Maine DHHS Announces Winners of Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in partnership with the Maine Department of Education (DOE), today announced the winners of the video competition for Maine children to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.

DHHS and DOE announced the contest on November 3, inviting Maine youth ages 5 to 17 to submit 30-second videos that they believed would encourage other children, along with their parents, to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The winners are:

  • 1st place: Renée Morin (sophomore), Olie Saywell (sophomore), Hunter Roberts (junior, created original score), Ian Kruger (senior, camera operator); The New School (high school), Kennebunk
  • 2nd place: Spencer Michalski (8th grade), homeschooled, Columbia
  • 3rd place: Natalie Waters (6th grade), Lincoln Middle School, Portland

The winning entries can be viewed here:

“Congratulations to the winners of our Maine Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest, who displayed creativity, conviction, and courage in their submissions,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah. “We’re grateful to every Maine child and teenager who submitted an entry – they are all public health champions. Thanks to people like them, Maine is quickly getting enough students vaccinated to begin returning to more normal ways of learning and having fun.”

“Getting back to normal and doing our part to end the pandemic inspired us to submit to the contest,” said the first-place team from The New School. “By spreading awareness and empowering fellow young people with facts about vaccination, helping younger Mainers to not be afraid, and using skills we learned in video production, we hoped to contribute to positive public health messaging.”

“My plunge into the frigid water was worth the sacrifice for the greater good,” added Olie Saywel.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting the winning videos on social media.

Additionally, first-place winner The New School will receive $50,000; second -place winner Spencer Michalski selected Downeast Audubon as the nonprofit to receive the $25,000 second-place prize to fund summer camp scholarships; and third-place winner Lincoln Middle School will receive $10,000.

Schools can use the winnings to supplement school meals with healthy treats; purchase playground, classroom, gym, sports, or music equipment; enhance a special school activity; or support a school field trip for all students.

Over 50 submissions were reviewed, without identifying information, by a committee comprised of DHHS, CDC and DOE staff members. The selection criteria included originality and clarity of the message, consistency with public health information on youth vaccination, and potential to reach unvaccinated groups, among others.

Children could produce the video submissions on their own or as part of a school activity. Participation was limited to Maine residents.

The prize winnings are supported by the Federally funded Coronavirus Relief Fund at Maine DHHS, which was the source of funds for previous COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs in Maine.

The video competition is part of Maine DHHS and Maine CDC’s broader plan to support vaccination of children ages 5 to 11. Nearly 29% of Maine children ages 5 to 11 have received at least a first dose of vaccine, nearly double the national average of 14.7 percent and ranking Maine third in the nation, according to the U.S. CDC.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 to 11 years old in a two-dose series, and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge at sites across the state. For information on getting a vaccine, please visit Maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

Maine Virtual Career Fair Coming in March 2022

The Maine Community Coordinators Collaborative (C3) in partnership with the Maine Department of Education and the Association of Computer and Technology Educators (ACTEM) will host its second annual statewide Virtual Career Fair the week of March 21 – 25 with the live sessions happening  March 22 – 23, 2022.  Last spring, C3  connected thousands of high school students with more than 100 Maine companies, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits.  Regardless of their geographic location, the students were able  to explore the numerous career offerings throughout the state.  This year, the ME Virtual Career Fair will be open to ALL middle schools, high schools and CTE schools throughout the state.

“It is never too early to help students explore the exciting career possibilities that await them, and the new innovative use of virtual experiences for a career fair means connecting more students with more opportunities,” said Commissioner of Education Pender Makin.  “I encourage all middle and high school students, with support from their schools and families, and all businesses who are looking to expand their workforce and tap into the talents that exist in our classrooms, to get involved with this exciting event.”

Made possible with a generous grant from Unum, the ME Virtual Career Fair will be available free of charge to students or schools requiring financial assistance.

