October is National Farm to School Month

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) join thousands of schools, farms, communities, and organizations across the country in celebrating National Farm to School Month. Maine is home to more than 8000 farmers and 185,000 students, making the partnership between schools and farmers an important part of the state’s agricultural landscape.

Over the last decade, more Maine schools have prioritized adding local foods to student menus. Many have developed school gardens and other education programs. In 2015, the USDA found that 79% of Maine school districts surveyed take part in farm to school activities. In that survey, school districts spent an average of 16% of their food budgets on local products, totaling $3.8 million statewide.

The Maine Department of Education supports Farm to School efforts by promoting local products during the annual Maine Harvest Lunch Week and Farm to School Cook-off, among other initiatives. According to Stephanie Stambach, the department’s Child Nutrition Consultant, “Students look forward to seeing local foods on the menu. When they know it is coming from a farm in their community they get excited, and it’s an educational opportunity. Students and parents seem increasingly aware of where their food comes from, and schools play an important role in supporting this awareness.”

Renee Page is the Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator. “Farm to School’s three-pronged approach includes agricultural-based education, experiential learning through gardens and greenhouses, and more Maine-grown food in school meals. These strategies help connect kids to their food and to farmers. They become savvier consumers and have better health and learning outcomes. These efforts also support the local food economy,” according to Page.

For farmers, schools can be important local customers. Martha Putnam, owner of Wealden Farm, is such a farmer. “Schools are a very good market. Working with them makes a difference and is a boost to farmers. It’s good for student awareness; they get to see the diversity of foods that Maine produces,” according to Putnam. Maine farmers and producers have provided local products to many schools across Maine, and have helped with annual programs such as Maine Harvest Lunch Week.

Schools across Maine provide local foods and nutrition education to their students, and many are eager to grow these efforts. In School Year 2019, students at more than 150 Maine schools will receive a variety of fruits and vegetables at no cost during the school day as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). Food service directors at schools participating in the FFVP program can be excellent partners for farmers, especially those who are new to selling to schools.

For more information, contact Maine DOE Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at 207-624-6732 or stephanie.stambach@maine.gov, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Marketing Director Leigh Hallett at 207-287-3494 or leigh.hallett@maine.gov, or Renee Page from Healthy Communities of the Capital Area at 207-588-5347 or r.page@hccame.org.

Upcoming Maine Assessment Literacy Professional Development Opportunities

As part of the Maine DOE Assessment Literacy Professional Development series, a MAARS webinar and three in-person sessions focused on the eMPowerME assessment (grades 3-8) and science assessment (K-12) have been scheduled.

MAARS Webinar

October 31, 2018
10:00 – 11:00 am

The audience for this session is returning and new District Assessment Coordinators (DACs) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Directors. The content of the webinar will include:

  • Role of DACs
  • MAARS Public Reports Overview
  • MAARS Confidential Reports Overview
  • How to add/delete/change MAARS roles and permissions (‘districtadmin’, ‘districtuser’ ‘schooluser’ ‘rosteruser’)

The updated above listed roles within MAARS will be a critical element to prepare for the upcoming November MAARS Workshops.

To access the October 31, webinar please use this link.

State Assessment & Released Items Professional Development

As part of the Maine DOE Assessment Literacy Professional Development series the Maine DOE will be hosting three regional sessions in Presque Isle, Bangor and Portland on November 13, 14 and 15, 2018 respectively. Where applicable, the DOE encourages that a team representative across grade spans be in attendance at the session. An opportunity for team time will be incorporated into the days agenda.

Each of the three (3) sessions will focus on the eMPowerME assessment (grades 3-8) and science assessment (K-12) and will include:

  • AM session will primarily focus on Confidential Reports in MAARS
    • Navigation within MAARS* to access data
    • Overview of the state assessment data
  • PM session will primarily focus on the utilization of released items
    • Review of released item data
    • An advanced session for data analysis
      • How this analysis can impact curriculum development and instructional practices

* DACs should ensure that staff attending have necessary permissions and log-in information to access MAARS.

The audience for this session is District Assessment Coordinators (DACs), teachers, principals, and central office staff. Registration begins at 8:30 am with the session beginning promptly at 9 am (until 3:30pm). Lunch will be provided.

Presque Isle – November 13, 2018

University of Maine at Presque Isle
Campus Center – Multipurpose Room
Parking map

Bangor – Orono – November 14, 2018

University of Maine
Wells Conference Center, Orono

Portland – November 15, 2018

Keeley’s Banquet Center
178 Warren Ave
Portland, ME 04103

To register for any of the regional MAARS Review and Released Item sessions please click here.

For questions contact Maine DOE’s Assessment Team at (207) 624-6770 or eric.buckhalter@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: 2017-18 MEA Confidential Assessment Results Now Available to Districts

The 2017-18 Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) Confidential Results are now available in the Maine Assessment and Accountability Reporting System (MAARS). The confidential portal is now open to district personnel with “DRAFT” district/school/student reports containing 2017-18 Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) data.

