Lowell Oyster Named 2023 Maine’s National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year

The Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) is pleased to announce that Lowell Oyster, Assistant Principal of Bonny Eagle Middle School in Buxton, has been named Maine’s National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year.  He will be honored by the MPA at its annual awards banquet at the Spring Conference on April 27, 2023, at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.

Mr. Oyster received this award because of his strong emphasis on community outreach.  He has the ability to build connections across diverse stakeholders and goes to extraordinary lengths to meet the needs of students and staff.  He loves being an assistant principal and believes it is the best job in the world.

In announcing Mr. Oyster’s selection as 2023 Maine’s National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year, MPA Executive Director, Dr. Holly Blair noted, “The MPA is pleased to recognize Lowell Oyster as Maine’s National Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year.  He is a reflective educational leader who people seek out and look to for guidance and leadership.  Mr. Oyster focuses on the strengths of the people he works with to lift and accentuate each team member, making the overall school community stronger.”

Mr. Oyster received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Maine, Orono, in 2005.  In 2007, he earned his Master of Science Degree in Middle Level Education also from UMaine.  He then obtained his Certificate of Advanced Studies from the University of Southern Maine in 2015.

Mr. Oyster started his educational career as a math/science teacher at Bonny Eagle Middle School in 2007.  During this time, he took on the following school and/or district level leadership positions: Clan Leader, Symposium Leader, Math Meet Coordinator, Continuous Improvement Team member, Certification Steering Committee member, and was the 7th grade Baseball Coach.  In 2017, Mr. Oyster became the Assistant Principal of Bonny Eagle where he has served in this capacity ever since.

Mr. Lowell Oyster is a member of the Maine Principals’ Association and National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).

The Maine Principals’ Association is a professional association representing Maine’s Pre-K-12 educational leaders. The Association dates its history back to 1921 and focuses its work on promoting the principalship, educational leadership, and promoting and administering interscholastic activities in grades 9-12.

Augusta Adult and Community Education Partner with Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec

(Picture Left to Right: Kayla Sikora, Director of Augusta Adult and Community Education, Virginia Marriner, Executive Director  of Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec, and Kelli Gilzow Stowell, Community Enrichment Coordinator at Augusta Adult and Community Education)

Augusta Adult and Community Education is pleased to announce their partnership with Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec to provide literacy support in the classroom for learners who have been identified with low literacy levels. Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec will work with students individually and/or in small groups to help them with reading comprehension and assigned classroom work.

In addition to volunteering in the classroom, Literacy Volunteers will also be partnering with Augusta Adult and Community Education and the Buker Community Center to offer Community Scrabble Events. Participants can play individually or with a team and we will host a Scrabble Tournament on April 1st, 2023.

Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec and Augusta Adult and Community Education were both participants in the United Way of Kennebec Valley’s IMPACT2032, a process to develop a vision to improve the lives of the people of Kennebec County across the domains of health, education and financial stability. It is through this type of partnership and working together that we can improve the well-being of our community.

“Partnering with Literacy Volunteers offers an extra layer of support that many of our students need. Being able to provide our students with free tutoring is a step in the right direction to help our students achieve their education goals. Taking our partnership with Literacy Volunteers a step further and offering Community Scrabble Events is another way to help promote lifelong learning and community engagement. I believe in the power and importance of lifelong learning and community engagement. As the director of Augusta Adult and Community Education, I could not be more excited about this partnership.” -Kayla Sikora, Director of Augusta Adult and Community Education

“To be able to bring Scrabble back to our community is exciting. LV Scrabble Events have not taken place since March of 2020. Tutoring is exceptional for our students but Scrabble is fun!”- Kelli Gilzow Stowell, Community Enrichment Coordinator at Augusta Adult and Community Education

“Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec is very pleased to be able to continue a collaborative relationship with Augusta Adult and Community Education. The Memorandum of Understanding with Augusta Adult and Community Education supports a strong collaboration with the teaching staff and Director of Augusta Adult Education to provide literacy support.

Improving adult literacy can have a significant positive impact. Adults with less education are more likely to have incomes below the poverty threshold and in the general Kennebec Valley area of those age 25 and older, nearly one-third (29%) of those without a high school diploma are living in poverty. This collaboration can help to change those numbers for the better, helping people to have equal access to education.”- Virginia Marriner, Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Kennebec

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Megan Welter

Maine DOE Team member Megan Welter is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Megan in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Associate Commissioner of Public Education. I work closely with a number of the DOE teams, including the Office of Special Services and Inclusive Education, Communications, the Office of School and Student Supports, the Maine School Safety Center, and the Workforce Development and Innovative Pathways Team. In addition, as a member of the Commissioner’s Office, I also work with colleagues to develop policies and procedures that allow the Department to support the field.

What do you like best about your job?

Learning so much every day! I am also especially grateful to be able to work with so many people who are committed to serving the students and educators in our State!

How or why did you decide on this career?

