Cultivating Positivity at Noble Middle School

Submitted by Melinda Luders, Assistant Principal at Noble Middle School. 

If you need a dose of positivity and lots of smiles to start your day, just join the parent morning drop off line at Noble Middle School in Berwick, Maine! It doesn’t matter what day of the week you choose or the weather outside, the morning crew will be there to greet you with a smile. The crew consists of principal Mike Roberts, SRO Fogg and PE teacher Becky Good. We asked Becky to share her story.

It all began a year ago when I volunteered to trade in my lunch and recess duties for everyday morning duty. As the first couple weeks went by I noticed that not everyone was as happy as I, so I got to thinking … How could I start their morning off on more of a positive note? What could I do to make them smile? After all, good energy and positive vibes are contagious; I wanted to build the momentum in our community.

I decided to print and laminate different smile emojis and mount them on paint stirrers. I found that by putting the smiley face in front of my face it would almost always elicit a smile from my passers by. As the weeks and months went by, more and more parents and children arrived with smiles on their faces wondering what crazy thing Ms. Good would be doing next. The response I love the most is when a parent rolls the window down and says, ‘Thanks for making me smile!’

One morning a parent and her four passengers arrived holding emojis up in front of their faces giving back smiles. Our greetings then evolved from smiles to other funny emojis, big head cut outs, Wednesday’s hump day hat, rollerblading in Bruins attire, serving up hot chocolate and sometimes even having a real fire pit where we roast marshmallows for some of the lucky students being dropped off.

The smiles and the kindness kept spreading throughout the school year. One parent even nicknamed Friday as ‘Kind Friday’. He gives each of us a Kind bar as he passes through the line. Another dad would bring coffee and tea on Thursdays. It’s not uncommon that the three of us often get handed an occasional whoopie pie as well.

Another school year has begun and the smiles and waves are still going strong. Even the new 6th grade parents have jumped on board with the positive start to the day. “I couldn’t think of a better way to begin my day.”

BackPack Team at Gorham School District Receives $25,000 Neighborhood Assist Grant

Gorham School District was one of 40 recipients nationwide to receive a $25,000 Neighborhood Assist Grant. They received the award for the efforts with their BackPack Program and School Garden, an initiative that provides food for students and families experiencing food insecurity in the community.

This past June, State Farm accepted 2,000 applications for their Neighborhood Assist grant program.  Submissions represented causes from throughout the country which focused on education, safety, and community development initiatives.  A review committee narrowed down the submissions to the top 200 finalists which were posted online and voted on by the public.  The 40 causes with the most votes each won a $25,000 grant.

Gorham’s BackPack Team Administers weekend food and snack bags to students, offering a school food pantry at the high school, and by growing a school garden which provides fresh produce to the local food pantry during the growing season. The BackPack Program sends food home every weekend with students who would otherwise not have enough food to last through the weekend. Learn more here.

School Administrators holding shopping bags of food.

Priority Notice: Two Free Emergency Management Training Sessions Available This Week Only

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students, is pleased to offer:

Developing Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) K-12 101 Train-the-Trainer (TtT) Training

When: Thursday, September 26, 2019
Time: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (Registration begins at 7:30 am)
Where: Senator Inn, 284 Western Ave, Augusta, ME 04330

With this K-12 101 TtT TBR, an expert team will train potential master trainers on the recommended six-step planning process to create a high-quality school EOP, which includes the following:

Step 1: Forming a Collaborative Planning Team
Step 2: Understanding the Situation
Step 3: Determining Goals and Objectives
Step 4: Plan Development
Step 5: Plan Preparation, Review, and Approval
Step 6: Plan Implementation and Maintenance

Read the full description and register here »

K-12 101 Train-the-Educator & SITE ASSESS Trainings

When: Friday, September 27, 2019
Time: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm (Registration begins at 7:30 am)
Where: Senator Inn, 284 Western Ave, Augusta, ME 04330

With this K-12 101 training, an expert team will provide an overview of a recommended six-step planning process to create a high-quality school EOP, which includes:

Step 1: Forming a Collaborative Planning Team
Step 2: Understanding the Situation
Step 3: Determining Goals and Objectives
Step 4: Plan Development
Step 5: Plan Preparation, Review, and Approval
Step 6: Plan Implementation and Maintenance

Read the full description and register here »

Dedham School Receives Riding for Focus Mountain Biking Grant

Submitted by Tim Pearson, Physical Education/Health Teacher at Dedham School, part of AOS #47.

Dedham School is excited to announce it is a grant recipient for the 2019-2020 Specialized Foundation Riding for Focus school program.

Riding for Focus is a school-based program designed to provide schools with everything they need to get middle school students riding bikes, including a turnkey physical education curriculum, comprehensive teacher training, and a fleet of bike and safety equipment.

Bikes lined up on rack

Riding for Focus provides a combination of cycling, fitness, and academic performance, all while instilling a lifelong passion for cycling for students who participate in the program.

Additionally, the program explores and tracks how cycling can positively affect student learning, health, and wellbeing with a focus for those with learning differences such as ADHD.  Starting this fall, mountain biking will be a regular part of all middle school students curriculum.

For more information contact Tim Pearson at or 207-843-6498 or check out this YouTube Video about Riding for Focus School Cycling Program.

Seeking Additional Maine Schools for Social Emotional Learning Pilot Program

The Tobacco and Substance Use Prevention and Control Program with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MECDC), in partnership with the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE), is seeking additional schools that would like to implement the social emotional learning (SEL) program, Second Step, funded by a grant through MECDC.

The MECDC received a portion of the State Opioid Response grant to provide community-based substance use prevention as part of the grant’s larger goal to reduce the prevalence of non-medical use of opioids. The Second Step Curriculum is research-based and available for PreK through 8th grades. Many of the skills within the Maine Learning Results for health education in elementary school align with goals of Second Step, such as nurturing skill building and preventing problematic developmental behaviors that are part of the trajectory towards substance use.

If you are interested in adding Second Step to your school’s curriculum and you are not already part of the MECDC pilot or have not already been contacted by the Maine CDC regarding your application from the last round, please complete this brief 5 minute application survey which will be open for submissions until Friday, October 11, 2019.

Please note: If you applied in the last round and have not heard from the Maine DOE or CDC, please feel free to apply again. We may not have had enough information from you in the last application to proceed.

For more information, contact at Maine CDC or at the Department of Education.