Maine’s 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit Highlights Maine DOE’s Commitment to SEL in Schools

Governor Janet T. Mills’ 3rd Annual Opioid Response Summit was on held on July 15th this year and reminded the public of the importance of social emotional learning and trauma informed approaches in Maine schools, highlighting the work of the Maine Department of Education’s development of SEL4ME, a social emotional learning (SEL) platform for Maine educators and learners.

The summit featured numerous speakers and keynote addresses including those of Dr. Larry McCullough and Mark Lefebvre from the Pine Tree Institute who led a seminar called, “Preventing Substance Use Disorders by Mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences.” This discussion showed the strong link between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and opioid addiction.

Dr. McCullough highlighted the importance of positive childhood experiences to combat the correlation between ACEs and opioid addiction. Further explaining that positive childhood experiences can be created for at-risk youth through feeling a sense of belonging in high school, having nonparent adults as role models for students, and community traditions. The seminar dug into the essential parts of community support, including a key component as social emotional and trauma informed learning, which has been shown to strongly correlate with less youth involvement in drugs.

Representatives Gabe O’Brien and Nina Misra from the Maine Youth Action Network corroborated Dr. McCullough’s presentation with their own, entitled: “Promoting Health Equity and Prevention through Youth Engagement Best Practices.” O’Brien and Misra focused on community and environmental conditions. Community conditions Misra defined as, “conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age.” Educational environments in which social emotional learning occurs within the classroom were encouraged as a best practice. Misra and O’Brien described a classroom that utilizes SEL as, “creating a space where young people feel seen and heard.”

Social emotional learning has been a priority for the Maine Department of Education, championed through the SEL4ME curriculum. SEL4ME strives for students to learn, “skills for self-confidence, perseverance and academic success as well as [become] positive members in their communities.”

The Annual Opioid Response Summit confirmed the importance of Maine DOE’s commitment to SEL as a critical role in mitigating the crisis. Dr. Jessica Pollard, Director of the Maine Office of Behavioral Health stated at the summit that newly approved funds entering into the DOE for opioid crisis work (much of it heading towards SEL professional development and training) will mean “fewer Maine youth will ever start misusing substances.”

To watch the entirety of the Summit, please click here. For more information about the Maine DOE SEL4ME platform visit: www.maine.gov/doe/sel/sel4me or contact Kellie Bailey, Social Emotional Learning/ Restorative Practice Specialist at kellie.bailey@maine.gov

SAVE THE DATE: Free Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum for School Communities

The Maine Department of Education invites you to attend, Supporting Maine Educators: A Forum to Bolster Mental Health in Our Schools on Thursday April 1st from 9:00am – 3:00pm.

The focus of this forum is to acknowledge the struggles of this past year, celebrate our successes and build resources to support mental health for our school communities. We hope to bring a greater awareness to the importance of mental health, destigmatize mental illness, increase mental health literacy for staff, administrators and community-based agencies, as well as provide practical supports to bolster the mental wellness of students and staff.

This forum will be a six hour event and consist of keynote speakers, with each followed by a related panel discussion comprised of experts from the field, State agencies and community partners, as well as staff and students from Maine schools. This will be a live event and each session will be recorded and available on the DOE website.

Please join us for this very important event. For further information or questions, contact Staci Warren at Staci.H.Warren@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Launches Social Emotional Learning Curriculum

The Maine Department of Education is excited to announce the release of Maine’s first, state owned and free, PreK-12th grade Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum.

SEL4ME has been constructed by professionals with 50+ years of experience in education, student/parent engagement and staff/administrator professional development. Lessons are aligned with industry established best practices, are leveraged through an equity lens and include over 450 modules that cover PreK-12 scaffolded by grade.

Following research and findings from the Maine’s Opioid Prevention Task Force and Task Force on Childhood Trauma, incorporating SEL into education is evidenced to be a primary prevention and trauma informed practice and the DOE is dedicated to meeting the social emotional and mental health needs of our educators and students. The SEL4ME curriculum honors Maine’s strong history of social emotional learning and is flexible by design so that it can be used as an additional support for existing SEL, health or counseling programs, while also being a reliable and foundational way to enable schools to create brand new SEL programs across our State.

What we have here is only the beginning! The SEL4ME Team, consisting of diverse Maine experts and stakeholders, will continue to edit, add and develop new SEL content, ensuring that our State’s unique SEL needs are met. Moving forward, expect the curriculum to expand from classroom supports to include school and district wide resources in the structured, best practice use of SEL throughout school culture. While this curriculum is not a requirement, research shows that the benefits of incorporating social emotional learning into our schools are significant and the SEL Team will be providing free training and support to educators looking to use the SEL4ME curriculum.

We hope that every Maine educator will take advantage of this free, readily available and low barrier, SEL curriculum to supplement everyday classroom instruction or to assist with remote learning. We will continue to grow SEL4ME with your feedback and support!

Thank you for your dedication to Maine youth.

Please use these links below to access the new SEL4ME curriculum, trainings and support:

For further questions, please contact Kellie Bailey, Maine DOE Social Emotional Learning Specialist at Kellie.Bailey@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Maine DOE Sponsored Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Resource Coming Soon for Maine Schools

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is committed to providing cutting edge resources so that the many benefits of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), for both students and adults, can be accessed by all Maine schools. SEL speaks to our Maine values, where schools and communities support all children in the development of a healthy sense of self, in learning lifelong skills to regulate and manage emotions, and the development of empathy while building healthy and positive relationships. On behalf of Commissioner Makin, we are proud to announce our very own Social Emotional Learning curriculum and resource, SEL4ME.

It is our hope that by offering this statewide, free, and readily available comprehensive SEL PreK-12th grade curriculum, that we will eliminate the financial burden for any Maine school district who wishes to embed SEL into their everyday instruction and school culture. The curriculum accommodates both in person and remote learning. Additionally, our DOE team will continue to develop this curriculum to include free training and professional learning for staff, as well as new modules that will support the use of SEL as a Trauma Informed, Primary Prevention within our schools. Through our statewide instruction, this curriculum can be a significant resource for all Maine students, regardless of age, race, gender, socio-economic status or religion, to recognize self-worth and feel connected and safe within a responsive and caring school community.

The Maine DOE has created a unique opportunity in partnering with Evolution Labs who, with input from Maine experts, has developed our best practice-aligned SEL library of more than 450 modules. These modules are not subject to ongoing license fees but are owned by the State, in perpetuity, ensuring this resource as a reliable foundation for SEL development for generations to come. While this scaffolded curriculum can enable a consistent content approach, within each lesson are built-in supports that include read aloud capabilities and translation into nearly 100 different languages- as well as educator guides and instructions.

We know that research into the use of SEL has long shown that schools who embed SEL into everyday instruction and school culture have a positive impact in the following areas:

  • Increased school safety
  • Reduction in bullying and violent behavior
  • Reduction in negative coping and disruptive classroom behavior
  • Increase in academic achievement
  • Student appreciation of self-worth
  • Healthy connections to others
  • Development of confidence, optimism
  • Development of self-compassion in the face of doubt and social challenges
  • Self-advocacy
  • Persistence and resiliency in the face of adversity
  • Responsivity to challenges and change
  • Embracing all cultures and the individuality of all humans
  • Solving conflicts and problem solving in a cooperative manner
  • Demonstrating genuine concern about the welfare of others

Maine has a proud history of promoting Social Emotional Learning in our schools. With some of our educators having used practices in classrooms for decades and districts investing in SEL trainings and programming, many Maine schools have experienced the benefits of providing SEL supports to students. In 2015, the Maine DOE adopted SEL for PreK education, and aligned Health and PE standards with a Social Emotional Learning framework. Now, In 2020, when the need for Social Emotional Supports are more significant than ever, the Maine DOE is excited to offer the SEL4ME curriculum as a way to share the benefits of SEL to all our students, and strengthen its impact as part of our academic success. This curriculum is not a requirement of Maine schools, but a means to supplement and support existing programs, as well as provide new programs with the resources to flourish.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to every educator and school support staff who dedicate their lives to the betterment of all Maine students. Thank you for always teaching from the heart and supporting our students.

Virtual Brain Based Support Sessions for Maine School Staff Available Tues/Thurs

When COVID 19 swept across our state, abruptly closing our schools, You DID NOT Blink. Instead, you rolled up your sleeves, dug deep and got the job done. Collectively, districts across our great state made sure our children were fed, had access to online learning and knew that they were missed and loved by everyone in their school buildings. To say Thank You to the thousands of teachers, office staff, ed techs, bus drivers, kitchen and custodial crews can never be enough.

For the first time in the history of Maine DOE, we were able to offer the field, daily brain-based emotional supports with Mindfulness practices. We wanted you to know that we cared and that you were not alone.

Hundreds of you participated and the feedback we received was overwhelming. We’d like to continue to offer this support as you march forward, teaching courageously amidst the most unprecedented school re-opening Maine has ever seen.

Please consider re-Joining Maine DOE specialist Kellie D. Bailey each Tuesday and Thursday from 4-4:30 PM for guided mindful, grounding and brain regulating practices.

Register here »

For more information, contact Kellie D. Bailey, Maine DOE Social Emotional Behavioral Learning Specialist at Kellie.Bailey@maine.gov.