2012 Winners - Bette Manchester, Dennis Kunces, and Craig Dickinson

Bette Manchester

For seven years, Bette Manchester led the Maine Learning Technology Initiative as the first Director of Special Projects. Bette was responsible for the planning and implementation of the professional development for the entire project; and through her leadership, MLTI’s professional development focused on the learning first, then the technology.  

After retirement from MLTI, she co-founded the Maine International Center for Digital Learning with Angus King and served as MICDL’s first Executive Director. Bette has spoken nationally and internationally at the request of governments and organizations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and Sweden about leadership and sustainability in 1-to-1 programs, capacity building and 21st Century Learning, and the “Maine” story. 

Bette is the recipient of many awards including Principal-National School of Excellence, National Distinguished Principal of the Year (1997), Milken Education Award (1991), Maine State Librarians Award (2004), Dr. Inabeth Miller Education Technology Award (2005), the Friday Institute Award for Innovation in Education NC State (2007), as well as the Distinguished Leadership Award from Maine Superintendent’s Association (2011). 

Bette began her career as a teacher, director of special education, and principal at Bowdoin Central in Bowdoin and Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. She now serves on the board of MICDL, and works part time on special projects and initiatives. 

In recognition of her remarkable career in education and strong and steadfast leadership to ensure the success of MLTI, ACTEM proudly presented the John S. Lunt Friend of Technology Award to Bette Manchester.

Dennis  Kunces

In the 1980s when the goal of “1-to-1” computing meant one computer in every classroom, Dennis Kunces frequently drove to Maine schools for professional development sessions in a car loaded with Apple IIcs. Searching for the Lubec school one day, he inadvertently crossed a bridge into Canada. In returning to Lubec, U.S. Customs officials were suspicious when peering into Dennis’ back seat piled high with monitors, keyboards and binders of  quarter inch floppy disks. His Maine Dep’t. of Education ID along with his ready smile, quickly got him on the right trail to be of service to Maine educators. 

After 13 years as a Biddeford Middle School teacher, Dennis was hired in 1984 by the MDOE for a position created by Governor Brennan’s Education Reform Act that called for high school graduates to be computer proficient. Besides his role of developing technology-related curriculum and professional development, he worked part time on overseeing federal grants and the State’s Computer Preview Center. He was the author of the guidelines and contact for the high school proficiency program until the year 2000. The first statewide conferences were the “Maine Computes” conferences produced by Dennis and Richard Riley of MDOE in 1985 & 1986, and assisted by the Maine Computer Consortium (MC2). Doris Ray and Catherine Glaude took over Maine Computes in 1987 with Dennis actively involved in the planning. When Maine Computes evolved into the first MAINEducation Technology Conference in 1988, Dennis was heavily involved in the planning and conference logistics as he has been in every MAINEd conference since. As John Lunt himself wrote, “A constant figure throughout the history of the conference has been Dennis Kunces. With his unstinting donation of time in setting up, overseeing placement of vendors when they arrive, and in dealing with vendor prizes, he is a significant part of the conference history.” 

During the exploratory ACTEM gatherings in the early 1990s, Dennis Kunces was usually present. Dennis secured meeting space for the group in the Cross Building, a role he has maintained for over 20 years. After Bob Stackpole produced early editions of the ACTEM newsletter, Dennis assumed the position of newsletter editor for ten years. When ACTEM initiated the Professional Development Reimbursement Program in 1999, Dennis readily took on the responsibility of administering the program. Through the years Dennis has processed reimbursement applications of over $150,000 to ACTEM members who have taken the initiative to pursue professional development meaningful to their needs. 

On the 25th anniversary of the MAINEducation Conference, ACTEM gratefully acknowledges the long time service and commitment of Dennis Kunces with the John S. Lunt Friend of Technology Award.

