MEDIA RELEASE: A Special Thank You Message to Maine’s Education Field

We are thrilled to share a very special and heartfelt message with our colleagues in the field.  The Department of Education joins Governor Mills and Dr. Shah in thanking every member of Maine’s school communities for everything you are doing to keep our schools safe and open for learning!  

This special message kicks off a month of gratitude for Maine’s educator workforce, which will include Valentine’s messages from students and families.   

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Celebrates School Counselor Week by Announcing 2021 Maine School Counselor of the Year

The Maine Department of Education joins the Maine School Counselor Association (MESCA) in celebrating National School Counseling Week Feb. 1-5, 2021. National School Counseling Week honors and celebrate the contributions of school counselors and highlights the tremendous impact they have in helping students achieve school success.

Kim Raymond
Kim Raymond

In a timely announcement by MESCA, the 2021 Maine School Counselor of the Year was recently named at a surprise virtual ceremony.  Kim Raymond, the School Counselor at Leroy H. Smith School in RSU 22 was honored as the 2021 Maine School Counselor of the Year. The Maine School Counselor of the Year Award is a program of MESCA that honors school counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.

“My goal is and always has been to help all students know how much they matter every day.” said Mrs. Raymond.  “School counselors make a difference in the lives of students. I’m thankful that I have a career that I love that impacts students in a positive way.”

Mrs. Raymond graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2004 from the University of Maine and obtained her master’s degree in counselor education in 2006. She has been working as a school counselor for the last ten years, six of which have been in a Pre-K through 8th grade school in Etna before she started working for RSU 22 in 2012.

With a strong passion for working with children and helping others, Mrs. Raymond is also the advisor of Smith School’s Civil Rights team, works as a cheerleading official, and sits on the Maine School Counselor’s Association’s Board of Directors. When she not at school, she enjoys spending time outside, reading and writing stories and poetry, and spending time with her husband and two young daughters.

“What makes her an outstanding candidate for this award is her infectious enthusiasm,” said Mrs. Patterson, a Kindergarten Teacher and colleague of Mrs. Raymond.  “Mrs. Raymond doesn’t hesitate to throw on a school mascot costume to engage students in an assembly or lead the school in a cheer.”

“Kim is the kind of School Counselor that all schools need,” said Melissa Davis, a parent and community member. “She makes our school a place where children feel safe, loved, and supported.”

“She is more than a school counselor, she is a change agent,” said Smith School Principal Mrs. Moore.

In the year ahead, Mrs. Raymond will have several speaking engagements, event appearances, and will be invited to a formal Gala in Washington, DC in Winter, 2022 as well as honored at the American School Counseling Conference in Austin, Texas in Summer, 2022.

National School Counseling Week is always celebrated annually the first full week in February. This year The Maine School Counselor Association has events planned From February 1 through February 5 to celebrate National School Counseling week. For more information view Maine School Counselor Week Events on their website.

MEDIA RELEASE: Application Process Open for Student Position on Maine State Board of Education

Student voice is critically important to the Maine State Board of Education, and they are seeking applications for the newest student member to join the Board. Applications are being accepted February 1, 2021 – March 1, 2021.

The Maine State Board of Education has two nonvoting student members who join the Board as high school juniors and serve for two years, one enrolled in a school in Maine’s First Congressional District; the other enrolled in a school in the Second Congressional District. At all times, the State Board has one high school junior and one senior as members, with staggered appointment.

Applications are currently being accepted from students who attend school in the First Congressional District (includes Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, and York counties, and part of Kennebec County) and are currently a high school sophomore.  Application materials are available on the State Board of Education web page. The Board has also emailed and mailed application materials to all first congressional district high school principals and school counselors. Completed applications should be mailed to:

Mary Becker, Maine State Board of Education
23 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0023

After applications close on March 1, 2021, they will be reviewed according to the process described in Maine Education and School Statutes, Title 20-A, Chapter 5, State Board of Education. Semifinalists will be interviewed in March 2021, after which three finalists will be chosen. The names and application materials of the finalists will be sent to the Governor’s office for final selection. The selected student will be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Maine State Senate.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for Maine students to practice civic engagement while serving as both a representative of Maine students and an active education leader in our state.

For further information please visit the Maine State Board of Education web page or contact Mary Becker, Board Assistant at 624-6616 or email at Mary.Becker@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Launches 2021 Read to ME Challenge with the Help of Maine Students

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce the kickoff of the 6th annual Read to ME Challenge today, Monday, February 1, 2021. This year, to help kick off the challenge in a virtual and COVID friendly way, students from across Maine have been invited to share video recordings of themselves reading their favorite book to encourage the love of reading across the state.

