Working with Community Partners to Provide State-Funded Pre-K

Recently, members of the Early Learning Team at the Department of Education (DOE) partnered with the Maine State Head Start Collaboration Office and the Governor’s Office of Innovation and the Future to provide a three-part professional learning series aimed at supporting school administrative units (SAUs) in navigating formal partnerships with licensed community providers. The series examined common myths and facts about partnering, explored the benefits and barriers of forming partnerships, and reviewed a roadmap for beginning conversations between partners. Representatives from existing public Pre-K and community partnerships also joined for a one-hour panel highlighting their own unique experiences in providing high-quality public Pre-K programs through formal partnerships.

All three, one-hour sessions were recorded and are now available on the Maine DOE’s Early Childhood website on the Professional Learning & Resources page. Additionally, links to individual sessions are provided below.

As SAUs in Maine continue to start and expand their public Pre-K offerings, partnerships are highly recommended to support the growing number of children that would like to attend as well as the needs of families. The Early Learning Team is prepared to support these conversations as needed. Those interested in more resources should reach out to one of the following specialists:

Early Education Team Coordinator, Leeann.larsen@maine.gov

Early Childhood Specialist, Nicole.madore@maine.gov

Early Childhood Monitor, Marcy.r.whitcomb@maine.gov

State Head Start Collaboration Director, Nena.m.cunningham@maine.gov

Senior Policy Analyst & Children’s Cabinet Coordinator, Ana.hicks@maine.gov

Promoting Public Pre-K Through Partnerships—A Technical Assistance Series

The Early Learning Team at the Maine Department of Education (DOE), in partnership with Governor Mills’ Children’s Cabinet, is pleased to announce a new technical assistance opportunity focused on building Public Pre-K and Community Partnerships.  This 3-part series will focus on partnerships between public school administration units (SAUs) and community providers, such as private center and home-based childcares and Head Start programs.  The series will:

  • Explore the benefits of partnering,
  • Examine common misconceptions about partnerships,
  • Identify successful steps for  navigating potential barriers of partnerships, and;
  • Outline how to start the process of forming partnerships to establish high-quality Public Pre-K opportunities for children in Maine.

These sessions will be approximately 60 minutes each, with 45-minutes of content followed by time for questions from attendees. The sessions will be provided through Zoom and will be recorded and posted for future viewing.

Sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • Session 1, Wednesday August 4th from 12-1pm: Overview of High-Quality Partnerships
  • Session 2, Wednesday August 11th from 12-1pm: Panel Discussion with Experts in the Field Currently Engaged in Community Partnerships
  • Session 3, Wednesday August 18th from 12-1pm: Building a Partnership: Where to Begin

Attendees are asked to pre-register here.

For questions and clarifications, please contact:

Registration for Early Childhood Education Conference Opens June 15th

This year’s annual statewide Early Childhood Education Conference, Connecting Early Childhood Education: Birth through Eight Across the State, has been organized through a collaboration of early childhood partners, including the Maine DOE.  The conference will be held on October 22nd and 23rd at the Cross Center in Bangor.

Speakers and presenters will focus on best practices in early childhood education for all those working with children from birth through elementary school. Sessions will focus on early learning, social and emotional skills, leadership, equity and diversity, policy, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and more!  Workshops will be organized in categories so that every preschool to 3rd grade professional can find their best fit, from those working in child care and Head Start to out-of-school-time programs and elementary schools, from principals and administrators to special education and classroom teachers.

Come for one day or come for both!  Cost of attendance is $70.00 per person for one day or $140.00 per person for both days.

How to register beginning June 15th:

  1. Please visit the Conference website: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/maine-early-childhood-education-conference-tickets-140011555331
  2. Click on the green button that says Tickets and a pop up window will open.
  3. This registration process will secure you a ticket to one day of the 2021 Statewide ECE Conference. Participants will select breakout sessions for the conference at a later date.
  4. To register for the other day, click on the website link again, and repeat the process.

Please contact the Maine Association for the Education of Young Children with any questions or concerns related to registration by emailing info@maineaeyc.org  or by calling 207-747-2490.

For other questions, contact Maine DOE’s Early Childhood Specialist, Nicole Madore at nicole.madore@maine.gov.

