PRIORITY NOTICE: Moving Toward Understanding: Fostering an Intercultural Learning Environment

A workshop series by Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants (MICC).

“MICC is a women-owned business based in Portland, Maine, with years of experience helping schools, organizations, and individuals develop interculturally and navigate differences effectively. Passionate and engaging facilitators, we ground our interactive and experiential trainings in best practices of adult learning, and build on the strengths you already have. We have lived across the globe, and our work reflects that dexterity, curiosity, and humility.”

Module 1: DEMYSTIFYING ISLAM: CULTURE, COMMUNITY, AND FAITH

Thursday, March 18, 7:00-8:30 PM
Thursday, March 25, 7:00-8:00PM

Presented from both the perspective of a Muslim immigrant in Maine and a non-Muslim Mainer who lived in a Muslim majority country, this training seeks to dispel myths and misunderstandings by asking the questions: What is Islam and what is it NOT?

This training will:

  • Provide a brief history and context of the religion
  • Include discussion of Islam’s similarities to Christianity and Judaism
  • Define important terms
  • Give participants insight to more effectively reach, serve, educate, and connect with Muslim people

Presented by Reza Jalali and Liz Greason

Module 2: MICROAGGRESSIONS: THEIR IMPACT ON STUDENT LEARNING

Thursday, April 1, 7:00-8:30 PM
Thursday, April 8, 7:00-8:00 PM

As educators, what don’t we know we don’t know? Exploring this question can be a gateway into understanding and interrupting microaggressions.

This training will:

  • Define microaggression
  • Differentiate between different types of microaggressions
  • Identify the impact microaggressions have on marginalized student groups
  • Discuss what we, as educators, can do to minimize the impact of microaggressions in the classroom and schools settings

Presented by Deb Breiting and Liz Greason

Register here: https://mainestate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qceusrTwrGdC9jU12AsxF9NXts3SoWEt9

About the Presenters:

Liz Greason
Liz Greason

Deb Breiting is co-founder of Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants and hails from Vancouver, Canada. Born in Montreal to immigrant parents from Germany and Japan, Deb grew up in a multilingual and multicultural home and is a first generation university graduate. She has a degree in Linguistics and German from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and is a graduate of the UBC Certificate Program in Intercultural Studies. With a professional focus on teaching English as a Second Language, Deb most recently taught at Portland Adult Education for the New Mainers Resource Center and coordinated projects designed to further support the integration of immigrants with professional backgrounds into Maine’s workforce. In addition, Deb has lived in Toronto, Munich, and Tokyo where she has worked for schools and non-profit organizations. Deb is an IDI Qualified Administrator and is currently enrolled in the Master’s program of Adult and Higher Education at University of Southern Maine.

Liz Greason
Liz Greason

A Mainer by birth, Liz Greason is co-founder of Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants. She lived in the Middle East for many years, where she taught students from around the world at the American University in Dubai, with a focus on effective cross-cultural communication. Since returning to the United States, Liz has applied her knowledge of the Middle East and Islam, intercultural competency, and intercultural communication to help Mainers effectively recruit and retain a diverse workforce and serve diverse populations equitably. Liz has also served on the faculty of the University of Southern Maine (USM) and Portland Adult Education. Growing up in Bridgton, Liz graduated from, and later taught at, Lake Region High School.

Liz holds degrees in Women and Gender Studies, with focus areas of intersectional feminism, from Mount Holyoke College and Reed College. She is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Reza Jalali
Reza Jalali

Reza Jalali is a noted writer, educator, immigrant advocate and former refugee from Iran. He was recently appointed Executive Director of the Greater Portland Immigrant WELCOME Center, a non-profit organization that serves as a hub for organizations and individuals to collaborate in helping Maine’s thriving immigrant community reach its civic, economic, and social potential. Additionally a prolific author of the immigrant experience, Reza’s forthcoming book Dear Maine: The Trials and Triumphs of Maine’s 21st Century Immigrants will be available in August 2021. Jalali’s other books include New Mainers, Moon Watchers, Homesick Mosque and Other Stories, and The Poets and the Assassin. His children’s book, Moon Watchers, has received the Stepping Stone Multicultural Award. His five-act play, The Poets and the Assassin, which is about women in Iran and Islam, has been staged to rave reviews across New England. Jalali’s storytelling was also featured on National Public Radio’s popular program, The Moth Radio Hour.

Additional information:

This workshop series will require participants to maintain a reflection journal. Participants should come motivated to create change and should be prepared to participate in group discussions based on readings and resources shared prior to the session.

Engaging in this cohort provides an opportunity for participants to earn credit hours. To receive credit, participants must attend all four sessions.

For more information contact Danielle Despins; a volunteer member of Maine DOE’s internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sub-committee at (207) 592 -1448.

PRIORITY NOTICE: There is Still Time to Nominate Maine Schools to Win a New Fitness Center

Maine has been selected to participate in the 2021 DON’T QUIT! Campaign, a national effort to encourage physical fitness in youth. As part of the campaign, the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) will gift Fitness Centers to three Maine schools that use new and unique methods to promote student physical activity and wellness to help them construct fitness centers. Read the 2/8 DON’T QUIT! Campaign announcement here.

All public and public charter elementary and middle schools in Maine who have a majority of students between the ages of 8 to 14 years old and an available room ready for equipment installation by June 2021 within their existing infrastructure are eligible to apply. Three schools in each state, prioritized based on need, will be chosen from applicants by NFGFC to receive a brand new, state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center.

Download Application to Nominate a Maine School

Learn more information about the program.

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 in the United States.

Physical activity and exercise are shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases, enhance individual health and quality of life, and reduce health care costs.  In schools, studies show that physical activity improves academic achievement, increases confidence and self-esteem, reduces discipline problems, cuts absenteeism, and fosters better interpersonal relationships.

School nominations will be accepted starting today, Monday, February 8, 2021 until Friday, March 19, 2021. Maine people interested in nominating their school can visit  https://natgovfit.org/nominate-your-school/ and click on the Maine state seal to download and submit the short application.

More information about the program can be found here.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Joins NewsCenter Maine to Thank School Staff and Educators Through Video Messages from Across the State

The Maine Department of Education is excited to be working with News Center Maine on a two-week campaign that aims to give Maine schools staff and teachers the giant shout out and thank you they deserve.

With Valentine’s Day and the national #LoveTeaching week just around the corner, the Maine DOE and News Center Maine have formed a unique partnership to broadcast video messages from schools across Maine showcasing the amazing heroes that work in our local schools and districts.

From February 7th through February 21th, WCSH 6/WLBZ 2 has launched a Thank You campaign that will air as video clips during both their morning and evening news broadcasts. The video clips feature a broad range of school and district staff, working in schools in all regions of Maine, talking about where they work and why they love what they do.

During the campaign, News Center Maine will also be soliciting videos from community members across Maine talking about their local teachers and school staff members, thanking them for all their hard work. Students and their families, as well as fellow educators, are encouraged to give a video shout out to say “Thank you!” and send along to NewsCenter Maine. One can share video by:

  • Using the Near ME tool of their mobile app
  • Texting them at 207-828-6622
  • Posting them on social media and using the hashtag #LoveSchoolStaff.

Be sure to tune into News Center Maine, WCSH 6/WLBZ 2 now through February 21st to see the faces of the amazing people working to educate the youth in our state and hear from students and families who are sending in their messages of appreciation. Maybe you will even see someone from a school near you! A library of videos is available on the NewsCenter Maine website.

PRIORITY NOTICE: New Dates Available for Free Anti-Bias Professional Learning Series for Educators

The Maine Department of Education is sponsoring a workshop by Amber Coleman-Mortley, Moving Beyond the Movement: Fostering Authentic Transformation for Sustainable Outcomes.  This Learning Series was originally scheduled for earlier this month but it has been rescheduled and the registration has opened back up for additional attendees! Please see the updated dates below.

Updated Learning Series Dates & Syllabus:

  • Wednesday, February 17, 7:00-9:00pm
    Module 1 – Now is the Time: Using the past to inform the present: How do we apply anti-racism, anti-bias, and equity to civics and history classrooms?
  • Wednesday, February 24, 7:00-8:30pm
    Module 2-Be bold. Be brave. Be inclusive: Engaging your stakeholders: How do we facilitate community engagement around anti-bias work?
  • Wednesday, March 3, 7:00-9:00pm
    Module 3- Culturally relevant pedagogy for all: How can we leverage culturally relevant pedagogy to support all learners in our school community?
  • Wednesday, March 10, 7:00-8:30pm
    Module 4- Practical applications and continued strategies for continued allyship: What small, and large, changes are required to ensure that our practices and policies are investments, not investigations?

Amber Coleman-Mortley brings a diverse voice into civic education, manages a large network of education influencers, and has built a successful youth fellowship of students fighting for equity in civic education. Amber’s advocacy and expertise have been featured in the New York Times on several occasions.

Register here: https://mainestate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUkdOihrzIoHtEhnto0lYp7KcxZ3tbYW9SQ 

Learn more about Amber

Amber Coleman-Mortley is a talented creator and builder of digital and grassroots networks where she focuses on cultivating an engaged community of active participants through multimedia video and virtual spaces. In her current role as Director of Social Engagement, she brings diverse voices into civic education, manages a large network of education influencers, and has built a successful youth fellowship of students fighting for equity in civic education.

Amber’s equity and civic work is centered around building strong teams for improved community outcomes, which is inspired by her years as a three-sport varsity athlete at Oberlin College where she earned North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) all-conference honors for 8 out of the 11 seasons she competed. She also has a Division 3 , NCAA appearance in the 4×100 m. She currently serves as an alumni advisor to Oberlin College’s, Black Student-Athlete Guild.

