PRIORITY NOTICE:  2019-2020 Public Pre-K Annual Report

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) recognizes school administrative units (SAUs) across Maine are navigating new territory and have their days filled, meeting the needs of students, staff, families, and communities. To reduce workload, this year’s annual Pre-K report has been shortened significantly.

With that said, there is still critical information the Maine DOE must gather in order to meet its own reporting requirements. After reviewing other strategies for data collection, this year’s report will contain only a few essential questions.  Maine DOE will forgo collecting information about many other aspects of public Pre-K implementation during the 2019-20 school year.

The 2019-2020 Public Pre-K Annual Report is available here and will be accessible between June 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020. Thank you for providing this information which informs policy decisions that support our youngest learners.  Questions should be directed to Nicole Madore, Early Childhood Specialist, nicole.madore@maine.gov

Governor Mills Radio Address: Rising to meet an even greater challenge – distance learning amid COVID-19

May 15, 2020

Listen to an audio clip of the address here »

I am the daughter of a Maine public school teacher, so I know firsthand how important the work of Maine teachers is and the many challenges they have to overcome every day. Right now, our teachers and students are rising to meet an even greater challenge – adapting to distance learning amid this dangerous COVID-19 pandemic.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

I want to thank all Maine teachers for their continued devotion to our students even as, in many cases, you care for your own children at home. We will get through this. In the meantime, you continue to guide your students through a very uncertain time, and inspire them and set them on the path to a bright future.

While you do that important work, it is our responsibility to ensure that you, and all of our students, have what you need to stay connected during these difficult times.
Internet access is a necessity, not a luxury now and yet too many families lack access to high-speed internet, especially in some rural areas of our state.

Universal connectivity is more important than ever before during this pandemic as teachers try to stay connected to their students across Maine.

So, I am proud to announce that we have used federal funding and donations to secure internet access and provide internet devices to facilitate at home learning for 100 percent of the Maine children who said that they needed it.

The Department of Education conducted surveys of all public schools and private schools who serve public school students to understand the connectivity needs of students statewide — 21,845 students said they lacked connectivity. That’s a lot of kids. Based on data from the 75 percent of schools that responded, about 2/3 of them said they needed a wireless service contract and about a third said they just needed a device, you know a hotspot or something.

So, to meet that need, our Administration has acquired service contracts for all those students through three different service providers, nearly all of which are for WiFi-enabled Galaxy Tablets that can be used as learning tools and hotspots or hotspots only.

Through one service provider, the Department of Education was also able to order MiFi, a wireless router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot. And, to fulfill the device only needs, the Maine Department of Education ordered (more than) 7,400 laptops.

The Department of Education is continuing to survey schools to determine further connectivity needs and they are reaching out to both higher education institutions and adult education programs to determine their students’ connectivity needs.

As we work on returning to in-classroom instruction when it is safe to do so, these new devices will allow Maine students to stay engaged remotely with their school no matter where they live, regardless of their zip code or their family circumstances.

I want to thank the many generous donors and Maine’s Congressional Delegation for their advocacy and support which made this possible.

To all Maine students, I know this school year has been very difficult, but I am proud of the way you have pushed through to continue your education. We will need your skills to create a brighter future for everyone in our state.

And to Maine’s teachers, please know that we deeply appreciate all you do for our children and for the State of Maine. I hope that these devices and these service contracts provide some measure of relief amid a challenging situation to you and your students.

I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

Oak Hill High School Art Teachers Gets Innovative to Ensure Students get an Art Show

Kirsten Arndt is without a doubt one of the best art teachers in the state of Maine. Her classes are overflowing with aspiring artists who are drawn to her compassionate and supportive nature. We have so much interest we often have a waiting list for students to get in.

One or two times a year Kirsten, with the help of her students, put together an art show hosted at Oak HIll HIgh School. Unfortunately, with the onset of the pandemic, like everything else, changes to the art show had to be made. Kirsten jumped at the chance to do the art show in a different format. Ms. Arndt compiled a number of works from her students and put them together in a video presentation.

We put the presentation out through email and our Oak Hill High School Facebook page and received such a positive response we wanted to share it with you. The presentation is a testimony to Ms. Arndt’s dedication to her students and her craft. 

Submitted by Marco E. Aliberti, Principal of Oak Hill High School as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Portland High School Students Adjust to Internships With Remote Learning

About 40 Portland High School students were on track to complete internships in the community in fields such as education, the arts, trades, social justice, veterinary, nursing, athletics, architecture, and social services when COVID-19 hit. Since students were no longer able to do internships in person, students participated in many remote career-exploratory activities such as informational interviews with college students and industry professionals, resume writing, cover letter writing, online job preference assessments, and identifying their values in relation to work.

One of these students is senior Alexiis Fiore, who before COVID-19 interned in Sheila Hayward’s classroom at Lyseth Elementary School. When asked to describe how the internship program impacted her she said:

The overall internship program was very beneficial, and is a great resource I think more students need to take advantage of. It provides real world experience and can help you find your path in life. It’s not just going to a work-space and gaining experience, but learning the skills you are going to need to help you succeed in life, such as how to create a resume, cover letter, how to apply for a job, etc.” 

Like we see with many internship students, because of this internship Alexiis solidified her career path of wanting to become a secondary math teacher. She shared the following about her learning:

“I was able to learn a lot of things, such as how to interact with children in a classroom setting, how to get them focused and calm down, and how to redirect them to the task at hand without dismissing them. Most importantly, I was able to learn that teaching is definitely what I want to pursue as my career. It was also helpful because as much as I love the little ones, I realized I might want to pursue a degree in secondary education instead of elementary education because I would like to teach more higher-level math.” 

We are grateful to all of our community and business partners who make this internship program possible. If your student or business would like to participate in the PHS internship program next year, please contact Andrea Levinsky, Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator at levina@portlandschoos.org.

This article was submitted by Andrea Levinsky, Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator (Portland High School) at Portland Public Schools as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

 

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Colene O’Neill

Maine DOE team member Colene O’Neill is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Colene in this brief question and answer.

What are your roles with DOE?

I work on the Special Services team at DOE. Day to day I support the State Director and the entire team with various administrative tasks and legislative bill monitoring. I also support special education directors and educators across the state with local entitlement grant questions, questions regarding regulations and fielding other calls and emails.

What do you like best about your job?

I like that I do something different every day. From working on a team helping to rewrite regulations, to setting up and working with multiple calendars to facilitate meetings and trainings or scheduling interviews for the hiring process. I enjoy being involved in the internal policy committee and the morale team at DOE.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I have a business background and have always been on the administrative side of business office management, human resources and technology.  I spend 12 years as a bookkeeper for a school district and was pleased to be able to apply that knowledge to my current position.

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

One of my passions has always been cooking and entertaining. I own a catering business and love helping people celebrate life’s events with food. I also love nature walks, yoga, traveling and spending time with my family and friends. I am looking forward to the birth of my first grand baby in November!