MEDIA RELEASE: Report Released on Maine’s State and Local Initiatives to Improve Outcomes for Children

On June 24, New America released a report describing efforts to expand and improve early education in Maine: Building Systems in Tandem – Maine’s State and Local Initiatives to Improve Outcomes for Children by David Jacobson. Find the report here.

The report describes the efforts of 13 Maine schools who, in collaboration with partners within their communities, have crafted and begun to implement First 10 plans designed to better support children and their families from birth through the first 10 years of children’s lives by attending to all domains of development, wrap around supports, parenting skills, and transitions across early learning experiences.

Maine DOE sought the help of the report author, David Jacobson, through a Preschool Expansion Grant obtained in 2014.  Jacobson leads the First 10 initiative at Education Development Center.  A list of the 13 Maine school communities and a summary of the project can be found here.

Simultaneously, while the 13 communities were developing their plans, a team composed of specialists from Maine DOE, Maine DHHS, and CDS formed to learn more about First 10 Schools and Communities, other national models, and strategies in which state level administration can engage to support this work at the local level.  Findings from Maine’s work in this area are included in this report along with next steps.

The State Team members from Maine DOE, Maine DHHS, and CDS continue to meet to explore how to expand on this work.  Questions may be directed to Lee Anne Larsen, Maine DOE Early Learning Team Coordinator, at leeann.larsen@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Welcomes 5 Student Interns for the Summer

The Maine Department of Education today announced five student interns have joined the team for the summer. Throughout the summer, the students will assist in the daily operations of the Maine DOE while working remotely due to COVID-19. The interns will be working for a variety of Department of Education teams including the Department of Assessments, the Volunteer Maine Commission, the Commissioner’s Office, and the Office of Special Services.

“Maine DOE offers an enthusiastic welcome to our summer interns! Our work is always enriched by fresh perspectives, creativity, and energy – and we hope that the interns will gain valuable skills and new insights during their time with us!” said Pender Makin, Maine Department of Education Commissioner.

 

Louisa GoldmanLouisa Goldman is a recent graduate from Colby College where she majored in American Studies while also on the pre-med track. She is currently applying to medical schools with hopes of going into primary care. Louisa would also like to pursue an MPH, which would allow her to join the field of public health policy. This summer, Louisa will be working with the Maine DOE’s Department of Assessments team as the Assessment Webmaster. She will be redesigning the Assessments webpage and producing test-specific infographics in an effort to increase accessibility for interested families. She hopes to gain a better understanding of how accessibility can be used to make for more effective communication and is excited to create materials that will be consumed by a wide audience. In her free time, Louisa enjoys writing, going for runs, and sailing and is incredibly passionate about journalism, and local reporting. Louisa is from St. Louis, Missouri.


Anthony InhornAnthony Inhorn is a rising junior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He is a Political Science and American History double major, and Environmental Policy and Culture minor. This summer, he will be interning as a Research Associate with Volunteer Maine, Maine’s Service Commission. Anthony will be responsible for researching the biggest issues that Maine will be facing in the coming years and analyzing the reports of various governmental and nonprofit organizations to better understand where support exists for volunteer programs to make an impact surrounding those issues. This work will culminate in a report for the Volunteer Maine commission with his findings and recommendations of where local and national Americorps volunteers can be best utilized. He will also be working to create a database of all of the operational nonprofits in Maine. Anthony hopes to gain a deep understanding of the workings of the Maine government and volunteer programs in the state, and will be working to take his research and writing skills to the next level. He is looking forward to gaining valuable experience in government work while having the opportunity to serve his home state. In his free time, Anthony enjoys watching cartoons, reading on the beach, hiking, playing Spikeball, and getting into debates about history and politics. Anthony is passionate about protecting the environment, learning about history, and competing on his school’s model U.N. team. Anthony is from Cape Elizabeth, Maine.


