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

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,

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

Build Community Through Writing – Summer Institute for Educators

The following opportunity is being hosted by The Telling Room as a resource for information and opportunities; is not an endorsement of any product or program.

Summer Institute for Educators 2021 seeks to build community through writing.

This year’s institute will take place from 6/28/21 – 6/30/2021. We will be running the Institute virtually over ZOOM.

Join us for three days to learn The Telling Room’s proven method for improving literacy skills while building confidence and a sense of community. We offer tools and techniques to teachers, artists, and nonprofit leaders in a professional development setting.

We gear our forum to educators who work with students 6-18, and seek deliverables that can be taken back to any community or student population.

Cost: $250 for full registration

What is included with registration:

  • Three days (10-3) of intensive workshops led by Telling Room staff & teaching artists. There will be a mix of presentations, small group work, and breaks throughout the day.

  • Opportunities to network with like-minded educators

  • Classroom-ready writing and publishing curricula

For more information and to register visit:

York Middle School French Teacher a Regional Finalist for National NECTFL Teacher of the Year Award

Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) recently announced the finalists for its 2021 Teacher of the Year competition. Among the 8 finalists is Stephanie Carbonneau, York Middle School French teacher and the Foreign Language Association of Maine (FLAME) 2020 World Language Teacher of the Year.

Stephanie Carbonneau has been teaching at York Middle School since 2004. She started teaching in 1997 and taught for 7 years in Massachusetts before returning home to Maine to continue her teaching career closer to where she grew up. She is known for her “Glow and Grow” approach to language learning in a mostly deskless environment that focuses on interactive communicative lessons, using authentic resources. Stephanie is co-creator of a Manie Musicale, now serving 2,000 schools both in the states and internationally. She has also been a regular guest on the podcast “Inspired Proficiency” and believes collegiality makes teachers strong and students stronger. The highlight of her year is the annual student trip to Québec City and witnessing her students take language risks.  Carbonneau’s students regularly medal at the state and national level on the Grand Concours, the National French Exam administered by the American Association of French Teachers.

Her passion for becoming a French teacher came from her Québecois family roots. Her mother spoke French through her childhood and when her grandmother passed away, so did the family’s desire to continue speaking French at home. Yet looking back, the aspiring ballerina knew that French was a part of her and her family’s identity that she didn’t want to let die.

My freshman year of college I had a French professor who was really hard and  he told me during office hours that I would never get above a C in his class because my French was weak and I should probably not sign up for any more courses. That made me mad! I set out to prove him wrong. Because I struggled as a language learner, I knew I could be a sympathetic teacher. I never ever wanted any student to feel badly about learning a language.  I also fell in love with the language, the culture, the people as well as the identity I have as a French speaker. I believe those qualities surpass being an expert at the language itself. 

In my class students begin to realize that language learning helps individuals recognize the value of each person in such a diverse world and asks them to contribute to a better one. Speaking another language makes us better humans. It provides an opportunity to “glow” and “grow.” Much like the feedback I provide my students, language learning provides us a purpose beyond ourselves and highlights the similarities, differences and injustices that exist in the world.  It truly is important to me that these young Mainers can speak French better and can use it for a good purpose such as welcoming new French speaking Mainers and the thousands of French Canadian tourists that visit our state. THIS is the true value of learning a language to me: Finding our voice for social justice, through language and creating a welcoming community. There is a whole world that exists outside our small Maine town and the country we live in.  I want my students to be able to say “I am a Mainer, an American, but I am also part of the world-wide Francophone community. I am a French speaker.” 

The NECTFL regional finalists were recognized on April 26, 2021 at the annual awards ceremony. The event highlighted the exemplary practice of all regional winners as innovative practitioners whose work has inspired students and communities.

The NECTFL region encompasses 13 states from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C.. Each state language organization goes through a rigorous selection process to choose its best representative of excellence in world language teaching. Dr. Ashley Warren was selected as the NECTFL 2021 Teacher of the Year and will go on to represent the organization at the national language teacher of the year competition at the ACTFL Convention in November.

I am proud to have represented my state language association that far! The whole process was very introspective, reflective, and humbling. I grew so much as an educator and met a wonderful cohort of other language colleagues from the region I can now call friends. Most importantly, my students will reap the benefits of my reflections.

For more information about NECTFL, please visit their website: