Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE) Virtual Professional Development Sessions

The Maine Department of Education and SupportEd are partnering up to provide K-12 Maine educators with four free virtual professional development sessions focusing on Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE).

  • Zoom – Conveniently join all virtual PD sessions online via Zoom.
  • Maine Educators – Virtual PD sessions are intended for all Maine teachers grades K-12.
  • 2-hour Sessions – Sessions will last two hours with time to apply strategies included.

SupportEd’s vision is to reimagine the landscape of education for Multilingual Learners (MLs). Specializing in Multilingual Learners (MLs), SupportEd meticulously crafts personalized solutions to fit every partners’ strengths and goals. SupportEd provides educators and administrators with the expertise and resources to help champion the success of MLs within and beyond the classroom. The SupportEd team is comprised of nationally recognized Multilingual Learner experts, best-selling authors, and accomplished researchers — all with extensive experience working in the classroom and/or district.

Download a flyer

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Social Emotional Learning for SLIFE


Thursday, September 22 | 3:00 pm

During this two-hour session, participants will develop an understanding of culturally responsive teaching and social emotional learning for SLIFE. SupportEd will lead participants in defining SLIFE and their characteristics and exploring strategies and tools for creating a culturally responsive school climate that includes social emotional learning practices for SLIFE. Time will also be provided to apply the tools and strategies to their class and school communities.

Effective Instruction of SLIFE  


Thursday, October 20 | 3:00 pm

During this two-hour session, participants will develop an understanding of effective instruction for SLIFE. SupportEd will lead participants in exploring a framework for effective instruction of SLIFE and discussing strategies for supporting SLIFE engagement with and understanding of content learning. Time will also be provided to set goals for supporting the academic needs of SLIFE in all classrooms and schools.

Supporting SLIFE Family and Community Engagement 


Thursday, November 17 | 3:00 pm

During this two-hour session, participants will develop an understanding of how to support SLIFE family and community engagement. SupportEd will lead participants in defining the importance of engaging SLIFE families and community in learning and exploring strategies for partnering with SLIFE families and expanding community collaboration in support of students. Time will also be provided to plan for partnering with SLIFE families and expanding community collaboration.

Supporting Graduation and Post-Secondary Success of SLIFE  


Thursday, December 15 | 3:00 pm

During this two-hour session, participants will develop an understanding of how to support the graduation and post-secondary success of SLIFE. SupportEd will lead participants in discussing barriers and solutions related to graduation and post-secondary success for SLIFE and explore strategies for supporting graduation and post-secondary success of SLIFE. Time will also be provided to apply strategies to plan for implementing strategies for supporting graduation and post-secondary success of SLIFE.

‘A Tapestry of Small Moments:’ A Story of Success at the Blueberry Harvest School

In the low bush wild blueberry fields of Washington County, there is important work to be done in the month of August. Families come from throughout the state, the country, and the continent to harvest the blueberries that make their way to grocery store shelves and kitchen refrigerators throughout the country. Once the harvest is done, they pack up and move once again, across school administrative unit (SAU), and sometimes country lines. The Maine Migrant Education Program (MEP) partners with the nonprofit organization Mano en Mano to provide migratory children and youth, and their families, with educational and support services. At Mano en Mano, the local MEP Regional Coordinators enroll migratory children and youth, conduct needs assessments, and create a service plan for each student, and, throughout the month of August, they operate the Blueberry Harvest School.

The Blueberry Harvest School (BHS) is a summer school for migrant children ages 3-13 designed to provide students with the opportunity to attend school while they are in Maine and may be missing school days and credits in their home states. It began operating over 30 years ago, when there was a large influx of migrant workers in Maine’s blueberry harvest in the 1970s. Migrant families travel to Maine from Mi’kmaq First Nation communities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; from “Eastern Stream” states such as Florida and Mississippi; and from within Maine, including Passamaquoddy communities in eastern Washington County and a Latino community in western Washington County. Some families complete the blueberry harvest in less than two weeks, while other families may stay for five weeks or longer. The goal of the BHS is to respond to the unique needs of each student through culturally responsive, project-based learning while preventing summer learning loss and compensating for school disruptions among students, helping to ensure that all students experiencing a migratory lifestyle reach challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma (or complete the HiSET) that prepares them for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.

