President Vincent Vanier

Vincent Vanier (Madawaska) took over the president’s chair as Gary Lanoie moved into the conference chair slot and Craig Dickinson became the new ACTEM Business Manager. Dickinson, a longtime educator in the Orono area, was well known to many in Maine as the face of Woodpile Software out of Moody, Maine. The ACTEM office was moved from Betsy’s home in Auburn to Craig’s in Moody. Gary Lanoie engineered a transfer and expansion of the ACTEM website to FirstClass.

Craig Dickinson, Business Manager

“I asked (Craig) if he would be interested in applying to become ACTEM’s new Business Manager,” recalls Vanier.  “I think you could’ve knocked him over with a feather.  Not only did Craig know the educational software scene in Maine, but he also had years of experience running his own business and attending MAINEd. Apparently this was really good timing for Craig, as he fit the bill perfectly.” 

MAINEducation Conference Expands

MAINEd saw many changes in 2006 as well under Lanoie’s able leadership. With the exception of 2004, the conference had always been a one-day affair. October of 2006 saw the event begin on Thursday with a small offering of pre-conference workshops. That was the start of what is now two full days of the conference. Membership became a part of conference registration in 2006, and ACTEM members doubled  from 365 in June to 750 by the end of the year.

In addition to expanding into Thursday, the first annual awards banquet to honor the Educator of the Year winners was held. It was also the renewal of bringing national keynote speakers for Friday morning as well as for presenters during the day. The national keynote the conference attracted in 2006 was David Warlick. It was with this in mind that he agreed to come back in 2012 for the 25th. 

MLTI Round Two

There was a lot going on in Maine schools in 2006 as well. The lease was up on the first round of MLTI devices, the G3s. With the ability of schools to purchase the devices as well as receive MLTI II computers, the G4s, the amount of technology available to students in the state grew exponentially. And ACTEM was there to help in the transition.

RAM Upgrade Offer

Over the summer of 2006, ACTEM and the Maine Learning Technology Foundation established a partnership to offer low cost RAM for the first round laptops to help extend their usefulness. “Tara Maker and Jim Doyle of Apple and I met with Angus King in Portland in early June, and Angus proposed a matching grant initiative to cover half the cost of upgrading for schools,” Business Manager Dickinson remembered. ACTEM shipped nearly 15,000 chips to 110 districts and schools and provided 4,600 Apple OS license upgrades at reduced pricing.

“In the beginning of my first year as President,” said Vanier,  “ACTEM decided to serve as purchasing facilitator for upgrading the first round of MLTI devices.  Those IBooks were a little light in the memory department and many needed upgrades to OS 10.4 (Tiger) ACTEM decided to take orders on vast quantities of RAM to upgrade units.  Before long, we had nearly 15,000 units of RAM being delivered to and stored inside of Craig’s garage!”  Dickinson expanded advertised software offerings from five to over 20. ACTEM aggregated $125,000 of FirstClass license purchases which translated into a 60% savings off list prices for those districts purchasing. In the first three weeks of July 2006, ACTEM invoiced over $1,000,000 in software and memory sales.

The Electronic Educator

The Electronic Educator, ACTEM’s quarterly newsletter also received new leadership in 2006. Rachel Guthrie (Cape Elizabeth) and now of SMCC creates the excellent publication to this day. She also assumed the role of Graphic Designer for the organization and her work is everywhere on the conference program, posters, logos, exhibit displays and other items.  “For me, the July 2006 selection of Rachel Guthrie as Electronic Educator Editor and Board member during a meeting I attended with Vince Vanier and Gary Lanoie was a crucial moment in ACTEM history,” Craig Dickinson noted. “Rachel’s work continually boosts our image and helps us deliver our message.”

John Lunt Friend of Technology Award

As the sign of the maturity of the organization, ACTEM also took the step of creating the “John Lunt Friend of Technology” award in 2006. The award is presented periodically to honor someone who has furthered the mission of ACTEM and has been beneficial to the students of Maine. The first recipients of the award were Lunt himself as well as former Governor Angus King.


With the arrival of MLTI II also came the arrival of NoteShare, a software product that allows students and teachers to electronically share their learning. Taking advantage of this, ACTEM started hosting its own NoteShare server hosted by Crystal Priest (Guilford) allowing everyone across the state access to information stored there.  2007 was also MLTI’s second attempt to expand into the high schools of Maine with the false start of 2004 a distant memory. With the middle schools still running G4’s, the high schools received Intel powered MacBooks. ACTEM to the aid again as the organization aggregated an order for 1150 Parallels Virtual Desktop licenses for schools wanting to run Windows on these MacBooks. 

