An ‘End of Year Message’ to Maine’s Education Communities from the Maine 2021 County Teachers of the Year

As the 2020/2021 school year ends and students, families and school staff transition to a summer schedule, now is the time to reflect on all that has been accomplished during a school year the world has never seen.

The 2021 County Teachers of the Year have put together a special “End of Year Message” to their colleagues, students and their communities who all worked together for the greater good of education across Maine this year.  These outstanding teachers share a message of gratitude for coming together to ensure our children had every opportunity to continue learning and growing this year. #StrongerTogether4ME

“The theme of being stronger together really came about when we started talking about how much we ALL have done, much of which isn’t as visible to people living outside of our schools. The actions of the groups mentioned in the video really proved that we truly are stronger together. We think this video highlights that truth,” the group said in a joint statement. 

“With that in mind, we want to know what you have seen that shows we are #StrongerTogether4ME students? Share your own images with the hashtag #StrongerTogether4ME on social media to celebrate!”  

The recently annouced 2021 Maine County Teachers of the Year were nominated by a member of their community and selected through a selection process earlier this year as part of the Maine Teacher of the Year Program. Throughout their year of service as County Teachers of the Year, they serve as ambassadors for teachers, students, and quality education state-wide through speaking engagements and collaborative work with education stakeholders and decision makers throughout Maine.

The Maine Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year Program is administered through a collaborative partnership with Educate Maine. To learn more about the Teacher of the Year program visit: https://www.mainetoy.org/

MEDIA RELEASE: School Nutrition Programs to Feed Children Beyond School Year with Summer Food Service Program

AUGUSTA — With the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine public schools have long offered a nutritious breakfast and lunch meal program to thousands of children in Maine during the school year. During the pandemic, many flexibilities were put into place to ensure children had access to complementary meals while learning remotely from home or attending school in person.

We applaud those who worked tirelessly to provide food to children during a challenging school year. With summer right around the corner, that important service will continue in many areas of Maine. The Summer Food Service Program, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, operates at hundreds of sites across Maine to ensure children get the nutrition they need.

“Maine’s National School Lunch Programs are an invaluable lifeline to our students for whom schools are a much needed and consistent source for food.” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “The Summer Food Service Program helps schools continue to provide this critical resource to Maine students through the summer months, and we are committed to assisting schools and communities as they address the needs of the whole child.”

The Summer Food Service Program may be offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced meal benefits under the National School Lunch Program or where census track data supports the need. This summer, area eligibility waivers have allowed sites to operate in areas that have need due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

In July 2020, 112 sponsors participated in the program, serving meals at 730 sites throughout the state. Sponsors operate open sites in all 16 counties in Maine; anyone 18 and under may come to eat at no cost. Many sponsors will be utilizing USDA flexibilities which allow meals to be consumed off site to promote physical distancing and are offering innovative delivery and service models to meet the demand safely.

To find nearby Summer Meal sites, please visit USDA’s Summer Meal Site Finder website at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids, text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or call Maine 211.

Updated information will be available late-June.

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Summer Food Service Program, contact adriane.ackroyd@maine.gov, call 592-1722 or visit https://www.maine.gov/doe/schools/nutrition/programs/sfsp.

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In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2)      fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3)      email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination because of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, religion, ancestry or national origin.

Complaints of discrimination must be filed at the office of the Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0051. If you wish to file a discrimination complaint electronically, visit the Human Rights Commission website at https://www.maine.gov/mhrc/file/instructions and complete an intake questionnaire. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

MEDIA RELEASE: National Funding to Support Enhanced Access, Utilization of Wabanaki Resources

Image: Courtesy of the Hudson Museum HM7182.133

Collaborators on the project include partners from Raymond H. Fogler Library, the College of Education and Human Development and Native American Programs at UMaine, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Wabanaki Studies Working Group, the Maine Department of Education, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant of more than $59,000 to the University of Maine’s McGillicuddy Humanities Center to support development of a centralized digital portal that will improve access to Wabanaki historical and cultural resources and archival collections currently distributed across UMaine and, in the future, to incorporate collections curated by several external institutions.

