50+ School and District Leaders Come Together to Enhance Student Support and Instructional Practice

Collaboration and support was the primary focus of three recent technical assistance session held in Ellsworth, Brewer, and Augusta between 50+ school and district leadership teams and the Maine DOE ESEA Federal Program team members.

During the half day sessions, the 100+ participants worked alongside DOE staff, including school leadership coaches, to explore innovative approaches to leveraging federal funds through blending and braiding of ESEA Federal Program allocations, school-wide authority, and additional Title I school improvement funds to supplement and enhance current student support and instructional practice.

“We had great turnout, great conversation, and enthusiasm at these meetings and we are encouraged as we move forward,” said Janette Kirk, Maine DOE Chief of Learning Systems.

Maine Youth Action Network Offering Free Trainings Focused on Youth Engagement, Social Emotional Learning, and more!

For the 2019-2020 academic year, Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN) is hosting 26 free Continuing Education Trainings that are focused on Youth Engagement, Social Emotional Learning, and more. Each of these trainings are free to attend, offer CEUS, and provide lunch.

Transforming Knowledge into Action

Participate in a learning cohort with other emerging leaders in the youth engagement field. This three-part series provides participants with train-the-trainer content on youth mentoring best practices, engagement & retention strategies, and youth facilitation strategies. You’ll leave with training materials, strengthened skills, and deeper connections to other youth workers in your community.

This series follows a cohort model. Over the course of the three trainings, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a consistent community of professionals in your field to share strategies and challenges, build connections, and develop new skills to take back to your work.

For those unable to commit to a cohort, each training will be offered individually in the Augusta area:

Emerging Best Practices of Youth Prevention

Join the MYAN team for a three-part series focused on leveraging prevention best practices to effectively engage youth within our communities. Learn the neuroscience behind why scare tactics miss the mark in adolescent brains, strategies for directly involving youth in prevention-focused research, and how to grow and sustain lasting, supportive relationships with any young person.

This series follows a cohort model. Over the course of the three trainings, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a consistent community of professionals in your field to share strategies and challenges, build connections, and develop new skills to take back to your work.

For those unable to commit to a cohort, each training will be offered individually in the Augusta area:

Two-Day Intensive Workshops

Join us for four certificate based training programs designed to offer in-depth and youth-focused learning opportunities for Maine adults. Learn advanced facilitation skills, how to help adolescents through mental health challenges, incorporate restorative based practices into everyday work with youth, and learn how to navigate differences in culture and identity along with their impact on youth engagement.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Bangor Feb 25-26 – Bangor Registration
Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

Advanced Youth Facilitation Skills
Portland Jan 28-29 – Portland Registration 
Bangor Feb 11-12 – Bangor Registration

Fill your toolbox with activities, skills and facilitation strategies intended to grow your practice working with youth groups. Learn the skills to help groups solve complex problems, leverage diverse points of view, practice social-emotional skills and build engaging sessions for your team.

Practicing with a Restorative Lens
Bangor Mar 3-4 –  Portland Registration
Portland Mar 24-25 – Bangor Registration

Are you incorporating social emotional learning into your teaching practice? Working with colleagues to build a trauma- or healing-informed approach? Join fellow educators and youth facilitators in layering a restorative lens onto youth engagement practices. Workshop participants will explore restorative frameworks, build foundational skills, and strategize opportunities to promote restorative approaches in relationships and communities.

For further information visit the MYAN Continuing Education web pages or contact MYAN.

Get to know the DOE Team: Meet Roy Fowler

Maine DOE team member Roy Fowler is being highlighted this week as the part of a Get to know the DOE Team campaign. Learn a little more about Roy in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I’m the Special Services team member that serves as the State Director of Child Development Services (special education and related services for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children).

What do you like best about your job?

It’s an incredibly challenging job, but the CDS State Office team is amazing. It feels good to see the positive impact that our work over the past few years has had on the young children and families that we serve and on the almost 400 CDS staff out at the CDS regional sites.

How or why did you decide on this career?

Early intervention/early childhood special education weren’t on my radar when I decided to pursue a career in education. However, birth through age 5 is the period where we can have the greatest impact on development and potentially change the life trajectory of these children and their families.

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

I’ve got an 1850 farmhouse, so there’s perpetual remodeling and repairs. I also have a big garden, chickens, occasionally bees, make maple syrup, and forage wild mushrooms.

Maine Researchers, Teacher Begin Scientific Cruise

Submitted by Barbara Powers, Superintendent of Long Island School.

A unique educational opportunity launches on January 24, when a Maine teacher sets sail for the Southern Ocean as part of a Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences team. This partnership with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s “WeatherBlur” education project will bring the experience of an ocean research cruise to students in Maine and beyond.

“Research cruises are tremendously exciting, and sharing that excitement is a great way to interest students in science,” said Senior Research Scientist Barney Balch. “The ocean is endlessly fascinating, and learning about its vital role is essential to understanding life on Earth.”

Marci Train, a teacher at the two-room Long Island School in Casco Bay, will join Balch and several other Bigelow Laboratory scientists in order to engage students throughout the National Science Foundation-funded cruise. The research team aims to investigate how algae in the Southern Ocean may be affecting the future of sea life as far away as the Northern Hemisphere.

Marci Train with students

Throughout the cruise, Train will connect frequently with students in Maine and beyond. She will conduct video tours of the ship to show what a day at sea looks like, post learning materials on the WeatherBlur website, and share photos on social media. She will also assist with scientific operations and help conduct experiments.

