Maine School Nurse Summer Institute Brings Together 150 School Nurses from Across Maine

Nearly 150 school nurses from across Maine gathered this week in Belfast for the Maine School Nurse Summer Institute. This was the first in person Summer Institute in four years and allowed school nurses to come together to build community and connection, participate in professional learning opportunities, identify strategies to care for themselves in the same way they care for so many others, and share challenges and opportunities for themselves and the school nursing field following several years on the frontlines of combating COVID and keeping their schools safe.  

Nurses at the Summer Institute were guided by Florence Nightingale’s words to “let us never consider ourselves finished nurses; we must be learning all of our lives.” 

Maine Education Commissioner delivered a keynote address during the Summer Institute and told the school nurses in attendance: “You take care of everyone else…please take care of yourselves.” 

Commissioner Makin Speaking“I am in awe of the work you have done. You are singlehandedly running an ER in your schools and facing a revolving door of kids who need you and search your face for assurance that everything will be alright,” said Makin. “The work you do in general is so huge, and during COVID-19 it was over the top. It is so appreciated.” 

Makin honored the work done by school nurses during the pandemic and talked about the toll it takes on people to be in that constant state of being on alert and dealing with trauma. She urged the nurses to pay close attention to their wellbeing.  

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Chief Child Health Officer Amy Belisle also spoke, detailing the many heroic efforts of school nurses during the pandemic to keep students safe and schools safe and open.  

Nearly 9 million items of PPE were delivered to schools between July of 2020 and December of 2021, with school nurses at the center of managing those incoming deliveries, teaching staff and students on using PPE, developing usage policies, and troubleshooting. There were 242,000 COVID-19 antigen tests provided to schools since 2020, 1 million at home test kids provided to schools for student, staff, and family use, and school nurses helped facilitate more than 150,000 polled tests during the pandemic. And school nurses managed implementing the frequent updates and shifts of the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for schools. 

School nurses also participated in the school health advisory group, that started out meeting weekly in the summer of 2020 to meet with state health and education leaders on COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and nurses who were part of the state’s School Public Health Response Team responded to 3,700 calls and 12,000 emails related to COVID-19, handled 34,000 cases, and ran 540 vaccine clinics.  

Nurses had an opportunity to process and discuss the stress and strain caused by the pandemic, strategies to address their wellbeing, and how to move forward in this new phase of the pandemic. The Summer Institute featured a wide variety of workshops and professional learning opportunities around adjusting to the wake of the pandemic, social emotional learning, interprofessional collaboration & nursing, the school nurse role in a crisis, and children’s health related topics including handling common school injuries, managing diabetes, seizures, and oral health.  

Brad Hurtig SpeakingBrad Hurtig delivered a keynote address, sharing with the audience his personal story of courage and resilience after losing both hands as a teenager after an accident involving a 500 ton power press.  

“We all face challenges,” said Hurtig. “How you handle adversity will define your life and being able to handle it will set you apart.” 

Hurtig shared feeling like everything had been taken away from him in those first few months after his accident and how he was laying on the couch thinking “why me?”. But step by step he found a way forward, often through the help of his football coach. He was able to return to the football field and went on to be first team all-state his senior year. And his prosthetics enabled him to do things with hands once again.  

“When you want something, lean in and relentlessly go after it. Find a way,” Hurtig said, sharing the message he delivers at schools across the country. “If you are willing to have the right mindset, to adapt, to have perseverance, then you will find a way.” 

Hurtig connected his experience to what school nurses have faced over the past few years and their power to help students find a way.  

“You’ve had a rough few years and you know all about how to adapt and do things differently,” said Hurtig. “There is no better reward than helping another human being. I know your moments with students can be brief but find ways to show that they matter and that their life counts. It goes a long way for a struggling child.” 

2022 Foreign Language Association of Maine Summer Institute

The Foreign Language Association of Maine in collaboration with The University of Maine Department of Modern Languages and Classics invites you to the 2022 FLAME Summer Institute.

Date: August 22, 2022
Place: University of Maine, Orono. Bennett Hall Bldg.
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Cost: Registration is $50 with FLAME membership 2022-2023. $60 without FLAME membership. Registration for new teachers and student teachers (0-1 year of experience)$30 with FLAME membership 2022-2023, $40 without membership (learn more about becoming a FLAME member here).

Keynote Speaker: Gisela Hoecherl-Alden, Assistant Dean & Director of Language Instruction Professor of the Practice in German at Boston University.

Gisela Hoecherl-Alden is currently Professor of German and Assistant Dean and Director of Language Instruction at Boston University, where she works closely with the faculty in over 20 language programs. She recently received ACTFL’s Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Culture and has also served on the boards of the Northeast Conference, American Association of Teachers of German, and FLAME.

Keynote Address: Starting Strong: Where Do We Go From Here?

As we reimagine our language classes, we let our experiences teaching during the pandemic and our students’ aspirations and fears guide us. While we ensure that our students engage with products, practices and perspectives from target language communities, we also help them move from basic concepts to big questions, so they learn to think critically about how social structures impact daily lives. The talk explores how and why our language classes are important sites for connecting with social justice issues and highlights approaches to making them relevant for a changed reality.

Session Highlights:

  • 5 Tricks to start the year strong! Ready to go activities for the first week of school
  • How to Integrate Cooking into Language Learning?
  • How to Love Teaching and Prevent Burnout
  • Card talk in Bulgarian
  • Creating Comprehensible Input Activities with Authentic Resources
  • Responsibility of the Cultural & Language Broker
  • How to create a lesson from an authentic game

For a full list of sessions and descriptions click here.

