RSU 34 Taps Retired Teacher to Train and Mentor New Educators

Submitted by Jeanna Tuell, Principal of Old Town Elementary School.

Retired teachers are a wealth of professional knowledge and wisdom. Although the days of retirement are exciting for our teachers, we have found a way to tap into our retired teachers and have them support the next generation of teachers.

In RSU 34, we are committed to our new teachers and their development by matching them with an experienced, outstanding retired teacher named Mary Bagley. Mary was a teacher in the district for 40 years and throughout her career was always on the cutting edge of instruction, curriculum, and assessment. When Mary thought it was time for her to step away from the classroom, we were not convinced and talked her into the position of professional support and coaching for our new teachers in our K-12 district.

It has been a match of support, professionalism, and chance for our new teachers to learn from a master teacher without the intensity of evaluation. We believe this model is an incredible connection between mentor and classroom teachers not experienced in many districts. The results have been phenomenal. Teachers feel supported in every aspect of their first years in the profession and have noted the tremendous support they have received with Mary coaching them through various instructional tangles.

MEDIA RELEASE: Gorham Middle School Teacher Named 2020 Teacher of the Year

Gorham, Maine – In an all-school assembly today at Gorham Middle School, the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine named alternative education teacher Heather Whitaker Maine’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

During her 18-year teaching career at Gorham Middle School, Heather has been a true advocate for combining learning opportunities with the needs of the community. She started her school’s garden, which donates over 800 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She also was a founding member of the Gorham BackPack Program, which provides students in her community, experiencing chronic hunger, with food over the weekend. Her alternative education students are active volunteers for both programs. Just recently, this program was awarded a $25,000 State Farm Community Assist grant.

Heather is passionate about and experienced in using restorative practices and experiential learning. She believes in the power of relationships and that learning should be meaningful to students. Whenever possible, Heather takes students out of the classroom and has them engaged in the community.

Heather graduated from Boston College in 2000, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with Moderate Special Needs. She later earned her Master of Science in Literacy Education at the University of Southern Maine.

Heather’s biggest love is her family. Her husband, Marc, son Trent, and daughter Maeve inspire her daily. She loves hosting friends at her house, can be found in the mountains skiing during the winter, and is proud to be a “Maine-ah.”

She was nominated by her former principal, Robert Riley, who stated “because of her innovative, can-do nature, her refusal to give up on any student and her selfless contributions to our school community and to her students, I believe Heather is an excellent candidate to represent all that is good in our educational system.”

Heather was selected from a pool of more than 300 teachers who were nominated by a member of their community earlier this year, she was then named the 2019 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year, and then later named one of three State finalists before being named the 2020 Teacher of the Year today.

The Teacher of the Year Program is a year-long process that involves educator portfolio and resume submissions, interviews, oral presentations, and classroom visits made by a selection panel comprised of State Board of Education members, school administrators, Maine Department of Education staff, former Teachers of the Year, and other Maine business partners.

As the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather will travel throughout the state and country collaborating with other educators to support the efforts underway to prepare all students for college, work, and civic life. She will be Maine’s representative in the National Teacher of the Year program which includes a national forum with other State Teachers of the Year, a week at a NASA Space Camp, and a visit to the White House.

The Maine Teacher of the Year program is administered by Educate Maine, a business-led advocacy organization, in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State Board of Education. Funding for the program is generously provided by Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, Maine Lottery, and Pratt and Whitney.

For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit www.mainetoy.org.

Resources for Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Schools

In recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Maine Department of Education would like to share resources and information that educators and schools can use to teach about Native American history and culture, as part of their classroom and school activities that commemorate this important holiday.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, this year the holiday will be celebrated on October 14th.

The Maine DOE has expanded its Maine Native American Resources webpage section to include robust historical and cultural information that honors Maine Native Americans, as well as resources that will help guide discussions about Indigenous Peoples’ Day, both in and outside of the classroom.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Seeking Public Comment on Health Education and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, and World Languages Standards

As part of the scheduled periodic review of the Maine Learning Results, the Maine Department of Education is seeking public comments regarding the current health education and physical education, visual and performing arts, and world languages standards. Find links to each of the current standards below along with details for submitting comments.

Current Standards:

The standards review process opens with a public comment period and a public hearing, prior to the convening of steering committees who are charged with reviewing all submitted comments and with developing blueprints for the revision of the state standards in their assigned content area. Once the blueprints are created, writing teams, consisting of pk-12 teachers who represent Maine’s cultural and geographical diversity, will assemble to draft the standards revisions.

Anyone may speak at the public hearings, which will be live-streamed. People wishing to speak will be asked to sign in, and it will be helpful, but not mandatory, to provide a written copy of comments.

Public hearings will occur on October 23rd in room 103 at the Cross Building, 111 Sewell Street, Augusta, from 1-4pm. A link to the live-streamed hearings will be available prior to the public hearing.

Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments by 5 pm on November 8th, 2019. Written comments may be sent to Standards Review at sis.doe@maine.gov, or mailed to Beth Lambert, 23 SHS Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed Revisions for Rule Chapter 180 (Educator Effectiveness Rules); Hearing on October 28, 2019

The Department is proposing revisions to Rule Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems to reflect recent statutory changes and feedback from conceptual conversations.

This proposed rulemaking provides a sunset for Section 7, Student Learning and Growth Measures, which are no longer a requirement. School administrative units will have flexibility in developing multiple measures on the local level. Section 13, subsection 3 has been revised to reflect, “A majority of the steering committee members must be teachers and must be chosen by the local representative of the applicable collective bargaining unit if the teachers in the school administrative unit are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.” Redundant and unnecessary language has been deleted.

The Department will be developing guidance to be available on the PEPG General Resources web page.

Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapter 180 on the Maine DOE Proposed Rule & Rule Changes webpage (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Public Hearing Information for Rule Chapter 180:
October 28, 2019 from 10:00am- 11:30am
Room 500 in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
All are welcome to attend and no RSVP is required.  Anyone unable to attend the public hearing may send written comments.

Comment Period Deadline: November 22, 2019

Comments can be submitted to Jaci Holmes at jaci.holmes@maine.gov