Maine Council for English Language Arts Presents 4th Annual Brassil Award

The Maine Council for English Language Arts (MCELA) awarded its 4th annual Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award, in honor of the contributions of the two long-time educators who have inspired students and mentored teachers for over eighty combined years in Maine public schools. MCELA is an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The Brassil Distinguished Educator award is usually presented annually at the MCELA Conference in March (tentatively scheduled to be an in-person conference in Portland), but the award has been delayed since 2020 due to the pandemic. 

The Brassil Award recognizes exceptional English language arts and literacy teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, contributed to the profession, and shown a commitment to the community. In the past, this distinguished educator award was given to one high school teacher each year (2020 Patti Forster of Camden Hills Regional High School, 2019 Stephanie Hendrix of Bangor High School, and 2018 Johnna Stanton of Morse High school). This year the Executive Board decided to award and celebrate both a middle and a high school teacher.

The finalists for the high school Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award for 2022 include Beth Carlson of Kennebunk High School, Sara Cole of Camden Hills Regional High School, and Audrey Ennamorati of Medomak Valley High School. 

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Audrey Ennamorati, Medomak Valley High School, 2022 Brassil Distinguished Educator Award Winner (high school)

The distinguished high school English educator award for 2022 goes to Audrey Ennamorati, a 23-year educator at MVHS who currently teaches AP English Literature & Composition, AP English Language & Composition British & American Literature, Freshman English, College Composition dual enrollment with Thomas College, Writing Center, Literary Magazine, and Creative Writing. Ennamorati also developed numerous independent study courses to meet the academic needs of both advanced and struggling students, such as Literary Masterpieces, Social Justice Through Literature, Advanced Writing and English Language and Literature.  Additionally, Ennamorati has taught writing-intensive courses part-time at the University of Southern Maine for 12 years and is currently an adjunct for the University of Maine-August (in Rockland) teaching College Writing, and occasionally Creative Writing and Creative Nonfiction. Ennamorati claims she has a special formula for inspiring students of all backgrounds and abilities: “(1) tapping into students’ needs/interests and (2) challenging them beyond their expectations.  I learned early on in my high school teaching career that part of exercising these strengths with students means being genuine and creative at the same time.” Ennamorati’s nominator, Principal Linda Pease shared respect for Ennamorati’s “thoughtful and logical contributions” and her “positive influence on the climate of the school.” 

The finalists for the middle school Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award for 2022 include Todd McKinley of J.A. Leonard Middle School, Nicole Matthews of Windsor Elementary School, Meghan Rounds of Gorham Middle School, and Margaret “Maggie” Adams of Kingfield Elementary School. 

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Maggie Adams, Kingfield Elementary School, 2022 Brassil Distinguished Educator Award Winner (middle school)

The distinguished middle school English educator award for 2022 goes to Maggie Adams, an 18-year educator who currently teaches grades 5-8 English at Kingfield Elementary School. Adams coordinated and developed the Girls Talk/Teen Voices mentor program bringing community women together with female students for literary discussions and activities for Phillips and then Kingfield Elementary School. She is also a public speaking coach for the Kingfield school (2012-present) and has provided enriching extracurricular opportunities such as Poetry Slams, One Book/ One School/ One Community events, organizing visits from authors, storytellers, and illustrators, and advising various clubs. In addition, Adams served as the Mt. Abram Teacher’s Association during the pandemic. Beyond her school, Adams has been a 3-time speaker for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center (HHRC) representing the perspective of a Mi’kmaq teacher and former Maine student, explaining the integration of the Social Justice curriculum in the classroom, and describing the impact the HHRC has had on her own school district and teaching. 

The MCELA is will be accepting nominations through December 31, 2022, for the March 2023 in-person conference recognition. Nominees should be full-time English language arts or literacy teachers of students in grades 6-12 and have taught for at least five years in public or independent schools in Maine. Nominees do not have to be a member of the Maine Council for English Language Arts. ELA educators who demonstrate the same qualities as the Brassils themselves: a commitment to student-centered learning, inspiration of all students, leadership in school, district, state, and national levels, development and sharing of effective practices, and involvement in the community and school beyond the classroom. More information on nominations available here: https://www.mainecela.org/nominate-an-educator.html

Please join us in congratulating Audrey Ennamorati and Maggie Adams!

Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge

As the school year comes to a close we are happy to announce that the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge is once again being supported by the Freemasons of Maine for the 7th year. All students in grades K-8 who complete a summer reading goal of at least 500 minutes are eligible for a school drawing. Each school is then able to submit 2 names of school level winners to be put into a state level drawing for a free bike and helmet. Last year 32 bikes and helmets were awarded to students across the state. If you are interested in registering your school for the challenge please complete this form. For additional resources such as a summer reading passport and parent information please visit the Read to Ride Challenge website.

