Category Archives: Press Releases

Press releases from before January 1, 2010, are in the archive.

Maine teacher certification moving to new online system

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is in the process of building an online portal for a new web-based credentialing system. The new system, being put in place by Hupp Technologies, will be fully operational by the July 1st teacher, educational specialist and administrator renewal expiration date.

The online system will completely replace the Maine DOE’s current paper application system. Highlights include effortlessness in account creation, electronic notifications about actionable items for both teachers and administrators, and the ability to pay fees online.

Once the new system is in place, all teachers will need to create an account. The Maine DOE’s Certification team will be sending out individual notices to the email addresses that are on file in the NEO staff system.

Training will be made available soon for Superintendents and Support System Chairs. In addition, webinars will be available for educators to assist with account creation, and the renewal process.

It is important to note, allowances will be made if the system goes up later than expected. Current Maine State rules state that if a certificate is held up for any reason beyond the teachers’ control, then the previously held certificate is still valid. This addresses the concern some may have about not being eligible to sign teacher contracts.

For more information contact Ángel Martínez Loredo at 207-624-6603 or email cert.doe@maine.gov.

Maine DOE Announces 11 New Appointees for the Maine Commission for Community Service

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that the following individuals have been appointed by Governor Paul R. LePage and Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. to serve as commissioners for the Maine Commission for Community Service (MCCS). Founded in 1994, MCCS seeks to foster community service and volunteerism to meet human and environmental needs in the State of Maine.

  • Aaron Dombroski
    A major in the U.S. Army Reserves, Dombroski has taught military science at MIT, worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Veterans Benefits Administration. He is currently a veterans’ service officer for the Maine Bureau of Veterans Services serving Cumberland County and is active in the State of Maine’s plan to end veterans’ homelessness.
  • Beth Lambert
    Serving as the Commissioner of Education’s designee to the Commission, Lambert is the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist and Aroostook County Regional Representative for the Maine Department of Education. She brings 10 years of education experience at the middle and high school levels and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts, English, and Education from Lawrence University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Harvard University.
  • Brianna Tibbetts
    A 17 year-old homeschool high school student from North Waterboro, Tibbetts is currently dual enrolled at York County Community College. She is a volunteer camp counselor at Camp Good News in Livermore, Maine and has worked as a Jr. Ski School instructor at Shawnee Peak. Interested in civic engagement, Tibbetts is also participating in TeenPACT, a Christian program that brings teenagers to Augusta to understand the political process and how to engage in it.
  • Cary Olson-Cartwright
    Olson-Cartwright is Assistant Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Unum, and serves on several boards that are focused on supporting Maine’s youth and education including Jobs for Maine’s Graduates and Thomas College. She is a graduate of UMaine and the Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
  • Coleman LaPointe
    A 2011 Maine Maritime Academy Graduate, LaPointe is the Director of Strategic Alliances at the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. He previously worked as a special assistant and personal aide to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and served as a personal aide to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush during his 2016 presidential campaign.
  • Honorable David C. Burns
    Senator David C. Burns formerly served in the Maine State Senate, serving the people of Washington County, as well as Gouldsboro, Sullivan, Winter Harbor, and a portion of the East Hancock Unorganized Territory. He has also served for the Maine House of Representatives, as the Chair of the Government Oversight Committee, was a member of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, and a member of the Judiciary Committee. Senator Burns is a retired Maine State Trooper who specialized in investigating major crimes.
  • Diane Dickerson
    Dickerson has been serving as the CEO of Bangor YMCA since 2014, she has dedicated her life to community involvement, serving in previous roles as the chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the University Medical Center Foundation, and chairman of The Children’s Miracle Network among others, she has also served as the CEO of her own successful companies throughout her professional career.
  • Jacinda Goodwin
    Jacinda Goodwin currently works for the National Center for Homeless Education. Prior to that she served as the Maine State Homeless Education Coordinator for the Maine Department of Education and also oversaw Maine truancy, dropout and alternative education programs. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Maine at Farmington and a Master’s degree in clinical/behavioral psychology from UMass-Dartmouth.
  • Dr. Melik Peter Khoury
    Currently the president of Unity College, Dr. Khoury’s has also held positions at Paul Smith’s College, Culver Stockton College, Upper Iowa University, and Unity College. Prior to joining the world of academia, Dr. Khoury was an international business executive, serving as Director of Euro-Gambian Trading (E.G.T.). He received a Doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maine, and his Baccalaureate from University of Maine Fort Kent.
  • Hon. Nick Isgro
    Nick Isgro is the mayor of the City of Waterville, where he is a lifelong resident and lives with his wife and 5 children in the home that his grandfather built in 1960. Nick is also Controller at Skowhegan Savings Bank and is a board member and financial advisor for St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Oakland.
  • Sean Ingram
    An Alabama native, Sean Ingram currently works for the Governor of Maine as a legislative policy coordinator. He formerly served Governor LePage in the office of Boards and Commission, an office responsible for recruiting and placing thousands of volunteer board and commission members for gubernatorial appointment.