Nathan McIvorNathan McIvor is a rising senior studying English and Philosophy at the University of Maine Farmington. This summer, he will serve as the Public Affairs Intern at Volunteer Maine, Maine’s Service Commission. Nathan will be supporting the department’s communications officer, creating press materials, and assisting with several website projects. He looks forward to learning more about government and communications work. Nathan says that the best part about this internship is that it will provide him a wide variety of opportunities, such as social media outreach, producing videos, graphic design, participating in the department’s Communications and Public Policy task force, and writing press materials. Looking forward, Nathan is drawn to careers that involve writing editing, and creativity. He is interested in communications work, preferably for a government agency, school, or nonprofit whose mission he supports. In his free time, Nathan enjoys reading, hiking, kayaking, and traveling. He is passionate about helping others, a sustainable future, a fair and equitable society, and art. Nathan is from Jefferson, Maine.


Aidan Sachs Aidan Sachs is a rising senior at Connecticut College where she is a Human Development major and Psychology minor. Aidan is also a member of her college’s Elementary Education Teacher Certificate Program and is a selected scholar through Connecticut College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. This summer, she will serve as the Education Commissioner’s Office Intern where she will be working with the Communications and Legislative teams. Over the course of the summer, Aidan will be working on a variety of projects, including writing Good News Stories for the DOE’s website, helping to redesign the Professional Development Calendar, assisting the legislative team with the 129th Legislative Second Session Publication for K-12 Educational Leaders, as well as working with the Commissioner’s Student Cabinet. This summer, Aidan hopes to expand on her writing skills, and to learn about roles within the department to further her career interest in education. Aidan is looking forward to connecting with DOE staff across departments and to taking advantage of opportunities to sit in on meetings and learn more about the innerworkings of the department. In the future, she hopes to become an elementary school teacher here in Maine and to pursue a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. In her free time, Aidan enjoys skiing, hiking, paddle boarding, and kayaking. She is passionate about working with children in many different settings, and loves watching them learn and construct knowledge. Aidan is from Brunswick, Maine.


Olivia WilsonOlivia Wilson is a rising senior at Husson University majoring in Web Design. This summer, Olivia will be interning with the Maine DOE’s Office of Special Services, where she will serve as their Website Development and Content Specialist. Over the course of the summer, Olivia will work to create an interactive experience for teachers and students, as well as maintain and frame content into the Special Services website. She hopes to expand her skill set in web design and gain more experience that can be applied to her future career. Olivia is looking forward to seeing what she can achieve and to working on projects that she finds enjoyment in. In the future, Olivia plans to become a Front-End Web Developer for a big company, and to start her own company to help local businesses. Olivia enjoys photography, singing, hanging out with her cat, and going on road trips. She is extremely passionate about music and art and looks forward to incorporating this into her career. Olivia is from Bangor, Maine.

MEDIA RELEASE: Mills Administration Secures WiFi & Learning Devices for 100 Percent of Maine Students Reporting a Need In Face of COVID-19’s Impacts on Schools

AUGUSTA – Governor Janet Mills and Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin announced today that the Maine Department of Education has secured internet access and devices to facilitate at home learning for 100 percent of Maine school children for whom there was a reported need. The success comes as Maine educators have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and creativity in response to the suspension of classroom-based instruction as a result of COVID-19, providing invaluable and meaningful personal connection and assurance to students in a time of great uncertainty. However, it is still difficult for educators to offer equitable online learning opportunities without individual student internet access.

Through a combined effort with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, ConnectME, and business and philanthropic entities, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) has acquired 14,494 service contracts through three different service providers, nearly all of which are for WiFi-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tablets that can be used as learning tools and hotspots or hotspots only. Through one of the service providers, DOE was also able to order MiFi, a wireless router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot, to fulfill internet-only needs. To fulfill the device only needs, Maine DOE was able to order 7,450 Chromebooks.

“The suspension of classroom-based instruction because of the Pandemic has brought on new challenges and we should all be grateful for how Maine’s educators have adapted to provide a quality education to our children,” said Governor Mills. “It is our responsibility to ensure that Maine’s teachers, and all students, have the tools they need to stay connected during these unprecedented times. These new connections will allow Maine students to do just that and stay engaged remotely with their school no matter where they live.”