“Teaching about the people whose land we inhabit today is crucial work and I am excited to be able to represent the Maine Department of Education (DOE) in support of this grant,” said Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt. “During my time at the Department I have strived to make sure that we remove barriers for educators when it comes to teaching about Maine Native Americans and from the start of her time at the Department, Commissioner Makin has made this one of her top priorities as well. By working to develop a centralized portal of historic artifacts, educators will be better equipped to develop and deliver inclusive and accurate curriculum related to Wabanaki history and culture. Through this grant, we will take another step in making sure that all of our students can see themselves as important contributors to the past and present of all that Maine has to offer.”

UMaine professor of English Margo Lukens, a faculty adviser to the McGillicuddy Humanities Center, will lead the interdisciplinary Wabanaki Resources Portal project, which seeks to enhance utilization of existing resources to promote the study of Wabanaki history and culture at the elementary, high school and post-secondary levels in Maine and to facilitate interdisciplinary academic and arts scholarship.

UMaine’s archival holdings related to Wabanaki history and culture are extensive, and include the collection of Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, an early twentieth-century independent scholar of Wabanaki history and culture; the Molly Spotted Elk Collection, which provides a Penobscot view of the United States and Europe; the Linda Gilbert Collection of Penobscot Indian Music featuring original audio recordings about traditional song and dance; and the Maine Indian Collection, one of the largest institutional collections of Wabanaki baskets and basketmaking materials and tools, which is curated by the Hudson Museum. The museum also maintains a collection of significant primary resources, particularly images portraying traditional Wabanaki activities such as basketmaking and harvesting.

Other Wabanaki artifacts stewarded by UMaine include photographs of Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people including prominent tribal members Andrew Sockalexis and Lucy Nicolar Poolaw, who was also known as Princess Watawahso, characteristic objects from the 1880s through today, and the Senator William S. Cohen Papers related to the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act of 1980. Fogler Library also maintains copies of recordings of Wabanaki speech and story now in the Library of Congress collection.

Much of the Wabanaki history and cultural material now housed in University of Maine collections is the intellectual and physical property of the Wabanaki tribes. A 2018 memorandum of understanding between UMaine and the Penobscot Nation delineates a process of artifact co-curation that includes tribal members to ensure culturally responsive care and use of archival material held by a nontribal organization. Maine’s Native American communities will be included in decision and policymaking related to the collections, including controlling access to culturally sensitive materials. UMaine is working to develop a similar memorandum of understanding with the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

Currently, access to UMaine’s resources is limited by siloed storage across multiple, unconnected locations and formats. Developing a centralized portal where digital copies of historic artifacts can be archived as searchable files will enhance interest in Wabanaki history and cultures while serving a diverse stakeholder base with interests in American history, literature, linguistics, law, art and natural sciences, as well as the study of colonization and decolonization in American society.

The Wabanaki Resource Portal project will center the ideas and perspectives of Wabanaki people in providing access to significant historical materials meant to educate the public, facilitate scholarship, preserve Wabanaki traditions and art, and support development of inclusive and accurate K–12 curricula that enhance the teaching of Wabanaki history and culture in Maine schools.

Collaborators on the portal project include partners from Raymond H. Fogler Library, the College of Education and Human Development and Native American Programs at UMaine, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Wabanaki Studies Working Group, the Maine Department of Education, the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Lukens has co-authored “‘Still They Remember Me’: Penobscot Transformer Tales, Volume 1” with Penobscot language master Carol Dana and University of Southern Maine linguistics faculty Conor Quinn. The book recounts traditional tales of Gluskabe, the tribe’s culture hero, as told by Penobscot Newell Lyon to anthropologist Frank Speck. Speck published the stories in 1918 in an academic report titled “Penobscot Transformer Tales.” The 2021 bilingual edition of Transformer Tales, which was designed for language learning, presents the stories in contemporary Penobscot orthography with updated English translations and features artwork created by tribal members. The book will be available from the University of Massachusetts Press in June 2021.

For more information about this project contact Joan Perkins, joan.perkins@maine.edu

Wabanaki Seminar June 12, 2021 9am-12:15pm

The Maine Department of Education is delighted to invite educators statewide to our June 12 recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the signing of LD 291 which requires the teaching of Wabanaki History and Culture in Maine classrooms.

Please join us and a variety of educational leaders from 9-12:30 on Saturday, June 12. We will begin the morning with greetings from Governor Mills, Commissioner Makin and a keynote by legislation sponsor, Hon. Donna Loring.

