Introducing the Maine Association for Improving Literacy (MAIL) – a Statewide Literacy Network

Literacy, as defined by the Maine Department of Education, is the ability to construct and convey meaning for a variety of purposes through an array of contextual forms and symbols, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.

Literacy advocate and expert Pam Allyn says, “Reading is like breathing in and writing is like breathing out.”

We can blend these thoughts to substantiate literacy as the overarching key to educational equity which enables communication and comprehension. Literacy achievement is pivotal for ensuring students have access to the world of today and tomorrow, The Maine DOE has launched a Literacy Network to strengthen statewide literacy educational practices.

During the Spring of 2022, an introductory meeting began the process of envisioning the possibilities, priorities, and efforts of the Maine Association for Improving Literacy (MAIL). This network, open to all educators and those interested in improving literacy education efforts to benefit students, is being developed to strengthen statewide literacy practices. The Maine DOE plans to facilitate this group through:

  • professional text and article studies,
  • opportunities to share problems of practice,
  • conversations across the state,
  • sharing resources,
  • state updates, and
  • development of professional presentations for the benefit of all of Maine’s educators, schools, districts, and communities.

The attendees at the introductory meeting began the process of visioning what a literacy network might set for goals and products. The hopes of this group included:

  • Ensuring children can read and love to read.
  • Developing outcomes to address the needs and diversity of Maine’s current population.
  • Supporting districts, teachers, specialists, etc. to build common ground, common language, common knowledge that leads to greater continuity of practice across the state of Maine.

As the new school year begins, MAIL will move forward, continuing to build vision and purpose. Plans for this year include:

  1. Holding monthly meetings, beginning in October. The tentative schedule for 2022-2023 School Year is as follows.
    Second Thursday of each month from 3:30 pm-4:30 pm:

    • October 13, 2022
    • November 10, 2022
    • December 8, 2022
    • January 12, 2023
    • February 9, 2023
    • March 9, 2023
    • April 13, 2023
    • May 11, 2023
    • June 8, 2023
  2. Offering 2 text study opportunities to spark discussion.
  3. Identifying the needs across the state and developing strategies to support and strengthen instructional literacy knowledge, messaging, and practices.
  4. Beginning to develop a toolkit of resources and information.

If you are interested in joining this literacy network and helping to develop the vision for a statewide effort to improve literacy, please register at the link below. There is no commitment, but your registration will ensure that you receive information and mailings.

Register for the Maine Association for Improving Literacy

If you have additional questions about MAIL, please do not hesitate to contact Dee Saucier, Inclusive Education Literacy Specialist, ( or Lee Anne Larsen, Coordinator of Early Learning (


WEBINAR: Screening for Early Literacy Milestones, Dyslexia, and other Reading Disabilities

Dr. Nadine Gaab will host a webinar, “Screening for Early Literacy Milestones, Dyslexia, and other Reading Disabilities: The WHY, WHEN, WHO, HOW and WHERE on  September 28, 2022 from 3:30-4:30 pm

Audience: General & Special Educators, Administrators, Parents, Caregivers and Community Members Interested in Early Literacy, Dyslexia & Reading Disabilities

Cost: FREE please register for ZOOM Link here

This session will address:

  • Screening for literacy milestones and reading disabilities, including developmental dyslexia in early grades (pre-K-2nd)
  • The WHY behind the screening movement with a strong focus on the neurobiology of reading development and reading disabilities.
  • The ‘Dyslexia Paradox’
  • Important constructs to screen for with a developmental lens
  • Practical steps for implementing a screening protocol in various educational or clinical settings.
  • Different screening instruments and criteria for picking the right screener
  • Educational and clinical implications of screening and early identification in young children.

About the Presenter: Dr. Nadine Gaab is an Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Nadine’s work focuses on developmental cognitive neuroscience, particularly in language-based learning disabilities. Her research in the GaabLab examines the development of typical and atypical language and literacy skills in the pediatric brain and pre-markers of learning disabilities and the development of screening tools for screening literacy milestones and dyslexia.

