Yarmouth High School Black Student Union Club Takes Experiential Learning Trip to Boston

The Black Student Union (BSU) is a club at Yarmouth High School composed of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students and their allies.  The mission of BSU is to bring awareness to topics that African Americans and Black People face by having safe discussions on ways to eliminate racism, prejudice, inequality, discrimination and more.

One of BSU’s goals is to help students and staff reexamine our community’s history to better understand racism and its origins.  As a first step, the BSU applied for a grant from the Yarmouth Educational Foundation to take a trip to Boston and spend the day specifically dedicated to exploring African American and Black history and culture.  The day was an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions of the Black community as well as look back at history in New England from the perspective of a person of color.  The students participated in a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail (Beacon Hill), attended a guided visit to the Museum of African American History and enjoyed Ethiopian food at a local restaurant.

“I learned so many things that I didn’t know before. I learned about important African-American people who helped others and shaped this country. This field trip made me realize how much this information and knowledge needs to be taught in school. This benefited me a lot and helped me better understand our history. I think that this information is too valuable to be just shared with BSU. It should be shared with everyone,” said sophomore Neena Panozzo.

After the field trip, the BSU created a short video presentation for faculty about their experience.  The students are currently working to help provide recommendations to faculty and administration about how our curricula, particularly those focused on history and culture, can be more inclusive.  This field trip helped students in their objective to better educate others in the community about possible discrepancies and gaps in our retelling of history.

“Field trips and experiences like this make such a positive impact on learning for students and you are able to learn so much in only a day,” said ninth grader Madison Beaudoin.

For more information about this initiative, contact Justine Carlisle, BSU Club Advisor at justine_carlisle@yarmouthschools.org.

Maine DOE Team Member Makes U.S. History as First Somali American Elected as Mayor

We are proud to share that Maine Department of Education team member Deqa Dhalac has made national history. The Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness Specialist was sworn in as South Portland’s new mayor, the first Somali American to ever hold the position of mayor.

‘Amazing feeling.’ 1st Somali mayor in US shares her vision

Washington Post | 12/8/2021

PORTLAND, Maine — Deqa Dhalac is the first Somali immigrant to become the mayor of a U.S. city, but she describes her rise in local politics as very old fashioned.

Dhalac, 53, became mayor of South Portland, the fourth largest city in Maine, on Monday. She fled Somalia in the early 1990s as war broke out and settled in the coastal city of about 25,000 in 2008 after finding a job in social work.

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American Translators Association Announces the 2021 Winner of the School Outreach Program Award

The American Translators Association (ATA) announced that Majlinda Mulla-Everett – an Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian interpreter based in Portland, Maine – has been chosen as the winner of ATA’s School Outreach Program Award.

“We are delighted to present this award to Ms. Mulla-Everett for her weeklong presentation series at Portland High School in June 2021,” said Ted Wozniak, President of the American Translators Association. “Now in its seventeenth year, ATA’s School Outreach Program raises awareness of the role that translators and interpreters play in business, education, government, healthcare, technology and society at large. In today’s global economy, companies and other institutions are realizing the importance of using skilled professional translators or interpreters to communicate their message effectively and successfully to international audiences, avoiding potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes.”

ATA launched the School Outreach Program in 2004 to educate students about translation and interpreting and to interest them in these rewarding career fields. Through the program, professional linguists speak to students of all ages, highlighting the career benefits of studying another language and the increasing potential for exciting work with foreign language skills. Using a variety of model presentations and activities available on ATA’s website, presenters outline the requirements for becoming a professional translator or interpreter, emphasizing that these careers demand far more than simply being bilingual.

“The School Outreach program focuses on educating the public about exciting career paths in translation and interpreting and their wide range of applications around the world,” said Meghan Konkol, coordinator of the School Outreach Program.

In order to receive this award, participants must belong to ATA or an ATA-affiliated organization and must present to a school of their choice. Entrants must also submit photos or screenshots of themselves presenting to the students.

A legal and medical interpreter with over 10 years of experience, Ms. Mulla-Everett was honored to be asked to offer a weeklong class titled “Explore Community Interpreting as a Career” to students at Portland High School in Portland, Maine. Tackling the class as she would an interpreting assignment, Ms. Mulla-Everett engaged the students by giving them information, tips and encouragement using roleplay and memory games.

Seeing the students participating enthusiastically in the exercises and answering quiz questions correctly made her realize how important they viewed the language professions. Ms. Mulla-Everett also invited guest speakers to present their own experiences as in-person and remote interpreters. The bilingual students came out of the class understanding the value of knowing another language and the potential to help their community and make a living while doing so.

As winner of the award, Ms. Mulla-Everett received free registration to ATA’s 62nd Annual Conference, taking place October 27 through 30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She will be presented with the award at an awards ceremony before more than a thousand of her colleagues in the translation industry.

To learn more about the American Translators Association and the School Outreach Program, visit http://www.atanet.org or call 703-683-6100.

Educational Resources to Help Honor National Hispanic Heritage Month

Today marks the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month which is celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15 across the nation. The month is a time to honor Hispanic heritage by celebrating the histories, cultures, languages, and the remarkable contributions of Hispanic people to the fabric of the United States, whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. It is also a time to revisit ways to integrate diverse cultural material into education lessons all year long.

Here are some educational resources that can be used by schools to honor, recognize, and teach students about Hispanic heritage:

For further resources and information about integrating diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences into classroom lessons, please visit the Maine Department of Education’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage.


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.