FARMINGTON — An employer symposium held November 9 at the Chef’s Table at Mt. Blue High School provided networking opportunities and information sharing.

Sponsored by fcNET, a network which works with the Maine Community College system to bring community college courses to greater Franklin County, the session began with a sampling of delicacies created by culinary arts students at Foster Career and Technical Education Center and their instructor, Sean Minear.

Soup shooters, assorted sliders and several sweet selections were paired with flavored waters and coffee.

Betty Gensel and Glenn Kapiloff are seen at the Employer Symposium held November 9 at the Chef’s Table, Mt. Blue Campus, in Farmington. (Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal)

Dan Ryder, co-director of the Success and Innovation Center at Mt. Blue Campus, said the center works with students on their post secondary aspirations to help them make plans and fulfill them.

“It’s a combination of academics and design, holding hands. If you can think of it we do it. We’re the grout of education. We fill in all the cracks,” he said. “Students are taught how to code, robotics, stress management and how to breathe. Every day is a new adventure. We never know what is going to happen.”

Ryder is part of an improv group, Teachers Lounge Mafia. The basic principles of an improvisor’s mindset are accept, communicate and trust, he said.


At left Dan Ryder, co-director of the Success and Innovation Center at Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington, speaks at the Employer Symposium held Nov. 9 at the Chef’s Table. Ryder and co-director Becky Dennison later gave a tour of the center. (Pam Harnden/Franklin Journal)

He stressed that communication is 10 percent speaking and 90 percent listening with the whole body.

“When things fall apart, it comes down to a matter of trust. There is so much communication available today it can’t all be consumed. You have to trust that those around you are there for the better good,” he said.

Ryder then led the group through a series of improvisations to demonstrate. Teams of two were asked to develop a special handshake to set them apart from others. Next different two-member teams were asked to create unique moves that showed off their dancing abilities. All new two-member teams were then tasked with creating a signature success cry. Finally, each person was asked to recreate all three movements with their partners.

“With acceptance, communication and trust you can do little things without needing 400 hours of professional development,” Ryder said.

Prior to a tour of the Success and Innovation Center, Mark Hews spoke about MaineSpark and its adult promise program, a coalition whose goal is to improve the workforce in Maine by 2025. 60 percent of the Maine population would have a credential of value and at least 40 percent of newly credentialed Mainers would be students ages 25 or older.

“Adult promise is one of four focus areas. Strong foundations covers birth to sixth grade. Early success grade six through secondary education. Adult promise Mainers 25 or older. Future possibilities is about attracting new businesses or people to Maine,” Hews said.


He said the group is working with fcNET and the River Valley Coalition to figure out the workforce needs, the skill levels required and how to fill that gap. They’re looking to see if existing resources can be combined or if additional resources are necessary to meet those needs.

Hews said Central Maine Community College will be offering customized training at the workplace or in Auburn. The Wilton Career Center, one of 12 in Maine, is available to help those looking for employment or training of the workforce.

Robyn Raymond, adult education director for Regional School Unit 73, spoke about specialized trainings in RSU 9 and 73. Among them are a new 15-week culinary training beginning later this month. Students will work with Rachel Jackson, the owner of the recently opened Farmington D…. – formerly Boivin’s Harvest House.

For more information on MaineSpark programs, visit For RSU 9 adult education, call 778-3460. For RSU 73 adult education, call 897-6406.

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