I began my career working with children and youth in emergency shelter placements. Through this work, I understood the value of providing early and comprehensive services that address a child’s physical, emotional, social, and educational needs. Such early and consistent supports are vital to building a child’s resilience and capacity to persevere through adverse experiences. I truly believe that public education is one of the most powerful ways we can meet these needs while also opening doors to a world of opportunities.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I am married and we have two almost-fully-formed-adult children, who I love spending time with. We have a big dog that I like to walk, but because he is afraid of bugs they are generally short walks.  I love all sports, but particularly enjoy watching football. I am a proud St. Louis Cardinals fan (I grew up in StL). I also love listening to music, the theater, and spending time outside. I love cycling, mountain biking, and hiking.

REPORT OPEN: EF-M-39 – Finance Report – Subsidy Allocation for 16-20 Year Old Students Exited from Regular Education and Enrolled in Adult Education Programs

The EF-M-39 report opened on December 1, 2022. This report will be due on December 15, 2022.

All public school administrative units (SAUs), excluding Public Charter Schools, must report even if there are no pupils to report. SAU member entities of Unions and AOSs must report separately. SAUs that send their students to Regional Adult Education Programs must file based on their own resident students attending the Regional Adult Education Program.

Students who have exited regular education, and are enrolled in Adult Education courses should be reported on the EF-M-39.

This report covers the reporting range from July 1st to December 30th of adult education students, courses, and credits/hours.

Resources, including the webinar and slideshow for this report, can be found on the MEDMS Helpdesk Website on the Webinars & Presentations page.

For questions about submitting this report contact MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or call 207-624-6896

Middle School Teams Prepare for the FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics Competition

Spruce Mountain High School in Jay will host the Maine FIRST LEGO League Challenge State Championship with teams from all over the state this weekend. After a small-scale event at Messalonskee last year and no in-person event the year before, this FIRST Lego League (FLL) event aims to move a step closer to excitement and engagement that only the Civic Center in Augusta could contain! Every season, FIRST has a new theme that goes across its different groups. “Energize” is the theme for the 2022-2023 season with an emphasis on energy generation, efficiency, and use. At the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) level, teams will take part in the “Superpowered” challenge and “explore where energy comes from and how it is distributed, stored, and used – and then put their superpowered creativity to work to innovate for a better energy future.”

This year’s event will have 25 teams competing from across the state. Three of the teams competing this year are the Veazie Vikings (Team 26180) from Veazie Community School, the STEAM Powered Knights (Team 34104) from St. George Elementary School and the RoboSharks (Team 14407) from the Shapleigh School.

The Veazie Vikings Robotics team started in 2016 and are looking to have another successful showing coming off their success last season, which included two awards. They won the Maine Global Innovation Award with their “Veazie Moves” app design and had the highest scoring robot in the competition. Their success even led to a feature on NewsCenter Maine. This year’s team has a mix of veteran and rookie middle school students who each get to build and program a robot. Combining the building and programming to complete assigned tasks on a game field is really what brings the team together. Team coach Brian Gonyar said, “Students learn teamwork. They share ideas, successes, and failures.” Working around students’ busy after-school activities can be challenging, but they are able to practice most days. The team project that focuses on biomass energy production has been an undertaking, but they are optimistic.

St. George Elementary School’s team was formed by STEAM teacher Amy Palmer and Technology & Makerspace Director Paul Meinersmann in 2017. Team 34104 has not had a straight path. After participating in the state competition in 2017, the team is finally returning to the event held in Oakland last year. This year, they will be returning to the Maine FLL State Championship with a completely new group of students. Like many robotics teams in Maine, they are rebuilding their program after going dark during the pandemic. This new team, who renamed themselves the STEAM Powered Knights (they were formerly the “Electro Dragons”), are looking to charge back into robotics action this year.

Shapleigh School will be making their debut at this year’s event. Fifth grade teacher Heidi Randall went through the necessary training this summer to begin coaching a team this school year. They were in the starting process in 2020 and are excited to be able to finally organize a team. “It was certainly a learning year with a huge learning curve,” said Randall, “Our enthusiasm is high as we are getting the final week after the break!”  For students and coaches alike, the first time going to an event is a learning experience, but one that will help the team grow and better prepare for the future.

On December 3, 2022, the Veazie Vikings, the St. George STEAM Powered Knights, and the Shapleigh RoboSharks will join many FLL teams at Spruce Mountain High School for the Maine FIRST LEGO League Challenge State Championship. This is event is free and open to the public. Children of all ages can watch FLL teams compete. There is still a high need for volunteers to help at this event in a variety of capacities. If you have any interest in volunteering at this event, please contact Geoff Cyr (geoffrey.cyr@gmail.com). To learn more about opportunities for Robotics in Maine schools, check out Robotics Institute of Maine (RIM). For information about computer science in Maine schools, please check out the Maine Department of Education’s Computer Science page. If you have a robotics success story at your school, email jonathan.m.graham@maine.gov.