Register here for the Summer Institute!
(Paypal link).
Deadline to register is August 15, 2022

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 imaginationlibrary.com

Media Release: Computer Science Education Showcase Highlights Maine’s Interdisciplinary, Project-Based Approach to Computer Science

Students and educators from across Maine showed off their computer science skills at the Maine Department of Education’s Computer Science Education Showcase at the Roux Institute. The showcase highlighted innovative computer science education programs in schools across Maine, with hands on, interactive exhibits featuring robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D design and printing, coding, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), data science, cybersecurity, and more.

Maine has long been a leader in integrating technology and learning, and that holds true with computer science education. Instead of computer science being a separate course only some students take or an “add on”, Maine provides the support and resources to encourage all schools to provide interdisciplinary, project-based computer science learning experiences that incorporate computational and critical thinking, innovation and design processes, and applied learning at all grade levels and across all subject areas.

The Computer Science Education Showcase illustrated the state’s approach, with VR headsets transporting users to Maine State Parks which a student developed over the course of last summer, 3D printing demonstrations, a full-size arcade game developed by students, 6th graders demonstrating their block coding skills, a wide array of apps and websites around difference content areas created by students, and a robotics room with world champion level robotics teams. All Pre-K through 12 grade levels were represented, with educators highlighting how they were incorporating computer science education at younger grade levels, including having 5th grade students partner with kindergarten students to teach them basic coding skills and a new mobile makerspace that will rotate between elementary schools offering computer science education for Pre-K through fifth grade students.

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy, 2022 Presidential Scholar Sirohi Kumar, Bethel second grade teacher Alice Lee, Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray, and the Roux Institute’s Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett participated in a panel discussion on how Maine is paving the way for students and teachers to be successful in the world of computer science. The discussion focused on reaching more students, making computer science more accessible to all, taking an interdisciplinary approach to computer science education, and how the critical and computational thinking, collaboration, and creative design skills developed through computer science education are critical to success in nearly every career and 21st century life.

“Computer science is about approaching a problem with optimism, logic, critical thinking, design thinking, creativity and vision. We need to make computer science accessible for every educator and every student and continue this tradition that we’ve started in Maine of interdisciplinary, project-based computer science education across all grades that is really contextualized in a way that is meaningful for kids,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

“There is this perception of computer science that it’s for an elite group, and in reality that’s not the case–it can be used for everything including art, science, and music. I think computer science education should be framed for everyone at a very young age that computer science can solve whatever problem or scenario you have regardless of what field it is,” said Sirohi Kumar a 2022 Presidential Scholar from Mount Desert Island.

“The more we can engage with computer science at the Pre-K through 12 level, the more ready everyone is for whatever comes afterward. These students here tonight are getting a head start with these skills. It’s going to matter for your futures,” said University of Maine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy.

“Building those skills of computer science at the youngest level—problem solving, debugging, innovating, and creativity. These basic skills are really what our young learners need to take off academically,” said second grade teacher Alice Lee from Bethel.

“We now live in a world that is immersed in big data and the amount of data being generated is so tremendous that this next generation has this great opportunity to enter so many career fields where computer science has a touchpoint. It’s not just being a software engineer or computer scientist, but all of us can learn and solve problems with big data and the amount of careers that can come out of good computer science education is endless,” said Jackson Labs Vice President for Education Charlie Wray.

“This concept of computer science for everyone is important. These competencies and literacies are no longer siloed; they work across the spectrum. The logic and reasoning that comes from computer science paired with the creativity of a liberal arts education, it’s the intersection of these skills that all of us have the potential to develop that is going to propel the Maine economy and the Maine workforce of the future,” said the Roux Institute’s Chief Administrative Officer Chris Mallett.

The Maine Department of Education and the Mills administration continue to support and bolster computer science education in Maine:

  • The DOE works continually with educators, business leaders, and others to update and adapt Maine’s statewide computer science education plan and the Department’s work is guided by seven key principles;
  • Governor Mills signed onto Governor Hutchison’s computer science compact;
  • The DOE hired a computer science specialist to work with schools and has committed additional resources to support educators and schools in integrating authentic, project-based Pre-K through 12 computer science education;
  • Governor Mills signed a bill providing $50,000 in professional learning support for educators on computer science, with an emphasis on educators in rural areas and serving marginalized communities, and another $50,000 will be awarded this coming school year;
  • Next month’s Educator Summit will feature several professional learning opportunities for educators on computer science education;
  • The DOE developed its first Pre-K through 12 online computer science learning progression last year focused on computational thinking and a new progression will soon be launched; and
  • The DOE is doubling the number of Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Ambassadors that work in schools to support the integration of technology and learning, including computer science education.

###

2022 Annual Year-End Transportation Reports Are Open

The Maine Department of Education is announcing that the 2022 Annual Year-End Transportation Reports, EFT-21 Safety and Training and EFT-24 Vehicle Mileage and Operations, are open.

School entities may access the reports through the Maine DOE Transportation data system.  Both annual reports are located under Annual Data.  Instructions to complete transportation reports are located on the Maine DOE Neo Dashboard. Please note that the final step to complete your report submittals is Superintendent authorization.  Both transportation reports are due by October 15, 2022.

Timely annual transportation reports provide critical data to support our Maine transportation mission that transportation provided shall conserve the comfort, safety, and welfare of the students conveyed.

If you have questions about access to the transportation reports and technical questions, please contact the Maine DOE Help Desk MEDMS MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov.