Maine Schools Selected for Peer to Peer Jazz Education Program

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz brought its Peer-to-Peer jazz education program Maine this week as part of a weeklong tour to New England public schools. The “informances” are a combination of performance with educational information will be presented by five of the country’s most gifted high school music students along with internationally acclaimed trumpet recording artist Sean Jones, Kansas City jazz and blues vocalist and a former winner of the Institute’s International Jazz Vocals Competition Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. JB Dyas.

Each school visit included an assembly program featuring a musical performance for all students, followed by workshops for each school’s jazz band and choir with the visiting student performers playing alongside and sharing ideas with their New England counterparts. The program took place at Portland High School on May 23rd, Deering High School on May 24th.

Immediately following the informances jazz workshops were held for each host school’s jazz band and choir in which the visiting students played side-by-side with Maine students, providing tutelage peer to peer.

The week-long tour will conclude with two performances open to the public on May 25 at Portland’s premier jazz club, Blue (650A Congress St.), where Portland residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of music with Jones and Henry alongside jazz’s future “young lions.” The septet will perform standards, jazz classics, and contemporary jazz, including compositions from Jones’ and Henry’s latest recordings. The shows begin at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. For further information call 207-774-4111 or visit

Saco Middle School Hosts “Sebago Speaks” Event to Showcase Student Work

Saco Middle School co-teachers Andrew Fersch and Kaitlyn Leeman hosted an innovative student event recently called, Sebago Speaks. The event featured a series of talks given by students and community members on various issues, each about having a positive impact on the world and their community.

The Sebago Speaks student presenters were selected by their peers and teachers among the entire 7th grade class who all completed a class assignment which challenged them to conduct interviews, research, reading, and writing to create an inspiring presentation on a topic of their choice.

The event featured topics such as, plastic use, income inequality, drug abuse, technology addiction, football, melting ice caps, obesity, animal shelters, recess, music, survival, and kindness, among others.

Check out some of the videos from the event:

Melting Ice Caps – Rory

Girls Playing Football – Madalyn

Music – Lily

Animal Shelters – Laura

Money – Troy


Maine Educators Honored for Excellence in Mathematics and Science

The Maine Department of Education honored two educators at an annual dinner event held at the Maple Hill Farm Inn, located in Hallowell, earlier this month. Kirsten Gould, the District Assessment for Learning Coach at Buxton Center Elementary School (MSAD 6), and Heather Dorr, a 5th Grade Teacher at Ella Lewis School in Steuben (RSU 24) were both named state finalists for the 2018 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

The evening event included social networking with past awardees, dinner, and official congratulations from Wilson Hess, Chair of the Maine State Board of Education and Beth Lambert, Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction.  The keynote address was delivered by Leigh Peake, Chief Education Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, whose message to the audience was to “embrace messy,” when it comes to quantifying often-times messy data and taking on the inevitable challenges of an ever changing and anarchic fields of math, science, and beyond.

Kirsten Gould
District Assessment for Learning Coach
Buxton Center Elementary School in MSAD 6

Kirsten has a passion for effective STEM education at the elementary level. Her support of professional development for her colleagues has made her a committed and powerful teacher-leader in her community and beyond. In addition to her leadership with the Maine Elementary Sciences Partnership, Kirsten collaborates as part of her district’s vertical science team, provides school and district-level professional development around teaching and assessing at the elementary level, and this year, does Assessment for Learning work for her district colleagues.

Heather Dorr
5th Grade Teacher
Ella Lewis School in Steuben (RSU 24)

A tireless advocate for students, Heather is skilled at meeting all her students where they are and advancing their learning. She is fluent with the curriculum standards and has an impressive management system imbedded with standards-based learning. A highly sought out mentor teacher to countless beginning teachers and student teachers, she is always eager and willing to share her knowledge and expertise with others. More recently, Heather has served as a leader in her work to develop a Collaborative Response Model (CRM) alongside her colleagues at RSU 24. Heather Door was unable to make it to the event but is expected to be honored at a special ceremony next month.

The state finalists were presented with certificates from the PAEMST program and will be in the running for a trip to Washington, DC, which will include professional development experiences and networking with other math and science educators from around the nation.

For more information about the PAEMST Program, contact the PAEMST State Coordinator for mathematics, Michele Mailhot, at, or for science, Shari Templeton, at


Washington County Educator Profile: Charity Williams

Submitted by Sarah Woog from the The Washington County Consortium. 

Meet Charity Williams, Principal at Princeton Elementary School

As I explored ways to best support Washington County educators this year, Charity’s name kept on coming up. “Charity has done some great work implementing practices that celebrate teaching at Princeton Elementary School,” one colleague told me. As I reflect on teaching and how to best support it, I’ve come to believe celebrations are key. I wanted to learn more.

Charity welcomed me to her school a couple weeks ago. I showed up an hour early (long story) and offered to wait until our scheduled time and catch up on some other work. Charity told me to come on over instead. So I showed up at 8:00 AM on a Wednesday morning, somewhat unannounced.

Have you ever walked into a school and felt immediately at peace? Did it ever happen at 8:00 AM? I think we can all admit this can be a bit of an anomaly. (If it’s not for you, please reach out so I may profile you and your school next!) Well, it happens at Princeton Elementary School. And I wanted to know why.

There are many fantastic things that go on at Princeton Elementary. Here are three that stuck out to me: 1) student voice is encouraged and heard; 2) teaching is celebrated; and 3) the surrounding community serves as a partner and resource.

Charity and her staff use restorative practices to support students in making good decisions and learn and move forward when they do not. When a student comes to Charity because of an infraction, she asks three questions: “What happened? Who was affected? How can we fix it?” They even plan an logical consequence together. Teachers are encouraged to engage with students in this manner as well. Charity shared that when she first started as principal, an offending student would say “I’m just a bad kid.” Now they say “I made a bad choice and I can fix it.” I think that’s a lesson in acceptance and reconciliation we could all learn from, even (or especially?) as adults.

It seems folks at Princeton Elementary are constantly learning, and they especially value learning from each other. Twice a month, one educator hosts “open classroom” after the students have left for the day. The entire staff goes to the open classroom and is welcomed with snacks. The host teacher shares what’s worth celebrating in their classroom. Open classroom allows educators to join in celebration while fostering a vibrant learning community.

Community doesn’t stop at the school doors. Charity partners with organizations in her area to bring resources to the school and students that may otherwise have been unavailable. A local church hosts a celebratory turkey dinner for the staff each year as a gesture of appreciation. A health center donates a social worker regularly to help support the implementation of trauma-informed practices. Charity is given a small “slush fund” annually so families may get help with heating expenses when a child is cold at home. The school partners with the local grocery store to have fresh and healthy snacks for the students.

I could write more about what goes on at Princeton Elementary and the work of Charity and her staff. There are many lessons to share. I recently remarked to Charity how I would love to intern under her one day if time and opportunity allowed. She replied she is happy to do this with any current or future administrator. Please, if you feel inclined, reach out to Charity and take her up on this offer ( Not only would such an experience equip you with concrete strategies for supporting educators, students and communities of Washington County, but it would make you proud to be a member of our educational community as well. Princeton Elementary is a model of strength-based problem solving and a true testament to the Downeast way of loving thy neighbor.

Portland High School Students Present About Their Internships

Image caption: Tyler Karu (right) of Tyler Karu Interior Design looks on as interns pose for a photo after their presentations to a freshman seminar class. From left to right are: Tahj Hebert (City of Portland IT Intern), Gloria Sanchez (Tyler Karu Interior Designs Intern), Will Gordon (Garrand Marketing Intern)

Submitted by Andrea Levinsky, Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator, Portland High School

About thirty Portland High School students presented about their community-based internships that they have had this year. Students spent at least 45 hours on their internships learning about a career field of high interest to them and earned an elective credit for completing the experience.

Internships allow students to learn career-specific skills. Tahj Hebert, an intern with the City of Portland’s Information Technology department enjoyed using computer science to help people in the community. Tahj’s project was to use arcGIS mapping software to analyze the connection between weather and car crashes. Tahj said that “by the end I was able to create maps using the data available to the city of Portland, use in-software tools to analyze the data presented in the maps, and make my own tools by writing my own python scripts and running them in the application.”

Interns and mentors pose for a photo after presentations to a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates class. From left to right are: Anne Fisher (Painting for a Purpose Staff), Robby Sheils (Painting for a Purpose Intern), Nate Thorne (Portland Players Intern), Diane Mutoni (Maine Youth Court Intern), Mike Freysinger (Maine Youth Court Staff)

Students are able to learn more about a potential career path through an internship. Will Gordon was able to experience the role of an art director at Garrand Marketing and now better understands what that career path entails. He said that the internship “was an awesome experience, I was able to get in front of other professional artists and learn what that type of job is like.”

Internship are a direct link to future jobs and mentorship. In her internship, Gloria Sanchez was able to solidify her passion for her chosen career path of interior design by interning with Tyler Karu Interior Designs. She gained experience in creating designs and working with clients. Gloria was even hired by the company for a summer job following her internship!

Internships allow students to practice college and career readiness skills. Diane Mutoni, an intern with Maine Youth Court said that in her internship she “Learned how to communicate with people despite the situation and [learned about] listening and understanding without judging.” She also said she learned time-management skills and work better in groups.

Thank you so much to the companies that hosted interns this year including: The Dehler Animal Clinic, Forest Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Portland Parks and Recreation, VIA Marketing Agency, Garrand Marketing, The Maine Audubon, The Maine Jewish Film Festival, Casco Bay Artisans, The Cedars, Maine Youth Court, Painting for a Purpose, Portland Players, Planned Parenthood, Kingspoke, 75 State Street, Systems Engineering, Lee Auto, Signature Soul, City of Portland IT, Nat Warren-White Drama Therapist, The Barron Center, Toni’s Touch Hair Salon, Ryan Lucas Athletic Trainer, Tyler Karu Interior Designs, and Lyseth Elementary School.  

Portland High School is always looking for more internship partners. If your business or organization is interested in hosting an internship next year, please contact Andrea Levinsky, Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator at