MaineHealth Virtual Workshop: MindUP – A School and Community-Based Mental Health Resource

The following virtual workshop is being hosted by MaineHealth to Maine schools.

We are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis across the country, especially in the wake of the acute pandemic. The literature indicates it will take many strategies across community and clinical settings to address this.

MindUP is one school and community-based strategy that is based firmly in neuroscience and has proven to be effective to improve stress regulation, to enhance tools for self-regulation, and has demonstrated positive effects on reducing aggression and managing stress, including through four randomized control trials. Although its use and research has been focused in K-12 schools, MindUP can easily be taught in other settings and with adults.

We are fortunate to have implemented MindUP in several schools in Maine, including with the leadership of the Spruce Mountain public schools (RSU 73) in Jay, Livermore Falls, and Livermore and the Healthy Community Coalition at Franklin Community Health Network. David Evans Shaw, a Maine-based philanthropist, has generously funded the efforts to bring MindUP to Maine.

If you or others are interested in learning more and how you can bring MindUP to your school or community setting, please join leaders from RSU 73, Franklin Community Health Network, and MindUP for a one-hour informational zoom on Thursday February 16th, 11:00 am ET – 12:00 pm ET.

We ask that you register here in advance for this meeting.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. The meeting will be recorded, and registrants will receive a link to the recording afterward.

Learn more about about MindUP here (PDF).

Read to ME Challenge Kicks Off This Week

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that Commissioner Pender Makin will kick off the 8th annual Read to ME Challenge on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. You can watch a live stream of the event on the Maine DOE YouTube Channel.

The Read to ME Challenge is a month-long public awareness campaign held in February to promote childhood literacy in Maine. The challenge is an opportunity to promote children’s literacy growth by reading aloud to one or more children for at least 15 minutes. Part of the challenge is capturing the moment via a photo or video and then posting it on social media (with the hashtag #ReadtoME and tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook! Keep watching the Maine DOE social media sites to see who has accepted the challenge of sharing the joy of reading with a child.

The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month of February, leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2023. Learn more about the Read to ME Challenge on the Maine DOE Website. If you have a school or community organization that plans on participating in this challenge, please let us know by signing up at this link.

Download a promotional flyer here (PDF).

For more information, contact Dee Saucier (danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov), Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist for the Maine DOE Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education.

Building Community Through Extended School Programming at Georgetown School

Small rural schools are often faced with the challenges of how to support working families who may need before and after care for their children. Before and after care sometimes provided through the YMCA, or other organizations, are not always accessible to families, making drop off and pick up times difficult. In some cases, rural schools lose students to other schools who have consistent care programs. In Georgetown we heard this challenge presented many times from multiple families. The goal was to find a solution that made sense for families.

Last year, Georgetown School, with the support of Georgetown Island Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for education in Georgetown, began offering free after school clubs to students. The first step was to find a program coordinator, someone that could administratively organize the sign ups and rally adults interested in offering unique opportunities for students at Georgetown. Sarah Mancini, a local community member, was interested in charging the venture of after school clubs.

Beginning in November, GCS offered nine different clubs free for students in grades PreK-6. From learning how to survive in the wild, to archery and a regular after school homework club, the news of clubs began to spread in the community. More and more community members came forward and offered to volunteer their time to work with kids after school. This helped increase the offerings of after school clubs, traditionally run by just school employees.

“I feel so lucky to live and work in a place where community members consistently donate their time to work with the kids at Georgetown School,” said Sarah Mancini.

By June, students had access to regular weekly clubs Monday through Friday, many of which were run solely by community volunteers. Over the course of last year, we provided after school clubs to 78% of our student population.

This year, Georgetown School is continuing to offer after school clubs for all students. This fall, students have had offerings of 8 different clubs that have served around 75% of the school population. Weekly, students have access to a regular homework club and after school gym time. GCS also offers special clubs such as theater club, gift making, soccer club, arts etc.., garden club, and archery.

