MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Students Help DOE with Special Message to Schools

Maine school personnel have been leading the country in their offering of in-person instruction since September.  They have been teaching and reinforcing the safety requirements for keeping schools open and have demonstrated amazing flexibility, adaptability, and ongoing quick thinking, ensuring that schools can continue serving students through the many vital services that schools provide to our communities. As we continue to make progress in this ongoing battle against the pandemic, Maine schools and the staff who make them run continue to serve students.

A few of Maine’s students joined Commissioner Makin recently to help craft a special message, thanking schools staff for their amazing work in ensuring the health and safety of everyone at school.

A very special thank you to students Brooklyn, Calvin, Molly, Sada-Lynn, Ruby, and Francis, and to Torry Verrill; Educator, St. George Elementary School, Alison Babb-Brott; 2020 Knox County Teacher of the Year, Jessica Gregory; 2020 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Mull-Brooks; Principal, Congin Elementary School, and Patrick (and the staff) at Westbrook’s Awesome After School Program for the help in creating footage for this video.

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Priority Notice: Vaccine for School Staff Update

Last Friday, Governor Mills announced an age-based eligibility plan for vaccination to continue protecting those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 and to ensure the speed and efficiency of the state’s vaccination effort.  On Wednesday, eligibility expanded to Maine residents  60 years old or older. As part of this plan the Mills Administration is also  standing up dedicated vaccination opportunities for education professionals who are 60 years of age or older.  

To that end, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have partnered  with healthcare providers across Maine who will offer regional vaccination opportunities for the ageeligible school staff  March 12 to March 14. Vaccination doses have been matched to staff numbers to ensure that all school staff  60 and older can receive a vaccine. In Maine, 23 percent of  education personnel are in the 60 plus age category, which is more than 10,300 individuals. 

Superintendents have been provided updates throughout the week, and today will receive information specifically for their school administrative unit, including times, location and date(s) that their age eligible staff have been assigned to. Depending on which medical service provider an school administrative unit (SAU) is assigned to, some will today receive a dedicated registration link or phone number  to be shared with only those staff members who are age 60 or older; others will be receiving the dedicated registration information on Monday. The registration will be matched to the rosters provided by Maine DOE to the vaccination clinics.  

This week, some  individuals – school staff younger than age 60 –  gained access to one of the registration links, which allowed them to register for an appointment despite their ineligibility for these clinics for school staff over age 60 The healthcare organization that has partnered with DHHS and DOE to offer this clinic will be reaching out to rededicate these appointments to eligible education staff who are 60 years or older 

On March 3, Governor Mills also aligned Maine’s vaccination plan with  a directive from the Biden Administration to make eligible school staff or licensed childcare providers, regardless of age. As a result, school and child care staff regardless of age may also seek vaccination through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. These sites include Walmart, Sam’s Club, Hannaford, and Walgreens The Federal government requires “all enrolled retail pharmacy providers to set aside all currently un-booked vaccination slots for the exclusive use of teachers, school staff, and child care workers through March 31, 2021. Slots that remain un-booked 48 hours prior to the appointment may be released to others.”  

These pharmacies receive vaccine directly from the Federal government over and above what Maine receives for distribution. Aside from these retail pharmacies, Maine vaccination sites should incorporate educators, school staff, and child care workers into their workflow when scheduling appointments for COVID-19 vaccination. Special clinics limited to this eligibility group may be organized by the retail pharmacy providers but not by other health care providers, including Emergency Medical Services providers and sites receiving state supplied vaccine except for the age-limited clinics for school staff over 60 years described earlier.   

Additional vaccine clinics in Maine will begin accepting appointments for school staff and licensed child care workers as soon as they are able. Maine school staff and child care providers are encouraged to view Maine’s COVID-19 vaccination website for the most up-to-date information on locations accepting appointments. 

“Our schools have been implementing the six health and safety requirements since August, and have been successful in keeping both students and staff safe,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. “We know our school staff are as safe today in schools as they were two weeks ago, and that a vaccine will support their ongoing efforts in the classroom. I ask them to remain patient as vaccine doses become available to them, and for all education and childcare staff members to register with any of the pharmacy providers to receive the vaccine, as soon as it is possible for them to do so.”  

