The Mission and History of the Brooksville Education Foundation
The purpose of the Brooksville Education Foundation (BEF) is to expand educational opportunities for the residents of Brooksville, Maine. To accomplish this, BEF will solicit donations and provide grants that support: early childhood education; program enrichment for Brooksville elementary and high school students; scholarships for Brooksville residents of any age to help further their education beyond high school; matching funds for educational grants from other institutions which further the purposes of BEF; and such other requests as are consistent with its purpose.
“Lifting All Boats”
We are constantly reminded that education and economic opportunity are closely linked in the modern world. Increasingly the educational attainment of a community becomes its economic destiny as well. By building a community-based source of funding for post-secondary education, available to everyone in Brooksville, we aim to “lift all boats,” through educational opportunity. Steady support from our donors has allowed us to provide scholarships to all students who have applied to us for aid, including both recent high school graduates and adults returning to school.
“Priming the Pump”: Preparation for eventual success in higher education starts early in life. Literacy is a key component in this preparation. Childhood literacy especially is important “pump priming”, with lasting effects throughout life. In partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library we offer free books monthly to all Brooksville children from birth to age five. We try to reach older children through grants to the Brooksville Elementary School to help pay for program enrichment beyond the regular school curriculum. Also, in conjunction with the Brooksville Free Public Library, we provide an annual grant to the Brooksville Elementary School to ensure that every student will be able to purchase a book at the annual book fair. When they graduate from elementary school, we award each 8th grader a book of their choosing for summer enjoyment and to encourage them to take advantage of all the opportunities that high school offers to build on their personal interests and to explore new things.
Once we have taken them on, we feel a moral obligation to help our students through to the conclusion of their studies. For that reason our scholarships are renewable up to five times or until the completion of the program for which the scholarship was originally awarded, whichever comes first. We regard our relationship with students as a kind of “adoption” and, as with real parenting, there are always twists and turns along the way. We have had students switch schools and majors. We have had students drop out of school only to return in subsequent years. We have had students take more than the prescribed time to complete degrees. We have had students complete double majors. We have had students extend their studies for advanced degrees or earn two associates degrees. In each instance our support has followed these students to the end of their studies. We are proud of all of them and they, in turn, tell us that the support of the community provides them with extra motivation to do their best in school.
A “Forever” Commitment
In 2000, our first scholarships were awarded to 8 students in the amount of $1,000 each. For the 2020-21 academic year scholarships ranging from $2500-$3,500 were awarded to 22 students. In the past 20 years our scholarship awards have totaled more than $780,000. At the same time planned gifts and bequests have enabled us to build an endowment of approximately $1.4 million, which we hope will continue to grow over time. The opportunity these funds ensure for future generations is a dimension of life in Brooksville in which all residents can take pride. Equally important, we have seen evidence that our sustained presence in the community is encouraging more families to consider higher education as a possibility for their children and to begin to guide them at an early age toward reaching that goal.
The Board of Trustees of the Brooksville Education Foundation (BEF) is an unincorporated group of volunteers that advises on the use of a family of charitable funds created by and for the people of Brooksville, which are held by the Maine Community Foundation (MCF). BEF solicits contributions to these funds and advises MCF on grant disbursements.
MCF manages the investment of the BEF family of funds. It does the accounting for the funds, including receipt of donations, and sends official acknowledgement to donors for their tax records. It also administers the disbursement of grants from the BEF funds and provides other services and counsel.
MCF qualifies as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions made to MCF on behalf of BEF are tax deductible by the donor. The MCF’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 01-1391479.
Because the MCF takes care of the business side of things for us, our board, composed of local volunteers, has been free to concentrate on supporting educational aspirations and achievement within the community. It is an ideal division of labor and resources aimed at achieving a common goal, to benefit our community through education.
