PRIORITY NOTICE: Interactive Workshop by Wabanaki REACH – Moving Forward: Opening a Path to Truth, Healing and Change

Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross cultural organization working in support of decolonization and Wabanaki self-determination. REACH focuses on truth, healing, and change. Our work with Wabanaki people is flexible, responding to activities in the communities themselves. It includes wellness and history learning, healing circles, support for growing food and medicines, and emergency financial support. This work takes place in Wabanaki communities, Maine communities, and in the Maine State Correction System. Our work with non-Native people around Maine and beyond includes learning about the history and ongoing relationships of Native and non-Native people, understanding colonization, and the work of decolonization.

Interacting with Wabanaki-Maine History

This program is an interactive experience in which we engage in a story of particular events in the history of 400-years of colonization of Wabanaki people by Europeans in this territory now called the State of Maine. This highly engaging experience requires our full participation in order to genuinely increase our understanding of colonization and what it means for current descendants and future generations; to reflect on what story we are writing for our grandchildren.

This workshop is sponsored by the Maine DOE’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team.

The two-hour interactive workshop will be offered on three different occasions. To maximize the impact of the experience, a cap of 50 participants per workshop will be applied.  This means space is limited. We will be accepting registrations on a first come-first served basis. A certification of completion will be provided to attendees that can be used toward Maine educator endorsements.

  • Monday, May 17, 2021 from 7:00pm-9:00pm
  • Monday, May 24, 2021 from 7:00pm-9:00pm
  • Monday, June 7, 2021 from 7:00pm-9:00pm

To register for this workshop, use the following link:

For more information contact Danielle Despins; a volunteer member of Maine DOE’s internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sub-committee at

The Portland Public Schools Is Grand Prize Winner for Equity Work

Portland Public Schools has been recognized for its commitment to equity as a Grand Prize winner in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) 2021 Magna Awards program. This is the first time in that program’s 27-year history that a Maine school district has been recognized with a Magna Award for its equity work.

The annual Magna Awards honor school districts across the country for programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students. PPS, Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, won for one of our signature programs: Make It Happen! – a college readiness program that helps multilingual students build competitive academic profiles for college admission and financial aid.

An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the 15 winners – three Grand Prize winners and 12 first place winners. PPS is the Grand Prize winner in the category of districts with enrollment between 5,000 and 20,000 students. The other two Grand Prize winners were Massachusetts’s Mashpee Public Schools, which won in the under-5,000-enrollment category, and Michigan’s Detroit Public Schools, which was the winner for districts with more than 20,000 students.  This is the fourth year that the Magna Awards program has recognized school districts and their leaders for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students. It is believed that PPS is the first Maine school district ever to win a Magna Award.

“We are thrilled and honored to be chosen as a Grand Prize winner for our work to achieve equity for all our students, which is the central goal of our Portland Promise, the district’s strategic plan,” said PPS Superintendent Xavier Botana. “This recognition shines a national spotlight on the need to remove barriers to equity at a particularly important time, when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the longstanding disparities that exist between different groups of students in our schools. Programs like Make It Happen! are vital to helping address these disparities, but there is much more we need to do. That is why my proposed FY22 school budget targets resources to the students to whom we owe the largest educational debt: those who are learning English, have disabilities or are alienated in our schools.”

Make It Happen!, founded 14 years ago, is a program of the district’s Multilingual & Multicultural Center. It’s a college-readiness and academic success program for language minority students in grades 9 through 12, and is designed to help students raise and realize their academic aspirations. The program provides students with personalized and structured academic support to ensure their success in school and help prepare them for college. Many graduates of the program are the first in their families to attend an institute of higher education.

Steve Bailey, Executive Director of the Maine School Management Association, said that Make It Happen! “is designed to meet students where they are and assist them in achieving their goal through personalized support.” Make It Happen! site coordinators and volunteer academic coaches, recruited from the community, help students take challenging classes, develop strong college applications, and engage in civic and leadership activities.

Diora Ndagano, a senior at Deering High School, said, “I joined Make It Happen! right after I arrived at Deering. I was an immigrant and I didn’t know anything about the education system in America, but with the help of the Make It Happen! program, I was able to adapt to school and apply to college. That’s how amazing that program was to me.”

