Maine Prepares to Respond to National Transportation Safety Board Safety Recommendation

Maine was one of 44 states that received a letter with safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the NTSB June 18, 2019 report, School Bus Run-Off-Road and Fire, Oakland, Iowa December 12, 2017.  The NTSB does not make regulations, but does issue recommendations to organizations. Recommendations regarding driver physicals, physical performance tests, and safety belts on large capacity buses were included in NTSB reports and recommendations.

The Department has engaged in collaboration and conversation with multiple state agencies to discuss possible responsive actions. Further outreach is planned with Maine Association for Pupil Transportation and Maine school administrative unit staff, including a webinar, which is planned for local school bus drivers, transportation directors, business managers, and superintendents on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.  An email invitation with webinar details will be sent to Maine superintendents and transportation directors.

The details of the NTSB report, accident investigation, and the resulting safety recommendations can be found here: .

We are committed to partnering with schools and other state agencies to continuously improve and ensure the safety and well-being of all Maine students. Media inquiries may be addressed to Kelli Deveaux by email at Transportation inquires may be addressed to Pat Hinckley by email at .

Funding Available for New or Expanding Pre-K Programs in 2020-2021!

Are you opening a new PreK program or expanding an existing program in FY21? – Maine Department of Education will provide funding for FY21 for new or expanded PreK programs!

If your SAU is opening or expanding a PreK program in the 2020-2021 school year, you are eligible to receive funding on your FY21 ED279 for children you enroll in these new or expanding PreK programs in 2020. This means you will receive the funding for enrollment in the same year that you enroll the PreK children, without a year delay.

Beginning in FY19, the Essential Programs and Services (EPS) funding formula added an allocation for PreK programs’ estimate student count. The PreK program estimate count allocation is intended to provide funding for PreK programming in advance of actual student enrollment, helping to offset the upfront costs associated with expanding or starting PreK programs. This PreK program allocation was first authorized into law on July 1, 2018 to begin in FY19 and continue indefinitely.

If you are expanding and would like to receive an FY21 estimate PreK allocation, please notify the Maine DOE by completing the FY21 Estimate PreK Count Data Form before October 15, 2019. There are 3 questions to be answered:

  1. Choose your SAU from a list
  2. Do you have an existing PreK program (FY20) – Yes/No
  3. Provide your SAU’s PreK Estimated Increase Count (new slots available in new or expanding program)

SAUs completing the form must also complete the PreK Program Application with DOE’s Early Childhood Team by April 30, 2020 and obtain program approval.

The FY21 Estimate PreK Count Data Collection form is meant to capture the FY21 estimate for new and expanding PreK program enrollment. The estimate student count data, in addition to the current (FY20) enrollment in an existing PreK program, will be used to provide funding on the FY21 ED279. SAUs’ PreK total enrollment number, as reported and verified October 1, 2020, should match the combined existing and estimated increase total that was used to calculate funds in the ED279. After October 1, 2020 an audit adjustment, based on actual enrollment reported in NEO on October 1, 2020, will be made to the PreK allocation assigned on the FY21 ED279. Please note that this may increase or decrease funding.

For more information about establishing or expanding a Pre-K program, please check out our webpage on the topic, or please contact Deb Lajoie at 624-6613 or




ECET2 in Maine: Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching!

In her opening remarks to the York and Downeast convenings of Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching (ECET2), Maine Education Association (MEA) president Grace Leavitt told those assembled, “teaching is not a profession you leave at the door when the bell rings, it is always on your mind.” For the teachers packed into the Pratt & Whitney Building at York County Community College on August 7, and the Science Building at the University of Maine at Machias on August 15, summertime professional learning was certainly alive and well!

This summer marked the fifth anniversary of ECET2 in Maine and the first summer of regional Maine ECET2 convenings. Karen MacDonald and Jennifer Dorman (2014 & 2015 Maine Teachers of the Year) hosted the first ECET2 for 150 teachers at Colby College in August of 2015.

two educators posing together smiling
Karen MacDonald and Jennifer Dorman

MacDonald and Dorman wrote grants, sought sponsors, and spent countless hours (!!) handling the numerous logistics involved in planning and hosting a free, overnight conference for 150 Maine teachers. Why? They wanted to share the professional learning, leadership, and respect they experienced during their national Teacher of the Year travels with teachers here in Maine. They also wanted to highlight the role teacher leaders can play in our state. Dorman and MacDonald’s efforts were enthusiastically embraced by Maine teachers not only during that first summer, but in each subsequent year.  As rave reviews of ECET2 spread, more teachers joined the planning process, including Diana Allen (Sanford Schools) as another co-chair, and the conference became so popular there was not only a waitlist for attendees, but the number of presentation proposals exceeded the available session slots! These factors led to ECET2 branching out to the regional convenings that took place this summer.

Why is ECET2 so popular?  Let’s start with the title—this conference is all about celebrating effective teaching and teachers—and it is, from start to finish, put on by teachers for teachers.  It was born out of a desire to provide a forum for exceptional teachers to learn from one another and to celebrate the teaching profession, and seeks to realize a teacher’s potential by ensuring each convening includes these six elements:

  • Nurtures trust among teachers
  • Focuses on each teacher’s potential for growth
  • Inspires both the intellect and the passion that drives teachers in their work
  • Provides time for collaboration and learning
  • Puts teachers in the lead
  • Recognizes teachers as talented professionals

Inspired from their own experiences at ECET2, Pamela Starkey (Marshwood Great Works School, 2016 Oxford County Teacher of the Year), and Devan Weber (Eliot Elementary School) co-chaired ECET2 York, and Marielle Edgecomb (Peninsula School, 2017 Hancock County Teacher of the Year) chaired ECET2 Downeast. Both convenings featured breakout sessions on best teaching practices in content areas, as well as sessions on social-emotional learning and mindfulness in the classroom. Teacher leadership and innovation were embedded throughout the gatherings. Keeping in mind the importance of collaboration, inspiration, and celebration, the convenings also included these components:

Cultivating the Calling:

These inspirational talks are given by teachers on why they chose to teach, or what inspires them to continue teaching. In York, Katie Toothaker, 2018 Androscoggin Teacher of the Year, told the audience, “each school year is a new beginning for you and your students.” Toothaker shared how her teachers demonstrated the ability of public educators to nurture self-worth in their students and the difference that made for her and how she pays that forward with her own students. Teresa Gaetjens, National Board Certified Teacher, shared the importance of growth mindset, contextualizing her topic around the passing of her young daughter. This heart-wrenching story underscored the importance of perseverance both in and out of the classroom. At ECET2 Downeast, Marielle Edgecomb shared the importance of professional learning –teacher to teacher—being brave enough to open our classroom doors and teaching practices for others to see, learn from, and celebrate. Marielle challenged educators to see their students and colleagues through “eyes of appreciation.”

Colleague Circles:

This is a dedicated time for teachers to collaborate on “problems of practice” and generate possible solutions. Topics this year included: teacher shortages, school improvement, mental and physical wellness, school safety, diversity, and culturally responsive teaching. In York, teachers recorded goals or action steps on a post card and gave them to the ECET2 organizers, with the understanding that they will receive them in the mail sometime this fall as a reminder/check-in on their summer work and goals.

Educator Shark Tank—a fabulous idea that was shared from another state’s ECET2!

Just like on TV—except the prize money, $1000 generously donated by the Maine Education Association, was awarded to two innovative education projects that will positively impact student learning. Educators at ECET2 Downeast submitted many compelling proposals to the Sharks, four of which made the final round. The four finalists had three minutes each to present their best “pitch” to the Sharks. After a lively round of presentations and lots of laugher, followed by clarifying questions from the Sharks, the two $500 cash awards went to the Rose Gaffney School for their proposal to use technology to increase community and collaboration, and the Brooklin School for their work on diversity and literacy. Congratulations to all who submitted proposals—the Sharks had a tough task choosing just two!