While after school clubs were providing a much needed community connection for students, they ultimately were not solving the problem of before and after care for students. Principal Nina Willette and after school program coordinator Sarah Mancini, sat down this summer to try to problem solve how to help. With the help of AOS98 Schools, the school found a way to utilize school employees, and a donation system, to offer daily before and after school programming for students. What has evolved from simply attempting to solve a problem in the community has become something independently beautiful. With the help of Jordan Lang, a local community member and parent, and Sarah Mancini, the school is able to provide families with a monthly sign up for before school programming beginning at 7:30am, and after school programming ending at 5:30pm.

The school aims to keep the cost as low as possible for families, enough to pay employees who provide a creative, loving, and community building space for students to be together before and after school. A less structured environment than clubs,
programming allows kids the time to be together, something that has been greatly lost these last few years of the pandemic. Kids have creative choices and lots of outdoor play time. So far, in the months of September, October and November, before and after school programming has served roughly 17 families in the community.

Donations are essential to providing programming to the students in our community. Principal Willette and Sarah Mancini are actively searching for other funding sources that will allow before and after programming to be free of charge to students and families who may need or benefit from this service.

“We are thankful to those community members who have generously donated towards ensuring this program is successful. We know that schools and children are the foundation of our communities,” said Principal Willette. “Our hope is to continue to provide this much needed service to families in Georgetown for years to come.”

Maine Alternative Education Association Spring Conference to Be Held March 10 at Thomas

The 2023 Alternative Education Association (AEA) of Maine’s Spring Conference will take place at Thomas College on March 10th from 8:30-2:30. AEA will offer six contact hours for participants of this conference.

If interested, please take a moment to fill out the Choices for Conference Presentation form, which will help the AEA define the topics that will be presented at the conference.

If you are ready to register for the conference, please submit the Conference Registration Form – all individuals must fill out the form, even if multiple people are attending from one school district.  Step two of the registration process is to print out the AEA of Maine Conference Invoice and send it to Dawn Matthews with your payment. (address and conference information is on the form) If you have already paid your dues for the Association this year, you DO NOT need to do Step 2. If you are not sure, send Dawn an email at dawn.matthews@rsu29.org

For further information and questions about the conference reach out to Lenny Holmes Leonard Holmes at lholmes@bonnyeagle.org.

The Mission of the Alternative Education Association of Maine is to provide support, guidance and direction to Maine Alternative Educators and the students they serve. The AEA’s purpose is to be an advocate and provide resources for all those in Maine who are involved in Alternative Education. Learn more about AEA here.

 

2023 Mitchell Scholarship Application Open

The 2023 Mitchell Scholarship online application is now open until April 1. You can find the application link, requirements, and a few additional college and scholarship resources on the Mitchell Institute’s web site.

New for the 2023 Mitchell Scholarship application season!

The Mitchell Institute is pleased to announce an expanded commitment to increasing college access for Maine students. In addition to the longstanding commitment of awarding at least one $10,000 scholarship annually to a graduating student from each of the 135 public high schools in Maine, the Institute will award 20 more scholarships across the state, bringing its annual total to $1.55M in support for the class of 2023 Mitchell Scholars. Visit this site more information: The 2023 Mitchell Scholarship Application is Now Open

In addition to the $10,000 scholarship that the Mitchell Institute will award to a graduating student from every public high school in the state, they provide numerous resources and programs for Mitchell Scholars:

  • Leadership and career development events
  • Access to a wide array of professional networks
  • Customized career advising and personal support through individual meetings with Mitchell Institute staff and community members
  • Fellowship Awards of up to $1,500 to support internships and personal/professional growth opportunities
  • Emergency financial assistance for unexpected financial challenges

Mitchell Scholarships are awarded to students planning to attend two- or four-year degree programs at colleges either in- or out-of-state. Candidates are evaluated based on the following criteria: academics, community impact, and financial need. Please encourage any graduating college-bound students from Maine’s public high schools to apply before the April 1 deadline.

For more information, contact the Mitchell Institute at info@mitchellinstitute.org or (207) 773-7700. Click here to subscribe an e-newsletter that offers a monthly roundup of news: The Mitchell Institute Update