“I can’t wait to have a first-hand experience with a scientific research project, and I think it is important for teachers to show their students that you are never too old to learn new information,” Train said. “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and share your own learning experiences with your students.”

Coccolithophores are a common type of algae that help form the base of ocean food webs, and they play a significant role in global chemical and carbon cycles. Balch recently found that they are remarkably scarce in the fertile waters near the equator, and his team aims to learn why during this cruise.

The Southern Ocean and equator are connected by an important ocean layer called “Sub-Antarctic mode water,” which forms at the surface of the Southern Ocean, sinks, and flows to the equator over a 40-year journey. Balch suspects that booming coccolithophore populations in the Southern Ocean are depleting its supply of essential nutrients before Sub-Antarctic mode water flows north, making the water layer sub-optimal for coccolithophore growth by the time it reaches the equator.

While at sea, the team will use satellite imagery to locate eddies rich in coccolithophores, whose chalk shells are so reflective that they can be seen from space. By measuring water properties in these eddies and collecting water to conduct onboard experiments, the researchers hope to uncover how coccolithophores in the Southern Ocean are altering this important source of nutrients before its long journey towards the equator.

“Sub-Antarctic mode water travels far north from where it forms, and it exerts a staggering level of control on much of the global ocean,” Balch said. “If coccolithophores are changing its essential properties, then they could be influencing which species grow in food webs as far away as the equator or even in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The team will use a creative approach to calculate how fast this water layer changes. The ship will follow Sub-Antarctic mode water for more than 1,000 miles on its journey to the Indian Ocean. As they measure the water’s basic properties, they will also collect samples at depth to measure freons, manufactured refrigerants that can be found throughout the environment.

Freons have constantly changed since their invention in the 1950s – a fact that today allows scientists to detect when water was last at the surface and exposed to freons in the atmosphere. Back on shore, a team from the University of Miami will determine which types of freons are present in different parcels of Sub-Antarctic mode water along the ship’s transect.

“Freons are a great timekeeper for the age of water,” Balch said. “We’ll use their time signatures to figure out how long it took a sample of Sub-Antarctic mode water to arrive where we found it, and to understand how quickly the water is changing as it’s moving north.”

The researchers will investigate these questions over 38 days aboard the RV Thomas Thompson. The team will depart from South Africa and return to the island of Mauritius in early March. The Bigelow Laboratory InstagramFacebook, and Twitter accounts will post updates during the cruise, as will the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This cruise is the latest research topic to be explored by WeatherBlur, an online citizen science community funded by National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project brings together students, teachers, community members, and scientists, who collaborate to ask questions, design scientific investigations, and bring back data and findings to discuss with each other.

Currently, WeatherBlur engages six Maine schools, as well as two schools from Mississippi and one school from Alabama. Train’s outreach from the cruise will be followed by more than 1,300 students and 26 teachers.

“I think this will be a wonderful opportunity for students to see all the different career options onboard a research vessel, including positions in research and on the crew,” Train said. “It’s important that students are exposed to STEM in action, and I can’t wait for them to be immersed in this experience and see how big scientific questions get answered.”

Saco Middle School Students Partner with their Community to Conserve Local Land

Students at Saco Middle School have teamed up with the Saco Valley Land Trust to conserve an eight-acre piece of land in Saco that runs along the Nonesuch River in what the students are calling the “Conserving Our Community” project.

The project started the first few weeks of school this year as part of a ‘community block’ at Saco Middle School where students are challenged to work on projects that will improve their local community. Community block projects range from creating and pitching a dog park to the city, aiming to increase protected bike lanes, doing compost for the school, or in this case, conserving a local piece of land.

The project started with just seven students who were interested in embarking on an endeavor that somehow protected the land around them. The group, along with their teacher Andrew Fersch, contacted the Saco Valley Land Trust who was eager to collaborate and had their eye on this specific property. Since then the project has evolved and grown as the original group of students have convinced the rest of the 7th grade class to get involved. More recently they have been joined by some of the 8th grade students, growing their group to over 100 students at this point. They are now conducting full school assemblies at every school in the Saco School Department with hopes of getting everyone on board.

Gianna, a student working on the Conserving Our Community Project explains more about it in a written post on the Saco Valley Land Trust Website:

As a team we believe that learning about our community and world is important knowledge to have. It is important to know what is happening in the natural world around us, because it affects us. Every impact to Saco’s ecosystem is an impact on us as well.

One of the perks of owning this land is that it will help make a longer wildlife corridor and trail where (hopefully, eventually) we can connect from Saco all the way to Gorham, though there are still some gaps where roads flow through. If we conserved this land it would make it possible for all the majestic animals of Maine to travel through the woods with no fear of getting hit by a car (and for humans to enjoy open spaces too!).

The students make frequent trips to study the land, capturing their adventures in trail documentaries and they have even written a book, The Secret Wisdom of Saco (PDF), a collection of place-based stories. The project also provides them with a community service learning project where they can advocacy for something they feel passionate about and deeply connected to.

“Children learn what is possible through example. If the community shows them that conservation matters, and that working hard pays off, they’ll carry that message their whole life,” said Andrew Fersch, project adviser and Saco Middle School Teacher.

For more information about Conserving Our Community, including how to donate or get involved, please visit the Saco Valley Land Trust Website.

This story was written by Maine DOE Staff Rachel Paling in collaboration with Saco Middle School as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. If you have an idea or a story for the campaign, email Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.