Maine Middle and High Schools Eligible to Win $1,000 in the Life Happens Outside® Challenge


Teens to Trails, with the support of the Maine Department of Education’s WAVES Program, partners with Arcadia to encourage students to spend more time outdoors

Teens to Trails is introducing the Life Happens Outside® Challenge for Maine middle and high schools to foster an appreciation for the outdoors and its many wellness benefits. The weeklong challenge takes place Saturday, October 23 through Friday, October 29.

Over 70 Maine Middle and High Schools are operating Outdoor Clubs as a co-curricular experience for students to build meaningful relationships while sharing outdoor experiences. Most of these clubs have started, increased capacity, or been revitalized through support from the Maine Department of Education’s WAVES program, which works to connect teens and adolescents with each other and the great outdoors.

Arcadia, a green energy tech company, is providing a $1,000 reward to the three Maine middle and high schools with the highest amount of outdoor time proportional to their school size.

To participate in the Challenge week, students will track and submit their activity online. All outdoor activities — at home or at school — count towards earning points, from exploring a local trail with friends to biking to doing homework outside. Winners are selected by total hours divided by school population, so large and small schools have equal chances to win. The three schools with the most hours — one from northern Maine, one from central Maine, and one from southern Maine — will be awarded $1,000 to further outdoor access for their students.

To participate in the Life Happens Outside® Challenge, visit to register and receive promotional materials. Each student must track and submit their hours via a provided Google form by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 29. Winners will be announced on Thursday, November 4.

Teens To Trails is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit dedicated to connecting teenage students to life-changing outdoor experiences with a vision that all teens have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors together.

Arcadia gives customers a simple and affordable way to choose renewable energy, connecting their homes and communities to the highest standards of clean energy through its platform technology. Founded in 2014, Arcadia connects with utilities in every state, manages 4.5 terawatt-hours of residential energy demand, and is the largest manager of residential community solar subscribers in the US. Join us in achieving our vision of a 100% renewable energy future at

For additional information, please contact Jennifer Hazard, Communications Manager at Teens to Trails. Phone: 207-749-0249 or email:



Maine School Safety Center


  • Violence prevention strategy recommended by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Secret Service, and FBI.
  • Multidisciplinary team approach to identify behaviors of concern, assess the level of risk, and provide appropriate interventions.


  • Consists of 2 levels of training.
  • Level 1: 8 eLearning modules, taking approximately 6 hours, to be completed at your convenience asynchronously online. Training window opens on November 1st, 2021.
  • Level 2: 4-hour Synchronous training to work through practice cases applying the methodology learned in the Level 1 training. November 17th via Zoom from 9:00-1:00.


  • School Administrators
  • School Safety Teams
  • Law Enforcement Responding to Schools
  • School Mental Health Providers/Social Workers/Psychologists/School Counselors
  • School Resource Officers
  • Juvenile Community Corrections Officers


  • Contact Karen Barnes, Threat Assessment/Mental Health Officer at the Maine School Safety Center for more information or to be added to the training roster.
  • Additional training dates TBA.

Exploring Focus on First Professional Learning Community

Between 2018-2021, the Maine Department of Education has engaged in the development of interdisciplinary, open-source instructional programs for Pre-K and Kindergarten.  These programs, Pre-K for ME and K for ME, are housed on the Maine DOE’s website. A number of schools across the state have implemented the Pre-K for ME and K for ME instructional programs and the Maine DOE is planning to extend its work related to interdisciplinary, open-source instructional programming into grade one during the 2022-23 school year.

For grade one teachers interested in exploring the Focus on First instructional program developed by the Boston Public Schools that will serve as the foundation for Maine’s work, a PLC experience is being planned for the 2021-22 school year.  There is no obligation to implement the program, but this PLC will provide time to learn about the components of Focus on First and how the program connects to Pre-K for ME and K for ME.  Teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators interested in this instructional program are encouraged to participate.  Grade one teachers who participate may have the opportunity to pilot the program during the 2022-23 school year. An outline of the PLC series for Focus on First and a registration link is included below.

Exploring Focus on First

Second Wednesday of the month, beginning November 10, 2021 and continuing through May 11, 2022, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Registration Link 

In the Focus on First curriculum, the Boston Public School System has worked to develop an interdisciplinary instructional program that encourages children and teachers to work together  to develop understandings and communicate meaningfully. With texts at the core of classroom experiences, children ask questions about the world around them and consolidate ideas about their place in it as learners and contributors.

Participants will explore the components and design of Focus on First while taking a deep dive into the content of its 4 units: Building Strong Communities, Animals Surviving and Thriving, Resources in Our Communities, and Communicating with Light and Sound.

Exploring Focus on First
November Overview – A Child’s Experience with Focus on First – Storytelling and Story Acting
December Text Talk, Knowledge Building, Vocabulary and Language
January Studios, Thinking & Feedback
February Science and Social Studies
March Foundational Literacy
April Stations and Strategic Small Groups
May Writing and Assessment

If you have additional questions, please contact Elementary Literacy Specialist, Dee Saucier at

‘It’s Hardest to Learn Where They’re Least Vaccinated’ by Aley, Anna, and Bill

It is with special permission from renowned artists the Indigo Girls themselves that we present this beautiful nod to their song, “Least Complicated” by Mainers Bill, a music teacher, Aley, a school counselor, and Anna, a parent of a child in school.

This recently recorded, heartfelt song urges communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep children safe in schools and schools operational.

Check out their music video here:


Computer Science Professional Development Grant Application

The Maine Department of Education is thrilled to announce the release of the Computer Science Professional Development Grant Application! 

Maine’s 130th legislature, through a bill sponsored by Senator Pouliot, created a pilot grant program to provide funding for high-quality, teacher-developed or teacher-led professional development for PK-12 computer science pedagogy and content.  

Priority will be given to applicants that: 

  • Do not currently offer computer science learning opportunities; 
  • Serve socioeconomically disadvantaged school districts; 
  • Prioritize student populations traditionally underrepresented in computer science; 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursuing high-quality educator professional development that emphasizes integration of computer science into other course work and curricula or establishes or expands access to courses that offer college credit and other certificates of value, or both; and 
  • Collaborate or partner with other entities, including but not limited to other local education agencies, the business community, nonprofit organizations and private entities. 

The Fall application window opens Friday October 8th, 2021 and closes November 5th, 2021. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. All applicants will be notified of their application status within two weeks of the application deadline.  

There is no limit to the grant amount awarded per applicant; however, funds will be dispersed equitably across all applications based on county and throughout PK-12. There is a total of $25,000 available for this grant in the Fall. 

A Spring application window will become available in January 2022. A minimum of $25,000 will be available in the Spring. 

Have questions? Want to learn more? We are hosting three informational sessions, October18th, October 25th, and November 1st. 

Interested in applying? Check out our website to register for an informational session, learn more about the grant, and submit an application.  

Need assistance applying? contact Emma-Marie Banks, Computer Science Specialist & Secondary Digital Learning Specialist