Iris Eichenlaub and Rep. Pluecker in the high school’s library
Iris Eichenlaub and Rep. Pluecker in the high school’s library
Representative Bill Pluecker of Warren recently spent the morning at Camden Hills Regional High School to celebrate “Invite Your Legislator to School Month.” The intention of the initiative is to connect legislators to the schools they represent, giving them a picture of what teaching and learning look and feel like in the 21st century.

The “Invite Your Legislator to School” initiative was the vision of the late Kevin Grover, 2010 Maine State Teacher of the Year, and was adopted by the Legislature in 2013. According to Grover, “Too often decisions about public education are made by elected officials with little or no recent experiences in a classroom. By inviting a local, state and/or federal representative into your classroom you will inform, enlighten and make a difference.” Grover died in 2012, but the Maine State Teachers of the Year Association has continued to promote the visits by legislators.

Iris Eichenlaub, 2017 Knox County Teacher of the Year and librarian/technology integrator at Camden Hills, invited local legislators to visit CHRHS last spring. Rep. Pluecker is new to the Legislature this term and represents two of the five towns that Camden Hills Regional High School serves (Hope and Appleton), so Eichenlaub invited him this month and toured the school with him.

Pluecker’s visit to the AP Environmental Science class was scheduled in response to his background as a small-business owner and organic farmer and because he serves on the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee. The class has been learning about the impact of pesticides and mining, and Ellie Berez (class of 2019) said, “Everything we put on the land, like pesticides, doesn’t just seep in, but often runs off and it can affect our watersheds and groundwater. [Rep. Pluecker’s] job is really connected to what we are learning about, and it was informative to hear about some of the current bills that would help protect Maine’s environment, and also how important his job is to advocate for sustainable practices.”

Pluecker also met with Susan Boivin, director of food services, during his visit. Boivin has worked tirelessly to get more locally grown, Maine food on the menus at the three schools she manages. Pluecker remarked that “It is amazing what [Boivin] is able to make happen on limited resources. Dedicating her Sundays to sourcing local food that works on her budget — this is amazing. Local farmers and the kids who get to benefit from her cooking both owe her a debt of gratitude.”

The visit concluded with an informal lunch in the school’s Wave Cafe with a group of teachers.