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: 

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: 

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 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.

Priority Notice: DOE Embarks on a Revolutionary Redesign of Assessment 

As the nation  explores the future of education and embraces opportunities for new and innovative approaches to student instruction and assessment, the Maine Department Of Education(DOE) is excited to develop a more meaningful approach to assessment.  

The federally-mandated State summative assessment is an essential component of an equitable instructional cycle. The assessment serves multiple purposes for educators, students, parents, policy makers, and community members, all with the shared goal of supporting student growth for lifelong learning.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has afforded educators the opportunity to meaningfully reflect on instructional practice, outcomes and student learning. As educators continue to explore opportunities for authentic learning, we are observing an increase in  interdisciplinary/integrated instruction and the ability of students to apply their learning in a real-world context. With this in mind, and to ensure we are assessing student learning in a similar and authentic manner, the redesign of state assessment is underway.  

The Maine DOE is seeking individuals interested in being involved in role specific assessment redesign focus groups. These focus groups will serve as collaborative thought partners as Maine’s approach to assessment and accountability is redefined, reframed and redesigned.

From these role alike focus groups, an ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will be established. The ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will represent the geographic and demographic diversity across the state and will be responsible for assisting the Department in synthesizing focus group feedback, suggestions, and best practice approaches to develop a cohesive assessment and accountability plan that addresses and supports the needs of Maine students while assisting Maine in meeting ESEA Federal assessment and accountability requirements 

In the coming months, role specific focus groups will meet for a half day on a bi-monthly basis. Additionally, those nominated from within focus groups to serve on the  ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will meet for ninety (90) minutes once per month for an extended period of time.  If you are interested in being a part of this work, please complete the intent to participate form by February 26.  

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Announces 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Opportunities

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce the release of a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from interested parties to implement comprehensive 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programming in 2021-2022.  It is anticipated that roughly $1.25M will be available to issue grant awards later this year.

Authorized under Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Act of 2015, the 21st CCLC program provides competitive grant funding to support before school, after school, and summer learning programs that focus on improving the academic performance of students in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.

The primary purpose of Maine’s 21st CCLC program is to provide funding for school and community partnerships to establish or expand community learning center programs.  These programs provide students in high-need, economically-disadvantaged communities with academic tutoring and enrichment opportunities designed to complement their school-day academic program.  In addition, these programs can provide a broad array of additional support services related to overall student health and well-being.

Local 21st CCLC programs – which can be located in elementary schools, secondary schools or similarly accessible community facilities – provide high quality support services to students during non-school hours.  As such, these programs also support working parents and families by providing safe, supportive learning environments for students at times when school is not in session.

The request for proposal (RFP), which includes information regarding eligibility, program requirements, and more, is available here. An informational webinar for this RFP will be posted to the Department’s application website on January 19, 2021.  It is strongly recommended that interested parties view this presentation, in its entirety, prior to submitting a proposal for 21st CCLC program funding.

Below is the anticipated timeline for the Department’s current 21st CCLC grant competition:

Date Task
January 6, 2021 RFP Released to Public
January 19, 2021 Informational Webinar Posted Online
February 16, 2021 Deadline for Submission of Questions in Response to RFP
March 2, 2021 Interested Parties Submit Letter of Intent to Apply
April 6, 2021 Proposal Deadline
April 2020 Formal Peer Review of Proposals
May 2020 Grant Award Notifications
July 1, 2020 Grant Award Start Date

Please be advised that the dates above are subject to change.  Therefore, interested parties must consult the RFP document for the most accurate dates and deadlines regarding this opportunity.

For more information on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Program, contact State Coordinator, Travis Doughty, at