Category Archives: Dispatches

Yarmouth takes grand prize in Farm to School Cook-off

Whole grain crepes, a wild blueberry kelp smoothie, granola encrusted French toast and fish tacos were featured on the menu as the top two teams of school food service staff faced off at Freeport High School on April 26. This was the final round of the 2nd Annual Maine Farm to School Cook-off, sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, Child Nutrition department. The cook-off aims to promote local products in school meals while showcasing the skills of school food service staff.

Pictured L to R: Stephanie Stambach (Maine DOE), Nikki Dovoren, Blaire Currier (Yarmouth School Department Food Service)

Each team prepared a breakfast and lunch meal that was presented to a panel of judges including a culinary arts student, chef and school nutrition director. The judges scored the dishes based on presentation, taste, creativity and food cost, as well as food safety and time management.

For breakfast, Yarmouth whipped up whole grain crepes with a strawberry topping and Maine maple syrup. This was paired with a wild blueberry kelp smoothie. The judges were impressed by the flavor and texture of the smoothie and commended the team for introducing a less common food to students in an appealing way. RSU 52 created a granola encrusted French toast and wild blueberry compote paired with a strawberry smoothie. Each team was tasked to incorporate wild Maine blueberries as a challenge ingredient in their breakfast dishes.

For lunch, Mexican fare was featured by both teams. RSU 52 cooked up chicken quesadillas with a fresh fruit salsa and grilled potatozana. Yarmouth prepared fish tacos using Gulf of Maine fish with a side of roasted potatoes and apple salsa. The judges commended the teams for a creative twist on a traditional salsa. Maine potatoes were used as the challenge ingredient for lunch.

Congratulations to Yarmouth who took the grand prize and was named the 2017 Maine Farm to School Cook-off Champion! All recipes from the cook-off will be shared in a Maine farm to school cook-off recipe book to be compiled this summer.

For information on how you can be part of next year’s Farm to School cook-off, contact Maine DOE’s  Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at

Improving the Success of Career and Educational Development (CED)

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is looking at the Career and Educational Development (CED) standards within the Maine Learning Results system to understand how schools are meeting the requirements of this content area. In examining this we are asking all school *principals, or a designated staff member focused in this content area to take a few moments to fill out this brief survey:

CED Survey:
(All surveys should be completed by Friday, June 9, 2017.)

Our goal is to get a snap shot of current implementation trends, discover challenge areas, and determine what supports may be useful for schools to best ensure the successful application of this content area within their curriculum.

College and career readiness development begins in elementary school and is reinforced and expanded as students move toward the attainment of their high school diploma. As such, we want to ensure that all schools at every level have the resources necessary as they work to meet the CED standards.

For questions contact Danielle Despins at or 207-624-6608.

*Administrators, please forward this message to the principals in your district.


Public Preschool Annual Report due July 31

The Maine DOE is reminding school administrative units that have created or expanded a public preschool program within the past two years (2015-16 or 2016-17) to complete the Public Preschool Annual Report by July 31, 2017. The report can be found here 

This year’s report has been shortened to gather only the most pertinent information from Maine’s public preschool programs. 

Please note this report is not required from SAUs with programs existing prior to 2015 or those who completed the Public Preschool Application by the March 31 deadline.

If you have questions about the survey or to inquire if your SAU is required to complete it, please contact Maine DOE’s Early Childhood Program Monitor Nicole Madore at or at 624-6677.

Applications now being accepted for Health Education and Physical Education Teacher Leader Cadre

The Maine DOE Health Education (HE) and Physical Education (PE) programs are seeking quality, motivated applicants to join the Maine Health Education and Physical Education Teacher Leader Cadre (HEPEC). Participants of this initiative are charged with leading the way in ensuring high quality proficiency-based HE & PE in all Maine schools. Cadre participants will work together to provide Maine HE & PE professionals with curriculum, instruction and assessment resources and tools; professional development that supports effective proficiency-based education teaching strategies; and skills and resources to educate about and advocate for quality HE & PE. Successful applicants will:

  • receive training in facilitation and leadership skills and formative assessment;
  • develop and deliver professional development at local, regional and statewide events; and
  • develop a website for the field, as well as, establish other effective modes of communication to share resources and materials.

Administrators are asked to identify potential teachers (pre-K through high school) and encourage them to join the HEPEC for teacher leaders. Enthusiasm and a desire to learn and to lead are more important than the current years of experience. Interested individuals need to complete an online application and submit at least one letter of support from a colleague. Successful applicants will need written approval from administration to participate in the project including permission to attend all the trainings. Maine DOE has grant funding to reimburse substitute pay, mileage and lodging for training days as well as to pay stipends for the Summer Institute. To apply, click here.

For more in-depth information contact Maine DOE’s Health Education & Health Promotion Coordinator Susan Berry at or Maine DOE’s Health Education & Physical Education Consultant Jean Zimmerman at

Important Title VI Small Rural Schools Achievement (SRSA) program update

The US Department of Education will be sponsoring a series of webinars now through June 28 to assist eligible Title VI SRSA districts with the online application process. The webinars will provide a walk-through designed to take applicants from the start to the finish. An information sheet, including dates, times and links for registration can be found here. Register early as space is limited to 350 seats for each webinar session. For questions, please contact Maine DOE’s Title VI Director Daniel Weeks at or 624-6749.


Maine DOE recommendations for dyslexia screening

In accordance with 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, the Maine Department of Education recommends universal screening for all K-2 children.  The law pertains to screening children K-2 for traits indicating that the child may be at-risk for difficulty learning to read, it is not a diagnostic assessment.  The intent is to identify at-risk children so that they may receive early evidence-based intervention known to help children with SLD/dyslexia.

 There is a list of suggested screening tools available on the Maine DOE website, along with other useful information about dyslexia, resources and frequently asked questions.

Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) has long recognized dyslexia as a Specific Learning Disability [MUSER VII (2) (L)], consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1401) and the Federal Regulations (34 CFR 300.8) which implement the IDEA Law. However, there has been confusion regarding the use of the term, dyslexia.  Consequently, in 2015 Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) issued a, “Dear Colleague” letter specifying that nothing in IDEA or the implementing regulations prohibits the inclusion of the condition that forms the basis for the child’s disability determination in the child’s IEP.

If you have further questions regarding dyslexia or 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, please contact Lisa Whitis, MEd, JD, Maine DOE Dyslexia Coordinator at or 624-6643.


Registration open for Maine School Wellness Summit

The goal of the 2017 Wellness Summit, Awaken Your Inner Superhero, is to prepare and empower participants to create and sustain healthy, positive and safe school environments for all school personnel and students. Participants will gain knowledge and skills related to establishing a school culture and climate that is committed to wellness. They will gather tools, tips and resources for implementing programs and strategies that can improve personal health and well-being; assist in establishing and promoting policies and environmental practices to build a culture of wellness; and enhance academic achievement. This summit is a component of the Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program (MSHPP) and is hosted by the Maine Department of Education.

This year’s summit will feature two keynote speakers from Maine. Opening the summit is Barbara Anne Cookson, a certified holistic health coach, fitness instructor, licensed massage therapist, author, and speaker. She will offer an interactive and fun presentation which will teach participants principles and practices for being better leaders, to be happier and healthier, and to reach their full potential. Her passion is motivating others to be the superheroes they were born to be.

Wrapping up the summit will be Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, a recalibrated warrior, motivational speaker, actor, author and an advocate for veterans and amputees. Travis lives an inspiring life as a quadruple amputee following his motto, “Never give up. Never quit.”  A genuine American hero, Travis with his larger-than-life personality, sense of humor and incredible spirit for life will teach and inspire participants to overcome obstacles or circumstances.

Also coming to engage the audience in how to activate a wellness program is plenary speaker, Stacey Vannah, a certified health and wellness coach who works with adults to support their wellness visions. Before becoming a full-time coach, Stacey spent over 20 years in the classroom, advocating for change and participating on school site wellness teams here in Maine. Stacey will take summit attendees on a journey of visualizing, planning and delivering wellness ideas. Required for her session are minds open to possibility, a willingness to think a bit differently, and the courage to unleash one’s inner super wellness power.

In additional to these fabulous presentations participants will engage in multiple workshops, an idea galleria, leadership skills development, networking, and planning that supports health promotion and wellness for one’s school, district employees and students. The agenda is designed to serve new participants to the summit and returning participants. All school districts will want to have representatives attend this event, Tuesday, June 27 and Wednesday, June 28 at Bates College in Lewiston, to bring back resources and tools for developing and sustaining a successful worksite wellness program.

The Wellness Summit is open to individuals or teams; anyone interested in learning about and supporting school site wellness. It is $125/person for both days or $75/person for one day. For more information or to register, please click the following links:  Maine School Wellness Summit highlights, the agenda and registration. Up to 13 contact hours can be earned.


Changes to school grade configurations

School administrative units that plan to make significant school grade configuration changes must notify the Maine Department of Education of these changes by the June 15 prior to the start of the school year in which they will take effect. For example, school grade configuration changes that will take effect for the 2017-18 school year must be communicated to the Department by June 15, 2017 using the Maine Schools module of NEO. Users must have a NEO login and access to the Maine Schools module to fill out this information.

The reason for this notice is to ensure that the Department has the necessary lead time to analyze the grade changes and to make the determination as to whether the school population changes are significant enough to warrant the creation of a new school ID for reporting purposes. If deemed necessary, the new school ID will need to be communicated to vendors and the USDOE by the start of the school year on July 1.

