Thoughts from a Virtual Session with 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy

On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Maine Department of Education welcomed 2020 National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy for a virtual question and answer session with Maine educators. Joining from her home in Kansas, Tabatha introduced herself and greeted a group of early childhood educators from the public, private, and special education sectors in Maine and beyond.

Ms. Rosproy spent the one-hour session discussing early childhood topics of interest in Maine, as well as responding to questions from participants. Tabatha’s honesty and passion for the field was evident through her down-to-earth and personable demeanor with session participants. By the end of the hour, it was apparent that Maine and Kansas aren’t all that different. And, although early childhood education has gained some traction nationally, there is still room for growth.

Key takeaways from the session included the value in making connections with colleagues and families, promoting classroom inclusion, and growing school leadership. Tabatha also emphasized the importance of early childhood educators “bring(ing) their seats to the table.” She encouraged each educator to, “Be an advocate for your students and get involved in your classroom, school, district and state.” She went on to inspire educators to think of leadership as an “activity, not a position.” Tabatha suggested it takes courage to do the right thing but that educators should feel empowered to be advocates, not reliant on individuals in positions of power. She also reminded participants that early childhood is not just the early grades of public school, but birth through eight years old. This time in a child’s development is critical and special. and they need a whole system of supporters, not just teachers.

When interacting with families, Tabatha shared that engagement and communication are crucial to building positive relationships and learning atmospheres. “Think of it like a bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals. The deposits are those positive daily comments about each child. The withdrawals are the occasional conversations of concern and goals for growth. Let’s make regular deposits!”

By the end of the hour, participants were thankful for Tabatha’s insights. While Tabatha has many doors open for her now, she shared she “has a hard time not seeing herself in the Pre-K classroom.” When asked what final advice she has for early childhood educators, she responded, “Keep speaking up! In some way, keep using your voice.”

For more information about Tabatha Rosproy and CCSSO’s National of Teacher of the Year Program, visit https://ntoy.ccsso.org/. You can also follow Tabatha on social media at: @NTOY20 on Facebook, @NTOY2020 on Instagram, and @TabathaRosproy on Twitter.

Any questions or comments about this opportunity can be directed to Nicole.madore@maine.gov.

Free Inclusive Practices Training & Technical Assistance for Public Preschool Programs

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce a professional development opportunity designed specifically for Public Preschool Programs. This initiative will support a third cohort of public preschool educators and administrators in providing inclusive practices within high quality preschool environments for 4-year-olds.

This offering is available to any district in Maine with a Public Preschool Program. The 2020-21 cohort will consist of 3 classrooms of 6 participants each. Teams must include the preschool teacher, ed tech, principal, special ed director, elementary special ed teacher and a regional CDS consultant or teacher. The purpose of team participation is to ensure consistent understanding and application of the course content so that high quality inclusive practices will be supported and sustained.

The DOE Inclusive Initiative is a collaboration with Child Development Services (CDS) and Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN), a University of Maine System partnership between University of Southern Maine (USM) and University of Maine (UMaine).  The partnership includes the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS) which has expertise in providing training and technical assistance around inclusion, equity and access.

The project faculty will deliver a continuum of learning and support activities through a blended learning model that equips teams to learn about, reflect on, practice and apply the information and strategies to build and strengthen instructional practices that promote high quality preschool environments. Each team will participate in and have access to:

  • Online training covering a range of topics with the objective of helping early educators develop a deeper understanding of how to promote inclusion in the classroom.
  • Consultation to expand on the training content and use the materials to personalize learning within your own setting.
  • A facilitated professional learning community (PLC) with other peers as “thinking partners” to share and explore topics and application strategies.
  • A suite of resources and tools to support this work.

Benefits of Participation for Maine Schools

Opportunities for administrators, teachers, educational technicians and CDS staff to:

  • Devote dedicated time as a team to focus on preschool pedagogy.
  • Develop a shared understanding of the components of high quality inclusive preschool classrooms.
  • Identify, plan and work toward a common goal to continue to support equity and excellence.
  • Receive certificates of contact hours which support certification renewal and/or local professional development requirements.
  • Gain access to other early care and education professional development opportunities.
  • Enhance teacher recruitment, retention and quality.

Please visit here to hear from past participants about their experiences in this initiative.

Districts are asked to apply by November 30, 2020 to take advantage of this exciting professional development opportunity.  The tentative timeline is outlined in the table below.

The project requirements include: Projected timeline:
Completing the On-demand training: Inclusive Environments in Public Pre-K. By December 11, 2020.
Participating in a half-day virtual orientation session. Mid December 2020
Completing an 18 hour online training: Creating Inclusive Preschool Settings Classrooms. January  – March 2021
Participating in 2 PLC’s scheduled as follow-up support during the online training (is there a better way to say this?) January  – March 2021
Participating in consultation

  • 2 (1-2 hour) classroom based consultations (onsite or technology-based).
  •  2 (1-2 hour) administrative consultation (onsite or technology based)
February  – April 2021
Participating in wrap up meeting hosted by the DOE to evaluate the project and short district team presentations to showcase their learning. May 2021

The application is available at this link. For more information, view the FAQ  or contact Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov  .

