Ten Maine Students Selected to Showcase Talents at 2019 All-National Honor Ensembles

Information for the article was provided by Patrick Volker, Music Teacher at Scarborough High School and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).

During the 2018–19 school year, 10 Maine Students, along with other accomplished music students across the United States and overseas in military base schools, will join the “best of the best” across the nation for the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) 2019 All-National Honor Ensembles on November 7–10, 2019, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The Maine students who received this distinguished honor are as follows:

2019 All-National Honor Ensembles, Concert Band Roster

  • Katie Callahan, Alto Saxophone 2, Mt. Ararat High School, Topsham (Teacher: Ben Cox)
  • Chase Whelan, Flute 2, Brunswick High School (Teacher: Mike Scarpone)

2019 All-National Honor Ensembles, Symphony Orchestra Roster

  • Darien Gillespie, Oboe 2, Brunswick High School (Teacher: Mike Scarpone)

2019 All-National Honor Ensembles, Mixed Choir Roster

  • Mirabella Driscoll, Alto 2, Brunswick High School (Teacher: Ashley Albert)
  • Rachel Dumont, Soprano 1, Brunswick High School (Teacher: Ashley Albert)
  • Toby Laber-Smith, Tenor 1, South Portland High School (Teacher: Michelle Snow)
  • Hannah Liscord, Alto 1, Maranacook Community High School, Readfield (Teacher: Drew Albert)
  • Sophie Patenaude, Soprano 2, Poland Regional High School (Teacher: Julia Edwards)
  • Spencer Soule, Tenor 2, Richmond Middle/High School (Teacher: Virgil Bozeman IV)
  • Cora Stewart, Alto 2, Scarborough High School (Teacher: Patrick Volker)

“I didn’t anticipate that I’d make it into Nationals- but the moment that I found out I did is one of the happiest moments of my entire life. This is one of the biggest opportunities I’ve had, and it’s an insane honor to even be invited to participate in such a talented choir. The music is fantastic, the director is amazing, and I know it’s going to be worth all the work I’ve put into it,” said Cora Stewart who will be joining the Mixed Choir Ensemble representing Scarborough High School.

The All-National Honor Ensembles performers represent collaboration and creativity in its highest musical form. Students were chosen through a rigorous audition process. The concert band and symphony orchestra will each have 119 and 121 instrumentalists respectively, the jazz ensemble 20 instrumentalists, the mixed choir 240 vocalists, the guitar ensemble 41 instrumentalists, and the modern band 16 performers.

“I could not be more proud of [Cora’s] her accomplishments in music and I am very excited to hear this concert,” said Patrick Volker, Cora’s music teacher.

Selected students will be rehearsing a challenging repertoire in preparation for performing under the direction of six of the most prominent conductors in the United States: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (Mixed Choir); Soo Han (Symphony Orchestra); Emily Threinen (Concert Band); Todd Stoll with Camille Thurman (Jazz Ensemble); Bill Swick (Guitar Ensemble); and Scott Burstein (Modern Band). All conductors have received top honors in their field and will spend several days rehearsing with students before the concert.

Names, schools and states, as well as music directors, of the All-National Honor Ensemble students are available on the NAFME Website.

Four Maine Teachers Receive Presidential Excellence Awards in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering

FROM:  White House Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 15, 2019

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). 

Awardees come from schools in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and schools in the United States territories of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Nominations and awards are facilitated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science 

Foundation. The individuals and organizations announced today are 2017 and 2018 Awardees. 

Presidential award for K-12 teachers  

Established in 1983, PAEMST is the highest award given by the U.S. Government to kindergarten through 12th grade teachers of mathematics and science, including computer science. 

A panel of distinguished mathematicians, scientists, and educators at the State and national levels assess the applications before recommending nominees to OSTP. Teachers are selected based on their distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 

Recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching: 