How One School Resource Officer Brought Together a Community

When the Saco Police Department came together last October to do an annual Pink Patch campaign for breast cancer awareness, they had no idea that only a few short months later one of their own would be diagnosed with it.

Officer Amanda Condon is a School Resource Office (SRO) for the Saco School Department’s Prek through middle school students which includes five schools: Governor John Fairfield School, Young School, C K Burns School, Saco School Pre-Kindergarten, and Saco Middle School. According to her colleagues, she embodies the best qualities of a female leader and role model. She is a part of the Armed Services as Air Force Reservist, as well as a Police Officer. Strong roles that she approaches with her own spirit and personality – a challenge she takes on with a sense of humor, an empathetic heart, and caring smile.

As a member of the community, Officer Condon also participated actively in the Pink Patch Project at the police department and at her schools before finding out that she was diagnosed this past November.

In her role as a SRO, Officer Condon is an employee of the Saco Police Department serving both as a police officer in the force putting in hours on holidays and weekend shifts in addition to other community involvement, she also spends the school hours as an important part of the lives of the young students she serves in Saco’s schools.

“She has been an amazing part of our community,” said Rachel Hasty, School Counselor for Saco Middle School in a statement she provided along with colleagues at Saco Middle School. “Last year she was directing the distribution of meals to the families in the community. She has been present for in-school and outside of school activities and this has really allowed students to get to know her in a variety of different ways.”

Known for her ability to provide both a sense of security and comfort to the students she works with, Officer Condon is that happy face they look forward to seeing at school, some even getting the chance to spend extra time with her as a reward.

“She connects with students as a person, and not just an authority figure,” added Hasty. “People like her and gravitate towards her kindness and sincerity.”

A couple years ago she brought a lot of awareness to the Wreaths Across America project, when she participated in it herself. It was very inspirational and heartwarming for the Saco community, and it started a great conversation with students who had more questions.

Since being diagnosed, Officer Condon has had to take a step back from her jobs and community involvement, leaving a hole felt by many.

The Saco Police Department recently organized a police convoy in support of her fight against cancer. The convoy involved a drive by parade filled with police vehicles and flashing blue lights from six different local police departments that all drove by the window where she was getting chemo treatment. The convoy was in lieu of being able to go in and see her in-person since visitors are limited in health care facilities these days, a measure that helps protect patients from the spread of COVID-19.

police Convoy

As she started losing her hair from the treatment, the Saco Police Department wanted to continue showing their love and support for her so 25 members of the force shaved their heads in a touching event that brought tears to the eyes of everyone involved (group picture featured above). Her team didn’t want her to be the only one without hair during a time that is already challenging enough.

The school has also tried to find ways to support their beloved SRO. “Taking her lead, we have continued to advertise the Pink Patch Project and have been helping to raise money and awareness about this cause that affects her and our entire community. We wanted to continue her work, not just for her but to support her family and to help continue the positive impact she has had in our community.”

Her presence as an officer, active community member, and leader at the school has a grace that touches the lives of everyone she meets. Officer Condon’s family says that since being diagnosed the outpouring of love from the school, the police department, and the community is an example of the impact her character has had on the people she serves.

“If you want to find the silver lining in something terrible, it’s finding how great your community is,” said a close family member of Officer Condon.

While she is undergoing chemotherapy, among other routine treatments to fight the disease, her family, friends, and community continue to rally in support. They are very hopeful that she will pull through and join them once again as the active and loving community member they so dearly miss.

Information for this article was provided by Officer Condon’s family and Saco Middle School 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.

 

Mt. Vernon Elementary Reads in the Great Outdoors!

On Saturday, February 27th students in grades PreK-5 along with their families participated in a literacy celebration. The main activity lead by the PreK/ELL teacher, Katie Reed, was a Story Walk featuring, Learning to Ski with Mr. Magee, by Maine author Chris Van Dusen.

There was an amazing turnout of over 40 students during the two-hour event that included parents, grandparents, and siblings. Along with the Story Walk there were tons of family-friendly activities including snowshoeing with the school nurse Justin Easter, outdoor snow yoga with the PE teacher, Nancy Martin, a photo booth with Mr. Magee, and treats to eat and drink.

