ARP Funds Allow RSU 13 to Provide Summer Programming for Families

RSU 13 has been prioritizing the use of federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to support summer learning for students across the district.  This FREE summer programming began districtwide for students entering first through ninth grade last year and provides 16 days of engaging learning opportunities (four weeks of four days each week) through the entire month of July.  

RSU 13 recognizes how impactful the pandemic has been not only on district staff and students, but on the families as well, and this became part of the rationale for dedicating energy and effort to running FREE summer programming that allows students additional time to learn and parents some additional time to work for the past two years.  The district hopes to continue summer programming through the life of the grant funds, which will include the next two years as well.  If the success and interest continues from there, the district hopes to develop a sustainable plan for a low cost summer programming option for families.

The overarching summer programming goal is as follows: To provide students with a safe and enriching learning environment where they can take advantage of engaging hands-on learning opportunities and real-life learning experiences in order to prevent summer slide and continue to build meaningful relationships with their peers and caring adults within their school.  Skills to be elevated include skills outlined in the guiding principles that are noted in the following “4 C’s” Communication and Collaboration; Creativity and Problem-Solving; Citizenship /Community-Building; Critical Thinking

Last year when parents were asked in a family survey at the end of programming what they would tell others about the program, they shared:

Kids are learning but this is extremely beneficial for those kids that struggle with every day text book learning. I really enjoyed the hands-on part of the program but also these kiddos got to see what we have right here in our great little community.”

“The program was wonderful and just the right amount of fun and education to avoid the summer slide.”

“My son was so enthusiastic about how wonderful his teachers were and how nice they were. It redeemed the ‘fun factor’ of school for him after a challenging year. He is excited to go to school again!” 

“It was a wonderful opportunity for children to spend time engaged in creative, non-traditional learning experiences, and adventures with fellow students. It was a great way for the kids to get to know other students in different classes, an opportunity that is rare in the day to day during regular school year.”

One staff member last year stated:

“Thank you for giving our students the Summer Program…we have built more schema than I could have imagined.  The students dug for fossils and learned about chemical reactions…They discovered that the Asian Rock Crab is along our coastline…They were actual scientists…They had the opportunity to sit in the pilot’s seat of an airplane and not only learned about how important the job of a pilot is, but the mechanics, dispatch, and the mowing crew who have to keep the grass short so that wildlife do not put the aircraft in danger….Many had NEVER been to a museum before and were vocal about that…I wanted to take the time and let you know that it was an incredible experience for all of us.”  

One major highlight of the programming are the field trips and partnerships with local businesses and organizations that students get to experience.  Summer and afterschool programming have been paving the way for increasing school and community partnerships.

South School Summer Camp is supporting 40 students from South School Elementary, entering 1st-5th grade, Mon-Thurs 9am-3pm. Each week students experience art with local teaching artists Susan Beebe, smoothie making, nature walks, Build-it challenges, gardening, wacky slime making, sports, beach time, and weekly visits to The Coastal Children’s Museum with themes of geology, topography, marine life, and environmental awareness.

Thomaston Grammar School, Cushing Community School, and Ash Point Community School are supporting a total of 101 students with 12 attending Cushing, 48 attending Thomaston, and 41 attending Ash Point Mondays through Thursday from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  Students entering K through 5th grade in the coming year spend their summer mornings surrounded by peers, having opportunities to engage in a variety of activities. The programs are staffed fully by educational staff, both teachers and ed techs, and each day of programming the schools either have fun home-based activities,  a guest organization visit, or an engaging field trip. Partnerships include Herring Gut Coastal Science Center, Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, CMCA & Farnsworth Museum, Cardinal Cove Mini Golf, Flagship Cinema, Mad Science of Maine, and Mr. Drew and his Exotic Animals.