Maine 

Heather Dorr, Ella Lewis School 

Kirsten Gould, Buxton Center Elementary School

Priya Natarajan, Casco Bay High School 

Alyson Saunders, Dexter Regional High School 


Heather Dorr Steuben, ME | K-6, Mathematics, 2018 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Heather Dorr has taught mathematics, language arts, social studies, and science to students in fourth through eighth grades over the past 19 years. For the past three years she has taught at the Ella Lewis School. Prior to that, she taught at Trenton Elementary School for 13 years and Dixon Elementary School in Sneads Ferry, NC for three years. Heather strives to meet students where they are and lift their learning to strengthen and deepen their understanding of mathematics concepts and skills. Her students engage in meaningful dialogue by explaining their reasoning, challenging ideas, and making connections between previous understandings and new concepts. To broaden the scope of her impact on student learning, Heather mentors beginning teachers and student teachers, eagerly supports and coaches her colleagues, and advocates for students and teachers, all while serving on focus groups and curriculum committees at the district level. Heather has earned a B.S. in elementary education and her M.Ed. in educational leadership for curriculum, both from the University of Maine. She is a certified teacher of kindergarten through eighth grade and is certified as a building administrator in the state of Maine. 

Kirsten Gould Buxton, ME | K-6, Science, 2018 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Kirsten Gould has 10 years of experience in education, serving for two years as a first-grade teacher at Miles Lane School and for four years at Hermon Elementary School. Since 2015, she has worked in the Bonny Eagle School District, teaching first grade at Buxton Center Elementary School then transitioning to District Coach in Assessment for Learning in 2019. Kirsten facilitates workshops on high-impact strategies and maintains classroom connections by instructing, modeling, and reflecting on the implementation of these strategies. Her work is featured in Teaching Strategies that Create Assessment-Literate Learners by J. Beaudry and A. Stewart-McCafferty, with whom she continues to work closely. Kirsten served five years with the Maine STEM Partnership which aims to improve STEM education. She is a certified consultant for the National Writing Project, a participant of the American Geosciences Institute—ExxonMobil Exploration Teacher Leadership Academies, and a recipient of the Presidential Academic Achievement Award. She presents locally, regionally, and nationally, including at the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference and the Corwin Annual Visible Learning Conference. Certified to teach elementary school, Kirsten earned a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Maine and is currently completing a M.Ed. from the University of Southern Maine. 

Priya Natarajan Portland, ME | 7-12, Mathematics, 2017 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Priya Natarajan has taught mathematics at Casco Bay High School for the past five years. She currently teaches 10th-grade Precalculus and Algebra I and II. Previously, she taught for 12 years at Deering High School and spent four years as a founding teacher at the Boston Arts Academy. Priya has enjoyed working with colleagues all over the district in a variety of capacities, including curriculum and assessment development and the recent transition to proficiency-based instruction and assessment. She currently serves on the district-wide vertical team working on the K-12 mathematics curriculum. At Casco Bay, Priya serves as one of the 10th-grade team’s teacher leaders, facilitating the team’s work across disciplines and connecting teachers to the leadership team. She also coaches the mathematics team, works with the international Seeds of Peace program, and helps to foster collegiality and support for teachers as the school’s Faculty Wellness Coordinator. In addition, she serves as a Statistics and Calculus instructor at the University of Southern Maine. Priya earned a B.A. in mathematics from Ohio University and a M.Ed. in teaching and learning from Harvard University, in addition to graduate-level coursework at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and the University of Southern Maine. She is certified in secondary mathematics and has ELL endorsement. 

Alyson Saunders Dexter, ME | 7-12, Science, 2017 

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. 

Alyson Saunders has taught science at Dexter Regional High School for a total of 10 years. She currently teaches 10th-grade Biology, 12th-grade Advanced Biology, and 9-12th-grade STEM. In addition, Alyson has taught chemistry, astronomy, and ecology. In June of 2012, Alyson worked for The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance as an informal STEM educator. In that capacity, she leveraged out-of-school opportunities to connect youth with potential STEM pathways. Since her return to the classroom, she has used those skills to help students engage with things such as teen science cafes, and the Maine State Science Fair. By working with local government and nonprofits, Alyson connects learning to the community through projects involving stormwater management and ecosystem sampling. She has also partnered with The Jackson Laboratory on their Teaching the Genome Generation project, to bring modern biotechnology skills and genomics education to her small rural school. Alyson is on the school’s leadership team, is a department head, and has facilitated multiple high school and elementary school STEM-related activity nights. Alyson earned a B.S., summa cum laude, in biology from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and a B.S., summa cum laude, in secondary science education from the University of Maine Orono. She is certified in secondary life science. 

