Michelle Strattard Named 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year

Michelle Strattard, a teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School has been named the 2021 Maine History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education. The selection of the award winner in Maine is facilitated by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) by Joe Schmidt, Social Studies Specialist for the Maine DOE.

In 2021, parents, students, teachers, and administrators nationwide nominated a record 8,510 teachers for the History Teacher of the Year Award. Amidst a very competitive field, Michelle rose to the top in Maine.

In 2012, Michelle earned a Master’s of Teaching and Learning from the University of Southern Maine after completing the Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP). She previously earned a BA in History from the same institution.  As an alumna of Gray-New Gloucester High school, she was proud to join their faculty in 2015, eventually coming to teach the very class that inspired her love of local history as a student, Shaker Studies. She brings this love of local history to the classroom so students can see where they fit into the larger picture. Students engage in historical research, exploration, and inquiry in the classroom to build academic skills and become engaged citizens.  Michelle also serves as a board member of the Maine Council for the Social Studies, helping to support social studies educators around the state.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Michelle’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in Maine.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and US Territories. In fall 2021, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

The 10 finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on Thursday, September 9, with the national winner announced later that month. An in-person ceremony for the winner will be held in late fall 2021, health and safety protocols permitting. Support for the National History Teacher of the Year Award ceremony is provided by HISTORY®

Nominations for the 2022 History Teacher of the Year awards are now open. Students, parents, colleagues, and supervisors may nominate K-12 teachers for the award by visiting gilderlehrman.org/nhtoy. The deadline for 2022 nominations is March 31, 2022.

Maine Students Earn Honors at the National History Day

Students from across Maine impressed judges from across the globe in the National History Day (NHD) competition. NHD is an international program focusing on studying and learning history in middle and high schools. Students choose a specific topic that fits in with the year’s theme and lead an extensive research project. NHD culminates in the presenting of the students’ projects to experts from across the field of history. The theme of the 2021 NHD contest was “Communication in History: the Key to Understanding.”

Several Maine students were given the Outstanding Affiliate Award. Jillian Muller, Charlotte McGreevy, and Brittany Carrier from Buckfield Jr./Sr. High school received this award for the documentary they created titled “Communicating with Children: How Fred Rogers Approached Tough Topics with Kids.” Uyen Nguyễn from John Bapst Memorial High school was also awarded for her website “United States Involvement in the Vietnam War: The Impacts of Multimedia ON Mainstream Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy.”

The highlight of the tournament for the state of Maine was Maya Faulstich, who took second place overall in the Individual Performance category. Maya, an eighth-grader from Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth, drew on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to create her project “A Climate Carol.”

Maya’s project illustrates how the Keep America Beautiful campaign in the 1950s-1970s had a lasting negative influence on how the public thinks about trash and litter and highlights how the campaign continues to influence public opinion today. Maya’s second-place finish is the highest place a Maine student has taken in the category of Individual Performance on NHD. Maya’s performance can be watched below. In addition, her research and process can be read here.

The Maine DOE congratulates all students and teachers involved in the competition on such an impressive showing.

More details on the NHD completion can be found on the official press release. Extensive information on Maya’s project can be found in her recent interview.

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani in collaboration with National History Day in Maine and Yarmouth School Department as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

June Wabanaki Conference Pays Tribute to 20th Anniversary of LD 291

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted close to 100 educators on Saturday, June 12th for a morning-long virtual recognition event that paid tribute to the 20th anniversary of the signing of LD 291, a requirement for the teaching of Wabanaki history and culture in Maine classrooms.

“While we understand that there is still a lot of work to be done, it was important to recognize that 20 years ago this important legislation was signed,” said Joe Schmidt, Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Learning and Social Studies Specialist. Schmidt helped plan the June conference. “We carefully planned this event to both look to the past, recognizing how we got here, and to the present and future by providing meaningful resources to support relevant, robust, and inclusive education for our students here in Maine.”