PRESS RELEASE: Maine student artwork selected for screensaver challenge

Twenty Maine student artists will have an audience of more than 70,000 students and educators for their artwork starting this fall.

More than 200 students submitted images to be considered for the Maine Department of Education (DOE), Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) Screensaver Challenge.

An annual tradition of the Maine DOE, students in grades K-12 can submit artwork at the beginning of the year to be selected for display. The images are scored and selected by an independent panel of three judges.

The winning student artists will have their work showcased on MLTI devices for the 2017-18 school year. In addition, the student artists will have their registration fees waived for the 2017 MLTI Student Conference, and their winning pieces will be printed and displayed at the Department of Education’s Augusta offices from June 1 – August 31, 2017.

The selected students are listed below. Their artwork is available for viewing on the Maine DOE Website.

  • Griffin Vulture, Anna Labbe, Grade 10, Freeport High School
  • Abstract Ocean Life, Elizabeth Young, Grade 9, Freeport High School
  • Duck at Dawn, Bennett Hight, Grade 12, Freeport High School
  • Fallen Leaves, Zoe Fox, Grade 12, Freeport High School
  • Lights of the City, Griffin Agnese, Grade 11, Freeport High School
  • House Barn, Julian Lindholm Fiske, Grade 12, George Stevens Academy
  • Beneath the Surface, Corinne Ahearn, Grade 9, Greely High School
  • Eel Life, Maddie Hall, Grade 8, Greely Middle School
  • Knot a View, Alexis Merchant, Grade 10, Jonesport-Beals High School
  • Seeing Through, Emily Segal, Grade 7, Lincoln Middle School
  • Dandelion, Ana Rogers, Grade 9, Mount Desert Island HS
  • Scraffito, Erin Corcoran, Grade 8, Oceanside Middle School
  • Dream, Zabina Zimmerman, Grade 1, Pond Cove Elementary School
  • Bikes, Megan Gordon, Grade 11, Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Children’s Space, Corilie Green, Grade 10, Freeport High School
  • Wolf, Grace Neal, Grade 11, George Stevens Academy
  • Hummingbird, Toni MacDonald, Grade 12, Houlton Middle/High School
  • Moose, Blair Tweed, Grade 11, Wells High School
  • Lost and Forgotten, Samuel Livingston, Grade 12, Wells High School
  • Umbrella, Lauren Dow, Grade 10, Wells High School

For more information about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative Screen Saver challenge visit: http://maine.gov/doe/mlti/student/artchallenge/index.html

Maine DOE Awards Grant Funds to 7 Regional Education Opportunity and Efficiency Initiatives

April 4, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: Rachel Paling (207) 624-6747 rachel.paling@maine.gov

Augusta – The Maine Department of Education today announced 7 grant awards for collaborative initiatives undertaken by schools and educational agencies as part of a statewide regional opportunity and efficiency initiative called EMBRACE.

The EMBRACE initiative, “Enabling Maine students to Benefit from Regional And Coordinated approaches to Education,” is part of a growing focus on improving education services while saving local costs by encouraging regional partnering.

The chance to apply for the Educational Efficiencies and Opportunities Grant was offered by the Maine DOE earlier this year. The application was released in response to Executive Order 2017-001 issued by Governor LePage. promoting Regional Efforts to Achieve Efficiencies in Delivering Educational Services.

To apply, school districts and neighboring educational units proposed plans that would help save cost by working together on initiatives that could create new opportunities for students while reducing cost, including transportation facilities, professional development and special education services. The grant proposal resulted in 21 applications with an array of cost saving plans to benefit Maine students.

While only one third of the applications will be funded at this time, if the Department determines that additional funding is available, more awards may be granted. The final award amount for each grant will be negotiated between the grant recipient and the Department of Education, which may result in the availability of more funds for additional grants.

In addition, Governor LePage has requested $5 million per year in the biennial budget proposal, which would enable additional rounds of applications for grants in future years.

Today’s awards involve nearly 50 sites throughout Maine, including neighboring school districts, Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, colleges and universities. Below is a listing of the regional efficiency projects that will receive funding (although grant amounts are yet to be finalized):

Regional Efficiency Projects

Western Maine Regional Program for Children with Exceptionalities

The participants will share a space and resources to provide services to students in grades 6-12 with autism and/or emotional disabilities and other behaviorally challenged students who would otherwise be placed in special service private schools outside the participating districts. The plan will allow students to stay closer to home while also providing necessary technical and experiential learning opportunities.

Proposed cost (not necessarily size of award): $314,500
Estimated 5-year savings:
$2,050,000

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – MSAD 17 (Harrison, Hebron, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Waterford, West Paris)
  • RSU 44 (Bethel, Greenwood, Newry, Woodstock)
  • RSU 72 (Brownfield, Denmark, Fryeburg, Lovell, Stoneham, Stow, Sweden)
  • Maine Regional Vocational Center 11 (Oxford Hills Technical School)

Rightsizing Education in the Upper St. John Valley

This plan aims to improve the quality and efficiency of three St. John Valley School Districts by regionalizing grades 9-12 into a regional combined high school/CTE center, while at the same time retain each community’s individual identity by maintaining Early Childhood to grade 8 within the sending communities. The plan will align curriculum, assessment, professional development, policies and resources across the three SAU’s, it will also introduce CTE learning styles to 8th graders, provide Chemical Health Education to students and enhance visual and performing arts programs.

Proposed cost (not necessarily size of award): $508,200
Estimated 5-year savings:
$901,509

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – MSAD 27 (Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, New Canada, Saint Francis, Saint john Plt., Wallagrass)
  • MSAD 33 (Frenchville, Saint Agatha)
  • Madawaska School Department
  • St. John Valley Technology Center
  • University of Maine at Fort Kent

Service Bundling

The project will bundle special education, psychological services, transportation, technology and facilities services that are currently being operated independently.

Proposed Cost(not necessarily size of award): $162,500
Estimated 5-year savings:
$537,500

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – MSAD 01/RSU 79 (Castle Hill, Chapman, Mapleton, Presque Isle, Westfield)
  • MSAD 45 (Washburn, Perham, Wade)

Southern Aroostook Area Regional Transportation Facility

The plan will provide participating communities with a centrally located facility to serve as a bus garage for maintenance of the combined fleet of buses, vans and service vehicles of the participating partners. The project will save money, increase reliability and improve maintenance services which will is expected to lengthen the life of buses and other service vehicles.

Proposed Cost(not necessarily size of award): $415,000
Estimated 5-year savings:
$929,917.45

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – RSU 29 (Houlton, Hammond, Littleton, Monticello)
  • RSU 70 (Hodgdon, Amity, Haynesville, Linneus, Ludlow, New Limerick)
  • RSU 50 (Southern Aroostook and Katahdin)
  • MSAD 14/RSU 84 (East Grand)
  • Region Two School of Applied Technology

SPRCPCE Innovative School

The project will create a regional, alternative education school beginning with 7th and 8th graders, with plans to expand to grade 10. The school is designed for hands-on, experiential learning to motivate and prepare at-risk youth for successful integration into further learning opportunities at local CTE centers and in early college programs. The funds will support the creation of the school for its first year.

Proposed Cost(not necessarily size of award): $538,235
Estimated 5-year savings:
$3,308,825

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – Bangor School Department
  • AOS47 (Dedham, Orrington)
  • AOS 81 (Holden, Eddington, Clifton, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond, Osborn)
  • Brewer School Department
  • Glenburn School Department
  • Hermon School Department
  • Maine Indian Education
  • Milford School Department
  • RSU22 (Hampden, Newburgh, Winterport and Frankfort)
  • RSU 26 (Orono)
  • RSU 34 (Alton, Bradley, Old Town)
  • RSU 64 (Bradford, Corinth, Hudson, Kenduskeag, and Stetson)
  • RSU 87 (Carmel, Levant)
  • Veazie School Department
  • United Technology Center
  • Eastern Maine Community College

Sheepscot Regional Education Program

The project will provide a single site for special education services for students in grades 6-12, through age 20, who need behavioral support. The day-treatment option will be a research based intervention option for students to participate in prior to potential further out of district placement. The partnership will provide cost savings on infrastructure, staff, and administrative and financial oversight.

