Category Archives: Listening Tour

Through collaboration, teachers, students better supported

Last week, Maine DOE Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome and I had the honor of visiting two Lewiston elementary schools undergoing transformation thanks to support from our Department and the federally-funded Title I School Improvement Grant program (SIG). To say I was impressed by what I saw at Longley and Montello would be an understatement. Continue reading

DOE shares new system of supports

With the holidays approaching, now is the time to thank all of our teachers and school/district leaders for the work you do each day to meet the needs of all Maine students. It is also the time to share with all of you our vision for how the Maine DOE can better support your important work. Continue reading

New best practice video features Belfast school

Maine DOE’s Center for Best Practice has released a new video, “Everything in the Building is Tied to a Learning Standard,” which focuses on Troy Howard Middle School’s transformation over the past seven years. Continue reading

Opportunities for sharing your school success story

Following the launch of the Maine School Performance Grading System, we’ve spent our time reaching out to underperforming and at-risk schools to learn more about their challenges and the supports they’d like Maine DOE to provide.

What we continue to hear is that schools want to learn from other Maine schools that are like them. In the words of one school leader, “Tell us what’s working in other places with similar populations and budget concerns.” That’s the thinking behind our Center for Best Practice, which provides success stories (and videos) from schools in our state implementing learner-centered instructional practices. Continue reading

Biddeford and MSAD 54 bring coaches to the classroom

Biddeford Middle School student Breneg Howard listens as math lab coach Heidi Miller shows students how to measure the rebound of a bouncy ball.

Biddeford Middle School student Breneg Howard listens as math lab coach Heidi Miller shows students how to measure the rebound of a bouncy ball.
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Last week I visited Biddeford Middle School as well as elementary schools in MSAD 54, where administrators and teachers are taking hands-on, customized learning to the next level with math labs, academic coaches and workshop-model classrooms.

These districts were the last stops on my Promising Practices Tour, which has taken me to all nine superintendent regions to see innovative practices schools are implementing that show promise and support the Maine DOE’s vision of an evolving education system.

While touring Biddeford Middle School, I was struck by the school’s highly effective use of a full-time math coach. Students attend Coach Heidi Miller’s math lab once a month with their core math teachers, receiving dual instruction as they solve experiential problems. Continue reading

School academies provide customized learning in Belfast

Students share feedback on Troy Howard Middle School's standards-based system with Commissioner Bowen.

Troy Howard students engage in conversation with Commissioner Bowen about the school’s standards-based academy system.
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When I visited Troy Howard Middle School on Thursday as part of the tail end of my Promising Practices Tour, I was impressed by the school’s two-year academy system that puts students first by placing them in one of three academies based on their learning styles.

Under Principal Kim Buckheit’s leadership, the Belfast school implemented the standards-based academy system to give seventh and eighth graders more control over their learning. The Innovation Academy offers a hands-on approach to those who benefit from project-based learning, the International Academy brings a global perspective to students trying to see the bigger picture, and the Ecology Academy combines experiential learning with the practice of ecological sustainability.

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Continuing our focus on change

Today I visited the Troy Howard Middle School in RSU 20 as one of the final stops this spring on my Promising Practices Tour. The Belfast school is undergoing a transformation, using data, strong leadership – most notably at the principal level – and customized learning to engage students and improve proficiency and progress.

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Maine schools have Department support

It’s been over a week since Governor LePage and I released Maine’s School Performance Grading System. I continue to tour schools that are exemplifying promising practices, including several that have received grades on the lower end of the spectrum. Based on what I’ve seen, these schools are doing many of the right things to get their students invested in learning. It’s important that the Department be engaged with these schools to let them know they have support. That is why we’ll be hosting a webinar next Thursday to start a series of informative sessions for Maine educators. Continue reading

An open dialogue with the Commissioner in Caribou

By Alana Margeson

With the amount of time, energy, education and pride that teachers and administrators place in our schools, it stands to reason that we welcome opportunities to share our work with others. A recent visit from Commissioner Stephen Bowen allowed for Eastern Aroostook RSU 39 to share and highlight our innovation, enthusiasm and dedication.

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Hands-on learning a success in Oxford County

Eighth grader Ken Stump shows Commissioner Bowen a solar panel they created to heat the indoor greenhouse at Roberts Farm in Norway.

Eighth grader Ken Stump shows Commissioner Bowen a solar panel Oxford Hills Middle School students created to heat the indoor greenhouse at Roberts Farm in Norway.

I had the chance visit three Oxford County schools yesterday as part of my Promising Practices Tour, just a day after releasing the new A-F school grading system designed to improve transparency. As a state, we need to move beyond the one-size-fits-all models of teaching and embrace student-centered models like the ones many Maine schools, like the ones I visited in Oxford County, are doing. Governor LePage and I made reference to that Wednesday when we unveiled the new school report cards, which showed a majority of Maine’s elementary and high schools earned an A, B or C.

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