(as of 12/19/22)
Joanne Van der Eb
Our Fund Namesakes
The Brooksville Education Foundation currently oversees a family of eight charitable funds created by and for the people of Brooksville. Six of these funds are memorials to the lives of individuals with a connection to Brooksville. Thumbnail biographies of these namesakes follow in the order in which their funds were established:
Maryann Snow Bates (by her aunt and friend Katherine Clifford)
Maryann was born in Castine, Maine, Oct. 23, 1943, to Virginia and Frank Snow. She attended elementary and high school in Brooksville until her junior year, when she dropped out to raise a family. She became the mother of two children but continued to work on her high school curriculum and earned her GED. In 1968, she enrolled in the Continuing Education Department at UMaine, where she received her BS in Education, with a minor in Anthropology in 1973. After graduation, she taught in the Brooklin-Sedgwick and Brooksville Elementary schools, before choosing to continue her studies in Anthropology.
She began her master’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology at Northeastern University, and received her diploma in 1984. She then enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the UMass Amherst, where she was also a teacher’s assistant for other anthropology courses. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural and Medical Anthropology in 1988. She taught Cultural & Medical Anthropology at UNH, and then moved on to SUNY Binghamton’s school of Education and Human Development.
She was diagnosed with lymphoma in the summer of 1994, and died in 1995. Even at the end of her life, in severe pain, she was able to finish her book which was published in 1996. From Linda B. Biemer, Dean of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of New York, “Bates was a faculty member who did everything 100 percent plus. She would work with her students on a Sunday afternoon. She always went the extra mile for her students. She dedicated her time to her students and people in need. She was a scholar and researcher who made significant contributions to her field. She will long be remembered as a dedicated teacher, an inspiring mentor to students and a beloved colleague.”
Isabel Grindle Condon
(By Michael Colbert, Used by permission of The Blue Hill Packet)
Isabel was born in North Brooksville, and started her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse in Winterport in 1930. She took the job “because I didn’t have any money and I wanted to go on to school some more, because…your parents didn’t have money like they do today.” Condon worked her way through courses at the Castine Normal School, all the while teaching at Winterport, Sedgwick, and eventually Brooksville, where she taught fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. She retired in 1967, only to sign up for the substitute list so she could keep teaching. “I knew if I stayed home I’d be lonesome for the children,” said Condon, “and I was.” Great-grandson Ricky Limeburner stayed at her house several afternoons a week, where he had been known to get drills in phonetics. Ricky went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Institute of Technology in the spring of 2013.
Condon said that the time in Winterport was lonely, being away from home, and that she worked hard during the summer, waiting on tables, to put herself through school. “So you see, I had to work for what I got,” said Condon. “It wasn’t easy, but if you’re determined to do something, you can do it,” she added, drawing a lesson from her experience. The lesson is one that Condon has passed on to others, including her own granddaughter, Michele Wassink, who recently worked her way through nursing school at Husson College. “Isabel helped to educate a large portion of the population that is running this town,” said Mike McMillen, a friend of Condon’s. Some of the leading citizens of Brooksville who were once in Condon’s class include plumbing and heating businessman Frank Snow, site work contractor Frank Fowler and mechanic and selectman Richard Bakeman.
Phyllis Ames Cox (by Sarah Cox)
To her extended family and many friends of all ages, Phyllis Ames Cox (1914-2007) was a special person; not only a source of care and solid advice but also great fun. Born in Wayland, MA, Mrs. Cox spent her summers in Castine as a child and then in Brooksville. When her husband, Archibald Cox, retired in 2002, they moved year-round to Brooksville. A graduate of Smith College (1935), she spent her junior year in France and, until she met her husband, had planned to be a teacher. While devoting herself to her family and friends, and a menagerie that at one point numbered three Morgan horses, a dog, a cat and a dozen hens, she co-founded the first 4-H Horse Club in the United States in 1946 and served 4-H for 50 years. She also taught the 3rd and 4th grades at private schools for several years. A natural athlete, she sailed and rode horseback into her 90’s. In addition to a mind and presence that made her a perfect match for her memorably serious husband, she had an entertaining wit and a direct honest style. As Mrs. Cox’s youngest daughter once said, “My Father is famous; my Mother is fabulous.”
Faye Austin Cosentino (by Abbie McMillen)
Faye Austin was born in Brooksville in 1924, and grew up on a farm on the Varnumville Road. After graduating in 1942 from the Brooksville High School (with the second highest grades ever achieved in that system; her mother was first), she entered nursing school at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City. There, she met and married a young sailor named Alfonso Cosentino, who later became an engineer in the Apollo Space Program.
