Clinton man heads civil rights efforts for Maine schools

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 28, 2008, at 9:48 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — Brandon Baldwin gave up his job teaching eighth-grade English at Lawrence Middle School in Fairfield to follow his real passion — helping Maine students understand that they can end bullying and harassment in schools.

Baldwin, 32, of Clinton is the first full-time curriculum coordinator for the program that trains civil rights teams in schools around Maine. He was a civil rights team adviser at Lawrence, which fielded one of the first teams in the state.

“This was a chance to work with students and adults who have a passion for this kind of work,” Baldwin said of why he wanted the job. “When you are in the classroom, there are other things that you have to be working on.”

A graduate of Skowhegan Area High School and Middlebury College in Vermont, Baldwin was chosen from 85 applicants for the job.

He spent the summer creating a Web site for faculty advisers full of resources, including short films and music clips. He also created curriculum including lesson plans, action plans and activities that can be used in the classroom or by teams.

More than 3,000 students around the state are on civil rights teams in 230 schools. The program, which was launched in 1996, is coordinated by the Civil Rights Division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office. It encourages students to act as role models and intervene when someone is teased or harassed, according to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Harnett, who runs the program with a budget of less than $200,000.

Baldwin’s position was created early this year, according to Harnett. He replaced six part-time regional coordinators who were not responsible for curriculum development.

“He’s young, energetic and really connects with young people very well,” Attorney General Steven Rowe said earlier this year of Baldwin. “Through his efforts, the program will be able to be more school-specific with curriculum.”

So far, Baldwin said Tuesday, he has had positive feedback in his first few months on the job, especially from teachers and team advisers.

“They love having a teacher to talk to,” he said. “They think I understand the inner workings of their school systems and the barriers they face when they try to improve and change things. They also enjoy talking with someone who has classroom experience.”

Baldwin added that he always reminds teachers that the behavior of adults and institutions also matters.

“One of the most important things we do as adults is model behavior,” he said, “because kids see everything.”

For more information on the program, call the Maine Attorney General’s Office at 626-8800.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/28/news/bangor/clinton-man-heads-civil-rights-efforts-for-maine-schools/ printed on December 28, 2014