“We are grateful to have such a vast array of local organizations with a deep commitment to student learning and growth right here in the Mid-Coast. Our partnerships help us to enrich the student experience and provide pathways to explore various interests, while also strengthening local pride and community connection. The 101 students participating in the district programming across TGS, CCS, and APCS this year were also supplied free breakfast and lunch all days of programming through RSU13. It was a collaborative effort that came together so spectacularly, a truly special experience we hope to continue in the future,” says Laura LaPointe, District Coordinator.

The Flanagan Center Summer Experience Camp is supporting 30 students from Oceanside Middle School and Oceanside High School (incoming 6th through 9th graders), Mon-Thurs 11am-4pm.  Each week students engage with their community downtown and beyond, through engaging field trips to local organizations and businesses in areas of art, science, technology, cooking, outdoor exploration, and entrepreneurship.  Weekly excursions have included visits to The Apprenticeshop, CMCA, Mid-Coast School of Technology, Friends of Maine Coastal Islands, WRFR Radio, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Sail, Power & Steam Museum, Aldermere Farms, Merryspring Nature Center, Farnsworth Art Museum, Northern Vertical Rock Climbing and The Landing Place. 

It is no easy lift to coordinate food service, transportation, and staffing for this level of programming, but the district’s dedicated staff and the local partnering businesses and organizations continue to prioritize students.  Sarah Rogers, RSU 13 21st Century Grant Program Coordinator, and Laura LaPointe, RSU 13 Afterschool and Summer Program Coordinator, oversee both summer programming and afterschool programming across the district.  All programs are currently grant funded. For even more pictures, check out the RSU #13 Afterschool Programs Facebook Page.

Maine DOE Update – July 29, 2022

From the Maine Department of Education


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Maine School Nurse Summer Institute Brings Together 150 School Nurses from Across Maine

Nearly 150 school nurses from across Maine gathered this week in Belfast for the Maine School Nurse Summer Institute. This was the first in person Summer Institute in four years and allowed school nurses to come together to build community and connection, participate in professional learning opportunities, identify strategies to care for themselves in the same way they care for so many others, and share challenges and opportunities for themselves and the school nursing field following several years on the frontlines of combating COVID and keeping their schools safe. |  More

Seal of Biliteracy Earned by Maine High School Seniors

The Maine Department of Education congratulates 347 Maine high school seniors who are this year’s recipients of the Maine Seal of Biliteracy! |  More

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Robert Palmer

Maine DOE team member Robert Palmer is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Robert.. |  More


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A Year of Success and Innovation: Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures in Brewer School Department

The first round of RREV (Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures) Awardees were announced in August of 2021. RREV is an initiative of the Maine Department of Education, funded by the Education Stabilization Funds through the US Department of Education’s Rethink K-12 Education Models, that bolsters Maine educators’ innovative efforts to support their students with agile, effective, and resilient learning experiences that improve learning outcomes for all students. Now, after a year of experience and development, the Department of Education would like to thank the awardees for their dedication to innovative education and highlight their achievements that have resulted from the RREV contracts over the past year. Continue reading to learn more about the ways in which the Brewer School Department has used their RREV funding this past year.

After a year of remote, online learning, many students and educators were eager to get back inside the classroom. This desire to have in-person learning once again was understood by most people, as online classes made learning harder for many students. However, Superintendent of Brewer School Department (BSD) Gregg Palmer believes that the rush back to the traditional classroom was also a “rush back to marginalization” for those students who felt more comfortable in online classes. “Tradition is a place of safety,” he said, however, some students feel as though the tradition of brick-and-mortar school buildings is far from safe. He, along with Renita Ward-Downer, Director of Curriculum at BSD, recognized that some students need an online alternative.

Nu posterIn August 2021, after receiving their RREV funding, BSD began to offer a remote learning pathway for students in 7th through 12th grades. At first, the intention was for the pathway to be fully online education with limited spots. The students would have access to in-person opportunities for extracurricular activities to ensure students were still able to make meaningful connections with peers and educators. However, the school quickly realized that their enrollment limit was not high enough, as greater need was shown by the number of students registering in the program. The district honored their promise of flexibility, though, and simply increased the number of students able to enroll in the program.