The Read to ME Challenge is a month-long public awareness campaign held in February to promote childhood literacy in Maine. The challenge is an opportunity to promote children’s literacy growth by reading aloud to one or more children for at least 15 minutes. Part of the challenge is capturing the moment via a photo or video and then posting it on social media (with the hashtag #ReadtoME and tag the Maine DOE at @mdoenews on Twitter and @MaineDepartmentofEducation1 on Facebook!)

Reading aloud to children is one of the most cost effective and highly beneficial methods of building children’s literate abilities. The simple act of reading aloud to a child 15 minutes a day for five years results in 27,375 minutes of language exposure which can put children on the path to high literacy achievement. Reading aloud exposes children to the world around them, helps them see reading as an enjoyable and valuable activity and often strengthens bonds with trusted adults.

Some of the first set of videos are brought to you from members of the Maine DOE Student Cabinet along with other students from across Maine. The kick-off starts a video by Savea Lafaialii, one of the Student Cabinet’s Somerset County representatives with a reading of, “Strictly No Elephants” by Lisa Mantchev along with an another reading done by Gerald E. Talbot Community School 5th grade student Hamdi Abdullahi (pictured above) reading, “Creepy Carrots” by Aaron Reynolds.

The remaining student video readings will be released in the Maine DOE Newsroom an on the official Maine DOE Facebook and Twitter pages each day this week.

The Read to ME Challenge will run for the month of February, leading up to Read Across America Day on March 2, 2021. Learn more about the Read to ME Challenge on the Maine DOE Website, which includes a heat map of participants and an opportunity to submit your Read to ME story for the heat map!

If you would like to request the videos be sent to you directly, please complete this form. If you would like to submit a video or for more information, contact Dee Saucier, Elementary Literacy Specialist for the Maine DOE.

Media Release: Mills Administration Updates COVID-19 School Health Advisory System

Franklin joins Androscoggin, Oxford, and York counties designated yellow; Cumberland joins all other counties in green designation.

AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration today released an update to its color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support to students safely.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) continue to review evidence that indicates lower transmission of COVID-19 in schools compared to the general population. Over the last 30 days, the rate of new cases is 34 per 10,000 staff and students, compared to 116 per 10,000 people statewide. This rate of new cases in schools is less than 30% of the statewide rate for the general population.

DHHS and Maine CDC assessed COVID-19 data and trends for all counties and released the following designations:

  • REMAIN YELLOW: Androscoggin, Oxford, and York counties continue to exceed the statewide averages for both 14-day new case rates per 10,000 people and positivity rates.
  • NOW YELLOW: Franklin County has seen a significant increase in both the 14-day new case rate per 10,000 people and the positivity rate, which is now the highest of all counties in the state.
  • NOW GREEN: Cumberland County’s new case rate per 10,000 people has dropped by 25%, and the positivity rate is now below the statewide average.

All other counties remain in the green designation.

Under the “yellow” designation, which indicates an increased (moderate) level of community risk, schools may consider additional precautions, such as limiting numbers of people in school buildings at the same time, suspending extracurricular or co-curricular activities including competitions between schools, limiting interaction through cohorting, or other measures based on the unique needs of each school community.

These designations are made out of an abundance of caution and for the consideration of school administrative units in their decisions to deliver instruction.

It is essential that school districts across the State of Maine continue to implement plans that adhere to the six requirements for returning to in-person instruction, regardless of their county’s designation.

The Health Advisory System categorizations are defined as follows:

  • RED: Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction is not advisable.
  • YELLOW: Categorization as “yellow” suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider additional precautions and/or hybrid instructional models to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time.
  • GREEN: Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures.  Schools in a “green” county may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.

The county-level assessments are based on both quantitative and qualitative data, including but not limited to recent case rates, positivity rates, and syndromic data (e.g., symptoms of influenza or COVID-19). Those data are publicly posted every week on the Maine CDC website. DHHS and Maine CDC also consider qualitative factors, such as the presence of outbreaks that may potentially affect school-age children.

The Health Advisory System reflects ongoing analysis of evolving data, and serves as one piece of information that school and district leaders can use to make decisions about how to deliver education during the school year. The qualitative and quantitative considerations and data used by the CDC in determining community transmission risk levels for schools can be located here: How County Risk Levels for Maine Schools are Determined

The Health Advisory System can be found on the Maine DOE website in Part I of the Framework for Reopening Schools and Returning to In-Person Classroom Instructionhttps://www.maine.gov/doe/framework/part-I.

The next update will be provided on February 12, 2021. Updating this advisory on a two-week basis aligns with the incubation period for COVID-19 and allows for greater stability in the trend data for small counties.

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