Proposed Cost(not necessarily size of award): $518,000
Estimated 5-year savings:
$8,086,664

Participants:

  • Lead SAU – Wiscassett School Department
  • RSU 01 (Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg, Woolwich)
  • AOS 98 (Boothbay Harbor)
  • AOS 93 (Damariscotta)
  • RSU 12 (Alna, Chelsea, Palermo, Somerville, Westport Island, Whitefield, Windsor)
  • Bath Regional Career and Technical Center

Western Maine Mathematics 9-12/CTE Leadership Network

The project is designed to support the development of a high school mathematics coaching model to better meet the needs of 9-12 mathematics teachers and CTE teachers in western Maine. The project will use the proven success of the Maine Mathematics Coaching Project (MMCP) to provide high quality mathematics professional development with will increase interest, engagement, and self-efficiency in mathematics for high school students and teachers.

Proposed Cost(not necessarily size of award): $231,082
Estimated 5-year savings:
$403,798

Participants:

  • RSU 04 (Wales, Litchfield, Sabattus)
  • RSU 09 (Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Temple, Vienna, Weld, Wilton)
  • RSU 10 (Buckfield, Byron, Canton, Carthage, Dixfield, Hanover, Hartford, Mexico, Peru, Roxbury, Rumford, Sumner)
  • RSU 58 (Avon, Kingfield, Phillips, Strong)
  • RSU 73 (Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls)
  • RSU 74 (Anson, Embden, New Portland, Solon)
  • Winthrop Public Schools
  • Foster Career and Technical Education Center
  • University of Maine Farmington
  • Western Maine Education Collaborative

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Maine DOE to Announce $3M in Regionalization and Efficiency Grant Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rachel Paling (207) 624-6747 or rachel.paling@maine.edu

Maine DOE to Announce $3M in Regionalization and Efficiency Grant Awards

What: The Maine Department of Education (DOE) will be holding an event to announce the award recipients of $3 million in grant funds available to School Administrative Units (SAUs) and neighboring partners pursing regionalization and efficiency efforts. SAUs had the opportunity to apply for the funds through a competitive application process earlier this year.

When: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 12:15 PM

Where: Maine State Library 2nd Floor (Note: Upon entering the main entrance of the library proceed down the stairs or elevator to the 2nd level.)

Who: Maine Commissioner of Education Robert G. Hasson, Jr., representatives from the Maine Department of Education, and members of the RFP committee.

For more information contact Maine DOE Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747.

Robert G. Hasson, Jr. Confirmed as Maine Commissioner of Education

During a 10:00 AM vote of the Maine State Senate on Thursday, March 30th, Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed.D. was confirmed as Maine Commissioner of Education. The vote was the final step in Hasson’s confirmation following his nomination by Governor Paul R. LePage, an interview by the State Board of Education, and a vote of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

A long-time resident of South Portland, Dr. Hasson has spent the majority of his career working in education. He is a former principal, special ed. director and elementary school teacher, in addition to his 20 plus years of experience as a superintendent at MSAD 51, Cumberland/N. Yarmouth.

In a letter to Department staff shortly after confirmation, he wrote, “I intend to use my time as Commissioner to improve the experience of students, bridge the gap between teachers and administration, and provide support in as many ways possible to schools and districts throughout the state.”

Hasson has been Acting Commissioner for the Department since November of 2016 following his role as Director of Certification within the Department. Prior to that, he served in leadership roles at both the Maine School Management Association and the Maine School Superintendents Association.

In presenting Dr. Hasson for confirmation before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor LePage, Aaron Chadbourne said, “Bob Hasson is fervent about acting in the best interest of Maine students, which is the charge that Governor LePage believes is appropriate for all of us engaged in public education. Governor LePage has given Bob license not only to think outside the box but to disregard the box entirely in pursuit of supporting Maine students and teachers, serving their best interests.”

During the hearing, shortly before the committee voted to confirm Hasson in a 12-0 vote he said, “I am truly honored and humbled to have been given this opportunity.”

Six named to Maine STEM Council

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that the following individuals have been appointed by Governor Paul R. LePage and Acting Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. to serve on the Maine STEM Council.

