Honoring RISE Award Nominee Betty Newman From Baileyville

Betty Newman works tirelessly as the Director of Food Services for Woodland Elementary and Woodland Junior/Senior High School in AOS 90 in Baileyville. She was recently nominated for the RISE Award and selected by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) as one of Maine’s Nominees. Her story was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for consideration for the national level RISE Award. The RISE Award (Recognizing Inspirational School Employees ) honors classified school employees who provide exemplary service.

Janice Rice, a colleague from the school nominated Betty for the award. Here are a few thoughts from Janice about why she nominated Betty.

“Betty Newman has worked in the Baileyville School system for many years; she started working in the food service department when her mother was the food service manager and she just slid into the position when her mother retired. She has the respect of everyone in the school. We all see this commitment to the families and students and admire her for that. In her spare time, Mrs. Newman is writing grants to improve her program and this kind of dedication does not go unnoticed.”

“Mrs. Newman has always been an extremely hard worker for our school but when the school had to go remote learning because of Covid-19, she stepped it up. She had the ability to transform her two-school service for grades pre-k – 12 into a program that went mobile, serving over 200 children 14 meals a week. With only a staff of three to cook and package meals, she seamlessly transformed her school-based food serve program into a program that fed the families of Baileyville.”

 “Another example of Mrs. Newman’s commitment to the students and the school is this summer when the school was able to continue feeling students in the summer months. Betty unselfishly gave up her summer vacation time to continue feeding families in the Baileyville area. Because we have a small food service staff, she worked 12 straight months, without time off.”

“Betty Newman is a dedicated mother, having adopted several children; she is a loving grandmother. She is working with administration to design and build a cafeteria. She has worked for over 30 years in a pieced together kitchen that is spread out over four rooms to feed students in pre-k thru 12 in two different buildings. This takes dedication, leadership, time management skills, multi-tasking, and the ability to lead and work well with a team.”

When asked what she loves most about her job, this is what Betty had to say:

“What I love most is the kids and to be able to provide a service for them and maybe make a smile in their day.”

RISE Award nominations were submitted from across the state by local educational agencies, school administrators, educators, professional associations, nonprofits, parents and community members this fall. Finalists and Maine Nominees were announcement recently in the Maine DOE Newsroom and they are being featured individually in the Newsroom this month. National RISE Awardees are expected to be named in the Spring of 2021. More information on the Maine RISE Award can be found here and the national RISE Award can be found here.

MEDIA RELEASE: Giving Thanks to Our School Staff: Maine Honors RISE Award Finalists

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) today announced the finalists for the recently enacted, national Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award. This new award, passed by the United States Congress in 2019 and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, honors classified school employees who provide exemplary service.

“Maine’s students are our future. As the daughter of a public school teacher myself, I know that it takes a team of dedicated, caring people to give our kids the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to set them up for success said Governor Janet Mills. “These seven nominees embody that hard work and dedication. On behalf of the people of Maine, I extend our thanks for all they are doing for their school communities and students.”

RISE Award nominations were submitted this fall from across the state by local educational agencies, school administrators, educators, professional associations, nonprofits, parents and community members. Two of the seven finalists have been selected as Maine Honorees, and have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Education to be considered for the national RISE Award, which is expected to be named in the Spring 2021.

“I am elated to celebrate these unsung heroes of our schools, who work tirelessly, and often behind the scenes, to support the students of Maine,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin.  “Their stories illustrate the important impact a person can make in an entire school community, and most importantly in the lives and success of students.  I cannot thank enough these seven nominees, and all Maine school employees, for all the daily miracles they create.”

Maine’s RISE Award honorees and finalists will be acknowledged with an official letter from the Commissioner of Education. They will also be spotlighted individually in the Maine DOE Newsroom and through its official social media sites.