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MEDIA RELEASE: Gorham Middle School Teacher Named 2020 Teacher of the Year

Gorham, Maine – In an all-school assembly today at Gorham Middle School, the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine named alternative education teacher Heather Whitaker Maine’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

During her 18-year teaching career at Gorham Middle School, Heather has been a true advocate for combining learning opportunities with the needs of the community. She started her school’s garden, which donates over 800 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She also was a founding member of the Gorham BackPack Program, which provides students in her community, experiencing chronic hunger, with food over the weekend. Her alternative education students are active volunteers for both programs. Just recently, this program was awarded a $25,000 State Farm Community Assist grant.

Heather is passionate about and experienced in using restorative practices and experiential learning. She believes in the power of relationships and that learning should be meaningful to students. Whenever possible, Heather takes students out of the classroom and has them engaged in the community.

Heather graduated from Boston College in 2000, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with Moderate Special Needs. She later earned her Master of Science in Literacy Education at the University of Southern Maine.

Heather’s biggest love is her family. Her husband, Marc, son Trent, and daughter Maeve inspire her daily. She loves hosting friends at her house, can be found in the mountains skiing during the winter, and is proud to be a “Maine-ah.”

She was nominated by her former principal, Robert Riley, who stated “because of her innovative, can-do nature, her refusal to give up on any student and her selfless contributions to our school community and to her students, I believe Heather is an excellent candidate to represent all that is good in our educational system.”

Heather was selected from a pool of more than 300 teachers who were nominated by a member of their community earlier this year, she was then named the 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, and then later named one of three State finalists before being named the 2020 Teacher of the Year today.

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.

As the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather 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. She will be 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.

Maine Schools Join Others Around The Nation to Recognize National School Bus Safety Week October 21-25

National School Bus Safety Week, scheduled October 21-25 this year, is a public education program that promotes school bus safety. 

Nationally, each day about 480,000 school buses travel the nation’s roads transporting about 25,000,000 students to and from schools and school-related activities. This makes school buses the largest mass transportation program in the nation. 

2019 National School Bus Safety Week theme: My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!  The theme is derived from the Poster contest the year before.  The 2018 winning poster, depicted above, was drawn by Shivangi Ojha, an 8th Grader at Belton ISD in Temple, Texas. 

In Maine, there are about 3,000 school buses traveling about 30,000,000 miles per year and delivering about 140,000 students. While national ridership of school buses is about fifty percent, about eighty percent of Maine students ride the school bus. Local school transportation teams throughout Maine will educate the public about school bus safety and local transportation safety training during National School Bus Safety Week. 

Transportation is a great equalizer in education, providing students from all economic backgrounds with the opportunity to learn and succeed. Additionally, as pointed out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration U.S. Department of Transportation, “School buses are by far the safest way for children to get to and from school.” 

School buses are specifically designed and engineered for safety in order to protect occupants against crashes and incidents on the road. Nearly every part of a school bus has higher standards of safety when compared to ordinary cars. The following school bus safety features are not found on any other passenger vehicle: 

  • School bus seats are above the crash line so that the impact of a vehicle colliding with a school bus hits beneath the seated passengers
  • Passenger seating and crash protection are required for school bus seating systems 
  • A steel cage around the fuel tank that provides bus fuel system integrity 
  • Emergency exits are provided by way of doors, windows and roof hatches 
  • Bus body joint strength that specifies the minimum strength of the joints between panels of the bus body and the body structure 
  • Rollover protection that specifies the minimum structural strength of buses in rollover-type crashes 

More information about National School Bus Safety Week can be found here: https://www.napt.org/nsbsw 

For information about school transportation policy, contact Transportation and Facilities Administrator Pat Hinckley at pat.hinckley@maine.gov 

The National School Bus Safety Week public education program is sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), Pupil Transportation Safety Institute (PTSI) and school bus manufacturers and suppliers. 

Seeking U.S. Presidential Scholar Nominations!

The Maine Department of Education invites school districts to nominate graduating high school seniors for the U. S. Presidential Scholars Program. Each district may nominate one senior who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent U.S. resident and has demonstrated excellence in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program and one senior who had scored exceptionally well on either the SAT of the College Board or the ACT of the American College Testing Program. Application materials will be sent directly to Superintendents and CTE Directors by Friday, October 4th. Application are due to the Maine DOE by Friday, October 25th.

Students chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D. C. in June and are presented the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House, in commemoration of their achievements. During their visit to Washington, scholars have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists and other accomplished people.

For more information please contact Beth Lambert, Coordinator of Secondary Education or Dwight Littlefield, Coordinator of Career and Life Education.