Augusta Civic Center Wireless Network

As MAINEd celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2007 it was becoming clear we were outpacing the technology infrastructure of the Augusta Civic Center. This year was the low point for connectivity at the event as the network went down for 90 minutes. The Civic Center agreed to a proposal from ACTEM to provide 25 Apple Airports to improve connectivity during the conference as well as engage help from MSLN to increase bandwidth. The change helped immensely in future conferences. Trey Bachner (Falmouth, then Apple, now Portland) was largely responsible for the continued success of this initiative. It also made the Civic Center realize the importance of its network footprint. The Airports are gone and the ACC has made it a point to keep their network top notch on their own. MSLN/Networkmaine still gets creative regarding bandwidth for our two-day conference. Dave Norton (UMS) works closely with Augusta network specialists Fred Kahl and Mike Schriver to ensure the Civic Center network can handle the needs of tech-saavy conference attendees arriving with multiple devices.

Maine CITE - RUS Grant

ACTEM continued to broaden its scope and mission in 2008. Partnering with the Maine CITE Coordinating Center allowed the organization to provide purchasing consortium services aimed at expanding assistive technology and specialized software. With the ATM video conferencing system nearing retirement, ACTEM applied for and was awarded a $374,000 RUS (Rural Utility Service) Grant to provide Maine K-12 schools and the UMaine system an improved videoconferencing infrastructure.  Professional development was also another area of expansion that continues today. Full day PackageMaker sessions were offered in Bangor, Falmouth, and Vassalboro in 2008. All 60 seats filled in advance.


And ACTEM’s reach extended beyond the high bridge in Kittery. Dennis Crowe (Bonny Eagle and now Gorham) was named President of the fledgling New England ISTE (NEISTE) at a meeting hosted by ACTEM in Kennebunkport. NEISTE is a collection of technology organizations like ACTEM from around New England.  Along the same lines, ACTEM was well represented at the worldwide NECC conference in San Antonio with 48 members in attendance.

President Crystal Priest

The Presidency of ACTEM changed in May 2008 with Crystal Priest (Guilford) taking over for Vincent Vanier. Vanier continues to serve to this day maintaining the ACTEM Listserve, where there is considerable activity in the background on a daily basis. List membership in 2012 approached 800 and posts often top 500 a month. Vanier left the presidency with a record that still stands- driving 1600+  miles for ACTEM/NEISTE events in a six-day period from his Madawaska home.

Floyd Calderwood - Friend of Technology Award

The conference continued to evolve as well. MLTI’s Bette Manchester arranged for teams of Google Earth and Google SketchUp experts to play a vital role in MAINEd 2008 conference presentations and on the exhibit floor.   The first “Vendor’s Reception” to open the exhibits was held Thursday afternoon and then lead into the awards banquet. At the banquet, Floyd Calderwood (Hampden Academy) received the John Lunt Friend of Technology award. Calderwood was the face of Clarisworks/AppleWorks for educators in Maine and also has the distinction of teaching with Stephen King. There is even a character (albeit short-lived) named Floyd Calderwood in King’s novel, “It.”

Bus to NECC 2009

2009 saw ACTEM membership reach an all-time high of 935 individual memberships and 149 institutions. The camaraderie of the statewide organization was never more evident than when 48 members boarded a bus provided by CDI & CBE Technologies and headed to Washington DC for NECC 2009 in late June. A grateful troupe, thanks to Kannon Communications, headed to Baltimore to see the Red Sox defeat the Orioles.

Three weeks after returning from Washington,  Crystal Priest instituted a two-day “Board Retreat” for long-range planning, a tradition that continued the next three years. “ACTEM is a very unique organization, more like an extended family in many ways,” Priest says, recalling the laughter and productivity of the Retreats she presided over.

RUS Grant

The RUS Grant program continued to expand as the organization was awarded $997,000 from the USDA Rural Development’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program. Equipment from these two grants was delivered to almost 50 school districts, the Maine State Library, and the UMaine infrastructure.

Professional Development continued to be a priority for the organization. PD reimbursement topped $20,000 for the year. Laura Girr (Freeport) hosted the first Technology Integrators regional meeting at Freeport High School. In 2009, MAINEd hosted a national “Google Workshop for Educators” co-sponsored by ACTEM and CUE (Computer Using Educators).

Diana and Bob Sommers - Friend of Technology Award

2010 was a notable year for long time ACTEM members and supporters. Diana and Bob Sommers (Wiscasset), two of the founders of the organization, received the John Lunt Friend of Technology award at the award banquet that year. Deb White (Orono), and ACTEM Teacher of the Year award winner was named the ISTE Kay L. Bitter award winner honoring excellence in technology based pre-K2 education. And ACTEM board member Alice Barr (Yarmouth) was among the final five nominees for Maine Teacher of the Year.

