Maine’s 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit Highlights Maine DOE’s Commitment to SEL in Schools

Governor Janet T. Mills’ 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit was on held on July 15th this year and reminded the public of the importance of social emotional learning and trauma informed approaches in Maine schools, highlighting the work of the Maine Department of Education’s development of SEL4ME, a social emotional learning (SEL) platform for Maine educators and learners.

The summit featured numerous speakers and keynote addresses including those of Dr. Larry McCullough and Mark Lefebvre from the Pine Tree Institute who led a seminar called, “Preventing Substance Use Disorders by Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences.” This discussion showed the strong link between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and opioid addiction.

Dr. McCullough highlighted the importance of positive childhood experiences to combat the correlation between ACEs and opioid addiction. Further explaining that positive childhood experiences can be created for at-risk youth through feeling a sense of belonging in high school, having nonparent adults as role models for students, and community traditions. The seminar dug into the essential parts of community support, including a key component as social emotional and trauma informed learning, which has been shown to strongly correlate with less youth involvement in drugs.

Representatives Gabe O’Brien and Nina Misra from the Maine Youth Action Network corroborated Dr. McCullough’s presentation with their own, entitled: “Promoting Health Equity and Prevention through Youth Engagement Best Practices.” O’Brien and Misra focused on community and environmental conditions. Community conditions Misra defined as, “conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.” Educational environments in which social emotional learning occurs within the classroom were encouraged as a best practice. Misra and O’Brien described a classroom that utilizes SEL as, “creating a space where young people feel seen and heard.”

Social emotional learning has been a priority for the Maine Department of Education, championed through the SEL4ME curriculum. SEL4ME strives for students to learn, “skills for self-confidence, perseverance and academic success as well as [become] positive members in their communities.”

The Annual Opioid Response Summit confirmed the importance of Maine DOE’s commitment to SEL as a critical role in mitigating the crisis. Dr. Jessica Pollard, Director of the Maine Office of Behavioral Health stated at the summit that newly approved funds entering into the DOE for opioid crisis work (much of it heading towards SEL professional development and training) will mean “fewer Maine youth will ever start misusing substances.”

To watch the entirety of the Summit, please click here. For more information about the Maine DOE SEL4ME platform visit: www.maine.gov/doe/sel/sel4me or contact Kellie Bailey, Social Emotional Learning/ Restorative Practice Specialist at kellie.bailey@maine.gov

Maine DOE Director of Special Education Honored by MADSEC

The Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities (MADSEC) awarded Erin Frazier, Maine Department of Education (DOE) Director of Special Education from birth to 22, with the MADSEC President’s Award this year.

Frazier was selected to receive the award by the past MADSEC president Cheryl Mercier and current MADSEC president Deb Murphy.

Through weekly informational meetings with MADSEC and state special education leaders that she has led since March 2020, her ongoing coordination of the necessary changes to special education throughout the pandemic, and her continuous words of encouragement, Frazier was more than a worthy recipient of this prestigious award.

“Erin’s leadership has truly served as our beacon of light during this time of great uncertainty,” Mercier and Murphy stated at the recent award ceremony.

The Maine DOE is proud of this recognition of Erin’s leadership efforts and her ongoing accomplishments as a education leader in Maine.

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Clio Bersani in collaboration with Maine Administrators of Service for Children with Disabilities as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Reminder: Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) Summer Workshops

Instead of a week-long event this summer, Maine Agriculture In The Classroom (MAITC) will be holding three single day, in-person events focusing on Dairy, Aquaculture, and Wild Blueberries.

Each professional development event for PK – Grade 12 educators will offer 7 contact hours or .7 CEU’s (Total possible = 21 contact hours or 2.1 CEU’s)

Each event will start at 8:30 AM and finish at 4:00 PM. A lite breakfast, snack, and lunch will be provided at each training.

Dairy – Thursday, August 12
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

A full day of resources, lessons, and programs surrounding dairy will be provided by MAITC and the Maine Dairy Nutrition Council. In the afternoon participants will visit dairy farms, including the Flood Farm in Clinton, and experience a day in the life of a dairy farmer! Learn about silage, see a milking parlor, and learn much more about our local dairy farms!

A Day of Aquaculture – Thursday, August 19
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Join MAITC for a day of exploring aquaculture at the picturesque Downeast Institute on Beals Island. We will spend the day exploring aquaculture with hands-on activities, hosted by Dr. Anne Langston Noll. In the morning, topics include aquaculture through history, online resources for production, ocean temperatures, salinity, etc. and an introduction to aquaculture globally, in the U.S. and Maine. Later we will tour the Institute’s working shellfish hatchery, and research facilities, including spawning shellfish and (if successful!) observing fertilization and cell division, and data collection for a real-life research project piloting the farming of sea scallops in ME lobster pounds. Last but not least we will explore resources available for teachers through MAITC and our colleagues at 4H and have the opportunity to try out activities included in the 4H teacher “toolkits”. Please bring your own computer or iPad if you are able. WIFI will be available. Venue: Downeast Institute – 39 Wildflower Lane, Beals, ME 04611

Wild Blueberry Emersion – Friday, August 20
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Our day will begin at the Bluebird Ranch Family Restaurant, 78 Main Street in Machias. After a lite breakfast we will join teacher Eric Brooks for exploration of MAITC Wild Blueberry resources and curricula. Representatives from the Wild Blueberry Commission will host an afternoon tour of local farms and barrens to view harvest, culture, and production of Maine’s official berry! Do you know that Maine produces more wild blueberries than anywhere else in the world? Do not miss this opportunity!

