Commissioner tours Portland elementaries, commends innovative ideas

AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen praised the work of teachers and administrators at Riverton Elementary and East End Community schools in Portland following his visit Friday, part of his Promising Practices Tour.

“I’m really impressed by the innovative practices I saw today,” Bowen said. At East End, staff lowered student absence and tardiness rates by creating an extended learning program, called Rise and Shine, that makes students excited to come in on time. “From making their own garden beds to playing the ukulele—you name it, these kids are engaged in it,” Bowen continued. “And the good news is that this program is completely replicable across the state. East End launched Rise and Shine without any additional funding.”

Both East End and Riverton were identified as underperforming—one in 2009-10 and one in 2010-11—and received School Improvement Grants. With the help of those grants and technical assistance from the Maine Department of Education, the schools have engaged in a number of promising practices. Tour highlights at Riverton included: a writing and reading workshop illustrating a curriculum and instructional model the school has adopted; English Language Learner students working with iPads on language acquisition; and embedded professional development through a facilitated grade-level meeting. At East End, the commissioner observed the use of technology and an instructional coaching model in the classroom.

During Bowen’s Promising Practices Tour, which will take him to all nine superintendent regions in the state before the end of the school year, he plans to see the innovative practices schools are implementing that are showing promise and that are helping to advance the priorities in the Maine DOE strategic plan and the Governor’s ABC Plan for education.

For additional information about the Commissioner’s tour, visit www.maine.gov/doe/tour/. To learn more about the Governor’s ABC Plan for education, visit mainedoenews.net/2012/07/25/lepage-bowen-news-conference/.

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