Technology Integrators

ACTEM’s professional development and mission to provide technology education to the students of Maine also surged forward. Shawn Kimball (Hampden Academy) hosted the first Eastern Maine Integrators meeting. Regional trainings were held around the state for teachers sponsored by ACTEM and CBE. ACTEM sponsored and President Crystal Priest presented at the state STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Summit.

At the classroom level, two initiatives were launched. 

MARVEL Challenge

The first MARVEL Challenge was created to give a glimpse of the powerful research tool (MARVEL) that all students in Maine have at their fingertips. Led by ACTEM Treasurer Andy Wallace (South Portland), and Peggy O’Kane of the Maine State Library, a scavenger hunt was created to put the tool to use. Over 1500 students in 35 schools participated.

ACTEM also teamed with the MLTI project to sponsor the first “WatchMECreate” middle and high school video contest titled “WatchMEGraduate.” Students were challenged to use the multimedia tools available on every MLTI device to get creative. 

Bus to ISTE 2011 Philadelphia

2011 saw the faithful board the bus again and head south in June. This time for ISTE 2011 (Formerly NECC) in Philadelphia with Stacy Alvarez (Freeport) ably serving as “Bus Mom.” It seemed like old hat to the experienced travelers and many ventured to Citizen’s Bank Park to see the Red Sox again. The results were not the same as in Baltimore.


 The WatchMECreate and MARVEL Challenge initiatives were launched again and Moodle trainings by Sharon Betts (Leavitt) and Anne MacDonald (Falmouth) drew 50 members. ACTEM-sponsored half-day and full-day onsite workshops for developing distance learning programs, and training teachers were offered to individual schools. ACTEM also provided forty $75 scholarships to the MLTI Summer Institute at Bowdoin College, and thirty Integrators gathered at Colby College in Waterville in February for the first Tech Connect Conference.

Student Closing Keynote at MAINEducation

The 24th annual MAINEd Conference added a couple of twists. One was on the program; one wasn’t. For the first time, there was a closing keynote. High school senior Chris Jones (Oak Hill) gave a spirited presentation that gave us all a glimpse of the MLTI program and technology in general from the perspective of an 18-year old. The unplanned aspect of the conference was the passing of Apple’s Steve Jobs a week before the conference. In tribute, many attendees honored the icon by wearing his trademark black mock turtleneck, jeans, and sneakers.

How valuable and well known are ACTEM members? A Google film team spent a week in Wells High School with ACTEM board member Cheryl Oakes. The YouTube video titled “Cheryl and Morgan: Learning Independence” received over two million hits.

Executive Director Hired

2012 is the year for anniversaries and change in ACTEM. Business Manager Craig Dickinson announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of this year’s MAINEd Conference. That put a lot on the plate of the ACTEM Board over the past year. In the process of defining who they were looking for to replace the irreplaceable Craig, they decided to rename the position; and this summer former President (and chairman of the last seven conference committees) Gary Lanoie became the first ACTEM Executive Director/Business Manager, and ACTEM’s first salaried employee. The ACTEM office, which had always been operated in the contracted Business Manager’s home,  moved into rented commercial space in Gorham large enough to provide potential training opportunities.

President Michael Richards

In addition, Crystal Priest concluded her four years as President and turned the reins over to Michael Richards (Wells-Ogunquit). “I’ve learned so much and have gotten to know so many interesting people, “Crystal wrote in the newsletter. “Thank you all for making a difference.” Angus King emailed  congratulations to be delivered to Crystal noting her “incredible dedication to Maine kids” and called her “...one of the best educators I’ve ever encountered.”

Professional Development

Professional Development continues to be strong with ACTEM sponsoring “EdCamp: The Unconference” organized by Page Lennig (Waynflete) for a Saturday in March. Alice Barr and Mike Arsenault (Yarmouth) offered the ACTEM-sponsored “Google Apps for the School Community” full-day workshops in Yarmouth, Winthrop, and Ellsworth. Dennis Crowe in Gorham hosted a full day ACTEM-sponsored Rosetta Stone training. And in a real move toward 21st Century Learning, ACTEM and the Maine Principals Association offered several iPad trainings this year for administrators where attendees had the option of including an iPad as part of registration. Andy Wallace, Shawn Carlson, Crystal Priest, and Jonathan Pratt prepared and delivered the trainings.

25th MAINEducation Conference

It is the 25th anniversary of MAINEd, the 10th of the MLTI program, and the 10th of FOSSed. Everyone who has worked to make these initiatives a success, both past and present, should be reminded of the opportunities they have helped provide the students of Maine and beyond. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in the past 25 years to allow us to stand where we do today. 


Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

P.O. Box 187, Gorham, ME 04038

Phone: (207) 222-4353  Fax: (207) 222-2057  Email: info@actem.org