Established by a 2011 bill submitted by Governor LePage following unanimous support from the Maine State Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, the Maine STEM Council develops strategies for enhancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education from prekindergarten through postsecondary education.

jamoryJon Amory
Engineering/Robotics Teacher
Baxter Academy

Jon Amory studied naval architecture, philosophy and engineering at Trinity College and received his master’s degree in design studies from Harvard University. Currently a member at the newly founded Baxter Academy in Portland, Amory has extensive experience in engineering having worked at Boston Dynamics designing robots, in addition to teaching engineering for four years in Freeport middle school and high schools. He has focused his teaching career on building skills through large-scale, student-led, real world projects, such as a wind tunnel that clocked the highest wind speeds ever recorded in Maine.  One of the original team that started the Baxter Academy, Amory worked to design the Academy’s unique Flex Friday program.

JasonJudd25-2-1-1Jason Judd
Program Director
Project>Login at Educate Maine

Jason Judd has worked for the last 12 years in a variety of educational roles, including as a teacher, college and career counselor, director of studies, and academic dean at Maine Central Institute (MCI), a town academy in Pittsfield. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington in secondary education English, a master’s degree from the University of Southern Maine in educational leadership, and a doctorate in organizational leadership studies at Northeastern University. His dissertation is focused on how school leaders foster and support innovation at their schools. Jason is a 2000 graduate of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics and chairs the Board of Trustees for the Limestone-based magnet school.

Jennifer-MallettJennifer Mallett
Math Faculty
York County Community College (YCCC)

With a BS in Mathematics from Gordon College and MS in Mathematics Education from University of Massachusetts, Mallet has taught in both public and private high schools and in addition to her current position at YCCC, she has been an adjunct instructor at the University of New England. She is also a mother of two children ages 12 and 14, whom she homeschools. Mallett enjoys helping students break down big concepts into smaller more manageable chunks and watching their confidence increase. Her professional experience has also allowed her to work with the International School Project, partnering with Russian teachers in an exchange of ideas.

ANguyenAmanda Nguyen
Digital Learning Specialist
Maine Department of Education

The Commissioner’s designee, Amanda Nguyen recently joined the Maine DOE team to help schools develop programs related to leveraging technology for deeper learning and to increase student engagement and leadership using technology. Prior to DOE, she taught high school math and science, worked with English Language Learners and students with learning differences, and facilitated professional development for adult learners ranging from computer skills to strengthening English and math skills. Nguyen has an A.B. in Biology and Education Studies from Bowdoin College and a Master’s in Education Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

ritter_headshotJames Ritter
State Librarian and Chief Administrator
Maine State Library

An employee of the Maine State Library since 2012 and a former member and Chair of the Maine Library Commission, Jamie Ritter focuses on extending the library’s services relating to emerging technologies and research & development initiatives. During his time leading the Maine State Library, he has reorganized public areas and launched a “remaker space” to allow public access to technology to facilitate the digitization of photos, audio and video. Ritter is also active on the Board of Maine Infonet, a statewide collaborative of academic, public, school, and special libraries that provides leadership in resource sharing, promotes cost effective solutions for quality library information services, and supports the cultural, educational, and economic development of Maine.

Prior to joining the Maine State Library, Ritter served as Deputy Director of the Camden Public Library and also worked for MBNA as Vice President in Administration and Community Relations, and for Camden National Bank as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Planning. During Ritter’s employment at MBNA, he oversaw the creation of the MBNA Foundation Library Grants Program.

Bob NeelyRobert Neely
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
University of Maine System (UMS)

With 17 years of experience in public higher education, Robert Neely has been a biology professor, researcher, department chair, and an academic leader. Under Neely’s leadership at the University of Maine System, he helps each of the public universities collaboratively expand access to learners of all ages, backgrounds, and locations while developing a strategic portfolio of academic programs that increases the capacity of public higher education to serve critical state needs and attract attention, resources, and talent to Maine. Prior to his current role, Neely served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Woman’s University.

Media Advisory: 2nd Annual Farm to School Cook-Off

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  Rachel Paling (207) 624-6747 or rachel.paling@maine.edu

MEDIA ADVISORY

What:  2017 Maine Farm to School Cook-Off

Who: School food service staff creating breakfast and lunch meal.

Judges for the regional cook-offs include a Career and Technical Education culinary arts student, a school nutrition director and a professional chef.

Where/When: 

  • Monday, March 27 – Regional cook-off
    Westbrook Regional Vocational Center, Westbrook
    1:00pm start time (cooking begins at 1:30pm)
    Teams are representing Falmouth, Yarmouth and RSU 14
  • Friday, March 31 – Regional cook-off
    Capital Area Technical Center, Augusta
    2:00pm start time (cooking begins at 2:30pm)
    Teams are representing Lewiston, RSU 52 and RSU 54
  • Wednesday, April 26th – Final cook-off
    Freeport High School
    1:00pm start time (cooking begins at 1:30pm)

The Westbrook and Augusta CTE centers were chosen as cook-off sites for their well-equipped kitchens and individual cooking and presentation areas.