Maine RISE Award Honorees

Betty Newman
Director of Food Services
Woodland Elementary and Woodland Junior/Senior, AOS 90 Baileyville

Nominator Janice Rice (Colleague): “Mrs. Newman has always been an extremely hard worker for our school but when the school had to go remote learning because of Covid-19, she stepped it up. She had the ability to transform her two-school service for grades pre-k – 12 into a program that went mobile, serving over 200 children 14 meals a week. With only a staff of three to cook and package meals, she seamlessly transformed her school-based food serve program into a program that fed the families of Baileyville. At the end of the first week of service, she was feeding around 95 students, she was not content to leave it at that. She promoted her program by calling families and using social media to get the word out.”

Bonnie Fortin
Administrative Assistant
Moscow Elementary School, MSAD 13

Nominator Wendy Belanger (Colleague): “There are very few people that make an impact in the way Bonnie does in a school. She is the core of our school community. She is so approachable and often after a child has moved on from our school, parents and caregivers will still reach out to Bonnie for information and assistance with numerous things. She is always willing to assist them. Moscow Elementary is very lucky to have her.”

RISE Award Finalists:

Andrew Hutchins
Director of Food Services
Mount Blue, RSU 9

Nominators Amanda Barry, Theresa True, Cindy Fortier (School Employees, Community Members, Parents): “When COVID reared its ugly head in March Andy was there pushing, working all hours to make sure that we all had a plan to be able to make sure we would be able to get meals to our community children. We had handfuls of volunteers within a day.”

Deb Baldacci
Lunch Accountability Clerk
Fruit Street School, Bangor School Department

Nominator Leslie Stewart (Support Staff): “Everyone knows Ms. B. I have students that years later, I might see, and they will ask about Ms. B. She has put everyone as a priority so that they consider her to be the safe harbor when times are difficult and they seek out to share good news. She’s our rock.”

Susan Lombardo
Educational Technician
Congin School, Westbrook School Department

Nominators Katlyn Preston and Angela Pecoraro (School Employees): “Sue teaches her children the importance of grit and perseverance and she is determined to help them succeed no matter what. Sue always treats them with respect and kindness, no matter what challenges are being presented on any given day. She does all this with a contagious smile and great sense of humor.”

Rebekah Stephens
Educational Technician
McMahon Elementary School, Lewiston Public Schools

Nominator Rebecca Fournier (Colleague): “Becca demonstrates that Ed Techs are skilled professionals, by lesson planning, implementing curriculum, and being a liaison between the community and school for parents and families.”

Jim DuDevoir
School Custodian
Sherwood Heights Elementary School, Auburn School District

Nominator Breann Crocker (Educator): “Everyone in our building loves Jim because he truly shows he cares about everyone. He is always there when we need him. He never complains and he makes it so that we can focus on teaching the children and not have to worry about the building itself. Our school would not be what it is without him.”

More information on the Maine RISE Award can be found here the national RISE Award can be found here.  Be sure to keep an eye on the Maine DOE Newsroom to read the individual profiles on each finalist. You can also find the Maine Department of Education on Facebook, and Twitter.

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Nominations Open for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

The National Science Foundation is currently accepting nominations and applications for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. PAEMST are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for k-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching. Awardees serve as models to their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of STEM education.

The 2020–2021 nomination and application cycle for 7–12th grade STEM teachers has officially opened. Anyone–principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public–may nominate a teacher by completing the nomination form available on the PAEMST website. To submit a nomination, you will need the teacher’s name, email address, and school contact information. If you know more than one teacher deserving of this award, you may submit more than one nomination. Teachers may also apply directly at www.paemst.org. The deadline to nominate is March 1, 2021.