During her fifty-year career in nursing she was often a leader and innovator. Early in her career, Faye worked in an obstetrics unit, where she persuaded the physicians to establish better protocols for new mothers, such as getting them on their feet more quickly after delivery in order to avoid the then-rampant problem of pulmonary embolism. Faye worked her way up in the nursing profession to become Director of Intravenous Therapy at Lawrence Hospital. On the IV team, she set about changing the practices for mixing IV solutions, and communicated these new practices to the Center for Disease Control. The CDC invited her to their headquarters in Bethesda, MD, where she was instrumental in creating new national protocols. She traveled to many major metropolitan areas of the US, and then to China to present her findings. She also authored many technical papers and books, and was the first nurse to have a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Faye retired from Lawrence Hospital in 1990, and at age 65, returned to Brooksville to care for her mother. She built a log cabin next door, from which she published nine volumes of original research on the history of Brooksville. For this important body of work she was awarded a Citation for Excellence in Community Service by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a citation by the Maine Old Cemetery Association in 2008.
Elwin & Evelyn Dyer (by Alice Dyer)
David Elwin Dyer (1897-1982) was born, lived, and worked in Brooksville his entire life. Elwin was one of the two original graduates of Brooksville High School in 1916. Evelyn Gertrude Dyer (1904-1968), born in Brooklin, came from the Candage family of Blue Hill. Elwin & Evelyn were married in 1920.
Elwin worked various jobs including fishing, taking summer residents on picnics to the local islands, wild blueberry growing, caretaking, carpentry, home building, and woodworking. He was caretaker for many summer residences in Brooksville and Cape Rosier. He owned a considerable amount of wild blueberry acreage in Cape Rosier. He eventually settled into working in carpentry and woodworking.
Evelyn worked in the home and was known for her great cooking, baking, and sewing. She also worked many hours in the family garden and in summer months worked outside the home for many of the local summer residents. Evelyn was the family provider during many of the war years.
Together Elwin and Evelyn reared nine children. Two of the youngest first five children died as infants. After nine years their “second family” arrived, resulting in three more sons and a daughter.
Both Elwin and Evelyn encouraged their children to develop their skills and talents for lifelong vocations. Three sons attended the “College of Hard Knocks” learning carpentry and woodworking and distinguished themselves in the local area for their quality workmanship. A strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit ensued. Two sons and one daughter launched their own businesses. Fredrick and Victor Dyer constructed many area homes, and daughter Dr. Alice Dyer established an accelerated degree completion program for working adults based in New Jersey. Daughters Nellie and Dorothy honed leadership positions in education: Nellie as a reading specialist in Long Island, New York public schools and Dorothy as the principal of the Brooksville Elementary School for many years. Youngest son Elmer earned a degree in Accounting and became a Certified Public Accountant and Chief Financial Officer at a large construction equipment distributor in New York State.
Michael N. McMillen, Jr. (by Tonyia Peasley)
The fund in Michael’s name honors the life, kindness and compassion of this young man who died at the age of forty-six after a life of service to others. Mike was born in Boston and spent his childhood in Lamoine, Maine. He graduated from the Hyde School in Bath and from the University of Montana in Missoula, with a degree in psychology. While in Missoula, he was for two years the primary caregiver for a young man with ALS, a task he carried through until the young man’s death. Upon returning to Maine, Mike worked for several years in Portland in the mental health care field. He then worked for many years in customer service at MBNA and L.L. Bean and as a self-employed painting contractor.
Mike loved the outdoors. He was an avid rock climber and fisherman and shared these enthusiasms with his friends and family. He was also extremely fond of dogs and always had one as a companion. Mike led a full life, with an extensive network of friends and family.
The immediate cause of Mike’s death was respiratory failure brought on by a lifelong affliction with asthma, complicated by recent heroin abuse. By making this information public and creating this Fund, Mike’s family hopes to raise awareness of the deadly opioid drugs so pervasive in our communities. They encourage other families to seek professional care for loved ones facing similar battles and all families to take with utter seriousness the spiritual, emotional, and psychological nurturing of their children.