 

Reminder: Pre-K for ME and K for ME Program Summer Training Opportunities

Since 2018, the Maine Department of Education has adapted and piloted open-source Pre-k and Kindergarten programs based on the Boston Public School’s evidence-based Focus on K1 and Focus on K2 curricula. Our own Pre-K for ME was launched in 2019.  K for ME will be launched in August of 2021.  These programs focus on the whole child and are interdisciplinary and developmentally appropriate.  They are also aligned to Maine’s learning standards.  While Maine schools are responsible for the purchase of the materials that support the programs, the programs can be accessed at no cost via the Maine DOE’s website.  Informational overviews for each of the programs available through the following links:

Pre-K for ME Informational Overview

K for ME Informational Overview

Educators/schools/programs interested in utilizing Pre-K for ME and/or K for ME in the coming year may want to take advantage of 2-day initial trainings scheduled for this August.  These trainings are provided to promote understanding of program design and to support successful program implementation.  School administrators are strongly encouraged to attend the trainings with their Pre-K and/or Kindergarten teachers.

This year’s training opportunities will be held virtually from 8:30-3:30 on August 9 and 10 for Pre-K for ME and on August 11 and 12 for K for ME.  Registration for these trainings should be completed at the school/program level.  Principals and educators should complete one registration on behalf of their school/program.  Details about how to prepare for the trainings and the materials needed to support the programs will be provided via email after registrations are received. Registrations for the 2-day training should be received by June 30, 2021.

Registration Links:

Pre-K for ME 2-day Training Registration (August 9-10)

K for ME 2-day Training Registration (August 11-12)

For additional information about Pre-K for ME, contact Nicole.Madore@maine.gov, and for K for ME, contact Leeann.Larsen@maine.gov.

Brighter Days Story: Lillian from LearningWorks Afterschool

When the pandemic hit, a lot changed for 7 year old Lillian and her family. School, which she loved more than anything, all of the sudden meant learning on a screen at home. It also meant that her mom, a single parent, would be away at work each day, while Lillian and her older sister stayed at home to study. Lillian struggled to get used to this. One of her teachers could tell she needed some extra support and connection and recommended her family to the LearningWorks Afterschool program.

When she first signed in to Zoom, she kept her video turned off. “Mommy, I’m nervous! I don’t want them to see me!” she’d say over the phone when her Mom called to check on her. The program started with lots of fun games, and soon Lillian was laughing, had turned on her camera, and changed her Zoom name to “Lillian Rocks!” A few weeks into the program, her Mom said she noticed a new maturity in Lillian. She’d call home from work to make sure she was ready, and Lillian would be sitting at the table, eager to sign into Zoom early.

Her LearningWorks teachers, Ms. Molly and Mr. Matt, have become household names. Each week, Ms. Molly delivers a STEAM kit to Lillian’s doorstep. Oftentimes Lillian is waiting. The kit has art supplies as well as materials she’ll need for activities such as Wacky Science Wednesdays. Lillian features her favorite items from these kits on her desk in her room. She loves reading the instructions and knowing the plan for the week ahead of time. She has a special lab coat for her LW science experiments (such as making homemade slime) and her Mom says Lillian often wears the lab coat around the house, while teasing her older sister who is studying to become a doctor. She tells her, “You’re just studying with your books all the time, but I’m already a doctor, look at my coat!”

Her interest in science and math has skyrocketed this year through her lessons with LearningWorks. She’s begun to develop a critical and process-oriented mind — often very focused on the steps it takes to solve a math problem or discover a truth. “Some people just believe things right away — I want to understand how it actually works,” she says. Lillian’s mom has noticed how this way of thinking has translated to her experience of the pandemic and the rules around mask wearing and social distancing. Because Lillian genuinely understands the thinking behind these health & safety measures, she wholeheartedly follows them. LearningWorks has become a fun place for her to experiment, to connect with others, and to nurture her inquisitiveness. She’s begun to find the language and confidence to express her clear and discerning mind. “This program is special to me,” she says. She thinks it could be for other kids too. Her message to them: “Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do it. Then…do it!”

Information for this article was provided by LearningWorks Afterschool, a 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. Photos and story by Molly Haley.