Presidential awardees receive a signed certificate and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. Awardees may also be invited to Washington, D.C. for a series of recognition events, which may include a tour of the White House, and professional development opportunities. They also become a member in a network of award-winning teachers from across the country. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on the behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Should you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact the Department’s Mathematics Specialist, Michele Mailhot at Michele.R.Mailhot@maine.gov or the Department’s Science Specialist, Shari Templeton at shari.templeton@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Anita Bernhardt Named Maine Assistant Superintendent of the Year

Anita Bernhardt of the York School Department has been named Maine’s Assistant Superintendent of the Year for her work to improve academic performance, attendance, and graduation rates and her dedication to meet the needs of all students in the district.

“We are delighted to know that Anita is receiving this auspicious honor,” said Maine DOE Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta. “Her contributions to education within her district and throughout the State of Maine serve as testimony to her limitless commitment to excellence, equity, and student success.”

Nominated by her school board, Bernhardt is described as a data driven and collaborative leader who ensures her assessment teams are making fact-based, informed decisions on how best to design and employ innovative and creative learning solutions.

Having demonstrated outstanding expertise in designing and delivering professional development on timely topics with challenging content for all staff, she also has re-invigorated and expanded her district’s professional development opportunities to neighboring districts.

Her career in education started as a science educator. She served as a teaching fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked as the Director of Standards and Instruction for Maine’s Department of Education. Prior to becoming Assistant Superintendent, she served as the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for York School Department.

Bernhardt has long been recognized for her excellence in education. She received the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science in 2003; was recognized for her leadership in the Maine Learning Results Review in 2006; received the Friend of Maine Technology Award in 2008; was honored as the Maine Audubon Educator of the Year in 2009; and, received the Philip Marcoux Award from the Maine Science Teachers Association in 2013.

Bernhardt was named Maine’s 2021 Assistant Superintendent of the Year by the Maine’s School Superintendents Association at its annual meeting, held virtually in late October.

Two Maine Educators Honored with 2020-2021 Financial Educator of the Year Award

The Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has awarded two Maine educators for their outstanding work in financial education. The Maine Jump$tart Financial Educator of the Year Award, established in 2012, was created to recognize an individual who has distinguished themselves through their efforts to improve the financial capability of the students and families they serve. The Maine Jump$tart Coalition is pleased to honor Sheree Inman and Joe Schmidt as the 2020-2021 recipients of the Financial Educator of the Year Award for their leadership and accomplishments in personal finance education.

Sheree Inman is a teacher at South Portland High School, where she wears many hats as the Career Prep Teacher, School to Work Coordinator, and Career Fair Coordinator. Sheree is a leader in her school, and consistently pursues professional development opportunities in personal finance education.

Sheree has played an active role in trainings and events held by Maine Jump$tart, as well as participated in weekly conversations with other Maine personal finance teachers during the transition to distance learning this past spring.

Joe Schmidt is the Social Studies Specialist at the Maine Department of Education, where he provides technical support and professional development to Maine teachers. Joe also led the review of the social studies standards, which includes personal finance and economics, within the Maine Learning Results.

Prior to his role at the Maine DOE, Joe spent nine years as a high school social studies teacher in Wisconsin and three years as a teacher leader for social studies curriculum and instruction for the Madison, Wisconsin public school district. Joe currently serves on the national advisory boards for iCivics and Teaching Tolerance, chairs the National Council for the Social Studies Government and Public Relations committee, and has completed multiple fellowships and leadership opportunities.

Joe’s support, knowledge, and expertise has been an invaluable resource to Maine social studies teachers, particularly this past spring. Mary Dyer, president of the Maine Jump$tart Coalition, says, “Joe’s work in support of Maine educators, particularly during the transition to distance learning as a result of COVID-19, was simply extraordinary. Joe has served as an important voice for personal finance and economics educators in Maine and we are truly blessed to have him in our ranks.”

As recipients of the Financial Educator of the Year Award, Ms. Inman and Mr. Schmidt will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Jump$tart Educator Conference in 2021, where they will network with financial educators from across the country. Ms. Inman and Mr. Schmidt will also be formally honored at the 2021 Fostering Financial Education in Maine Schools Conference.