The school’s Little Free Library was on display and all enrolled students were able to select a book to take home and keep. Mrs. Boucher, the literacy specialist, spoke with families about reading engagement, book selection, and ways to read together at home. Jeanette Jacob, district literacy coach, won a grant through Maranacook Education Foundation and facilitated the snack and prize tables.

Congratulations to all of the students and families that entered and won prizes that included gift certificates to a bookstore, a sporting goods store, Titcomb Mountain ski passes, and 5210 water bottles and materials!

This story was submitted by Janet Delmar, Principal of Mt. Vernon Elementary School 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.

Stipend Professional Learning Opportunity Provided by Maine DOE

The Maine Department of Education is accepting applications from individuals interested in learning more about the competitive grant process.  Selected applicants will be trained to serve as peer reviewers who assist the Department in reviewing, assessing, and scoring competitive grant proposals for the 21st Century Community Leaning Centers (21st CCLC) Program.  The 21st CCLC program is a federally funded education program that helps schools and communities develop before-school, after-school, and summer educational programs that support students and their families.

This year’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 21st CCLC program was released to the public on January 6 and is available online at: https://www.4pcamaine.org/century21/FY2021/. The Department anticipates receiving proposals from local education agencies, community-based organizations, and other eligible entities seeking awards under this RFP.

Qualifications:

Applicants will be selected based on their experience in providing effective academic support, enrichment, youth development, and related support services for children and youth.  The most qualified candidates will be individuals who have experience in the administration of high-quality youth development programs within schools and communities.  Examples of the experienced individuals sought include, but are not limited to:

  • 21st CCLC program directors and site coordinators
  • Teachers and principals
  • College and university staff
  • Youth development workers
  • Community resource providers

Please note that an applicant or member of an applicant’s organization will not be selected to serve as a member of the Department’s peer review team.

Required Tasks:

Selected applicants must be able to participate in an online training and review grant applications through a web-based system.  Applicants will work individually to read each assigned application and create detailed, objective, constructive, and well-written comments on approximately 10-15 applications based on the criteria established in the RFP.  These comments will be submitted to the Department prior to participating in the scheduled consensus scoring sessions.  It is anticipated that peer reviewers will have a three (3) week window in which to complete their individual review of assigned applications.  Following the individual review of applications, each successful applicant will be required to participate in a series of two (2) online/virtual consensus scoring sessions hosted by the Department.  It is during these consensus scoring sessions that the peer review team will score each application.

Selected applicants must complete the following tasks during the following date(s):

Task Date(s) Time(s)
Participate in an online training webinar March 30, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Review grant applications through a web-based system and provide individual, written comments on each application (which must be submitted to the Department) April 8, 2021 – April 28, 2021 Any Time
Participate in online/virtual consensus scoring sessions with other members of the peer review team (applicants MUST be available on all four scoring days, but will only be selected to participate for two days) April 29, 2021 – April 30, 2021; or
May 4, 2020 – May 5, 2020
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Compensation for Services:

Selected reviewers who complete the required tasks will be provided an honorarium of $85 per assigned application.

Previous participants have also found that serving as a member of the peer review team is an excellent opportunity for professional development and growth. It is likely that, if selected, applicants will be exposed to new program models, strategies, and practices.  These new concepts may provide ideas and support for ongoing work as well as future grant writing efforts.  Most importantly, the time given to this effort will help ensure the funding of quality education programs for the children and families of Maine.

How to Apply:

Interested parties must contact Travis Doughty at travis.w.doughty@maine.gov to obtain a copy of the 2021 peer reviewer application and then return the completed application along with a current resume or CV.

Pursuant to Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, peer reviewers may not include any applicant, or representative of an applicant, who has or will submit a proposal in response to the current competition.

Deadline:

The Maine Department of Education will continue accepting peer reviewer applications through March 11, 2021, or until the needed positions are filled.  Interested parties are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Contact:

For more information, contact State Coordinator, Travis Doughty at travis.w.doughty@maine.gov or 624-6709.