Register here

For more information about the Wabinaki Seminar contact Joe Schmidt at joe.schmidt@maine.gov

MEDIA RELEASE: Three Maine Schools Win a Brand New $100K DON’T QUIT!® Fitness Center

Today, Governor Janet Mills and fitness icon Jake (Body by Jake) Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC), announced three Maine schools have won a state-of-the-art $100,000 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. The multi-million dollar DON’T QUIT! Campaign has selected Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School in Deer Isle, Gorham Middle School in Gorham and SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft for new fitness centers in recognition of their commitment to the health of their students.

“The last year has proven just how important investing in the health of our students is to keeping our state strong,” said Governor Mills. “I congratulate these deserving schools on being selected to receive a state of the art fitness center and I thank them for their commitment to the health and well-being of Maine children. These centers would not be possible without the generosity of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils and Mr. Steinfeld and I thank them for their investment in the children of Maine.”

“We had an overwhelming response from elementary and middle schools throughout the great state of Maine. None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of Governor Mills, who helped make this campaign a huge success by putting the health and well-being of children first,” said Mr. Steinfeld.  “Three schools really embodied our mission of building a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.  I’m thrilled to announce that Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School, Gorham Middle School and SeDoMoCha School are all being awarded a brand new $100,000 DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. Congratulations to all, we look forward to visiting these three schools during our ribbon cutting ceremonies this fall!”

Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships with companies like The Coca-Cola Company, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding. Fitness in Motion provides all the fitness equipment, which is manufactured right here in the United States. The foundation’s goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.

These state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers will be unveiled during ribbon cutting ceremonies this fall. This year, the NFGFC program will have completed 40 states and will make its way into all 50 states in the coming years.

For more information about the National Foundation, visit www.natgovfit.org.

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MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Hosts Students Statewide for Virtual MLTI Student Conference

Maine students and teachers came together yesterday for a day of learning, collaboration, and innovative thinking at the 18th Annual Maine Learning Through Technology (MLTI) Student Conference.

Student Project: Maine Moose
Student Project: Maine Moose

Hosted by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) in partnership with CATES, the Conference was one of the largest synchronous student learning tech conference in the history of the world, with students from across Maine tuning in virtually to gain insights into the challenges facing Mainers during remote learning, how to develop innovations through peer collaboration to solve complex problems, and begin to develop the mindset of the social entrepreneur.

Student Project: You are important
Student Project: You are important

In addition to participating in a number of innovative synchronous Block Sessions and asynchronous activities using Gathertown as a virtual conference platform to learn new skills and deepen knowledge, conference participants also had the opportunity to work in teams to develop a product or innovation that addresses their chosen challenge (Mental Health Support; Equity in Education; Peer Collaboration; New Ways to Learn).

“Get ready to be REALLY creative today! Be bold with your ideas and be guided by your wildest imagination,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin in her opening remarks. “Design and innovate as if the future depends upon in. Because in so many ways, it truly does.”

“[The pandemic] has given you a front row seat that will inform your experience with this year’s innovation challenge,” added Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah in his remarks during the conference.

Students’ groups “pitched” their product to conference participants, who voted for their favorite in each challenge category – 38 hours of innovative pitches were created on flipgrid!

“Your pitches demonstrate what amazing thinkers, problem solvers, designers, and engineers, you all are,” said Maine DOE Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning Beth Lambert. “Your work today and in the innovation challenge will lead the way for our state and the entire nation when it comes to redesigning remote learning and the shape of our public education system!”

Pre-Conference students got the opportunity to learn about the different challenges related to remote learning during the pandemic and their implications for Maine DECD’s 2030 Vision + Goals so they could research interesting reports, design frameworks, innovation protocols, videos, and other information related to their challenge.

After the Conference each team of students that wishes to continue on to Part II of the $10,000 Challenge is matched with a mentor to further develop their innovation or venture and submit “a demo”, “pitch deck”, and/or executive summary for their product. Challenge Grand Prize winners will be announced at special online awards ceremony featuring UMaine innovation leaders, and invited to continue developing their innovation through the CATES Center for Social Innovation Summer Incubator program in prep for a fall launch.

For more information about the conference and the Innovation Challenge visit the MLTI website: https://mlticonference.com/