The conference opened with a video message from Governor Janet T. Mills, remarks from Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin, and a keynote by LD 291 legislative sponsor, Honorable Donna Loring and featured three strands of virtual, synchronous professional learning opportunities:

Opening Remarks: Video Message from Governor Mills
View Message 
Commissioner Makin & Honorable Donna Loring
View Recording
 

Strand 1 – Wabanaki People and Culture:

Intro to MicMac Language
Presenter: John Dennis
View Recording
Maine Indian Policy History, Racism, and the Future of Wabanaki Tribal Sovereignty
Presenter: Darren Ranco
View Recording
Wabanaki Diplomacy and LD 291: Storying Protocols as Political Will
Presenter: Nolan Altvater
View Recording
Strand 2 – Classroom Resources: Wabanaki Stories in Your Secondary Classroom
Presenter: Margo Lukens & Ashton Carmichael
View Recording
Wabanaki Studies in the Elementary classroom
Presenter: Brianne & Kaya Lolar
View Recording
Resources to extend knowledge of Wabanaki Culture and History
Presenter: Melanie Brown
View Recording
Strand 3 – Decolonization: Towards Decolonizing Education: Settler Colonialism and Empire Building in the Classroom
Presenter: Starr Kelly
View Recording
Equity, Decolonization, Anti-Racism and Wabanaki Studies: Portland Public Schools’ Journey to Fulfill the 2001 Wabanaki Studies Law
Presenter: Fiona Hopper
View Recording
Decolonial Mirrors & Shifting the Gaze to Anti-Racist Education
Presenter: Rebecca Sockbeson
View Recording

Further resources from each of the presentations are available on the 2021 Wabanaki Conference webpage. The webpage also features a video message from Senator Angus King recognizing the importance the 20th anniversary of L.D. 291 and the integration of Wabanaki history and culture in Maine education.

The Maine DOE has also recently collaborated with UMaine and other state organizations on a grant to support enhanced access, utilization of Wabanaki resources and provided interactive workshops hosted by Wabanaki REACH, in addition to many other professional learning opportunities offered by Department specialists and partners throughout the past several years to assist and support schools across Maine in understanding L.D. 291 and integrating Wabanaki culture and history into education programming.

Further Wabanaki education resources and contacts can be found on the Maine Department of Education Maine Native Studies Resources webpage

We look forward to working with schools, tribes, and education partners throughout Maine to expand these important efforts. For more information or to make a connection with the Maine DOE, reach out to Joe Schmidt at Joe.Schmidt@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: National Funding to Support Enhanced Access, Utilization of Wabanaki Resources

Image: Courtesy of the Hudson Museum HM7182.133

Collaborators on the project include partners from Raymond H. Fogler Library, the College of Education and Human Development and Native American Programs at UMaine, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Wabanaki Studies Working Group, the Maine Department of Education, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant of more than $59,000 to the University of Maine’s McGillicuddy Humanities Center to support development of a centralized digital portal that will improve access to Wabanaki historical and cultural resources and archival collections currently distributed across UMaine and, in the future, to incorporate collections curated by several external institutions.

“Teaching about the people whose land we inhabit today is crucial work and I am excited to be able to represent the Maine Department of Education (DOE) in support of this grant,” said Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt. “During my time at the Department I have strived to make sure that we remove barriers for educators when it comes to teaching about Maine Native Americans and from the start of her time at the Department, Commissioner Makin has made this one of her top priorities as well. By working to develop a centralized portal of historic artifacts, educators will be better equipped to develop and deliver inclusive and accurate curriculum related to Wabanaki history and culture. Through this grant, we will take another step in making sure that all of our students can see themselves as important contributors to the past and present of all that Maine has to offer.”

UMaine professor of English Margo Lukens, a faculty adviser to the McGillicuddy Humanities Center, will lead the interdisciplinary Wabanaki Resources Portal project, which seeks to enhance utilization of existing resources to promote the study of Wabanaki history and culture at the elementary, high school and post-secondary levels in Maine and to facilitate interdisciplinary academic and arts scholarship.

UMaine’s archival holdings related to Wabanaki history and culture are extensive, and include the collection of Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, an early twentieth-century independent scholar of Wabanaki history and culture; the Molly Spotted Elk Collection, which provides a Penobscot view of the United States and Europe; the Linda Gilbert Collection of Penobscot Indian Music featuring original audio recordings about traditional song and dance; and the Maine Indian Collection, one of the largest institutional collections of Wabanaki baskets and basketmaking materials and tools, which is curated by the Hudson Museum. The museum also maintains a collection of significant primary resources, particularly images portraying traditional Wabanaki activities such as basketmaking and harvesting.