In addition to bringing national attention to the district’s ongoing equity work, the Grand Prize includes a $5,000 grant that the district will use as a foundational investment to establish a college scholarship fund for students who participate in the Make It Happen! Program. The district plans to leverage this money to grow the fund. More details around the “Make it Happen Scholarship Fund” will be announced later this spring.

“2020 was a year like no other,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez. “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students.”

“The Portland Public Schools is very grateful to have our equity work recognized nationally,” said Portland Board of Public Education Chair Emily Figdor. “Achieving equity,  the centerpiece of our Portland Promise goals, is essential for us to fully realize our other strategic plan goals – achievement, whole student and people.”

The 27th annual Magna Awards program is sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ). PPS’ Grand Prize win is highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ. Read about the award-winning Make It Happen! program and the two other Grand Prize-winning districts at programs.

Information for this article was provided by Portland Public Schools as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. The Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign is an avenue for Maine schools to celebrate successes and share innovative ideas, practices, and models that can be adapted and easily implemented by other Maine schools. Stories are not an endorsement of specific materials, services, or practices and are not intended to promote learning programs that are of cost to students, families, or schools. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at 

Opportunity for Partnerships with French Schools – Deadline 3/31/21

The Maine Department of Education is excited to announce an opportunity for middle and high school teachers to participate in cross-cultural partnerships with schools in France. This opportunity has been made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Académie de Nantes, the governmental body overseeing education in the Pays de la Loire region of France.

The MOU aims to strengthen connections between Maine and France and improve the teaching of English and French, allowing educators and students to benefit from increased understanding and cooperation between the two cultures. Teachers from all content areas, not only French teachers, are welcome to apply. Schools will be partnered based on shared objectives and interests.

Schools that engage in partnerships will participate in joint learning projects with their French-school colleagues. A group of students within one class, a whole class, or multiple classes of students may be involved. Projects can focus on virtually any topic related to the curricula of the two schools (for example: school life and daily routines, natural environment, celebrations, cooking and culinary traditions, sustainable development policies, etc.). Students will demonstrate their learning through artifacts such as letters, emails, drawing, blog posts, video/audio recordings, essays, articles, or other creative means.

Applications are due by 3/31/21. Click here to apply. Partnerships will be confirmed by 5/31/21 so that initial contact can be made and schools may begin planning their projects for the fall. Note that participating in a partnership is a commitment, and our partner schools in France are eager to be matched with Maine schools that are willing and able to actively engage in collaborative teaching and learning. Partnerships may last indefinitely, with the willingness of both schools.

If you have any questions, please contact April Perkins, World Languages & ESOL/Bilingual Programs Specialist, at



PRIORITY NOTICE: Moving Beyond the Movement Workshop: Fostering Authentic Transformation for Sustainable Outcomes

The Maine Department of Education is sponsoring a workshop by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Moving Beyond the Movement: Fostering Authentic Transformation for Sustainable Outcomes.  Amber Coleman-Mortley brings a diverse voice into civic education, manages a large network of education influencers, and has built a successful youth fellowship of students fighting for equity in civic education. Amber’s advocacy and expertise have been featured in the New York Times on several occasions.


Module 1 – Now is the Time: Using the past to inform the present
How do we apply anti-racism, anti-bias, and equity to civics and history classrooms?

Module 2 – Be bold. Be brave. Be inclusive: Engaging your stakeholders
How do we facilitate community engagement around anti-bias work?

Module 3 – Culturally relevant pedagogy for all
How can we leverage culturally relevant pedagogy to support all learners in our school community?

Module 4 – Practical applications and continued strategies for continued allyship
What small, and large, changes are required to ensure that our practices and policies are investments, not investigations?

Every Wednesday in February

February 3, 2021; 7:00-9:00 PM
February 10, 2021; 7:00-8:30 PM
February 17, 2021; 7:00-9:00 PM
February 24,  2021; 7:00-8:30 PM

Register here: 

Download the flyer.

Learn more about Amber

Amber Coleman-Mortley
Amber Coleman-Mortley

Amber Coleman-Mortley is a talented creator and builder of digital and grassroots networks where she focuses on cultivating an engaged community of active participants through multimedia video and virtual spaces. In her current role as Director of Social Engagement, she brings diverse voices into civic education, manages a large network of education influencers, and has built a successful youth fellowship of students fighting for equity in civic education.

