MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Department of Education Partners With SPIRIT SERIES to Engage 12,500 Students In Story-Based Social Emotional Learning and Literacy Program

The Maine Department of Education has partnered with SPIRIT SERIES to bring its acclaimed interdisciplinary, story-based social-emotional learning and literacy programs to 12,500 students across Maine. This effort, made possible through federal relief funds, will provide a 100 percent scholarship to participating schools during the 2022-23 school year. Funding is also included for professional development opportunities, so that educators can further integrate the SERIES’ programming into their classrooms.

SPIRIT SERIES empowers students to strive for academic excellence as they learn and practice positive core values and develop leadership, critical thinking, and relationship skills while expressing themselves in highly engaging project-based learning. The program mentors students as they think deeply about their lives and experiences, organize those thoughts into a written personal story, and then record them as videos for classmates, family, and their school community.

The immersive learning opportunities offered by SPIRIT SERIES provide schools with a classroom-proven way to support the very real needs of students impacted by the pandemic, specifically in the realm of social and emotional learning and interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills. Maine schools will have access to three SPIRIT SERIES programs: SpiritCorps—21st Century literacy and storytelling intensives for 7th to 10th graders; SpiritSeries—drama-based literacy and character education interventions for 4th to 7th graders; and SpiritWorks—professional development workshops for educators.

“We’re excited to partner with SPIRIT SERIES to offer this immersive, interdisciplinary experience to schools and students across Maine,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The SERIES provides students with the ability to develop and share their personal stories and build meaningful connections with one another and their communities. That’s really important given how the pandemic made that kind of connection difficult.”

SPIRIT SERIES has successfully delivered programming in Maine since 2014, already serving over 6,000 students in more than 20 partner schools statewide. “After working with schools in Maine for the past eight years, we are excited to partner with the Department of Education to bring our programming to all corners of the state,” said Kent Pierce, SPIRIT SERIES New England Executive Director. “Using the power of story, the SERIES inspires self-discovery and reflection around character attributes that are key to personal growth and civic-mindedness.”

“Every student, regardless of their writing proficiency level, was engaged and they were engaged from the onset. Because this age group is often inward looking, they’re very concerned about themselves—so right away they were hooked on the process,” said Aaron Filieo at Cape Elizabeth Middle School. “We have standards around writing development and writing structure. Writing and presenting these SpiritCorps stories checked those boxes and then some.”

For schools that would like to learn more about this exciting opportunity, please contact the Department of Education through this interest form.