column? You can’t say things like that, it’s rude. . .my friends read this and now they’re going to think I’m weird- well, weirder than usual. And maybe I’d bring people home to visit, if say, I don’t know, you’d stop asking about marriage and grandkids.


Dear Bite,

Someone at the Flyer table told me that I can use the backpage with your column to dry my tears if heavy news on the inside makes me cry. That won’t give me paper cuts on my eyes will it?

-This just in, I’m a little emotional

Dear Emotional,

I guarantee you that eyeball paper cuts will absolutely distract you from your sadness. But maybe since you’re trying to get advice from the other Flyer staff, instead of listening my wisdom, this how natural selection gets you.