Ward-Downer said their goal with the program was to “truly tailor a person’s education,” and they have done just that. Once students understood that they were able to help define the shape of the program, they began to communicate with the district what they wanted and needed. In the case of many students, this meant not being 100% remote, but rather a mix of in-person and online education. The district, Palmer said, was happy to make this change, as it gives an intermediate option rather than the “all or nothing” structure of classic public school.

Many of the students who have taken advantage of this online option are students who have been chronically absent in the past. Prior to the introduction of this program, the district wasn’t appropriately addressing student needs, Palmer said. Now the district has found that kids who previously had no interest in school want to learn because their needs are being met. One student was consistently truant about a third of the school year prior to COVID, mostly due to anxiety surrounding being in class at school. Since enrolling in the online pathway that BSD has to offer, however, they have not missed a single day of school, and, at the end of the school year, was sad that it was over. The student is excited for the next school year to start for the first time.

Another group of students that found great value in the program were homeschooled students. Many families who switched to homeschooling at the start of the pandemic placed their students back into the public school system because of this program. They found that the online pathway helped relieve family stress while continuing to provide a similar flexibility to homeschooling.

Getting to this level of success wasn’t easy, though. The district had to battle the stigma that comes with online education along with misconstrued perceptions of the work they were trying to do. “The one thing we couldn’t be was afraid of upsetting people or being viewed as not supporting the idea of a full public education program,” Palmer said. If they had, he said, they would’ve opened the door to questions and doubts about what they were trying to do.

Even while they were confident in their work, others found ways to doubt the district. Parents were concerned that students would take advantage of the online program, using it to slack off. Others who provide supports to students including Special Education, were understandably concerned that identified students looking to try the new program might encounter difficulty having all their educational and social/emotional needs met. However, Brewer offered in-person support for these students and monitored how the pilot went for certain students. The results were very positive, with identified students improving their attendance, and all groups are now in support of the online pathway. Ward-Downer believes that “to grow, [we all had to] problem solve together” in order to find the best solution for the kids. Parents and educators alike found that the students in the online program are leaders, taking control of their education. This form of online education, Palmer said, takes a different kind of motivation than a typical public school education, and Ward-Downer added that they ensure their students have balance so they’re not just lying in bed all day. They both agreed that you cannot fake your way through the online pathway the way you might be able to in the back corner of a classroom. The Special Education department found that some of their students have been able to be more successful in the online pathway thanks to anxiety relief and increased flexibility. Since its introduction, the online pathway has continually gained momentum and support throughout both the student body and the community to get to where it is now.

Other districts around the state are noticing BSD’s success, too. Realizing how beneficial the online pathway has been for students in Brewer and how it has lowered truancy, other districts are looking to implement the innovation in their districts as well, and the educators in BSD say they are happy to help. Their goal for the next year, Palmer said, is to work with other districts to build a network of online programs. In true RREV spirit, the district aspires to inspire innovation and collaborate with other schools to provide as many students a chance at success as possible. Once other RREV pilots based off of Brewer’s are established, like Hampden and Bucksport, which have been recently approved, Palmer said he hopes that they will all be able to tap into each other’s different online courses and resources to offer all students a well-rounded education with multiple outcomes.

Martin Mackey, the former RREV Project Director who tragically passed away in April of this year, embodied the RREV spirit: to think and act boldly to meet the needs of students. His passion was to “change lives.” As such, he challenged each and every RREV participant to do just that as they designed pilot ideas that would ultimately have a lasting systemic impact on students.  After 18 months of leading RREV, Martin’s passion had been passed on to almost 200 educators who had participated in innovation professional development. From those educators, 27 Pilot ideas were brought to fruition and have received over $5.7 million in RREV awards. Through their pilot ideas, these educators have pledged to commit themselves to innovation.