Craig Dickinson

Craig Dickinson, was hired as ACTEM’s Business Manager in 2006 when I was President of the association. I was part of the 2005 Business Manager interview committee after Betsy Caswell indicated that she would be retiring in early 2006. The committee advertised the position as approximately a 30 hours per week position involving software sales and other association business. We were wrong about the hours per week when we advertised this position as it proved to be a full time position and more, but we were sure right in the choice of Craig Dickinson for ACTEM’s Business Manager. 

One of our first tasks after hiring our new Business Manager, was to move ACTEM to Moody, ME into Craig’s home office. His software company “Woodpile” operated out of this office. I remember loading a U-Haul van and my vehicle with all the ACTEM stuff from Betsy Caswell’s house in Auburn. Little did I know in 2006 that I’d be moving the ACTEM office again. 

Craig’s transition training with Betsy consisted of three days of working together and then many emails with additional questions as Betsy moved to Florida for her retirement. After this training and with the consultation of a local accountant, Craig decided that his first task was to put ACTEM’s books into a standard accounting software package (QuickBooks). This work resulted in consolidating ACTEM’s records previously kept in many databases and spreadsheets and allowed for more reporting and accountability measures to be in place. As ACTEM grew, this would prove to be a great decision for the association. Craig’s work over the years included:

  • A discount group buy for memory upgrades for the iBooks purchased by Maine Schools through the first round MLTI buyout 
  • NEISTE Meetings (a group of New England affiliates like ACTEM)
  • ACTEM’s sponsored bus trip to NECC - Washington, DC
  • Three RUS Grants resulting in well over a million dollars in video conferencing equipment for Maine schools
  • ACTEM’s sponsored bus trip to ISTE - Philidelphia, PA 

Along with these major events, Craig partnered with the conference chair and completed all the work necessary to make seven MAINEducation conferences very successful. Craig is masterful with logistical details whether it’s membership, conference registration, a software order, professional development reimbursement or other association business. Craig’s attention to detail has led to very satisfied ACTEM members, exhibitors and customers and subsequently to the growth of our association. 

In 2006 the ACTEM board established an award named after one of the founding members, longtime president and conference chair, John Lunt. The “John Lunt Friend of Technology” award honors and recognizes members that have made significant contributions to educational technology in Maine and our association. At this summer’s board retreat it was voted unanimously to recognize J. Craig Dickinson with this award. 

Besides his experience in operating a software business, Craig’s deep roots in public education gave him an understanding of ACTEM’s mission. Craig taught in the Orono schools for 15 years. Because of his long-time interest in project-based learning and team problem solving, Craig teamed with Camden-Rockport to produce the first Olympics of the Mind (now called Odyssey of the Mind) competition in 1982 with just the two school districts participating. By the time Craig ran the State OM organization in 1983-84, Maine had 106 schools participating. 

Craig started using technology in his classroom in 1982. He wrote articles for educational and mass-market magazines and encouraged his students to submit articles. During the 1985-86 school year, 17 of Craig’s students had their work published. In the fall of 1986 Craig left teaching to start Woodpile which sought to provide quality educational software to Maine schools. 

Craig continued teaching as an adjunct instructor at UMaine for several semesters. When the first three Maine Lesley Master of Technology groups began in the late 1980s, Craig served as the instructor for the Mathematics class for the Hampden and Cumberland groups. In 1987 Creative Publications released Brainstorming: Activities for Creative Thinking, a 144-page resource book for grades 3-8 that Craig wrote with his wife Paula and friend Eileen Rideout. The book eventually sold over 20,000 copies. 

From 2006-2012 Craig has served ACTEM as it’s very competent and exceptional Business Manager. The board had been discussing how best to recognize and thank Craig for all his contributions to ACTEM and educational technology in Maine. The board overwhelmingly felt that Craig was most deserving of the John Lunt Friend of Technology award.


Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

P.O. Box 187, Gorham, ME 04038

Phone: (207) 222-4353  Fax: (207) 222-2057  Email: info@actem.org