Registration Fees & Information

  • 1 Training – $35
  • 2-Trainings – $60
  • All 3 Trainings – $75

Download registration form to mail a check

Online registration

Limited space – register early! Pre-Registration only – Deadline August 6, 2021. For more detailed information, including options for accommodations please visit: https://me.agclassroom.org/programs/summer/

Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) is a grassroots program coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture, and housed at the Maine Department of Agriculture. Our goal is to help students gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and society so that they will become citizens who support wise agricultural policies and local agriculture endeavors.

For more information visit https://me.agclassroom.org/ or contact MAITC at (207) 287-5522 or maitca@maine.gov

EMCC, MCCS, and Maine DOE Celebrate 88 “Badguates” in Inaugural Cohort of Learning Facilitator Program

Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), in partnership with the Maine Community College System (MCCS) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE), held a “Badguation” ceremony on June 23rd for the first class of Learning Facilitator Program completers, or “Badguates.”

In a response to critical staff shortages in Maine schools as a result of the pandemic, Governor Mills created additional flexibilities and opportunities for educators in Executive Order #7, which enabled the Maine DOE, MCCS, and EMCC to collaborate on a high quality, fast-track training program for paraprofessional level educators to expand, strengthen, and support our excellent educator workforce.

“This is emergency response at its finest, but this is also innovation at its finest where a real problem, a critical issue was presented, and everybody came to the fore to make it happen,” said Commissioner Makin during her remarks at the ceremony.

The Badguation ceremony honored the Learning Facilitators, many of whom were present during the virtual event, and featured a video message from Governor Janet Mills and remarks from EMCC faculty, EMCC President Dr. Lisa Larson, MCCS President David Daigler, Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin, and DOE Representatives.

“You participated in a new model, a new way of thinking, and learning, and leading together,” said EMCC President Lisa Larson during her opening remarks. “You’ve earned credits and credentials, and along the way you also gained some new friends and colleagues.”

“You’re not only the first, you’re also a part of building the future of our economy and you’re core to families being able to find new successes as opportunities unveil themselves through this new, ever-changing economy,” MCCS President David Daigler said to the graduates in his remarks.

“While many people were reeling and pulling inward and saying, ‘I’m just going to try to stay safe and ride this out,’ you ran into the fire like first responders. You said, ‘yep, sign me up! I’m going to go take those courses, I am going to get into this credentialing program, and I’m going to help our schools,’” added Commissioner Makin in her remarks.

The event also featured a short video showcasing written messages from program participants who shared sentiments on how they changed in positive ways throughout the program. Here are a few:

“I am happy to say I learned that if I put my mind to it then I will do it. I really wanted to learn how to write a lesson plan for my students and I did. It took a few tries before I got there, but I did.”

“I am excited to take what I have learned and apply it to the areas of my teaching. I can observe a student and know what I am looking for, I can be a better co-teacher.”

“I don’t think you will ever be able to measure the success of this program as it will continue to have a positive impact for many, many years to come.”

Offered at no cost to the participants, the Learning Facilitator Program is completed in two phases in one academic year with the ongoing support of Eastern Maine Community College faculty. Upon completion of a 3-credit “boot camp” course in phase one of the program, participants have the foundational skills necessary to fill short-and long-term substitute educator roles, as well as all paraprofessional positions. In phase two, participants engage in a combination of online work and professional learning community meetings, as well as a 315-hour structured teaching apprenticeship. When they complete the program, participants are eligible for an emergency Education Technician authorization which allows them to be employed as an Education Technician III.

For more information related to the program, please visit the EMCC website, here.

Watch the 34 minute virtual ceremony on EMCC’s YouTube Channel:

Opportunity for Aspiring Mentors: Mentor Training Registration Opens Today

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is committed to supporting the growth and development of educators aspiring to be mentors.  Over the past three years, the Maine DOE has collaborated with teacher leaders, administrators, and higher education partners to customize Maine’s mentor resources. These resources are available to School Administrative Units (SAUs) who wish to provide local support and training to new mentors.  We extend our sincere thanks to educators who continue to offer this training throughout the state.    

Mentors serve a critical role within their schools, and we are appreciative of their ongoing dedication to supporting and growing the profession.  Current mentors have been crucial to the educational environment—each individual mentor has made an impact.  We are encouraged by and thankful for those educators who are enthusiastically stepping up to become mentors.   

This summer, the Maine DOE will be offering virtual mentor trainings. These interactive sessions will serve as a foundation for aspiring mentors and a refresher for current mentors.  Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the principles of mentoring, reflect deeply on the role of mentors, apply practices into real-world situations, and engage in lively discussion with peers from across the state.   

Details: Educators are welcome to select either session below that works best with their schedule. The sessions will take place via Zoom, a link will be sent to participants following registration. Sessions are offered at no cost, all materials will be available electronically.

Choose from two sessions:

July 22, 2021
8:30am – 3:30pm (with a built-in lunch break)
Registration Form

August 10, 2021
8:30am – 3:30pm (with a built-in lunch break)
Registration Form

Contact Hours: Educators will receive contact hours for participation 

Educators are welcome to discuss the opportunity, along with local training requirements, with their mentor chairperson prior to registering.    

Interested in learning about future offerings, discussing customizable resources, or sharing promising practices?  

Please reach out to Emily Doughty at Emily.doughty@maine.gov or at 207-592-0314.