Schools and districts have until October 31, 2018 to review and verify the district and school data. Should a district determine there are discrepancies in the data, please contact Varun Motay, Data Analyst at Varun.Motay@maine.gov. Access the data in the link below:

MAARS Portal »

Once verified, the MAARS Public portal will be available with 2018 MEA results on November 5, 2018.

Three quick reminders that will assist you when logging into MAARS to review confidential data:

1. Use the Focal Point link

Please ensure you are clicking “Focal Point” icon and not the ‘Google’ icon when signing into MAARS.  The “Google” icon is not supported for the MAARS application. If you inadvertently click “Google” please clear the browser cache, close all browser windows, and (if on a Mac) QUIT/EXIT the browser. Then open a new browser and go the https://lms.backpack.education and click on the FocalPointK12 icon to login. If any additional problems arise, please contact the Focal Point Helpdesk.

                                                     

2. Ensure you have your log-in credentials in hand

For username and/or password information, please check with your District Assessment Coordinator. If there are any further issues, contact the Focal Point Helpdesk.

3. Use a browser other then Firefox

Firefox is not recommended and may lead to instances of blank screens after logging in. Please use a different browser if you are currently using Firefox to ensure a stable user experience.

If you are using another browser, try clearing your cache and cookies, restarting the browser completely (as outlined above in issue 1), and try opening the page once more. If the issue persists, please contact the Focal Point Helpdesk

Focal Point Helpdesk Contact information
Phone: 866-377-4265 ext. 1
Helpdesk Access: https://support.focalpointk12.com
Email: support@focalpointk12.net

For questions contact Maine DOE’s Assessment Team at (207) 624-6770 or eric.buckhalter@maine.gov or contact Interim Director of Learning Systems Janette Kirk at (207) 624-6707 or Janette.Kirk@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Piscataquis Community High School Teacher Named Maine 2019 Teacher of the Year

Guilford, Maine – In an all-school assembly today at Piscataquis Community High School, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. named English teacher Joseph Hennessey Maine’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.

Hennessey was selected earlier this year as the 2018 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year. He began his teaching career in 2012 and has held teaching positions as both an English teacher and a teacher for at-risk youth ever since. He specializes in English literature and composition and has taught speech and debate as well. In his current position at Piscataquis Community High School, Hennessey has implemented a college prep, literature based interdisciplinary course that focuses on students’ interests and aims to prepare them for life after graduation.

“Mr. Hennessey is a unique and highly effective teacher. His formal manner and personality combined with a dry sense of humor and setting high standards for his students, make him an icon of our school,” said Piscataquis Community High School Principal John Keane in a written statement nominating Hennessey for 2019 Teacher of the Year. “With only four years with us, he has become legendary amongst his students and their families. Watching him in class is truly watching a person who has honed his craft to perfection,” he added.

Hennessey was selected from more than 300 teachers who were nominated by a member of their community earlier this year. The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that involves educator portfolio and resume submissions, interviews, oral presentations, and classroom visits made by a selection panel comprised of State Board of Education members, school administrators, Maine Department of Education staff, former Teachers of the Year, and other Maine business partners.

“Joe sees every student as a learner and an intellectual, and he truly strives to ensure that every student sees themselves that way too,” said Emily Gribben, Maine Department of Education Educator Effectiveness Coordinator and member of the 2019 Teacher of the Year Selection Panel. “I think it is also of note that not one student has failed his class and it is obviously not for lack of rigor,” she added.

As the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year, Hennessey will travel throughout the state and country collaborating with other educators to support the efforts underway to prepare all students for college, work, and civic life. He is Maine’s representative in the National Teacher of the Year program which includes a national forum with other State Teachers of the Year, a week at a NASA Space Camp, and a visit to the White House.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led advocacy organization, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, and Pratt and Whitney.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.mainetoy.org.

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Seeking Districts to Participate in Free Pilot of NBC Learn K-12 Product

NBC Learn is collaborating with the Maine Department of Education to offer all districts in Maine the opportunity to participate in a free pilot of their K-12 product.

The pilot will include access to thousands of videos curated for educational purposes, as well as technical and professional learning support. NBC Learn will promote district integration of the tool into a variety of different Learning Management Systems and will offer school leaders support as they align the resources to their local curriculum.

Districts who choose to participate will be asked to name one point of contact. This point of contact should be in a leadership role (curriculum coordinator, library media specialist, technology integrator, principal, teacher leader, etc.) and able to commit to helping other educators in the district or school to purposefully integrate the resources into their teaching and learning practice. That point of contact will also be asked to participate in an introductory webinar and a pilot evaluation facilitated by NBC Learn and the Department, which will include two surveys.

Additional information about NBC Learn and the pilot opportunity can be accessed through the:

Pilot Brochure (PDF)

Pilot Overview (PDF)

In order to ready to fully participate in the pilot from December 2018 through June 2019, districts can sign up for the pilot now. To join the pilot, please sign up here.

For additional information or answers to questions, please contact: Grace Kane, Manager, Partnerships and Sales, NBC Learn at grace.kane@nbcuni.com or Amanda Nguyen, Digital Learning Specialist, Maine Department of Education at Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov