Lewiston Adult Education Graduate Shares Story of Perseverance

(Pictured: Nasra Houssein, who served as the student speaker on Tuesday night, pauses after receiving her diploma.)

Submitted by Mike Reagan, Education and Marketing Coordinator, Lewiston Adult Education.

Nasra Houssein praised the people who convinced her to return to her studies during Lewiston Adult Education’s graduation on Tuesday night in the Lewiston High School gymnasium.

The native of Djibouti dropped out of her classes last year because she could not fit them in with her work schedule. She credited Lewiston Adult Education teachers Don Roux and Amy Hatch for their encouragement along with coworkers at Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston.

She returned to her classes after a three-month absence. On Tuesday, served as the student speaker at graduation.

“Without all your help, it would have been difficult for me or anybody else. So thank you all for giving us your time to help us succeed,” Houssein said.

The 30 Lewiston Adult Education graduates at the ceremony received their high school credential by taking the High School Equivalency Test. The HiSET exam has replaced the GED for high school equivalency.

Beth Derenberger received the Lifelong Learner Award for her commitment as a teacher and for exemplifying the sharing of knowledge at Lewiston Adult Education. She learned rug braiding from an adult education course in Oxford Hills. After a few years of practice, Derenberger ended up teaching in Oxford Hills and at Lewiston Adult Education.

She taught rug braiding at Lewiston since 2004 and retired at the end of the Winter-Spring 2019 semester.

“I have made so many friends from my teaching. It’s awesome. Students come because they want to come. People come because they’re interested. And that’s half the battle,” she said before the ceremony.

Adult Ed Graduate and Teacher
Student speaker Nasra Houssein celebrates after the graduation with Barabara McAllister of the Lewiston Adult Education’s Adult Learning Center on Tuesday night.

Outgoing Superintendent of Schools Bill Webster served as the keynote speaker at graduation and received a round of applause for his support of adult education. Lewiston Adult Education Director Bill Grant gave retiring teacher Diane Whiting a bouquet of flowers during the ceremony to thank her for her service of more than 25 years.

Maine Adult Education Programs Featured on PBS News Hour

Maine and its Adult Education programs, including Spruce Mountain Adult Education, Portland Adult Education, and Turner Adult Education have been featured on PBS News Hour for a story about adult education programming and why it is so important.

Click the link or image below to view the 8 minute story.

Why 36 million American adults can’t read enough to work — and how to help them

PBS News Hour Screen Shot

School Safety Bulletin-June: Preparation and Response for Bomb Threats

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinckley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at 207-624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov. 

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER: Amendments to Educator Evaluation Requirements

Administrative Letter:  #25
Policy Code:   BGE
To: Public School Administrators, Teachers
From: Pender Makin, Commissioner
Date:  11 June 2019
Subject: Amendments to Title 20-A, Chapter 508, Educator Effectiveness

On April 11, 2019, Governor Mills signed a law that makes important changes to Performance  Evaluation and Professional Growth (PEPG) systems. The new law will go into effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends. Chapter 27, An Act to Amend Educator Evaluation Requirements, includes a number of changes.

  1. Under the new law, school administrative units may choose to identify and include student learning and growth measures that they deem valuable in summative effectiveness ratings, but they are no longer required to do so.
  2. SAUs must ensure or reconfigure their steering committee membership, such that a majority are teachers who are chosen by a representative of the applicable collective bargaining unit.
  3. The law states that, “revisions to the performance evaluation and professional growth system made by the steering committee must be reached by consensus.”

Implementation Guidance

  • The steering committee composition required in Chapter 27 will go into effect 90 days after the current legislative session comes to an end, likely near the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The Department of Education is committed to a transparent and inclusive rule-making process for Chapter 180 that will begin in early fall of 2019, in preparation for the submission of the draft rules for consideration to the Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs in January, 2020.
  • Current law requires that student learning and growth measures must be a factor in a summative effectiveness rating until September 1, 2021.  PEPG steering committees are encouraged to review their current PEPG systems, and the vision, mission, and goals of the district, to determine the measures of effectiveness they will implement beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. In addition, the committee should develop reasonable transition plans and timelines for any changes to the PEPG system, as determined by the steering committee, taking into consideration the existing evaluation cycle, and when summative evaluations will be completed.

For more information, please contact Emily Gribben at Emily.gribben@maine.gov.

Saco’s Young School Loves to Walk

Submitted by Peter Harrison, Principal at Young School, Saco Schools. Text Written by Ken Studtmann, Wokka Wokka Coordinator. Photos by Dr. Peter Harrison and Ken Studtmann.

For several years the Young School students have participated in a much beloved walking program during their Wednesday’s lunch time recess. The students fondly named it “Walking Wednesday”.

Appalachian Trail Comparison Map
Appalachian Trail Comparison

During Walking Wednesday, the students walk, skip, hop or move in creative movements 1/8-mile laps around the school while parent and adult volunteers track and tally the number of laps each student completes. The number of laps completed are recorded for individual students and collectively tallied for  classroom, and the entire school. For every 2.5 miles the student walks they receive an incentivizing award of a “toe token”. At the end of the year, the classroom from each grade level with the highest number of laps receives an extra recess.

Geography Lesson

For the past two years, a lesson in geography has been integrated into the program. Last year, the laps walked by the students represented a unit of distance along the Appalachian Trail. The students successfully completed 1,378 miles of the Appalachian Trail; Maine to Virginia. The student’s progress was tracked on a large map displayed in the school’s front entry hallway for students, teachers and staff, and visitors to watch the progress. This year the laps represented the number of times the students crossed the Penobscot bridge; 3,541 times and growing.


As a means to further enhance the program, a language component was introduced in the beginning of this current school year with the reading of “HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA”, c 2009 by Elizabeth Bluemle, art by Randy Cecil. The book was a great inspiration to the students, staff, and adult volunteers of the program. The book’s premise of finding your own walking style was embraced by the students with lots of styles emerging. The students even changed the program’s name into “Wokka Wokka Wednesday”. The Wokka Wokka Wednesday is a much-loved program at Young School.

Fun Fact #1: The Appalachian Trail is among the longest continuously marked trails through 14 states; Maine to Georgia. The trail is marked with approximately 165,000 white blazes along the trail guiding hikers all 2,186 miles.

Penobscot bridge
Penobscot bridge

Fun Fact #2: The Penobscot bridge spans 2,120 feet from the east shore to the west shore of the Penobscot river. The design of the bridge’s two towers was inspired by the Washington Monument.

Fun Fact #3: Young School Students love to Walk! Last year, the Young School students collectively walked fictitiously from Maine to Virginia on the Appalachian Trail and this year they walked 3,541 times across the Penobscot the bridge.

For additional information to learn how to implement a walking program at your school, please contact Dr. Peter Harrison, Young School Principal.