Members & Bios-Maine Charter School Commission

**** The Maine Charter School Commission website is under construction and currently there are some files that are too large to post. If you are looking for a report that you can't find on the website, please contact the office and we'll be happy to provide it to you. ***

The Charter School Commission consists of seven members appointed by the Maine State Board of Education. Three of the seven are members of the State Board. Maine's charter school law calls for the remaining four members to come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.

Here is the current Commission membership along with contact details:

Seat Number Name Term Ends Email  Phone
1 Dr. Fern Desjardins ** Term Ends 6/30/19 (207)543-6005
2 Jana Lapoint ** Term Ends 6/30/20 (207)781-7472
3 John Bird, Vice Chair ** Term Ends 6/30/21 (207)596-6276
4 Dr. J. Michael Wilhelm, Chair Term Ends 6/30/19 (207)655-3384
5 Shelley Reed Term End 6/30/20 (207)685-5522
6 Jim Rier Term Ends 6/30/21 (207)729-0155
7 Laurie Pendleton Term Ends 6/30/21    

** Also State Board of Education

Dr. Fern M.Y. Desjardins (Seat 1) is a resident of St. Agatha. Dr. Desjardins had a 43-year career in PK-12 education as an elementary school teacher, principal, and Superintendent of Schools in the rural, small school system of MSAD 33. Under her principalship, Dr. Levesque Elementary school was designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Desjardins is a life-long learner who holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Language Arts from UMaine, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from USM, and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from UMFK. She has taught graduate level courses for UMaine as an adjunct faculty member in their outreach programs in Aroostook County, served on UMFK’s Board of Visitors (one year as President and two as Vice-President), Northern Maine Medical Center’s (NMMC) Board of Trustees, and she has been an active member of numerous educational associations and committees. Since her retirement, Dr. Desjardins maintains educational affiliations by working as a facilitator for school systems and by serving on various committees or special projects of the Maine DOE. She volunteers at her local church, parish, and at the diocese level. Dr. Desjardins and her husband, Francis, have three grown children and three grandchildren.


Jana F. Lapoint (Seat 2) is a resident of Falmouth. Jana earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree with high honors from the University of Bridgeport. She is a former business teacher and taught at the New Canaan High School in Connecticut. Jana previously owned Lapoint Industries in Auburn, Maine which are now owned by her sons, John and Alan Lapoint. Jana served as a trustee on the Maine Community College System for 11 years, with two years as Chair. She also served for 6 years as a Trustee of Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts and 6 years as a trustee of Cheverus High School. Jana received a Distinguished Service Award from Dean College and a Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Maine. She has been on the State Board of Education for 8 years. Jana also served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity for 8 years and has been a volunteer for Ronald McDonald House of Portland for many years. Jana has four grown children, 13 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.


John A Bird – Vice Chair (Seat 3) is a resident of Rockland. John spent the last eighteen years of a forty-seven-year career in the non-profit world as a leadership and management consultant to non-profit organizations across the country and internationally. He retired as President of a ten-partner firm, Educator’s Collaborative, in July 2007. His clients included 268 independent schools and other organizations located in 41 states and five foreign nations and territories. Before beginning his consulting career in 1989, John spent 29 years in independent education, five years in full-time teaching, five years as a senior administrator and teacher, and 19 years as a head of school. In addition to his long career in the field of education, John currently serves on the boards of the Strand Theater, the Penobscot Bay YMCA, and the Island Institute. He currently serves as vice chair for the Maine Charter School Commission. John grew up in Rockland, Maine and received his B.A. degree from Bowdoin College. He also has an M.A. from George Washington University. John and his wife, Mary Alice, live in Rockland. They have three grown children and six grandchildren.


Dr. J. Michael Wilhelm – Chair (Seat 4) retired as a Superintendent of Schools in 2011 after 42 years as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent. His final 22 years as a system administrator was spent in MSAD #75 where he was involved in the planning, application and oversight of the construction of the Mt. Ararat Middle School and the Bowdoin Central School. In 2003, Dr. Wilhelm’s accomplishments were honored when he became Maine Superintendent of the Year. Since 2011 he served as interim superintendent in RSU 16, RSU 13, and RSU 15 and has taught courses in curriculum development, educational history and policy, and effective teaching as adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine and Bowdoin College. He currently serves as chair for the Maine Charter School Commission. Dr. Wilhelm lives in Casco with his wife Donna, who was a teacher for forty years. He has four children and five grandchildren.


Shelley Reed (Seat 5), working in the career of education for thirty-eight years, retired from the Maine Department of Education in 2011 as the consultant for Truancy, Dropout, Alternative Education, and Homeless Youth. This work with students-at-risk led to membership on Keeping Maine's Children Connected, Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, Shared Youth Vision Council, multiple task forces, and preparation of legislation on behalf of Maine's youth. Previous to DOE experience, Shelley taught first and second grade in Auburn and was an elementary school counselor in Lewiston. Recent past affiliations include the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine developing trainings to support the work of communities initiating restorative practices. Shelley currently serves as President, Sunday School Superintendent and Teacher at her church, and is Secretary for the Androscoggin Yacht Club and is active at the Wayne library. She enjoys kayaking, gardening, the beach, and diving into a good book. Wayne is home to her and husband David. Her three grown children reside in Vermont, Uganda, and Taiwan.


James E. Rier (Seat 6) was employed for over 10 years, until 2015, as an employee of the Maine Department of Education. He began as the Director of Finance and Operations and in 2011 was appointment Deputy Commissioner. Jim’s final year at the DOE was as the Commissioner of Education. Jim is known as one of the state’s foremost experts on education funding and worked on several high-profile initiatives such as leading reforms to the state’s 2005 school funding law, child development services and the essential programs and services model. Jim earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan. He was a senior project engineer for Buick and for 25 years was president of Rier Motors Co. in Machias, Maine. He also served on the Maine State Board of Education and on the boards of directors for Bangor Hydro Electric Co., the Maine Community Foundation, the Regional Medical Center at Lubec and the Washington County Education & Economic Development Alliance. Jim lives in Topsham with his wife Linda.


Laurie Pendleton (Seat 7) is the Director of Content Development at the Association for College and University Educators and has over 25 years of experience in education as a classroom teacher, building leader, and professional development specialist. For the last 18 years, she has supported schools throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates in the implementation of school reform efforts. For five years, Laurie has served as a Professional Development Associate for the Leadership and Learning Center, a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Prior to that, she worked with Leeds Global Partners to create and deliver Professional Development for effective teaching practices in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. She also held a variety of positions in the Education Department of Edison Learning, a national educational management organization. Laurie received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington, was a member of the first cohort in the Educational Leadership Program at the University of Maine at Orono, and holds MS in Curriculum and Instruction through Capella University.