MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Celebrates Educational Support Professionals Day

In celebration of Educational Support Professionals Day, the Maine Department of Education would like to thank and congratulate the tens of thousands of educational support professionals working in Maine’s public schools.

Educational Support Professionals Day is held the Wednesday during American Education Week each year in November. The day celebrates and honors the significant contributions that school support staff make in public schools every day.

Education support professionals include education technicians, bus drivers, security guards, school nurses, facilities staff, office assistants and more. They drive students to school, clean classrooms and hallways, bandage scraped knees, and prepare and cook meals, among many other things. They are often the first to arrive at school and the last to leave.

We hope that schools state-wide will share in thanking and congratulating education support professionals for everything that they do to support students, schools, and communities throughout Maine.

MEDIA RELEASE: RSU 13 Superintendent John McDonald Honored with Commissioner’s Award

Superintendent John McDonald of Rockland Public Schools in Regional School Unit (RSU) 13 has been honored with the Maine Department of Education 2018 Commissioner’s Award from Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr.

As part of a celebration and recognition of Maine’s educational leaders during the annual Commissioner’s Conference held in the spring, the Commissioner awards an outstanding Maine superintendent who has gone above and beyond in his or her duties as a leader in their community.

“John is an extraordinary leader. He is very focused on students and the needs of the whole child,” said Commissioner Hasson. “His success in helping to develop school boards by holding workshops that allow them to set achievable goals for students is a testament to his vision for the success of all students.”

John McDonald has held various roles during his multi-year career and service to public education, including teacher, technology and assessment director, school board member, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and now in his current role as Superintendent of RSU 13. He holds Master’s degrees in both educational leadership and elementary education, and Bachelor’s degrees in both anthropology and writing.

“John is a quiet person. He does not promote his own success as an educational leader, but he is truly deserving of this recognition for his many years of service to Maine students,” added Commissioner Hasson.

The 2017 recipient of the Commissioner’s Award was Michael Felton, Superintendent of Schools in neighboring St. George Municipal School Unit.

Students, Parents, and Schools Celebrate School Bus Driver Appreciation Week Oct. 22-26

A school bus driver’s career is about safely delivering the world’s most precious cargo – our students. Making a positive difference in the life of a child is what motivates school bus drivers.

Locally, parents, teachers, and superintendents celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by making special cards, delivering special snacks, talking with drivers about how much their commitment to student safety means to families, schools, and the community, and learning about a day in the life of a school bus driver. School district transportation directors celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week by providing driver safety training at the district. It’s all about safety first.

Historically, Maine schools celebrate National School Bus Driver Appreciation Week during National School Bus Safety Week which occurs annually during the third week in October. It is a time for Mainers to reflect upon the outstanding job performance of our school bus drivers who transport students to and from school and school related events throughout the year traveling over 30 million miles of urban and rural roads. In Maine about 80 percent of students ride the school bus which is much higher than the national average of 50 percent.

School bus drivers provide an essential service. They are responsible for conserving the comfort, safety, and welfare of students they transport. Should a critical incident occur that requires student relocation, school bus drivers will be called on to deliver students to a safe haven.

A typical day in the life of a school bus driver means arriving early, performing daily pre-trip bus inspections, knowing what students ride the bus, where each student lives, and what school each student attends. During the day drivers may deliver students to field trips or education events and they may work at the school as a bus technician, safety officer, software technician, or custodian. At the end of each day the driver performs a post-trip bus clear and inspection to secure the bus in preparation for the next day.

School bus drivers like to drive, enjoy working with students, care about children’s safety, have great people skills, remain calm under pressure, and have flexible or full-time work schedules. School bus drivers must receive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) commercial driver’s license (CDL) with school bus S and passenger P endorsement. This requires additional driving and skills tests that are administered by a certified examiner. School bus drivers must pass federally regulated skills and knowledge evaluations which are conducted with a written and driving exam. Federal regulations require random drug testing. Maine regulations require a background check and physical exam to determine driver fitness for duty. Important qualities for school bus drivers are good customer services skills, normal hand-eye coordination, good hearing and visual ability, patience, and good physical health. School bus drivers are the first school employee students see at the beginning of each school day and the last one they see at the end of the school day.

For information about how to become a school bus driver contact the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) http://www.maptme.org/.

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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National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest

The Maine Department of Education in collaboration with the Maine State Police are helping to promote the 2019 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest, a nationwide contest administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The contest is designed to promote awareness among teachers, parents/guardians and children and engage them in discussions about safety.

Contest Rules

  1. Applicants must be in the fifth grade.
  2. Artwork should reflect the theme “Bringing Our Missing Children Home”. This phrase must appear somewhere on the poster.
  3. The theme may be depicted in the student’s artwork through one or a combination of illustrations (e.g., signs and symbols, people, abstract, industry, wildlife) and can be created using media such as acrylics, watercolor, pencils, charcoal, magic markers, spray paint, crayons, and pastels. Digitally produced images, collages, cutouts, and stamping will not be eligible for consideration.
  4. The finished poster must measure 8½ x 14 inches.
  5. The poster must be submitted with a completed application, which includes a description of the poster and a brief biography of the artist, either typed or written legibly.

Awards

  • State Level – Each state winner whose poster is selected to go to the national judging competition, will receive a national award certificate from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
  • National Level – The national winner, his/her teacher (or designee from selected school) and parents/guardians (typically two people), and the state manager will be invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in the U.S. DOJ’s National Missing Children’s Day ceremony on May 22, 2019. Transportation and lodging will be provided. The national winner will also receive a national award certificate and a professional print of their poster.

Further information can be found in the Poster Contest Packet.

For further information and to confirm your participation in the contest and to obtain the submission deadline for your state, contact Maine’s State Contest Manager Ms. Carol Tompkins, Maine State Police at 207-626-3805 or carol.tompkins@maine.gov