Jesse Kaye-Schiess: KPE master’s student works with outdoor program for middle school boys

A chance meeting in the dairy aisle at the grocery store in summer 2013 led Jesse Kaye-Schiess to enroll in the master’s program in kinesiology and physical education at the University of Maine.

He had finished his undergraduate degree in KPE at UMaine in 2012 and taught for a year in Lincoln, Maine. But like many first-year teachers, he struggled with the workload and budget constraints.

That’s when Mary Mahoney-O’Neil, the associate dean in the UMaine College of Education and Human Development, crossed paths with him, and talked about graduate school and applying for a graduate assistantship.

“In January 2014, I started up and haven’t stopped since,” he says.

Kaye-Schiess, who grew up in Shapleigh, Maine and graduated from Massabesic High School, works as a graduate assistant in the College of Education’s advising center, where he helps undergraduate students decide when to take classes so they can earn their teacher certification and graduate on time.

He also volunteers with Pathfinders, an outdoor program at Bonny Eagle Middle School in Buxton, Maine. The program is designed for students who don’t play sports or do any other extracurricular activities, but who have an interest in the outdoors. Activities include hiking, canoeing and mountain climbing. For the past three years, Kaye-Schiess has helped lead a fall trip for 7th and 8th grade boys that includes visits to the University of Maine, Acadia National Park and more.

“We’re by ourselves, middle of the woods, no cell phone reception, no walkie-talkies, and it’s kind of just us and the wilderness,” he says.

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