Press Release
Thomas College Meets Critical Need in Community with Only Middle Level Education Program in State MacKenzie Riley Young | December 4, 2023

WATERVILLE, MAINE, December 2023 — A change in certification is making an impact on Maine’s schools, and Thomas College has figured out a way to help solve this problem.

In 2022, the Maine Department of Education changed its teacher certification age range from K-8 to K-6. Under the K-8 certification, teachers were able to engage in team-teaching and interdisciplinary instruction commonly found in effective middle schools throughout the state of Maine. However, due to the change in certification, middle level principals are left no option other than to hire four people with different content area skills instead of one person who had skills in all four content areas and knew how to teach in an interdisciplinary manner. Not only does this impact school budget, but it also impacts teacher effectiveness in what research shows is important and effective middle level instruction– interdisciplinary, co-taught coursework for middle school students.)

Thomas College has created three new middle level certification programs to address this issue for administrators and middle schoolers across the state. Students in the College’s program will be certified for 5-8 and across two content areas of choice (Science/Math; English/Science; Social Studies/English), making them highly employable.

Thomas College is leading the charge with the only middle level education program in Maine by working within the parameters to meet a critical need in the community. Thomas College graduates of this program will be certified in 5-8 across two content areas and will be trained in coursework specific to engaging the unique needs of emerging adolescents at the middle school level. 

The program is built on state (MAMLE) and national (AMLE) principles of effective middle level practice, and the Executive Director of MAMLE, Dr. Katie Rybakova, leads the charge of coursework within these certifications.

“The Lunder School of Education faculty are determined to continue our conversations with administrators, teachers, and students out in Maine schools and classrooms– these programs emerged from ongoing conversations about the unique needs of middle level students and schools, and it was clear to us that we had to work within the parameters of the state requirements to solve some rapidly emerging problems with innovative solutions,” said Rybakova. “We’re excited to see how our students build on the STEAM experiences they already get here at Thomas by building out their content area knowledge and specialized pedagogical knowledge unique to meeting the needs of middle level students in Maine. We’re leading the charge and look forward to collaborating across colleges, institutions, organizations, and middle schools to continue to innovate what it means to be a middle level instructor.”

Chelsey Cote, from Old Town, Maine, is studying middle level education at Thomas College.

“I think that Thomas College’s middle level education program will set me up for success post-graduation due to the amazing opportunities that I am able to receive, even in my early years of college. The preparation that Thomas’s education programs allows students to have sets us up to become some of the best educators,” said Cote.

To learn more about Thomas College’s Middle Level Education, visit the website. Rybakova will also be speaking on December 8 at Educate Maine’s Education Symposium about the College’s middle level education program. Learn more here.

In addition to middle level education, Thomas College’s Peter & Paula Lunder School of Education offers undergraduate degree programs in early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education, and graduate degree programs in Education and Educational Leadership. Learn more.

About Thomas College:   

U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Thomas College as a top college in Maine for social mobility. Our clear career focus and one-of-a-kind Guaranteed Job Program™ makes it possible to advance faster in the arts and sciences, business, and education. Earn an undergraduate degree in three years and then choose from a variety of in-person or online graduate degree programs that can be completed in one-year or two. Located in Waterville, Maine, Thomas College is your pathway to a promising future, guaranteed. For more information, visit or contact MacKenzie Riley Young at [email protected] or 207-859-1313. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok