School Civil Rights Teams Across Maine Celebrate Inclusion and Belonging on Annual ‘Day of Welcome’

Civil rights teams across Maine were invited to participate in the Civil Rights Team Project’s annual “Day of Welcome” held on November 5, 2021. The event was a chance for students to celebrate and promote the idea that their school community is for everyone.

The Day of Welcome is coordinated by the Civil Rights Team Project in the Maine Office of the Attorney General. The Project, now in its 26th year, is a school-based preventative program that aims to increase the safety of students by reducing bias-motivated behaviors and harassment in schools. There are currently 207 participating schools with student-led civil rights teams.

The Day of Welcome has been celebrated for the past three years and invites civil rights teams to create an inclusively welcoming sign, banner, or display stating: We welcome everyone. All races and skin colors, all national origins and ancestries, all religions, all disabilities, all genders (identity and expression), and all sexual orientations. Students were challenged to create the display using imagination, innovation, creativity, and teamwork.

“For 25 years, the Civil Rights Team Project has been working with school communities to foster an environment of inclusion and respect based on their or their loved ones’ identities,” said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. “I celebrate their work and congratulate them and every Civil Rights Team in the state for making their school communities a better place, and I applaud their work on this year’s Day of Welcome.”

Participating teams also organized welcoming activities for the event, displaying and promoting their signs and inviting others to connect, participate, and celebrate their school community’s commitment to inclusivity and belonging.

Here are a few things students from the MSAD 60 Civil Rights Team had to say about the Day of Welcome and the work of school Civil Rights Teams:

“For some people, small gestures can make them feel more comfortable.” — Ella

“It’s important to show that we care, so that those who don’t usually feel welcome feel welcome.” — Griffin

“A Civil Rights Team is important to shed light on what is happening in school.” — Caelum

“People know that other people support them. We’re bringing together people who have gone through the same things.” — Ariana

Check out the creativity and passion in these Day of Welcome signs created by Maine students:

“All of us, working together, can make a powerful statement and enlist school and statewide support for our work,” said Brandon Baldwin, Director of the Civil Rights Team Project in a message to civil rights teams about the Day of Welcome.

Thank you to Maine News Media Outlets who reported on the Day of Welcome activities:

A HUGE thank you to all the Maine schools who are currently participating in the Civil Rights Team Project:

Alton Elementary School Madison Elementary School
Amanda C. Rowe Elementary School Madison Junior High School
Ames Elementary School Manchester School
Auburn Middle School Maranacook Community High School
Bangor High School Maranacook Middle School
Bath Middle School Margaret Chase Smith School
Belfast Area High School Marshwood Great Works School
Biddeford High School Marshwood High School
Biddeford Intermediate School Marshwood Middle School
Biddeford Middle School Mast Landing School
Bloomfield Elementary School Mattanawcook Academy
Bonny Eagle High School Memorial Middle School
Bonny Eagle Middle School Messalonskee Middle School
Bowdoinham Community School Middle School of the Kennebunks
Brewer High School Minot Consolidated School
Bristol Consolidated School Molly Ockett Middle School
Brooklin School Morse High School
Brooksville Elementary School Mount Desert Island High School
Brownville Elementary School Mount View Elementary School
Bruce M. Whittier Middle School Mount View High School
Brunswick High School Mountain Valley High School
Brunswick Jr. High School Mountain Valley Middle School
Buckfield Jr.-Sr. High School Mt. Ararat High School
Bucksport Middle School Mt. Ararat Middle School
Buxton Center Elementary School Mt. Blue High School
Camden Hills Regional High School Mt. Blue Middle School
Cape Elizabeth Middle School Narragansett Elementary School
Captain Albert W. Stevens School Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School
Caravel Middle School Noble High School
Central High School Noble Middle School
Central School Nokomis Regional High School
Cheverus High School Oak Hill High School
China Middle School Oak Hill Middle School
Coastal Ridge Elementary School Oceanside High School
Congin Elementary School Old Orchard Beach High School
Conners Emerson School Old Town Elementary School
Cony Middle/High School Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School
Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School Palermo Consolidated School
Deer Isle-Stonington High School Park Avenue School
Deering High School Penquis Valley Middle School
Dirigo High School Philip W. Sugg Middle School
Dora L. Small Elementary School Piscataquis Community Secondary School
Durham Community School Poland Regional High School
East Auburn Community School Pond Cove Elementary
East End Community School Portland High School
Eastport Elementary School Pownal Elementary School
Eliot Elementary School Presque Isle High School
Elm Street Elementary School Presumpscot Elementary School
Etna Dixmont School (ES) Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School
Falmouth Elementary School Reeds Brook Middle School
Falmouth High School Richmond High School
Falmouth Middle School Richmond Middle School
Farwell Elementary School Robert V. Connors Elementary School
Foxcroft Academy Robert W. Traip Academy
Frank H. Harrison Middle School Sacopee Valley High School
Frank I. Brown Elementary School Sacopee Valley Middle School
Freeport High School Samuel L. Wagner Middle School
Freeport Middle School Sanford High School
Gardiner Area High School Sanford Middle School
Gardiner Regional Middle School Scarborough Middle School
George B. Weatherbee School Searsport District High School
Gerald E. Talbot School Searsport District Middle School
Glenburn School Searsport Elementary School
Gorham High School Sedgwick Elementary School
Gorham Middle School SeDoMoCha Middle School
Gray-New Gloucester High School Shapleigh School
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Shead High School
Great Falls Elementary School Sherwood Heights Elementary School
Greely High School Skowhegan Area High School
Greely Middle School (4-5) Skowhegan Area Middle School
Greely Middle School (6-8) South Bristol Elementary School
Hall-Dale High School Spruce Mountain High School
Hall-Dale Middle School St. George School
Hampden Academy Stevens Brook Elementary School
Harpswell Coastal Academy, Division 1 Sumner Memorial High School
Harrison Lyseth Elementary School T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School
Helena Dyer Elementary School Telstar High School
Hermon High School Thomas J. McMahon Elementary School
Hodgdon Middle/High School Thornton Academy
Holbrook Middle School Thornton Academy Middle School
Holden Elementary School Troy Howard Middle School
Hope Elementary School Valley Rivers Middle School/FKCHS
Horace Mitchell Primary School Veazie Community School
Houlton Middle/High School Village Elementary School
Howard C. Reiche Community School Walton School
James F. Doughty School Warsaw Middle School
John Bapst Memorial High School Washburn District High School
Jordan-Small Middle School Washburn Elementary School
Kennebunk High School Washington Academy
Kennebunkport Consolidated School Wells High School
Kermit S. Nickerson School Westbrook High School
Kingfield Elementary School Westbrook Middle School
Lake Region High School William S. Cohen School
Lake Region Middle School Windham High School
Lawrence High School Windham Middle School
Lebanon Elementary School Winslow High School
Lee Academy Winslow Junior High School
Leonard Middle School Winthrop High School
Leroy H. Smith School Winthrop Middle School
Lewiston Middle School Wiscasset Middle School
Lisbon Community School Woodland Jr.-Sr. High School
Loranger Memorial School Yarmouth High School
Madawaska Elementary School York High School
Madison Area Memorial High School

Any school in Maine with students in grades 3-12 can start a civil rights team with free resources, structure, and support through the Maine Office of the Attorney General. For more information visit their website or contact Brandon Baldwin, Director of the
Civil Rights Team Project at Brandon.Baldwin@maine.gov.

Yarmouth High School Black Student Union Club Takes Experiential Learning Trip to Boston

The Black Student Union (BSU) is a club at Yarmouth High School composed of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students and their allies.  The mission of BSU is to bring awareness to topics that African Americans and Black People face by having safe discussions on ways to eliminate racism, prejudice, inequality, discrimination and more.

One of BSU’s goals is to help students and staff reexamine our community’s history to better understand racism and its origins.  As a first step, the BSU applied for a grant from the Yarmouth Educational Foundation to take a trip to Boston and spend the day specifically dedicated to exploring African American and Black history and culture.  The day was an opportunity to celebrate the many contributions of the Black community as well as look back at history in New England from the perspective of a person of color.  The students participated in a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail (Beacon Hill), attended a guided visit to the Museum of African American History and enjoyed Ethiopian food at a local restaurant.

“I learned so many things that I didn’t know before. I learned about important African-American people who helped others and shaped this country. This field trip made me realize how much this information and knowledge needs to be taught in school. This benefited me a lot and helped me better understand our history. I think that this information is too valuable to be just shared with BSU. It should be shared with everyone,” said sophomore Neena Panozzo.

