MEDIA RELEASE: Certification Processing Reduced to Three Weeks

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that its certification office has reached its operational goal of a three-week turnaround time for processing educator certification applications that are complete. This is an enormous improvement from the significant processing times educators have been experiencing.

“The Department has been working diligently to reduce processing times to ensure that qualified educators can receive a Maine teaching credential as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Pender Makin. “We know how critical the certification process is, especially during a time when many of our schools are experiencing a shortage of teachers and substitutes.”

In 2017, the Maine Department of Education launched a new online certification system called the Maine Educator Credentialing System (MEIS). It is a web-based educator credentialing system which replaced an outdated paper application certification system. At this point in the rollout of MEIS, Maine educators and administrators are able to manage their certification renewals completely online. The next phase of the rollout will allow initial educator applications to be submitted completely online by educators, this will be followed by the rollout of the public certification portal.

Professional Learning Opportunity: Leveraging Free Technology to Create More Inclusive Classrooms

The Maine Department of Education and Microsoft are collaborating to offer educators the opportunity to participate in a program from March 2019 to June 2019. The program will focus on leveraging free technology tools available to Maine educators to create more inclusive classrooms. A Microsoft Learning Consultant will lead these sessions.

Technology can create opportunities for students to have more independence and agency over their learning.  Leveraging technology to remove barriers to learning can result in and also lead to improved student achievement. During these sessions, educators will learn to integrate several free technology tools to better serve students. These sessions are free for Maine educators.

Program Details:

Educators will receive on-going professional learning support related to the following tools that are designed to support the development of inclusive classrooms: Learning Tools, Accessibility Tools, Sway, Office Lens, One Note, Microsoft Teams, Translator, and Microsoft Inking. They will:

  • Attend two in-person workshops
  • Participate in a facilitated online Professional Learning Community in Microsoft Teams
  • Participate in two webinars (in April and early May) – dates to be determined.

Educators who participate in all parts of the program can earn up to 16 Contact Hours.

Workshop Agendas

Note that registration for each location will be limited to 50 participants. 

Inclusive Classrooms Part 1

March 27th, 2019 – Augusta

March 28th, 2019 – Gorham

March 29th, 2019 – Bangor

 

8:30am Light Refreshments
9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:15am Microsoft Teams
10:15am Break
10:30am Supporting English Language Learners
11:30am Lunch
12:15pm Accessibility Tools
2:45pm Closing
3:00pm End

 

 

Inclusive Classrooms Part 2

May 29th, 2019 – Augusta

May 30th, 2019 – Bangor

May 31st, 2019 – Gorham

 

8:30am Light Refreshments
9:00am Welcome and Introductions
9:15am Connections: Sharing what you’ve done with the tools
10:15am Break
10:30am Authoring Accessible Content
11:30am Lunch
12:15pm More tools to create inclusive classrooms
2:00pm Planning for greater impact in your school/district
2:45pm Closing
3:00pm End

Who should register?

All educators are invited to register, though space is limited in each session. If districts want to focus their participation on certain educators, the tools can be very helpful the work of: Special Education Directors and Teachers, Teachers of English Language Learners, School Leaders, Curriculum Coordinators, Technology Integrators, and Library Media Specialists.

Registration:

Inclusive Classrooms Part 1

Register by 3/8 if you want Microsoft to bring a device for you to use, otherwise, register by 3/20 and plan to bring a device with Microsoft OneNote, Word, Powerpoint, etc.

March 27th, 2019 – Augusta (Registration Form)

March 28th, 2019 – Gorham (Registration Form)

March 29th, 2019 – Bangor (Registration Form)

Inclusive Classrooms Part 2

Register by 5/10 if you want Microsoft to bring a device for you to use, otherwise, register by 5/20 and plan to bring a device with Microsoft OneNote, Word, Powerpoint, etc.

May 29th, 2019 – Augusta (Registration Form)

May 30th, 2019 – Bangor (Registration Form)

May 31st, 2019 – Gorham (Registration Form)

 

Note: Please communicate with your technology director to be sure that you and your students will be able to access Office 365 tools (free to schools) on your devices and network.

 

For additional information or answers to questions, please contact:

 

Amanda Nguyen

Digital Learning Specialist

Maine Department of Education

Amanda.Nguyen@maine.gov

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Participates in National Cybersecurity Opportunity for Young Women in High School

To help educate more young women about the opportunities in the field of cybersecurity, Governor Janet Mills, the Maine Office of Information Technology, and the Maine Department of Education are promoting ‘GirlsGoCyberStart’, an exciting national program that uses online games of discovery to introduce high school girls to the field.

“Cybersecurity is a growing and critical field. It is more important than ever before to train skilled experts in Maine and across the nation to defend our national and financial security,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This program will help young women pursue the education and training they need for lifelong careers and leadership positions in cybersecurity.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Maine students to showcase the incredible skills and talent they have acquired from the many computer science initiatives, programs, and curricula happening in schools throughout Maine,” said Maine Education Commissioner A. Pender Makin.