In each classroom, students make progress toward academic success. Students take field trips weekly, experiencing educational opportunities throughout Maine. The oldest age group, 11- to 13-year-olds, recently had the opportunity to visit the University of Maine Orono’s Virtual Reality Center. During their visit, they were able to create and explore their own virtual reality rooms. Meanwhile, the 7- and 8-year-olds took a trip to the College of the Atlantic Museum to see dioramas. When they returned to the BHS, they created their own dioramas about animals they researched.

Stefan Fink, a Lead Teacher at the BHS says their favorite memory comes from a time when they and another teacher found monarch caterpillars outside their cabin. They brought them to school for the students to measure, take notes, and name them, providing the students with the opportunity to watch the life cycle of the butterfly. On the last day of school, the butterflies were ready to take flight, and the students sent them off together.

While the activities students complete in their time at the BHS is important, the staff will tell you that what really makes the BHS special is the culture and philosophy behind the learning, which allow many students to feel safe and comfortable in school for the first time. “Migrant education is disruptive, so we have to disrupt the cycle of learning loss,” Fink says. The BHS does this in several ways. For example, there are two teachers assigned to each classroom. School director Laura Thomas says that by having more than one teacher, it is easier to foster relationships between student and teacher, something many rural schools lack the capacity for.

The school takes a trauma informed response to teaching, helping to increase comfort levels and show students that migrating to Maine and attending school can be a safe space to learn. Part of how they do this, and part of why the staff love to work at the BHS, is through mirroring their student body in their staff. The teachers and students come from similar backgrounds and speak the same languages, making the students feel comfortable. Some of the teachers even went through the BHS themselves as children. This allows the teachers to meet and understand student needs at a greater level.

Mirroring the students in the staff is just one way that the BHS prioritizes cultural and language inclusion. There are 10 languages spoken at the BHS, and when you walk into the building, you can tell. Signs and books in the halls and in every classroom are in multiple different languages, helping students to feel comfortable. Through language access, the BHS is working to preserve and teach languages such as Spanish, English, Mik’maq, Haitian Creole, Korean, Passamaquoddy, Portuguese, French, Yoruba, and Nahuatl. Cornelia Francis, a TA at the BHS and a previous attendee herself, has been with the program for over 30 years. She says that sometimes, there are language and communication difficulties, but it is so important to give students an opportunity and a space to speak the languages that make them feel comfortable because it doesn’t just benefit the kids, but it helps keep the culture and languages alive as well.

Another important aspect of the BHS philosophy is the student-led social emotional learning component. This year, they hired an SEL coordinator, Meg Charest, who says that at the BHS, kids are the experts on their experiences. Charest says that in her role, she provides students with choices in how they want their problems to be solved because kids learn when they’re in charge. This “sit back and listen” approach helps kids feel seen, heard, and comfortable. While Charest integrates this strategy in her SEL work, teachers throughout the BHS implement this student-first idea as well. Francis says, “you need to learn the child before you teach them,” something that most teachers at the BHS agree with and do, building relationships prior to and while educating students, in line with the BHS philosophy.

All these facets of the BHS educational philosophy build upon one another to create an environment that both staff and students can be proud of. “This is what equity work looks like,” Fink says. Students routinely have exposure to cultural experiences and communities that allow them to feel protected and safe, which is evident. Fink loves when students share their first laugh at the BHS, ask for help, or share their hard work with parents. Each moment of pride and happiness in the walls of BHS, Fink says, helps to make a “tapestry of little moments” that show how effective the BHS is.

While the building may not be large, the impact of the BHS is. The staff build trust and connections with students, letting them feel comfortable in a place where historically, underrepresented migratory students haven’t been allowed to be happy or safe. They support language access and facilitate a culture of constant learning, helping to disrupt the cycle of learning loss. The work of the BHS, while it starts in migrant labor, goes far beyond it, supporting culturally sustainable traditions, allowing students and their families to feel protected and safe.

Continue the Conversation with Maine DOE and the McKinney-Vento Community Regional Representatives

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has contracted with several organizations to provide county-specific support to schools for implementing the requirements of McKinney-Vento Act, including New Beginnings, Preble Street, Shaw House, Gateway  Community Services Maine, and the Maine Youth Action Board.