If local school boards have not approved school grade configuration changes by the June 15 deadline, please contact Shannon Bartash directly to discuss the proposed changes at 207.624.6799 or

Maine DOE Takes Our Sons and Daughters to Work

KetnerQuoteOn April 27, Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted 18 students who came to work with DOE staff as part of Take our Sons and Daughters to Work day. Ranging in age from 8 to 17, the students spent the day learning about working in public service at the Capitol and participated in activities throughout the day including interviews with DOE staff, up-close experience seeing some of the work at DOE, and a special tour of the State House with a behind-the-scenes look at how the legislature functions.

Maine DOE’s structure for the day was aligned to the State’s Career and Education Development Standards, part of the system of student outcomes in the Maine Learning Results.  The day began by communicating self-knowledge and practicing interpersonal skills, followed by learning about the work done in a government agency, understanding the knowledge and skills necessary to do the work, and exploring the various education and work backgrounds that support the development of these skills.


A word cloud created from words the students used to describe their day.

At the beginning of the day, students were asked to introduce themselves with an acrostic that included words which represent their strengths, character traits, and interests.

One student described himself as joyful, outgoing, skateboarding, helpful, unpredictable, and adventurous.  Throughout the day, participants learned about the traits needed to do the work they observed and about the people doing the various jobs.  At the end of the day, they were able to reflect on their own interests and skills to determine how they matched with those they observed.   This particular student reflected that an attitude of helpfulness was apparent in all the work he observed and being outgoing is an important strength.

Another student who was particularly interested in working with refugees who have been the victims of violence interviewed Jay Ketner, World Languages Specialist, about the role of language development relative to her career aspirations.

StudentQuoteKetner found that like most of us leaving high school, the student had ideas about college majors and future career possibilities without being definitively decided and fixed. However, she clearly conveyed how much it meant to her to be working with immigrant and refugee groups, and wanted to learn more about how language and cultural study could equip her for such work.

“As a former interpreter for refugees and immigrants seeking asylum, I was able to show her a whole world of language applications in school, study abroad, the workplace, and our changing communities. Opening students’ eyes to new realities and possibilities for the transfer of their learning is what education is all about,” Ketner stated after spending some time with the student.

Another student interviewed Jennifer Tarr, Maine DOE Director of Special Projects and Senator Shenna Bellows, representative to District 14: Chelsea, Farmingdale, Gardiner, Hallowell, Manchester, Monmouth, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, West Gardiner, and Winthrop.

Of the experience, the student said, “As a teen who’s undecided about what they want to do after high school, this experience has really opened my eyes about possible opportunities and job paths I could take.”

Students also had the opportunity to sit down with Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert Hasson and Deputy Commissioner Suzan Beaudoin to ask questions about their jobs and the Department.

Eager to find out more, students asked various questions: What is the hardest part of your job? What is the easiest part of your job? Do you love your job? How long have you worked here?


Students interviewing Commissioner Hasson and Deputy Commissioner Beaudoin

One of the biggest highlights of the day was an “insider’s” tour of the State House led by Aaron Chadbourne, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor. The group sat in legislative seats, learned about all the work that goes on behind the scenes including what is done in the Reviser’s Office, by the legislative office and by the Secretary of the Senate. What was clear at the end of the tour was that it takes many people in supportive roles to make it all work.


The students in the Governor’s Cabinet Room with Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary and Aaron Chadbourne, Senior Policy Advisor

Reflecting on the day, many were pleasantly surprised and inspired by how excited and passionate people were about what they do as they explained the importance of their jobs and expressed a deep concern for and commitment to Maine’s youth.

Maine DOE seeking presentation proposals for Early Childhood Education Conference

The Maine DOE’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) conference team is seeking presentation proposals from PreK and Kindergarten teachers for the 2nd annual ECE Conference scheduled for August 14 at the Augusta Civic Center.

This year’s conference focus is “STEAM Starts Early”. The morning keynote address will be given by national speaker Doug Clements and the teacher presentations will run concurrently during the afternoon session.

Presentations will be 90-120 minutes and will present a unit or lesson plan created by the teacher team and grounded in core STEAM concepts. The audience for the sessions will be PreK, K teachers and instructional staff and administrators. Proposals are due by May 30 and should be inquiry, experiential and exploration based. The request for presentations is for a team of teachers consisting of:

  • PreK or K teacher and;
  • Art teacher and/or technology integrationist.

The ECE conference team will select three proposals, each of which will receive an XYZ da Vinci Mini 3D Printer with filament as an appreciation for their time.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the detail requirements for the presentation proposal, please contact one of the Maine DOE’s ECE conference team members listed below:

Deb Lajoie, or 624-6613 or;

Shari Templeton, or 624-6880 or;

Beth Lambert, or 624-6642