CyberStart was created by the SANS Institute and was first piloted to youth in the summer of 2017. The program enabled 3,500 students nation-wide to discover and demonstrate their aptitude for cybersecurity, yet only five percent of the students who participated were young women.  The results of the pilot sparked the GirlsGoCyberStart program, specifically designed to interest young women in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.

This will be Maine’s second year participating in the GirlsGoCyberStart.  Last year, nearly two hundred students from all over Maine participated in the event and placed in the top 100 of all participating state teams.

“We are excited to join this wonderful opportunity to expand our talent pipeline by engaging young people interested in learning more about cybersecurity and directing them to the appropriate training and career coaching,” said Ande Smith, acting Chief Information Officer for the Office of Information Technology.

Maine students who participate in GirlsGoCyberStart will be doing so alongside students from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or programming experience.  All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Young women in high school who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win scholarships and other prizes.  The website for registration opens on February 18, 2019. More information about the program and eligibility can be found at CyberStartUS.

For more information about Maine’s participation in the program, contact Dr. Kelly Samson-Rickert, Director of Workforce Innovations for the Maine Office of Information Technology at Kelly.Rickert@maine.gov or 207-624-9965.

Professional Development Opportunity: Fostering Musical Early Childhood Classrooms

The Maine Department of Education invites educators to be part of its upcoming professional development opportunity, Fostering Musical Early Childhood Classrooms.

Early Childhood Specialist, Sue Reed, and Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Nate Menifield, are looking for teachers who want to energize their teaching and learning through focusing on music in the public preschool classroom.

Applicants must apply in teams of two: one public preschool teacher and one music teacher from the same district. The music teacher must currently teach at the elementary level.

Under the guidance of early childhood music experts, Catherine Newell and Danielle Collins, teams will work to build a collaborative partnership to ensure that preschool students receive a musical learning experience. Public preschool teachers will become familiar with research regarding why music is important in the preschool classroom; understand how it encompasses multiple early learning standards; and learn how to include music into their daily routines. Music teachers will learn developmentally appropriate pedagogical approaches to teaching music to our youngest learners. Teams will be expected to practice new pedagogy in between sessions and document their experiences. As a culmination of their work, participants will deliver a brief presentation to an audience of their choice.

Participating Teacher Responsibilities:

  • Attend three day-long, face-to-face professional development trainings. All trainings will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Educare, 56 Drummond Ave., Waterville, ME 04901. Dates for trainings are: March 15th, May 23rd, and May 24th.
  • Attend one online check-in support meeting between face-to-face meetings. These meetings will occur between individual teams and the trainers at a mutually convenient time.
  • Develop individual goals for music implementation in your classroom and collaboration with a music teacher.
  • Commit to incorporating music into the preschool schedule on a regular basis.
  • Develop a plan for communicating the importance of music to preschool families.
  • Present a brief presentation on the work to an audience of each team’s choice, and submit a copy of the presentation to the Department of Education.

Compensation:

Each team will receive up to $300 in music supplies (determined by individual need).

To Apply:

Interested parties should fill out and submit an application here by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, February 28th (only one application is required per team). Applications will be reviewed immediately, and those accepted for participation will be notified by the afternoon of Monday, March 4th.

Please forward all questions to Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Nate Menifield, at nathaniel.j.menifield@maine.gov.

U.S. Department of Education Acts on School Safety Report Recommendation to Improve Understanding of Student Privacy Law

The U.S. Department of Education released a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on schools’ and districts’ responsibilities under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the context of school safety.

The Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) released an in-depth report last December, which observed that “substantial misunderstanding remains at the local level among officials and educators concerning (FERPA), and in particular its application to school-based threats.”

This FAQ document, titled, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), consolidates previously issued guidance and technical assistance into a single resource to help raise schools’ and districts’ awareness of these provisions.

The document consists of 37 commonly asked questions about schools’ and school districts’ responsibilities under FERPA relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement units and others, and seeks to explain and clarify how FERPA protects student privacy while ensuring the health and safety of students and others in the school community.

The FAQ document includes answers to common FERPA questions involving school safety, such as:

  • Can law enforcement unit officials who are off-duty police officers or SROs be considered school officials under FERPA and, therefore, have access to students’ education records?
  • Does FERPA permit schools and districts to disclose education records, without consent, to outside law-enforcement officials who serve on a school’s threat assessment team?
  • When is it permissible for schools or districts to disclose student education records under FERPA’s health or safety emergency exception?
  • Does FERPA permit school officials to release information that they personally observed or of which they have personal knowledge?

The full FAQ document can be found here.

For additional information on the meetings, field visits, listening sessions, roundtables and other resources used to produce the FCSS report, please visit the U.S. DOE’s school safety website.