The verdict is in on the first summer of regional ECET2 convenings: resounding success! As with their central Maine ECET2 predecessors, the regional convenings provided a platform for optimistic and personal professional learning—and a true celebration of teachers and the teaching profession! As teachers were preparing to leave, many of their comments echoed Paula Bourque’s (Instructional Coach, NBCT, Augusta Schools) reflection of her ECET2 experience:

“Each of us left the conference feeling inspired, empowered, and connected.  We are charged with going out and sharing what we experienced and learned with our colleagues and cultivating the calling of teacher leadership. We left with a stronger network to lean on and collaborate with as we navigate the challenges of teaching. We are dedicated to promoting teacher leadership, positive school culture, and the advocacy for what is best for our students.”

ECET2: A perfect way for educators to recharge in preparation for a new school year!

ECET2 origin and resources:


Washington County Educator Profile: Mitch Look

The Washington County Educator Profile is submitted by Sarah Woog, Executive Director of the Washington County Consortium.

I have known Mitch Look for some years now. He’s been a member of the Washington County Leadership Team (WCLT) since before I began working with the team four years ago. I have always been struck by Mitch’s passion for education in Washington County, and by his skills as a leader. I appreciate his ability to act as a kind and supportive team member but also advocate and dissent when he is called to do so. Honestly, I admire Mitch and wanted to learn about what makes him tick. I also thought his story could provide some lessons for all of us. I met Mitch in his office last week, in the midst of back-to-school prep and PD that’s a familiar ritual to us all.

Mitch has been teaching “ever since I could.” He studied education at the University of Maine at Machias and coached basketball at Machias Memorial High School while still an undergraduate student. After working in the classroom for some years, as a middle school teacher and coach, he “wanted to have a bigger voice in decision-making” and went back to school to get his Master’s Degree and become a certified administrator. He engaged in the years long trek familiar to many of us, teaching full time while traveling back and forth in the evening for his studies in Orono. He earned his credentials, and was first a teaching principal at Fort O’brien Elementary, then principal at D.W. Merritt School, after which he served as principal at Rose M. Gaffney School for seventeen years. In 2009 he added a Certificate in Advanced Studies (CAS) to his resume.

Mitch became the ESEA/Curriculum Coordinator for AOS 96 five years ago. He is happy in his position, happy to “make it my own.” He had been apprehensive about assuming leadership positions outside of schools because he cannot stand the idea of his work getting further from the educators and students, which creates a tension with his desire to increase his impact. He told me he takes every opportunity to get into the schools of AOS 96, to feel the pulse of the school and learn from those he serves. His idea of staying current, in addition to being informed by current research and best practices, is also keeping an ear to the ground and finding innovative ways to problem-solve based on what’s working and what’s not working in schools. Mitch’s perspective expresses the duality we all experience in our work- the eternal quest for improvement fed by learning, not only from the “experts” but also, and especially, from the folks right in our schools and communities.

And Mitch loves those schools and communities. He has a keen eye for equity. When I asked what he hoped for education in Washington County, he said “the same opportunities and resources for our kids and educators that others get. Always been a dream of mine to see our kids and teachers have the resources that others have. With the talent we have down here, can you imagine what could be.” I hear you, Mitch. And I agree with your not-so-veiled critique of the inequities we all experience. However, I’d argue we can do what Mitch does in the meantime, and harness our greatest resource- our people- to realize the visions of our collective imagination.

2019 Statewide Early Childhood Education Conference Announced!

The Maine Department of Education’s Head Start State Collaboration Office is collaborating with MaineAEYC, Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network, Educare Central Maine, Head Start Directors, Family Child Care Association of Maine, and DHHS Office of Child and Family Services for the 2019 Statewide Early Childhood Education Conference.

WHEN:    Friday and Saturday, October 4th and 5th,  8:30am-4:15pm
WHERE:  Cross Insurance Center, Bangor, ME

Explore topics such as:

  • social and emotional development
  • learning through exploration and play
  • building resiliency
  • trauma-informed practices
  • continuity of care
  • deepening connections with children and families
  • early childhood mental health
  • inclusion and special education
  • working in multi-age settings
  • coaching and mentoring
  • early childhood leadership, policy, and advocacy

Discover how knowledge of these topics facilitates early learning success in public and private PreK-3, preschool, and infant and toddler early care and education.

A certificate for 7 training hours for each day will be issued to all participants.

Registration is open for Maine’s Statewide Early Childhood Education Conference!

For questions, contact Nena Cunningham at 624-6601 or