Amber’s equity and civic work is centered around building strong teams for improved community outcomes, which is inspired by her years as a three-sport varsity athlete at Oberlin College where she earned North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) all-conference honors for 8 out of the 11 seasons she competed. She also has a Division 3 , NCAA appearance in the 4×100 m. She currently serves as an alumni advisor to Oberlin College’s, Black Student-Athlete Guild.

Amber taught for nine years as a P.E/Health teacher and head varsity volley ball and head varsity track coach. She has experience building curriculum and leadership programs for student-athletes and team captains. Amber presented on Anti-Racist Coaching and Sports and Social Justice at the U.S. Soccer

Foundation’s Virtual National Training. At the center of her work are equity, critical thinking, and civic problem-solving. She has experience collaborating virtually with parents and educators around equity, anti-racism, and culturally relevant pedagogy, which includes work with the DuPage (Illinois) Regional Office Of Education.

Amber is a highly regarded social media influencer whose work brought her to the White House to meet former first lady Michelle Obama to discuss influencer campaigns that focus on family health and wellness. She is a parenting expert and author of Mom Of All Capes where she covers parenting strategies in civic education, education technology, parent-teacher partnerships, and social-emotional development. The podcast she co-created with her children, Lets K12 Better, discusses how to improve K12 education and family life through partnerships and communication.

Amber’s advocacy and expertise have been featured in the New York Times on several occasions which includes viral videos, a full-page spread in print media, and several online articles. Her insights have been cited in publications from the LA Times to the Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post to LAist. Coleman-Mortley has shared insights for parents through her work for Edutopia, civic education and parenting for TODAY Parenting, and even shared tips for weary travelers through Southwest Airlines. Amber’s voice has been amplified on countless podcasts including Edit Your Life about how to talk to children about race, EduTable about education a inequity, NPR affiliate KPC Conprocessing the state of the world with children. She’s presented live with New York Times Parenting and Sree Sreenivansan’s daily global show on talking to kids about race.

Additional information:

This workshop series will require participants to maintain a reflection journal. Participants should come motivated to create change and should be prepared to participate in group discussions based on readings and resources shared prior to the session.

Engaging in this cohort provides an opportunity for participants to earn credit hours. To receive credit, participants must attend all four sessions.

For more information contact Danielle Despins; a volunteer member of Maine DOE’s internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sub-committee at (207) 592-1448.

Antiracist Education for all of Maine – A Series of Free Workshops and Crucial Conversations for Maine Educators

This series has reached its capacity – registration is no longer open. 

The Maine State Teacher of the Year Association (MSTOYA) is thrilled to offer an important, timely and free professional development series: Antiracist Education for all of Maine This series kicks off with a keynote by Cornelius Minor, an author, teacher, instructional coach, and self-proclaimed “book tiger.”  There are also many other powerful speakers and “collegial conversations,” which are designed to be equity focused discussions with educators across Maine to help Maine educators build capacity as equity leaders in Maine schools and communities.

Speaker: No More Excuses: Why It Has to Be Us And Why It Has To Be Now

Cornelius Minor
February 9th, 7:00-8:00 pm

Collegial Conversations: Navigating The Challenges of Antiracist Work In Maine Schools

February 25th, 7:00-8:00 pm

Speaker: Voices From Our Classrooms

Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine
March 2nd, 7:00-8:00 pm

Collegial Conversations: Rehearsing Important Conversations About Racism Through Scenarios

March 18th, , 7:00-8:00 pm

Speaker: Literature as a Lens: Using Texts As A Tool to Broaden Perspectives

Monica Washington, Nesrene Griffin, Iris Eichenlaub
March 23rd, 7:00-8:00 pm

Speaker: Decolonizing The Curriculum

Fiona Hopper, Starr Kelly, Joe Schmidt
April 6th, 7:00-8:00 pm

Speaker: What Comes Next?

Cornelius Minor
April 14th, 7:00-8:00 pm

Collegial Conversations: Equity Leadership From The Classroom

April 15th, 7:00-8:00 pm

All events are free to Maine teachers. Contact hours will be awarded for each session upon completion of an exit ticket. Space is limited, and will be offered to educators across the state, so sign up early!

Events made possible with major funding from Unum. Additional support from Lee Auto, Educate Maine, and The Maine Teachers of the Year Association.

Register here. All sessions are full!

Do the best that you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

For questions or more information, email Talya Edlund at