Early Childhood Text Studies: Free Professional Development for Educators

Specialists from the Maine Department of Education’s Early Learning Team are excited to offer a web-based professional development opportunity for early childhood educators in the Pre-K and Kg grade span. Participants in this opportunity will get the chance to explore strategies for managing student trauma and mental health behaviors through a text study of both Responding to Student Trauma by Stephanie Filio, M.Ed. and A Practical Guide to Mental Health & Learning Disorders for Every Educator by Myles Cooley, Ph.D.

The text studies will take place virtually in hour-long sessions on a weekly basis between November 30, 2020 and April 2, 2021:

  • Responding to Student Trauma by Stephanie Filio, M.Ed is tentatively set to run Nov. 30-January 8, 2021 (with a scheduled holiday break).
  • A Practical Guide to Mental Health & Learning Disorders for Every Educator by Myles Cooley, Ph.D. is tentatively set to run January 11, 2021 through April 2, 2021.

The learning groups will be limited to 48 participants each. Goals of this professional learning opportunity are to improve participant awareness and understanding of what causes student trauma and to acquire strategies for how to better educate our students exhibiting behaviors related to trauma, mental health, and learning disorders.

Those interested are welcomed to register for one or both studies. Participants will receive a copy of the book(s). Contact hours will be provided at the end of each text study.

Registration is free and can be completed here. Registration closes November 13th at 5pm. Participants will be notified on a first come, first served basis.

For further information, please contact Nicole Madore, Early Childhood Specialist at Nicole.madore@maine.gov.

Funding Available for New or Expanding Pre-K Programs in 2021-2022!

Are you opening a new Pre-K program or expanding an existing program in FY22? – Maine Department of Education will provide funding for FY22 for new or expanded Pre-K programs!

If your SAU is opening or expanding a Pre-K program in the 2021-2022 school year, you are eligible to receive funding on your FY22 ED279 for children you enroll in these new or expanding Pre-K programs in 2021. This means you will receive the funding for enrollment in the same year that you enroll the Pre-K children, without a year delay.

Beginning in FY19, the Essential Programs and Services (EPS) funding formula added an allocation for Pre-K programs’ estimate student count. The Pre-K program estimate count allocation is intended to provide funding for Pre-K programming in advance of actual student enrollment, helping to offset the upfront costs associated with expanding or starting Pre-K programs. This Pre-K program allocation was first authorized into law on July 1, 2018 to begin in FY19 and continue indefinitely.

If you are expanding and would like to receive an FY22 estimate Pre-K allocation, please notify the Maine DOE by completing the FY22 Estimate Pre-K Count Data Form before October 30, 2020. There are 3 questions to be answered:

  1. Choose your SAU from a list
  2. Do you have an existing Pre-K program (FY21)? – Yes/No
  3. Provide your SAU’s Pre-K Estimated Increase Count (new slots available in new or expanding program)

SAUs completing the form must also complete the Pre-K Program Application with DOE’s Early Childhood Team by April 30, 2021 and obtain program approval.

The FY22 Estimate Pre-K Count Data Collection form is meant to capture the FY22 estimate for new and expanding Pre-K program enrollment. The estimate student count data, in addition to the current (FY21) enrollment in an existing Pre-K program, will be used to provide funding on the FY22 ED279. SAUs’ Pre-K total enrollment number, as reported and verified October 1, 2021, should match the combined existing and estimated increase total that was used to calculate funds in the ED279. After October 1, 2021 an audit adjustment, based on actual enrollment reported in NEO on October 1, 2021, will be made to the Pre-K allocation assigned on the FY22 ED279. Please note that this may increase or decrease funding.

For more information about establishing or expanding a Pre-K program, please check out our webpage on the topic, or please contact Paula Gravelle at 624-6792 or Paula.B.Gravelle@maine.gov

 

Maine Career Development Association Hosts Art & Poetry Contest for Maine Students

In celebration of National Career Development Month in November, the Maine Career Development Association is sponsoring a statewide Poetry & Art contest, that is open to students and adults state-wide.

The Contest is held annually on a national level in celebration of the importance of life-long career development and the personal empowerment of all people. Events and activities in celebration of National Career Month help examine lives, careers, and the alternatives available to increase everyone’s personal success and happiness.

Contest Eligibility

Adults and students enrolled in public, private schools in Maine, and students who are homeschooled in Maine are eligible to participate.

Contest division areas include:

  • Primary Grades: K – 2
  • Intermediate Grades 3 – 5
  • Middle Grades 6 – 8
  • Senior Grades 9 – 12
  • Adult Student 18 and older enrolled in school
  • Open Adult 18 and older (teachers, parents, professionals, etc.)

Each entry should celebrate and inspire career development with a positive tone while emphasizing the national theme.

For further information on how to participate in the contest including eligibility requirements for both poetry and art submissions and how make submissions, please view the Maine Career Development Association’s Art & Poetry Contest Flyer and Entry Form.

Winners in each category will be posted to the MCDA website (https://www.mainecda.org/) as well as included in the MCDA newsletter! Winners will then be sent on to the NCDA to be judged nationally. National winning entries will be recognized on the NCDA website, as well as on display at the annual conference in Atlanta in 2021. The school coordinator of each state winner will receive a free year’s membership to the Maine Career Development Association!

DEADLINE: All submissions must include the official entry form, be postmarked by November 23rd, and mailed to Tara Kierstead, MCDA K-12 Representative, at the address on the entry form.

Please email Tara Kierstead at tkierstead@kidsrsu.org with any questions.