The Maine DOE will continue this collaboration with virtual Regional Meetings to share available regional and statewide resources, and hold space to discuss the most pressing issues schools in Maine are currently facing with homelessness.

Join us for the April and May Regional Meetings

  • Hear updates on federal, state, and local policies and resources for students and families who are homeless or have unstable housing.
  • Learn how to increase your school and district’s capacity to support students.
  • Brainstorm solution-oriented strategies affecting youth in your school and community.
  • Network with colleagues from other schools and organizations in your region.

Dates and Times for Schools and Organizations in Your Region!

No cost to participants ~ Registration is required.

Kennebec & Somerset Counties

Wednesday, April 27

9:00-10:00

Register here

Androscoggin, Franklin, & Oxford Counties

Wednesday, April 27

1:00-2:00

Register here

Penobscot & Piscataquis Counties

Thursday, April 28

9:00-10:00

Register here

Washington & Hancock Counties

Thursday, April 28 11:00-12:00am

Register here

York & Cumberland Counties

Friday, April 29

9:00-10:00

Register here

Mid Coast Counties

Wednesday, May 4

9:30-10:30

Register here

Aroostook County

Thursday, May 5

10:00-11:00

Register here

For More Information Contact:

Amelia Lyons at amelia.lyons@maine.gov or Susan Lieberman at susan.lieberman88@gmail.com.

New Resource for School Districts: McKinney-Vento Community Regional Representatives

Through a new partnership with service providers statewide, funded by the American Rescue Plan Homeless Children and Youth state reservation, the Maine Department of Education has contracted with several organizations to provide county-specific support to schools for implementing the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Act. These organizations include New Beginnings, Preble Street, Shaw House, Gateway Community Services Maine, and the Maine Youth Action Board.

Over the next two years, McKinney-Vento Regional Representatives from these organizations will be meeting with each McKinney-Vento liaison around the state to learn how to best support schools’ work with identification, outreach, and referral services for students and families who are experiencing housing instability. The Maine DOE Homeless Education State Coordinator, Amelia Lyons, will continue to provide professional development and technical assistance to School Administrative Units directly as well.

The Maine Department of Education will kick off this collaboration with virtual regional meetings to introduce, share available resources, and hold space to discuss the most pressing issues schools in Maine are currently facing with homelessness.

Who: McKinney-Vento district liaisons and building points of contact

When:

Androscoggin,
Franklin, & Oxford Counties

Tuesday, March 1
2:00-3:00
Register here
Kennebec &
Somerset Counties

Wednesday, March 2
1:00-2:00
Register here
York &
Cumberland Counties

Tuesday, March 8
11:00-12:00
Register here
Aroostook County
Thursday, March 10
10:00-11:00am
Register here
Penobscot & Piscataquis Counties
Tuesday, March 8
12:00-1:00
Register here
Mid Coast Counties
Tuesday, March 8
1:00-2:00
Register here
Washington & Hancock Counties
Wednesday, March 9
10:00-11:00
Register here

Download the flyer (PDF)

For More Information Contact:

Amelia Lyons at amelia.lyons@maine.gov or
Susan Lieberman at susan.lieberman88@gmail.com.

Students Celebrate Passamaquoddy Language and Culture Through Food – A Feature by the Maine Migrant Education Program

The Maine Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program contracts with the nonprofit Mano en Mano to identify and support migratory students. Mano en Mano works with farmworkers and immigrants to thrive in Maine, and recently shared a story about how Migrant Education students celebrated Passamaquoddy language and culture through food. Check out this wonderful story and many others on their website.

Opan Opu Oponok (Bread in the Oven)

This winter, regional coordinators of the Migrant Education Program (MEP) have been working alongside families and students statewide to provide educational support as well as culturally relevant enrichment activities.

One of the most recent activities was planned and run by James Mendoza, regional coordinator for Eastern Washington County.  He collaborated with teachers and staff at Indian Township School to celebrate Passamaquoddy language and culture through food!

Read the full story

For more information about Mano en Maino, visit their website. For more information and resources regarding Migrant Education in Maine, contact Amelia Lyons at Amelia.Lyons@maine.gov.