Other Wabanaki artifacts stewarded by UMaine include photographs of Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people including prominent tribal members Andrew Sockalexis and Lucy Nicolar Poolaw, who was also known as Princess Watawahso, characteristic objects from the 1880s through today, and the Senator William S. Cohen Papers related to the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980. Fogler Library also maintains copies of recordings of Wabanaki speech and story now in the Library of Congress collection.

Much of the Wabanaki history and cultural material now housed in University of Maine collections is the intellectual and physical property of the Wabanaki tribes. A 2018 memorandum of understanding between UMaine and the Penobscot Nation delineates a process of artifact co-curation that includes tribal members to ensure culturally responsive care and use of archival material held by a nontribal organization. Maine’s Native American communities will be included in decision and policymaking related to the collections, including controlling access to culturally sensitive materials. UMaine is working to develop a similar memorandum of understanding with the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

Currently, access to UMaine’s resources is limited by siloed storage across multiple, unconnected locations and formats. Developing a centralized portal where digital copies of historic artifacts can be archived as searchable files will enhance interest in Wabanaki history and cultures while serving a diverse stakeholder base with interests in American history, literature, linguistics, law, art and natural sciences, as well as the study of colonization and decolonization in American society.

The Wabanaki Resource Portal project will center the ideas and perspectives of Wabanaki people in providing access to significant historical materials meant to educate the public, facilitate scholarship, preserve Wabanaki traditions and art, and support development of inclusive and accurate K–12 curricula that enhance the teaching of Wabanaki history and culture in Maine schools.

Collaborators on the portal project include partners from Raymond H. Fogler Library, the College of Education and Human Development and Native American Programs at UMaine, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Wabanaki Studies Working Group, the Maine Department of Education, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Lukens has co-authored “‘Still They Remember Me’: Penobscot Transformer Tales, Volume 1” with Penobscot language master Carol Dana and University of Southern Maine linguistics faculty Conor Quinn. The book recounts traditional tales of Gluskabe, the tribe’s culture hero, as told by Penobscot Newell Lyon to anthropologist Frank Speck. Speck published the stories in 1918 in an academic report titled “Penobscot Transformer Tales.” The 2021 bilingual edition of Transformer Tales, which was designed for language learning, presents the stories in contemporary Penobscot orthography with updated English translations and features artwork created by tribal members. The book will be available from the University of Massachusetts Press in June 2021.

For more information about this project contact Joan Perkins, joan.perkins@maine.edu

Wabanaki Seminar June 12, 2021 9am-12:15pm

The Maine Department of Education is delighted to invite educators statewide to our June 12 recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the signing of LD 291 which requires the teaching of Wabanaki History and Culture in Maine classrooms.

Please join us and a variety of educational leaders from 9-12:30 on Saturday, June 12. We will begin the morning with greetings from Governor Mills, Commissioner Makin and a keynote by legislation sponsor, Hon. Donna Loring.

Register here

For more information about the Wabinaki Seminar contact Joe Schmidt at joe.schmidt@maine.gov

Two Maine Educators Receive Recognition for Innovative Strategies in Teaching History

Mr. Logan Landry of Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland and Mr. Benjamin Hale of John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor were named “Teacher of the Year” by National History Day (NHD) in Maine and nominated for the Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award in the junior and senior divisions, respectively, of the National History Day National Contest. This award is sponsored by Patricia Behring in recognition of the pivotal role teachers play in the lives of students.

To be nominated for this award, Mr. Landry and Mr. Hale have demonstrated commitment to engaging their students in historical learning through innovative uses of primary sources, implementation of active learning strategies to foster historical thinking skills, and participation in National History Day. Mr. Landry and Mr. Hale are leading examples for their peers and an invaluable resource for their students.

One national winner in each division will be selected by a committee of experienced teachers and historians, and announced on Saturday, June 19, 2021, at the NHD National Contest Awards Ceremony to be held virtually due to COVID-19. All nominees will receive $500 as a result of their nominations, and the two national winners will receive $10,000.

Mr. Landry and Mr. Hale clearly demonstrate creative teaching methods to engage their students with history, and help them make exciting discoveries about the past.