Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP)

Sara Needleman MS

ETEP Cohort Coordinator

Office Location

501 Bailey Hall


(207) 408-3418

Academic Degrees

  • M.S., Early Adolescent Education, Bank Street College, New York, NY
  • B.S., Political Science, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY


Sara is a passionate advocate for meaningful, dynamic teaching and learning. Her experiences as a middle school teacher, teacher educator and consultant lead to her belief that students of any age, ethnicity and socioeconomic background learn best when they inquire -- when they pursue understanding, not when they acquire information. She feels that it is a teacher’s duty, and perhaps even moral imperative, to co-create with their students the very situations that will enable them to construct meaning. As such, she is an advocate for and voice of the Proficiency movement in Maine. Her classroom practice exemplifies her belief that when students know what they are trying to learn and they see a clear, viable and engaging path to the learning, they seek understanding, not just satisfying grades.

 At USM, she has taught Proficiency-Based Planning and Assessment, Curriculum Design, Methods for English Language Arts Teachers, Instructional Strategies, Understanding and Teaching Diverse Learners, and Portfolio Design and she coordinates undergraduate and graduate teaching internships in K-12 school districts. Additionally at USM, she has worked on development of proficiency-based program curricula, collaborative partnership-work with K-12 school districts in southern Maine, and she serves on school and university curriculum committees as well as on the university Community-Based Learning Committee.

 Sara’s professional life in middle schools immediately prior to her work at USM included teaching English Language Arts, Physical Science, social studies and Earth Science on two-, three- and four person teaching-teams. She served as team leader, department chair, PLC coach, and district leader for proficiency-based practice.

Areas of Expertise

Middle School, Teacher Education, Proficiency-Based Education, Curriculum and Assessment Design

Recent Publications

Sara is a regular contributor to the JumpRope blog.