The Maine DOE encourages all schools and districts across the State of Maine to learn more about these innovative educators and their RREV pilots through the RREV website and the online RREV collaborative platform known as EnGiNE. It is through EnGiNE that we all hope to continue the Martin Momentum to change students’ lives through innovative and responsive educational programs.

Southern Maine 21st Century Learning Center Experience the Outdoors Through Community Connections

From the trails to the sea, the youth participating in the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine, one of Maine’s 21st Century Learning Centers, have been busy exploring outdoor destinations in the Portland area this summer thanks to their strong community connections.

Starting with the Portland Trails, a nonprofit urban land trust that aims to transform the Greater Portland area into a healthier and better-connected community, the center has utilized this amazing community resource to get kids outdoors to go on walks and explore part of the 70+ mile trail network that Portland Trails has to offer. (pictured above)

The kids have also been out to sea this summer thanks to SailMaine, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable access to the water through community sailing and education. Thanks to this community connection, every Tuesday for the next several weeks, the Center’s middle schoolers will be learning about sailing on Casco Bay.

Portland Maine Parks, Recreation & Facilities Department has also been a generous partner this summer by letting the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine utilize the outdoor pool. Thanks to this community partnership, the kids have been enjoying swimming three afternoons a week!

Funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, Maine currently has 35 CCLC grants and 61 CCLC sites across Maine that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly for students who face economic and/or academic challenges. With strong community partnerships at the core of every one of its programs, Maine’s 21st Century Learning Centers help students meet academic goals and offer a broad array of enrichment activities, in addition to other educational and engagement opportunities for communities and families. Learn more about Maine’s CCLC grant opportunities at https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/esea or reach out to Travis Doughty at travis.w.doughty@maine.gov.

Seal of Biliteracy Earned by Maine High School Seniors

The Maine Department of Education congratulates 347 Maine high school seniors who are this year’s recipients of the Maine Seal of Biliteracy!

The Seal of Biliteracy recognizes student achievement in language learning. Graduating seniors who are proficient in English and at least one additional language may earn the Seal of Biliteracy by demonstrating their skills on an approved assessment (see eligibility criteria). This award elevates the study of languages and provides students an edge for their college applications and professional careers. Students who attend a University of Maine System campus may also earn college credits.

The Seal of Biliteracy distinction for graduating seniors honors students who have studied world languages in school, students who have spoken English and another language at home and in their communities, and students who have learned English at school. Learning another language is an impressive accomplishment, and the Department commends all multilingual students for their efforts.

We would also like to recognize the incredible work of World Languages and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, who support students in their multilingual journeys. Language educators empower students with linguistic and cultural understanding that will be invaluable to them throughout their personal, academic, and professional lives. Teaching students another language goes beyond grammar and vocabulary – it is truly opening a door to another world and enabling students to explore and experience that world through the power of language!

Congratulations to the Class of 2022 Seal of Biliteracy recipients and their teachers! If your school isn’t yet participating in the Seal of Biliteracy and would like further information, please reach out to April Perkins, ESOL & Bilingual Programs Specialist, at april.perkins@maine.gov.

2022 Participating Schools include:

  • Blue Hill Harbor School
  • Brewer High School
  • Brunswick High School
  • Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Cape Elizabeth High School
  • Caribou High School
  • Casco Bay High School
  • Cony High School
  • Deering High School
  • Falmouth High School
  • Gardiner Area High School
  • Gray-New Gloucester High School
  • Greely High School
  • Hampden Academy
  • Houlton High School
  • Kennebunk High School
  • Lincoln Academy
  • Maranacook Community High School
  • Morse High School
  • Blue High School
  • Noble High School
  • North Yarmouth Academy
  • Orono High School
  • Portland High School
  • Presque Isle High School
  • Scarborough High School
  • South Portland High School
  • Westbrook High School
  • Windham High School
  • Winthrop High School
  • York High School

2022 Seal recipients’ languages include English and:

  • Arabic
  • Bengali
  • Bulgarian
  • Chinese
  • Dari
  • French
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Latin
  • Lingala
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese