Maine School Garden Day Brings Educators Around the State to Trenton Elementary School

(Whitney Ciancetta of Trenton Elementary School, describes their school’s greenhouse and gardens.)

The Maine School Garden Network recently convened 65 teachers from around the state at its annual “Maine School Garden Day” at Trenton Elementary School.  The purpose of the event was to provide preK-12 teachers currently or potentially involved with school gardens a day of workshops and networking.

The day included presentations, workshops, a lunch of local produce, and a tour of Trenton Elementary School’s greenhouse, gardens and outdoor education center and nature trails.  Guest presenters included Erika Verrier, Program Director of Maine School Garden Network, Willie Sayer Grenier of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC), 2019 MAITC Teacher of the Year, Lynn Snow, Maine FFA (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) State President Graham Berry, and many others.  Presentations also included information on establishing school orchards by ReTreeUS, seed saving techcniques, information on bees, and on native plants, as well as other subjects.  Afternoon workshops covered an array of topics of interest to teachers with school gardens.

The day provided participating teachers with valuable information and resources related to ensuring the success of their school gardens.  Erik Verrier of Maine School Garden Network (MSGN) urged all teachers to complete the MSGN online School Garden Survey so that they could continue to network with each other and additional interested teachers, and so that MSGN would be know how to best serve their needs.

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Lynn Snow, 2019 MAITC Teacher of the Year, discusses in her keynote address the range of academics that may be achieved through school gardens.

MAITC 2019 Teacher of the Year, Lynn Snow, a 5th grade Science and English teacher at Thomaston Grammar School, described ways in which their school garden helped students acquire skills across numerous academic areas, as well as areas related to important life skills such as taking initiative and perseverance.

Graham Berry, Maine FFA State President, let teachers know that Maine FFA represented many other areas beyond farming relevant to the field of agriculture and natural resources.  He informed the group that any of them with students grades 7-12 would qualify to have an FFA chapter at their school, helping students to access numerous opportunities encompassing competitions, leadership skills, travel, scholarships, and an overall greater appreciation of agriculture and natural resources.

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Graham Berry, Maine FFA State President, describes the advantages associated with FFA chapter membership for students grades 7-12.

For more information on Maine School Garden Network, please contact Erika Verrier, Program Director:  msgncoordinator@gmail.com  (207) 612-8911 or email  info@msgn.org

For more information on starting an FFA chapter for students grades 7-12, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education, doug.robertson@maine.gov  (207) 624-6744

Building School Capacity Through Community Collaboration

On June 12, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) is joining the Maine Resilience Building Network (MRBN) to provide a free, full-day opportunity for school and community prevention partners to learn and think about ways to collaborate to address challenging topics such as mental health, substance use, and student health.

Participants will learn about resources and funding that is available to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive activities and programs that are focused on supporting safe and healthy students.

All school personnel who are familiar with their school district’s Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and are knowledgeable of their school’s goals to provide students with access to a well-rounded education and to improve school conditions for student learning are encouraged to participate.

All community prevention partners who have the tools and resources to address safe, healthy, supportive and drug-free environments and are wanting to work with schools to address problems that relate to mental health and substance use are encouraged to participate.

In addition, pediatrician Dr. Ken Ginsburg, via Zoom from Philadelphia, will engage with participants to discuss strength based approaches to reaching teens through school and community engagement efforts.

The day’s agenda will also include: school and community prevention partners’ success stories; a panel presentation with representation from Maine DOE, programs within Maine DHHS, MRBN, and the CAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) Council; an overview of Dr. Ginsburg’s Building Blocks of Resilience (the 7Cs); and facilitated discussion.

This learning opportunity will be held in the Bangor Savings Bank in Augusta on June 12, 2019, beginning at 8:30am and ending by 4:00pm.  Lunch will be provided.

Registration and an agenda for the day can be found here.  Registration closes June 4, 2019

For more information or to ask questions, please contact Sarah Adkins, Student Assistance Coordinator at the Maine DOE at sarah.adkins@maine.gov, 624-6685, or Kini-Ana Tinkham, Interim Executive Director, Maine Resilience Building Network at kini.tinkham@gmail.com.