If you would like additional information please contact Danielle Saucier, danielle.m.saucier@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Department of Education Partners With SPIRIT SERIES to Engage 12,500 Students In Story-Based Social Emotional Learning and Literacy Program

The Maine Department of Education has partnered with SPIRIT SERIES to bring its acclaimed interdisciplinary, story-based social-emotional learning and literacy programs to 12,500 students across Maine. This effort, made possible through federal relief funds, will provide a 100 percent scholarship to participating schools during the 2022-23 school year. Funding is also included for professional development opportunities, so that educators can further integrate the SERIES’ programming into their classrooms.

SPIRIT SERIES empowers students to strive for academic excellence as they learn and practice positive core values and develop leadership, critical thinking, and relationship skills while expressing themselves in highly engaging project-based learning. The program mentors students as they think deeply about their lives and experiences, organize those thoughts into a written personal story, and then record them as videos for classmates, family, and their school community.

The immersive learning opportunities offered by SPIRIT SERIES provide schools with a classroom-proven way to support the very real needs of students impacted by the pandemic, specifically in the realm of social and emotional learning and interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills. Maine schools will have access to three SPIRIT SERIES programs: SpiritCorps—21st Century literacy and storytelling intensives for 7th to 10th graders; SpiritSeries—drama-based literacy and character education interventions for 4th to 7th graders; and SpiritWorks—professional development workshops for educators.

“We’re excited to partner with SPIRIT SERIES to offer this immersive, interdisciplinary experience to schools and students across Maine,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The SERIES provides students with the ability to develop and share their personal stories and build meaningful connections with one another and their communities. That’s really important given how the pandemic made that kind of connection difficult.”

SPIRIT SERIES has successfully delivered programming in Maine since 2014, already serving over 6,000 students in more than 20 partner schools statewide. “After working with schools in Maine for the past eight years, we are excited to partner with the Department of Education to bring our programming to all corners of the state,” said Kent Pierce, SPIRIT SERIES New England Executive Director. “Using the power of story, the SERIES inspires self-discovery and reflection around character attributes that are key to personal growth and civic-mindedness.”

“Every student, regardless of their writing proficiency level, was engaged and they were engaged from the onset. Because this age group is often inward looking, they’re very concerned about themselves—so right away they were hooked on the process,” said Aaron Filieo at Cape Elizabeth Middle School. “We have standards around writing development and writing structure. Writing and presenting these SpiritCorps stories checked those boxes and then some.”

For schools that would like to learn more about this exciting opportunity, please contact the Department of Education through this interest form.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso Participates in Read to ME Challenge

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso recently took part in the Read to ME Challenge by reading Poppy by the author Avi to Mrs. Perkins’ fourth grade class at Canal Elementary School. Following the reading, Camuso and the students learned about and dissected owl pellets.

Maine’s Read to ME Challenge is a month-long campaign every February to promote the importance of literacy for all of Maine’s students, regardless of age. In its seventh year, the campaign sponsored by the Maine Department of Education encourages adults to read to children for 15 minutes, capture that moment via a photo or a video, post it to social media using the hashtag #ReadtoME, and challenge others to do the same.

There’s still plenty of time to join the Read to ME Challenge and February break is the perfect opportunity to grab one of your favorite stories and read to a child in your life.

Schools, families, and community organizations can find a Read to ME toolkit and resources on the Department of Education website and the Department continues to share videos, photos, and updates from the Challenge all month long on social media.

Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta Participates in the Read to ME Challenge

Maine Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta visited two schools last week to participate in the Read to ME Challenge. His first stop was at Sacopee Valley Middle School, where he visited Mrs. Bryant’s 4th grade class of young mathematicians and scientists who shared all they knew about geometry, astronomy, space travel, and even the seasons. Chuhta read A Computer Called Katherine written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison, that tells the remarkable and true story of Katherine Johnson and her pioneering work at NASA.

He next travelled to Bonny Eagle Middle School, where he met the talented writers and scholars in Mrs. Deering’s 6th grade classroom. While there, he read two student written stories found in the outstanding anthology Shadowboxing, published by the Portland-based nonprofit organization, The Telling Room.

DanReadtoMEChallengeThe Read to ME Challenge is month-long public awareness campaign to promote the importance of literacy for all of Maine’s students, regardless of age. The challenge encourages adults to read to children for 15 minutes, capture that moment via a photo or a video, and then post it to social media and challenge others to do the same using the hashtag #ReadtoME.

Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin launched the Read to ME challenge earlier this month with second graders at Solon Elementary School, and educators, parents, and families across the state continue to post about their reading adventures. There’s still plenty of time this month to grab a favorite book to read aloud to a young person and share as part of the Read to ME challenge.