Innovative Maine Schools selected to present at conference

The schools will share successful strategies with colleagues from across New England

AUGUSTA – Three Maine secondary schools—Falmouth High School, Sanford High School, and United Technologies Center (Bangor)—have been invited to represent the state at a regional conference on effective strategies for improving teaching and learning in the 21st century.

The conference, High School Redesign in Action, will take place March 21–22 in Norwood, Mass. It is sponsored by the New England Secondary School Consortium, a state-led regional partnership committed to high school innovation, in collaboration with the departments of education for Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. All the selected schools have made significant progress raising student achievement, graduation rates, college-enrollment numbers, or other indicators of educational success.

“We have often said that some of the best innovations and practices are already taking place in schools around the state,” said Stephen Bowen, Maine’s commissioner of education. “This is a chance to share those innovations and practices with our neighbors, and to learn from them, as well.”

One of the honored Maine schools—Falmouth High School—is a member of the Consortium’s League of Innovative Schools, a multi-state network of secondary schools working together to improve their programs and performance. The League’s goal is to promote the exchange of best practices and innovative improvement strategies throughout the region. United Technologies Center’s innovative Bridge Year Program was recently recognized by Governor Paul R. LePage and Commissioner Stephen Bowen, while Sanford High School received a major grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to support a wide variety of new community-driven educational programs.

The Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers and leaders. The Consortium’s goal is to ensure that every public high school student receives an education that prepares them for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England focused exclusively on education, and it is coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit educational-support organization in Portland.

Last-minute space may be available—check out the conference website.

Details on Maine’s High School Redesign in Action Presentations

The STEM Endorsement: A Flexible Model for Multiple Pathways

School: Falmouth High School
Presenters: John Kralijic (STEM teacher), Wendy Northrup (music and chorus teacher), Nisu Seder (art teacher), Cathy Stankard (curriculum director)
Contact: Gregg Palmer
Description: Falmouth High School developed three “endorsements”—seals on a transcript indicating successfully completed extended learning opportunities—that we are making available to students in the areas of STEM, fine arts, and global citizenship. The STEM endorsement was rolled out this year, with fine arts planned for 2013–14 and global citizenship for 2014–15. Each endorsement area allows students to meet Falmouth’s graduation requirements. In this unique workshop, participants will engage in an open discussion of the foundational principles motivating the endorsements and of the different concerns and compromises that have been faced so far. Participants will also act as critical friends to the presenters, helping them work through ongoing concerns and refine plans that are already in place. The presenters will discuss strategies for connecting outside-of-class activities with the regular curriculum, attracting a heterogeneous student population (rather than appealing only to the top 10 percent of students), and ensuring that students who enter the program are passionate about the area of study.

Better Together: Community-Driven School Change

School: Sanford High School
Presenters: Pam Cote (extended learning opportunities coordinator), Samantha Hansen (community liaison), Kathy McKechnie (coordinator of Sanford Out of School Time Alliance), Jedediah Petsinger (principal), Kristen Wiegand (parent coordinator for Our Schools/Our Future)
Contact: Jed Petsinger
Description: Imagine what can happen when a school system invites its community to engage in a visioning process. Imagine a systemic remodeling of the way education is delivered and imagine community members helping to make the new system a reality. Relationships change. Structures evolve. Solutions emerge. Sanford High School is working with our community to create a student-centered, proficiency-based learning system. With assistance from the Re-Inventing Schools Coalition, a collaborative professional development program is helping teachers integrate standards-based learning targets, 21st century skills, and new technologies into their instruction. Community partners provide learning spaces, internships, service-learning experiences, and extended-learning opportunities to students. Parents are taking active leadership roles in the civic life of the community and creating better opportunities for youth and families. In this session, participants will learn about the diverse strategies that Sanford High School has used to engage, inform, and partner with parents, community organizations, and local businesses—a process that has led to significant organizational, cultural and educational change.

Bridging the Divide: Connecting Students to College and Careers

School: United Technologies Center, Bangor
Presenters: Dwight Littlefield (Maine Department of Education), Angela Marcolini (instructor of innovative engineering, University of Maine), Brian Walsh (principal, Hermon High School), Frederick Woodman (director, United Technologies Center), Eastern Maine Community College representative
Contact: Fredrick Woodman
Description: United Technologies Center launched a new pilot program that brings together the combined strengths of four educational institutions and gives students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. In partnership with Hermon High School, Eastern Maine Community College, and the University of Maine, the new program assists high school students in college and career assessment, exploration and advisement. Students are engaged in an integrated, skill-based educational experience that connects academics to real-world careers through integrated CTE labs. Students can also choose to earn an associate’s degree within 12 months of graduation, with the option of transferring into a bachelor’s degree program. Participants in this session will learn how stakeholders from high schools, career and technical centers, and institutions of higher education can forge powerful partnerships and provide highly relevant learning pathways for students that also lead to an associate’s degree.

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