WinterKids gives $20,000 to Carrabassett Valley Elementary Schools

Submitted by Johanna Prince, Kingfield Elementary Principal.

Skiers and snowboarders raised $370,000 at the Downhill 24 for the Maine nonprofit that helps kids to get outside and active more often in the winter. The 7th annual event marked the largest revenue in the event’s history. The organization chose to support local education by giving the four elementary schools in Carrabassett Valley $20,000 of this year’s event proceeds – $5,000 each to Kingfield Elementary School, Phillips Elementary School, Strong Elementary School, and Stratton School.

“We are so appreciative of WinterKids’ efforts to support local education,” said Kingfield Elementary Principal, Johanna Prince. Added Kingfield teacher and longtime WinterKids champion, Selina Warren, “WinterKids has a direct impact on the number of minutes kids move during the school day. With their Guide to Outdoor Active Learning, I have been able to get my kids moving while learning, as the curriculum aligns to Maine and national learning standards. This is a win-win for teachers and students!”

The Downhill 24, presented by Darling’s Auto Group and Kittery Trading Post, is a team ski and snowboard challenge and fundraiser to benefit WinterKids. It is the only annual event that brings night skiing to Sugarloaf. WinterKids sets up lights along the course for a fun-filled, round-the-clock, family friendly event. Participants raise money to support WinterKids to help children develop healthy lifelong habits through education and fun, outdoor winter activity. This year’s event raised a record $370,000 from 2,897 donors, 49 teams and 409 participants! Participants of the WinterKids Downhill 24 get their own unique fundraising web page, and prizes are awarded for those who raise the most money for WinterKids.

“We are thrilled that the success of this event allows us to directly impact kids and families in Sugarloaf’s surrounding communities, ” said Julie Mulkern, Executive Director. “In addition to these funds, we distribute over $25,000 in cash and prizes to our participating Winter Games schools in all 16 counties statewide,” added Mulkern. “It is heartwarming and validating to visit schools and see firsthand the positive impact our organization is having on kids and their health.”

Updated Language Use Survey Now Available

Through the concerted efforts and dedication of our English Learner Advisory Council, and with feedback from our colleagues in the field, the Department of Education has refined our statewide Language Use Survey. We believe these minor changes have created a more quality document that will aid in ensuring valid identification.

As part of our consistent, statewide process for identifying English learners, as is required by ESSA, all Maine districts are asked to administer this new and improved Maine DOE Language Use Survey to the parents/guardians of students enrolling in the district for the first time.

For convenience and cost-savings, the updated Language Use Survey is available on the Maine DOE website in English, and 25 other languages. We have also created a short video to assist those who are administering the Language Use Survey and encourage others, such as building administrators and classroom teachers, to familiarize themselves with the survey and how students are classified as English learners.

For guidance on English learner identification, please refer to the resource and policy guide, Serving Maine’s English Learners, or if you have any questions, please contact:

April Perkins
Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III
Office: (207)624-6627
Cell: (207)441-9043

Wells Junior High School Actors Take Action Against Hunger

Submitted by Josie Perkins, Director of Theatre Arts Education at Wells Junior High School.

Students from Wells Junior High School were highlighted recently for their efforts to take action against hunger in their community.

“We give back through our arts. We affect people’s lives by doing arts and entertainment and taking them out of their daily lives. But what else can we do as global citizens to give back to our community?” says play Director Josie Perkins.

See the full news story here.

Learning in the Great Outdoors at Meroby RSU #10

Submitted by Kim Fuller, Principal of Meroby Elementary in RSU 10.

For the past three years, Meroby’s kindergarten students have been involved in an outdoor education program that promotes academic learning, social skills, problem solving skills and independence. The teachers; Maggie Corlett, Kristen Giberson, Heidi Ferguson and Jessica McMichael have done research, taken courses, and developed a curriculum to support our students. Each Wednesday, the students go into the woods to participate in a host of learning activities from searching for animal tracks, working on math skills using natural materials to working with their friends to build a shelter. Our guidance counselor joins the group for lessons on friendship, emotions and how to work together. These are just a few examples of the rich learning experiences our kindergarteners have each Wednesday.

The community has supported our program in a variety of ways; students from Region 9 worked to clear trails and make outdoor classrooms, the snowmobile club maintains trails to make access easier for our students, community members have donated warm clothing and boots, Sunday River Adaptive Ski Program has donated a sled so all students can participate in our program.

This year, not only kindergarteners are using the outdoor classrooms. First and second graders are going into the woods once a week to participate in science lessons based on the Common Core Standards. This opportunity for real hands on experiences with the curriculum is making learning fun and meaningful. We are proud of this program and will only add more rich learning experiences for our students in the future.


Hartford-Sumner Elementary School Implements Jolly Phonics Program

Submitted by Ryan Wilkins, Principal of Hartford-Sumner Elementary School in RSU 10.

Jolly Phonics is a phonics program that teaches children the alphabetic code of English. It is a full year program for those in Kindergarten, and is being implemented at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School. In the first nine weeks or so of school, the students are taught the forty-two letter sounds and motions and how to blend the sounds in order to read words. Students also learn the forty-two Jolly Jingles songs and learn about Tricky Words. Then the students are taught the letter names. Lastly, the students are taught how to read books by themselves. Jolly Phonics is mainly for 3-8 year olds, but may be used to effectively teach reading to any age person.

There are five main skills taught in Jolly Phonics. They are:

  1. Learning the Letter Sounds
  2. Learning Letter Formation
  3. Blending and Segmenting
  4. Identifying Sounds in Words
  5. Tricky Words

The main forty-two sounds of English are taught in an unusual pace and order. One sound is taught each day, with a short story, a song, and a hand motion. Letter names are not emphasized, but rather the sound the letter makes becomes the focus.

As the sounds are introduced, the children are shown exactly how to form each letter correctly. By practicing in the air, tracing and feeling the letters in the Finger Phonics Board Books and by writing it, most children begin forming their letters correctly after the first twelve weeks or so. The correct tripod pencil grip is also taught, and practice is given tracing over dotted letters.

Blending is seeing a word and simply putting the sounds together, one by one, in order to read a word as you would do for c-a-t. Segmenting is hearing a word and learning how to remember how to spell each sound so you can write the word, sound by sound.

It is essential that children can hear the individual sounds in words, especially for writing. Initially, the children are asked to listen carefully and say if they can hear a given sound in words. Then they are trained to hear if the sound comes in the beginning, middle or end of the word. As soon as the children can hear the sounds in three letter words, they can start their dictation work found in The Phonics Handbook.

After their first month at school, when the majority of the children know about eighteen letter sounds and have been blending and segmenting regular words as a group activity, they can begin to learn the Tricky Words. Tricky Words are words that cannot always be worked out by blending – sight words they have to memorize, such as: said, who, was, my.

By the end of the kindergarten year in the Jolly Phonics program, each child should be able to read and write the 42 letter sounds, form the letters correctly holding their pencil in the tripod grip, blend decodable words fluently, like “flag” or “mushroom”, segment and write regular words like “bed” or “campground”, and read and write independently and with confidence.