All schools who indicated a need are receiving the information and devices directly from the vendors. Need was assessed by the Department of Education through several surveys of all traditional and non-traditional public schools and private schools who serve public students to understand the connectivity needs statewide. Of the 21,845 students statewide lacking connectivity, based on data from the 75 percent of schools that responded, 14,494 students needed a wireless contract and 7,351 students needed only a device in order to have equitable access to online learning opportunities.

The need for universal connectivity was identified as the top priority of stakeholders across the state in terms of mitigating the impact from the COVID disruption. Teachers have been struggling to connect with the many students and families who do not have access to the internet. A fourth round of surveys has just been completed for schools to report student connectivity needs, and DOE is working now to fulfill this final round of requests. In addition, the department has reached out to both higher education institutions and adult education programs to determine their student connectivity needs.

“This pandemic and the educational disruption brought to light the extreme inequities that exist across our state,” said Commissioner Makin. “The emergency provision of connectivity to all students allows for educational continuity, and I am grateful to our team for their strategic and efficient execution of this enormous effort.”

The Administration utilized federal funds, including a portion of Maine’s $9.3 million allocation from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, which was allocated through the federal CARES Act, as well as philanthropic donations, to purchase the devices and wireless service contracts to meet the identified need for universal connectivity for Maine students.

FMI: contact Kelli Deveaux, Director of Communications at kelli.deveaux@maine.gov

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MEDIA RELEASE: 2020 County Teachers of the Year Announced in Virtual Ceremony

Teachers from all 16 of Maine’s counties were honored today in a virtual announcement that was broadcast live on the Maine Department of Education Facebook PageHere is a direct link to view ceremony.

The Maine County Teacher of the Year announcement is held annually in the spring to honor the teachers selected from nominations for Maine Teacher of the Year from each county. The County Teachers of the Year are the finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year, an honor awarded each year to one teacher in Maine.

The educators were each nominated by a member of their community for their exemplary service in education, and dedication to their students. They were selected by a distinguished panel of teachers, principals and business community members from a pool of hundreds of other nominated teachers in their communities.

During the ceremony, teachers were honored by Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Jason Judd; State Board of Education member, Martha Harris; 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young; and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker.

2020 County Teachers of the Year:

As ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education in Maine, the Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Throughout the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

The Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Maine Department of Education, administered and partnered by Educate Maine, a business-led organization working to ensure Maine’s students and workers are the best educated and highly skilled in the world.

For more information contact Rachel Paling (Maine DOE) at rachel.paling@maine.gov or Dolly Sullivan (Educate Maine) at dolly@educatemaine.org.

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Maine DOE to Announce the 2020 Maine County Teachers of the Year on Facebook Live Thursday, May 14 at 2pm

What: 16 Maine teachers will be announced and honored as part of the Maine Department of Education’s annual Maine County Teachers of the Year awards. The teachers were nominated by a member of their school community, and through a rigorous application process were selected by a panel of teachers, principals, and business community members.

Maine County Teachers of the Year serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide. The Maine County Teachers of the Year are available to make presentations to local and regional organizations. Throughout the summer, they will continue to participate in an intensive State Teacher of the Year selection process.

Who: 16 Maine teachers, representing each county in Maine; Maine Department of Education Commissioner, Pender Makin; Executive Director of Educate Maine, Jason Judd; State Board of Education, Martha Harris; 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young; and 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker.

Where: The virtual announcement will be streamed live on the Maine Department of Education Facebook PageThe pictures and a recording of the presentation will also be available after the announcement.

When: Thursday, May 14, 2020 from 2:00pm – 3:30pm

For more information contact Rachel Paling (Maine DOE) at rachel.paling@maine.gov or Dolly Sullivan (Educate Maine) at dolly@educatemaine.org.