How:  Each volunteer team will prepare a breakfast and lunch meal within a specific time frame using at least two ingredients that are grown, raised, caught, or manufactured in the State of Maine and meet National School Breakfast and Lunch Program requirements as well as one USDA food. As an added twist Maine wild blueberries and Maine potatoes will be used as “challenge” ingredients in the competition.

RSVP: Members of the media are welcome to attend the competition but are asked to notify Maine DOE Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov or call 624-6747 ahead of time.

These competitions are NOT open to the public.

 

Take the ‘Read to ME Challenge’

Augusta – Maine’s First Lady launched the Read to ME Challenge today at the Blaine House. Reflecting on how she and her husband, Governor Paul LePage, raised their children by reading to them and exploring the world through reading, Mrs. LePage shared, “I knew that when a child learns to read, there is nothing they can’t learn, imagine, or accomplish in life.”

First Lady Ann LePage reads to military children as she kicks off Maine's Read To Me Challenge

First Lady Ann LePage reads to children of military families as she kicks off Maine’s Read To Me Challenge

Reading to children of military families, the First Lady shared two books, Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs and Baxter in the Blaine House, with her captive audience. Once the children studied the brilliant illustrations of the Blaine House, they were offered the chance to explore and see some of the rooms depicted in the story book. First Lady LePage challenged Brigadier General Douglas Farnum of the Maine National Guard.

Baxter in the Blaine House

Baxter in the Blaine House

The Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge runs through March 2, Read Across America Day. Maine DOE Literacy Specialist Lee Anne Larsen wants the momentum to last all month long. “Our goal is to promote the critical importance of reading to and with children from birth through their childhoods. When children are read to regularly, their vocabulary grows, they build knowledge of the world, they stimulate their imaginations, and they discover how words communicate ideas.”

The challenge is simple. Read with a child for at least 15 minutes, capture a photo or video, post it on social media with the hash tags #ReadtoME or #ReadaloudME, and nominate others to do the same. Creative ways of completing the challenge are encouraged – for example, read to a child using FaceTime or Skype. If preferred, you can complete the challenge by listening to audiobooks with a child.

“The enthusiasm has been building since before the launch with schools, libraries and other organizations planning innovative ways of promoting the challenge. All Mainers are encouraged to get involved,” said Larsen.

You can reach Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov to learn more about Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge. Go ahead, take the challenge!

Organizations needed to feed hungry children this summer

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 income eligible children in Maine during the school year. To extend this program, Maine Department of Education Child Nutrition (Maine DOE) is seeking organizations who would like to participate in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides children healthy meals when school is not in session.

“It is well documented that students learn best when they are not hungry. In fact, a nutritious, well-balanced diet is an important attribute of a great education,” says Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Robert Hasson. “Our nutrition programs in Maine serve our students well. With federal assistance, Maine needs partners for the Summer Food Service Program.”

In 2016, 119 sponsors participated in the program, serving an average of 12,182 lunches per day to children at over 400 sites. Although almost 700 more meals were served per day in 2016 than 2015, there is still a long way to go towards feeding all eligible children during the summer. Community partners are working to maximize the number of sponsors utilizing the availability of funds under the SFSP.

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 census track data supports the need. Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and American Indian populations are urged to participate. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies, and tax-exempt organizations including faith-based organizations.

Maine DOE encourages any eligible organization to consider providing this much-needed service to Maine children. The agency will begin accepting applications to participate in February. Approved sponsors will be reimbursed for eligible meals served to children during the long summer break.

Interested organizations should begin planning now for a successful summer. Potential sponsors are required to attend training sessions. For a complete schedule of trainings, please visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/sfsp/index.html. Maine DOE is available to attend meetings or consult by phone and email to answer questions regarding summer meals.

For more information about the Maine DOE’s Summer Food Service Program, contact adriane.ackroyd@maine.gov, call 624-6726 or visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/nutrition/programs/sfsp/index.html.

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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 ere they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, heard 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 discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at How to File a Program Discrimination Complaint 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.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. In accordance with State law this institution is prohibited from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write Maine Department of Education, Civil Rights Officer, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME, 04333 or call 207-624-6875. Maine is an equal opportunity provider and employer.