Amber taught for nine years as a P.E/Health teacher and head varsity volley ball and head varsity track coach. She has experience building curriculum and leadership programs for student-athletes and team captains. Amber presented on Anti-Racist Coaching and Sports and Social Justice at the U.S. Soccer

Foundation’s Virtual National Training. At the center of her work are equity, critical thinking, and civic problem-solving. She has experience collaborating virtually with parents and educators around equity, anti-racism, and culturally relevant pedagogy, which includes work with the DuPage (Illinois) Regional Office Of Education.

Amber is a highly regarded social media influencer whose work brought her to the White House to meet former first lady Michelle Obama to discuss influencer campaigns that focus on family health and wellness. She is a parenting expert and author of Mom Of All Capes where she covers parenting strategies in civic education, education technology, parent-teacher partnerships, and social-emotional development. The podcast she co-created with her children, Lets K12 Better, discusses how to improve K12 education and family life through partnerships and communication.

Amber’s advocacy and expertise have been featured in the New York Times on several occasions which includes viral videos, a full-page spread in print media, and several online articles. Her insights have been cited in publications from the LA Times to the Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post to LAist. Coleman-Mortley has shared insights for parents through her work for Edutopia, civic education and parenting for TODAY Parenting, and even shared tips for weary travelers through Southwest Airlines. Amber’s voice has been amplified on countless podcasts including Edit Your Life about how to talk to children about race, EduTable about education a inequity, NPR affiliate KPC Conprocessing the state of the world with children. She’s presented live with New York Times Parenting and Sree Sreenivansan’s daily global show on talking to kids about race.

Additional information:

This workshop series will require participants to maintain a reflection journal. Participants should come motivated to create change and should be prepared to participate in group discussions based on readings and resources shared prior to the session.

Engaging in this cohort provides an opportunity for participants to earn credit hours. To receive credit, participants must attend all four sessions.

For more information contact Danielle Despins; a volunteer member of Maine DOE’s internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) sub-committee at (207) 592-1448.

Register here: https://mainestate.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUkdOihrzIoHtEhnto0lYp7KcxZ3tbYW9SQ 

PRIORITY NOTICE: National Youth Physical Fitness Campaign Launches in Maine

DON’T QUIT!® Campaign Will Deliver $100,000 Fitness Centers to Three Maine Schools

The school nomination form and more information about the program can be found here.

Governor Janet Mills and the Maine Department of Education announced today that the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) has selected Maine for its 2021 DON’T QUIT! Campaign, a national effort to encourage physical fitness in youth. As part of the campaign, the NFGFC, which seeks to encourage and reward innovation in the field of youth fitness, will gift DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers to three Maine schools that use new and unique methods to promote student physical activity and wellness to help them construct fitness centers.

“The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced how important it is to keep our bodies and minds healthy,” said Governor Mills. “I thank the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Centers for bringing this campaign to our state and I encourage all eligible schools to apply.”

“Our schools provide students with the knowledge, experiences and resources to build healthy and successful futures,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “We know that physical activity improves student learning, mental health, and general wellbeing, and we are grateful to the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Centers for providing these additional resources to 3 Maine schools.”

“Childhood obesity is a serious problem that can follow a child into adulthood. I’ve declared war on this preventable disease and it’s inspiring to see elected leaders like Governor Janet Mills immediately jump on board to join the battle and welcome us into the great state of Maine. Every governor we’ve partnered with recognizes that obesity is neither a Democratic nor Republican issue, it’s a kids’ issue and all have vowed to do everything possible to help,” said fitness icon Jake (Body by Jake) Steinfeld, Chairman of the NFGFC. “So far we’ve delivered DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers to 36 states and Washington, DC  and this year we are adding four more states to our family including Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, and New Hampshire. The response from every state we’ve visited has been awesome.  Kids are excited about working out and being physically active and, as a result, their academic performance and self-esteem have skyrocketed.  Now, Maine schools have an opportunity to make a change that will have a lasting impact on kids well into their future.”  

All public and public charter elementary and middle schools in Maine who have a majority of students between the ages of 8 to 14 years old and an available room ready for equipment installation by June 2021 within their existing infrastructure are eligible to apply. Three schools in each state, prioritized based on need, will be chosen from applicants by NFGFC to receive a brand new, state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center. The school nomination form and more information about the program can be found here.

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 in the United States.   

“I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact fitness centers have had on students and their communities. When you provide schools with the tools and inspiration, you’ll be amazed by the changes that take place,” continued Steinfeld.  “Children are our most precious resource and by providing them with a strong foundation in health and fitness, we can feel confident that they’ll excel beyond their wildest dreams.” 

Physical activity and exercise are shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases, enhance individual health and quality of life, and reduce health care costs.  In schools, studies show that physical activity improves academic achievement, increases confidence and self-esteem, reduces discipline problems, cuts absenteeism, and fosters better interpersonal relationships.

School nominations will be accepted starting today, Monday, February 8, 2021 until Friday, March 19, 2021. Maine people interested in nominating their school can visit  https://natgovfit.org/nominate-your-school/ and click on the Maine state seal to download and submit the short application.

The school nomination form and more information about the program can be found here.