She is the 2019 recipient of the LDA Award (Learning Disabilities Association America) for her work on learning disabilities. In 2018, Nadine was presented with the Allan C. Crocker Award for her advocacy on behalf of children with dyslexia and reading disabilities and efforts around the recent passage of the Massachusetts screening legislation (under the guidance of Decoding Dyslexia MA). She has also been recognized by the International Dyslexia Association in her receipt of the Norman Geschwind Memorial lecture 2020 and the Alice H. Garside Award for outstanding leadership in advancing the science and advocacy of dyslexia. She is an international speaker, frequently presenting to teachers on the brain science of typical and atypical literacy development.

If there are additional questions please email Tracy (, Anne-Marie Adamson (Anne-Marie.Adamson@maine.gov_) or Dee Saucier (

Governor Mills Announces Statewide Expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Maine

During a virtual discussion with iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton at the National Governor’s Association today, Governor Janet Mills announced that the State of Maine is launching a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2023.

The Imagination Library of Maine will mail high-quality, age appropriate books to children from birth until age five every month, no matter their family’s income. The program is dedicated to improving the lives of children by inspiring a love of reading with books, and is free to enrolled children and families.

As part of the recent bipartisan budget, Governor Mills proposed, and the Legislature approved, a $200,000 investment to implement the program, which will be administered by the Maine State Library. Together, The Dollywood Foundation and the Maine State Library will develop an implementation strategy this year with local libraries, community non-profits, the Maine Department of Education, and school systems – to establish and expand the program in the coming years. By the end of 2023, the State of Maine and the Imagination Library hope to have sent an initial 106,000 books to more than 14,000 children across Maine.

Maine is the 13th state to commit to achieving statewide coverage of the program.

“We know the simple act of reading to a child stimulates brain development, reduces stress and anxiety, builds vocabulary, and develops the literacy skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Today, we are taking another step forward to help make that happen by delivering books free of charge to Maine kids. Maine is proud to join the family of states that participate in the Imagination Library. On behalf of all Maine children who will be served by this program in the years to come, I thank the one-and-only Dolly Parton.”

“The Maine State Library is excited to be able to administer this program that will eventually connect tens of thousands of families and Maine children with wonderful books sent right to their homes,” said State Librarian James Ritter. “Working with Maine’s libraries and other organizations, we will have the opportunity to foster and grow generations of young readers through the Imagination Library, and for every child that learns to read, we know we are helping to build a community of lifelong learners.”

The Imagination Library builds on the Mills Administration’s commitment to increasing childhood literacy in Maine, including investing $10 million through the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to create and expand pre-school programs across Maine.

The Administration is also creating “Literacy for ME 2.0” to revamp its statewide literacy plan and the Maine Association for Improving Literacy to mobilize a network of educators who are committed to supporting statewide literacy efforts.

This summer, the Maine Department of Education will also be hosting its first ever Educator Summit to train our teachers in the most effective, evidence-based practices for increasing childhood literacy. Every year, the Department also sponsors the statewide “Read to Me” challenge to encourage adults to read to their children.

In 2019, about 57 percent of fourth grade students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency reading levels while 33 percent of students who are not eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency reading levels. However, Maine is ranked fifth in the nation for the percentage of parents with children aged 0 to 5 who read to their children every day (46.9 percent).

Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 as a way to distribute books to the impoverished Tennessee county where she grew up. The State of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide, and, since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries. As of June 2022, the Imagination Library has gifted 184,615,046 books with over 2 million kids currently registered.

According to The Dollywood Foundation, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, making that time period critically important for their development that can be enhanced by reading books. The Foundation notes that daily readings by parents or caregivers provide the greatest opportunity to prepare their child for school and that literacy is a major social determinant of health and economic impact in the long-term.

About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted well over 182 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland. The Imagination Library mails more than 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. For more information, please visit

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. 

woman in glasses smiling
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. 

woman with dark hair in glasses smiling
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:

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,