School Health Annual Reporting Window is Open

The Department is announcing that the School Health Annual Report is now available through the Reporting Calendar. The reporting window closes on July 31, 2019. This report contains both required reporting components for all schools, public, charter, and private, as well as an optional section. As a reminder, we will be collecting only one report for every school administrative unit. In the past, this report has been done by each school. The reporting link is available through the calendar; the superintendent will determine who will compile and submit the data from all schools within the SAU. The data does not need to be submitted by your health staff; it can be entered by whomever the Superintendent determines is appropriate.

You may preview and print the reporting tool in order to aid data collection among your schools. The following is a list of the data points that are being collected:

  • Number of students screened for distance acuity, near acuity, and hearing in the required grades and the number of students referred/number of students with completed referral (required reporting per Chapter 45)
  • Summary of epinephrine administration (required reporting per Chapter 40)
  • Staffing levels for health services (direct services, supplemental staff, special assignments, supervisory position provided by RN, LPN, and health aides)
  • Number of students with a diagnosis (from a health care provider) of asthma, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, seizure disorder, life threatening allergy
  • Health office visits & disposition (number of students seen face to face by RN, LPN, health aide and resulting disposition: return to class, sent home, or 911 call)

Collecting school health data informs local, state, and national student health policy and helps to promote best practices in school health services. Creating data driven polices to advocate for the needs of students, we can increase evidence-based school nursing practice and improve youth health outcomes.

The School Health Annual Report summary for 2017-18 is available if you are interested.

If you have questions about the School Health Annual Report please contact the School Nurse Consultant, Emily Poland at Emily.Poland@Maine.gov or 207-624-6688.

 

 

School Safety and Security Bulletin: Children Healing After Crisis

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinckley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at 207-624-6886 or pat.hinckley@maine.gov. 

Update on Maine Department of Education’s MLTI Plan- Post June 2020

The Maine Department of Education, through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI), has been providing 7th and 8th grade students and teachers access to, and support for, educational technology since 2002. While the goal has remained constant – provide State support for access to technology-enhanced education experiences for all students – the program has changed in many ways, and will continue to grow and evolve in the future. The Department remains committed to this goal.

As many school administrative units (SAUs) are aware, the final contracts for the MLTI program are set to expire on June 30, 2020. Included in the Department’s biennium budget package, which is currently being considered by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, are funds to support a “bridge year” for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Department is actively working with current vendors to secure agreements for this “bridge year,” which will enable SAUs to maintain existing levels of technology support. The details of these agreements are still being developed, so the following information is very preliminary:

  • SAUs in cohort 4 (lease begun in 2016) for 7th & 8th grade and staff devices will keep their current devices for SY 2020-2021. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently leasing additional devices (elementary or high school student and staff devices) from the Department will continue to lease those devices from the Department at a reduced cost of $73/ iPad; $118/ laptop. They will continue to receive the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development they have been receiving. After SY 2020-2021, these SAUs will have the option to buy out their devices at the 2015 rates, $28/ iPad and $48/ laptop.
  • SAUs who are currently receiving MLTI grants from the Department that are set to expire in June of 2020 will be granted an additional year of the same grant award as the previous 4 years.

The Department would use the additional time afforded by the “bridge year” to meet with stakeholders throughout the state, collecting feedback on what has worked well in the past, as well as innovative ideas about the future of MLTI. Discussions would include topics such as portable computer devices, device management and deployment, software, wireless networking, technical support, and professional development, as well as financial models to support these efforts. The Department would also convene a workgroup to synthesize this information and help to create a plan for the State.

Below is the estimated timeline for MLTI through 2021.

  • May 2019 – August 2020: The Department holds meetings with stakeholders regarding the future of MLTI (post SY 2020-2021) and convenes a workgroup to develop a State plan
  • July 2020 – June 30, 2021: Bridge Year
  • October 2020: The Department announces plan for MLTI post SY 2020-2021 (including the release of any necessary RFPs)
  • July 2021: SAUs have the option to buy out devices; launch of the future MLTI

For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, contact Beth Lambert, beth.lambert@maine.gov, 207-624-6642.