The students participating in the ME Virtual Career Fair will soon be an active part of the workforce. Providing an early look into careers and professional connections can help them choose a field they are passionate about,” said Cary Olson Cartwright, Unum’s assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Unum is glad to relieve some of the financial barriers and provide equitable pathways to success for students across our state.” 

Sign-up to join the ME Virtual Career Fair mailing list and be notified when school registrations open in January 2022.  Please email Sheree Inman and Justine Carlisle, Event Co-Chairs at mevirtualcareerfair@gmail.com with any questions.

A Reminder: Annual Audit Reports Due December 30th

Annual audit reports are due within six months after the end of the audit period (e.g., reports for the fiscal year ending June 30th are due on or before December 30th).

  • Per statute, the auditor is required to review the audit with the school board.
  • Per statute, it is the school board’s responsibility to submit the annual audit document unless it is stated in the engagement letter that the audit firm will submit the audit to the Department on behalf of the school board.
  • Municipal school units are required to submit either a combined (school and municipal as one document) annual audit or a school department audit and a municipal audit to the Department. The municipal annual report (a.k.a. town report) cannot be accepted in lieu of the complete municipal annual audit.
  • Per statute, Maine DOE must receive a Schedule of Expenditure of Federal Awards(SEFA), which includes federal award expenditures for all reporting entities, even if a Single Audit (formerly A-133 audit) is not required to be conducted. The SEFA provides information needed by Maine DOE to conduct sub-recipient monitoring as required by the US Department of Education and is due at the time of the annual audit.

In municipal school units where a combined audit is not conducted, Maine DOE should receive two audits: an audit with a SEFA for the school department, and an audit for the city/town including a SEFA.

  • If a management letter is prepared by the auditor, a copy must be submitted to Maine DOE with the annual audit, as this letter provides us with information needed to conduct sub-recipient monitoring, as required by US DOE.

Extensions and Subsidy Payments

If an extension or exception is needed for the deadline to submit either the municipal or school department audit, the superintendent must contact the Department to request the extension.
The forms are available on the Fiscal Review and Compliance webpage, under forms on the menu bar.

  • Initial extension requests will be for a period of 2 months, and 30 days thereafter.
  • Extension requests will be considered until June 30th (six months after due date); extensions will not be valid after June 30th and all municipalities and school administrative units with overdue audits which have not submitted an extension request before May 31th may have a delay in subsidy release. Those who have not submitted an extension request will have subsidy withheld until addressed.

Please submit all annual audit documents, reports, information requests, questions and other audit correspondence via email to DOE.Audit@Maine.gov.

Educators Honored at Outdoor Teacher of the Year Tailgate Gala

(Pictured: 2021 County Teachers of the Year)

The Maine Teacher of the Year Program hosted an outdoor celebration last month to honor its 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year and the 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year. This is the second year that the program has hosted the event with an outdoor afternoon celebration in lieu of a traditional indoor evening gala in an effort to gather attendees safely.

Meet the County Teachers of the Year:

Hosted in Lewiston outdoor at Geiger, a longtime supporter of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program, the celebration featured lunch provided by Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Green Ladle Food Truck, an awards ceremony, and remarks from partners, supporters, and 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova.

Event attendees included the 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year and Maine’s 2022 Teacher of the Year Kelsey Stoyanova, who were each accompanied by friends and family members. Also in attendance were representatives from the Maine Department of Education, including deputy Commissioner Dan Chuhta who offered remarks, representatives from the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA), legacy County and State Teachers of the Year, and members of the Maine State Board of Education.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows was also an honorary guest, carrying on the annual tradition of graciously presenting Maine’s signature license plate to the 2022 Teacher of the Year, Kelsey Stoyanova.

The event was made possible by the impeccable planning of Educate Maine, the Maine County and State Teacher of the Year Association (MCSTOYA), and the Maine Department of Education.

The Teacher of the Year Program is generously sponsored by: Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River, Geiger, Hannaford, the Maine State Lottery, Unum, and the Silvernail Family. For more information about the Maine Teacher of the Year program, visit: https://www.mainetoy.org/

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).