After the field trip, the BSU created a short video presentation for faculty about their experience.  The students are currently working to help provide recommendations to faculty and administration about how our curricula, particularly those focused on history and culture, can be more inclusive.  This field trip helped students in their objective to better educate others in the community about possible discrepancies and gaps in our retelling of history.

“Field trips and experiences like this make such a positive impact on learning for students and you are able to learn so much in only a day,” said ninth grader Madison Beaudoin.

For more information about this initiative, contact Justine Carlisle, BSU Club Advisor at justine_carlisle@yarmouthschools.org.

Maine DOE Team Member Makes U.S. History as First Somali American Elected as Mayor

We are proud to share that Maine Department of Education team member Deqa Dhalac has made national history. The Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness Specialist was sworn in as South Portland’s new mayor, the first Somali American to ever hold the position of mayor.

‘Amazing feeling.’ 1st Somali mayor in US shares her vision

Washington Post | 12/8/2021

PORTLAND, Maine — Deqa Dhalac is the first Somali immigrant to become the mayor of a U.S. city, but she describes her rise in local politics as very old fashioned.

Dhalac, 53, became mayor of South Portland, the fourth largest city in Maine, on Monday. She fled Somalia in the early 1990s as war broke out and settled in the coastal city of about 25,000 in 2008 after finding a job in social work.

Read more

Summer Institute for Elementary Teachers: Identity and Multilingualism through Picture Books

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is sponsoring a two-week summer institute designed for K-3 elementary teachers, “Identity and Multilingualism through Picture Books.” The institute will focus on pedagogical approaches to language learning through an equity lens.

All details about the application process, logistics, and program facilitators can be found on this site: https://earlyidentityandlanguage.org

For additional questions, contact co-directors Krista Aronson (karonson@bates.edu) and Margaret Boyle (mboyle2@bowdoin.edu).

American Translators Association Announces the 2021 Winner of the School Outreach Program Award

The American Translators Association (ATA) announced that Majlinda Mulla-Everett – an Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian interpreter based in Portland, Maine – has been chosen as the winner of ATA’s School Outreach Program Award.

“We are delighted to present this award to Ms. Mulla-Everett for her weeklong presentation series at Portland High School in June 2021,” said Ted Wozniak, President of the American Translators Association. “Now in its seventeenth year, ATA’s School Outreach Program raises awareness of the role that translators and interpreters play in business, education, government, healthcare, technology and society at large. In today’s global economy, companies and other institutions are realizing the importance of using skilled professional translators or interpreters to communicate their message effectively and successfully to international audiences, avoiding potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes.”

ATA launched the School Outreach Program in 2004 to educate students about translation and interpreting and to interest them in these rewarding career fields. Through the program, professional linguists speak to students of all ages, highlighting the career benefits of studying another language and the increasing potential for exciting work with foreign language skills. Using a variety of model presentations and activities available on ATA’s website, presenters outline the requirements for becoming a professional translator or interpreter, emphasizing that these careers demand far more than simply being bilingual.

“The School Outreach program focuses on educating the public about exciting career paths in translation and interpreting and their wide range of applications around the world,” said Meghan Konkol, coordinator of the School Outreach Program.

In order to receive this award, participants must belong to ATA or an ATA-affiliated organization and must present to a school of their choice. Entrants must also submit photos or screenshots of themselves presenting to the students.

A legal and medical interpreter with over 10 years of experience, Ms. Mulla-Everett was honored to be asked to offer a weeklong class titled “Explore Community Interpreting as a Career” to students at Portland High School in Portland, Maine. Tackling the class as she would an interpreting assignment, Ms. Mulla-Everett engaged the students by giving them information, tips and encouragement using roleplay and memory games.

Seeing the students participating enthusiastically in the exercises and answering quiz questions correctly made her realize how important they viewed the language professions. Ms. Mulla-Everett also invited guest speakers to present their own experiences as in-person and remote interpreters. The bilingual students came out of the class understanding the value of knowing another language and the potential to help their community and make a living while doing so.

As winner of the award, Ms. Mulla-Everett received free registration to ATA’s 62nd Annual Conference, taking place October 27 through 30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She will be presented with the award at an awards ceremony before more than a thousand of her colleagues in the translation industry.

To learn more about the American Translators Association and the School Outreach Program, visit http://www.atanet.org or call 703-683-6100.