New UMaine Special Education Leadership Certificate Available this Fall 

The University of Maine College of Education and Human Development and UMaineOnline will begin offering a new graduate certificate in Special Education Leadership this fall.

The Maine Department of Education lists Teacher of Students with Disabilities among the state’s teacher shortage areas. The new graduate certificate is designed to address an accompanying shortage of special education administrators. There are currently 242 special education directors in the state of Maine — one for every 127 students with a disability. The 12-credit graduate certificate in special education leadership can lead to Maine DOE certification as an assistant administrator of special education.

“This certificate is a response to feedback from PreK–12 professionals in Maine and beyond about the immediate need to support the growing number of students with disabilities and who are at risk,” says Sarah Howorth, assistant professor and coordinator of the graduate program in special education in the UMaine College of Education and Human Development. “Assistant administrators serve an important function in local districts, helping directors provide legally mandated access to a free and appropriate education for all students.”

Assistant administrators contribute to overseeing all facets of a school district’s special education department, including programs, services, personnel and budget.

The four courses in the graduate certificate are Law and Policy Affecting Individuals with Disabilities, School Law for Administrators, Organizational Behavior in Education, and an Internship in Special Education Administration. The program objectives are based on guidelines from the Council for Special Education Administrators (CASE). Students can pursue the certificate as a stand-alone program, or as part of coursework toward an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree.

Applications for the Special Education Leadership: Assistant Special Education Director graduate certificate are being accepted through Aug. 15 for students interested in starting the program in the fall 2021 semester. For students interested in starting in summer 2022, the application deadline is April 15, 2022. More information is available on the UMaineOnline website.

For more information, contact Howorth at

Maine DOE Special Services Team to Host NY Times Best Seller Peter H. Reynolds for SPPS Meeting

An upcoming Special Purpose Private Schools Director’s Meeting provided by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) Special Services Team with special guest Peter H. Reynolds, New York Times bestselling illustrator, who has created many acclaimed books for children, including The Dot, Ish, The North Star, and So Few of Me, to share his new book, Peace Train, written by Cat Stevens, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

The public is invited to this virtual meeting which will be held on Zoom on May 26, 2021, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. EDT. Register in advance for this meeting: (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.)


New York, NY (January 12, 2021) – Cat Stevens, ’70s troubadour, singer-songwriter, inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and known to millions for his hits including “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” “Wild World,” “Father and Son,” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” has partnered with New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds to produce PEACE TRAIN, a children’s book celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the iconic song’s original release on his multiplatinum album Teaser and the Firecat.

"Out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train. Peace train take this country, come take me home again." PEACE TRAIN, Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens - with Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam- Worldwide

Featuring joyful illustrations and the timeless lyrics of the much-loved peace anthem released in 1971, this hopeful picture book continues Stevens’s commitment to children’s education and shared love for people of all cultures and identities. Stevens invites readers to hop on the Peace Train and join its growing group of passengers who are all ready to travel together to a better world of peace and human understanding.

I wrote these lyrics more than fifty years ago, and I know the words still boom as true and loud today as they did in the 1970s,” says Stevens. “It’s incredible to see how Peter Reynolds has made the words jump into life in brilliant style for a new generation with his joysome illustrations.”

To see Cat Stevens’ interview about The Peace Train on the Today Show May 11, 2021, click here:

Brunswick Special Ed Teacher Reflects on Making Relationships a Priority During COVID-19 

Carmon Parker, a special education teacher at Harriet Beecher Stowe (HBS) Elementary School in Brunswick has always wanted families to feel connected and supported through her Social Emotional Behavioral programWhen classroom-based learning was paused in March of 2019 at the onset of COVID-19, she really felt these values intensify 

Pre-pandemic photos from the HBS Social Emotional Behavioral program:

Not being able to see her students gave her a sense of helplessness because it meant that it would be that much harder to able to maintain those critically important connections with her studentsLike many teachers and school administrators, Ms. Parker quickly shifted gears to help take the pressure of “keeping up” off her students’ plates and the fear of regression off their family’s mindsShe focused on staying connected in creative ways since they couldn’t physically be together.  

She did this at first by scheduling zoom meetings where she worked with students on mindfulness practices, emotional regulation, and social skills. These meetings were also a time for students and families to ask questions, to help ease anxieties, and constantly reassure and remind students that one day we would all be together again,” said Ms. Parker.  

Along with classroom zoom meetings, they also made scheduled times to include other school community members that students had meaningful relationships with including teachers, administrators, and staff members that students saw on a regular basis around schoolShe even helped organize a birthday car parade for one of the students. I believe this helped us all feel that we were still together, even when apart, recalls Ms. Parker. 

As zooms became the norm and hybrid class schedules started to take shape in schools across Maine, Ms. Parker continued to adapt to the situation too, by making in-person time as productive and positive as possible while also taking advantage of time outside of the classroom to maintain relationships and add an extra layer of learning with her students. 

Thinking ahead during the initial building closures in the springMs. Parker wrote and received a Brunswick Community Education Foundation Grant that allowed her to order calming sensory items for her classrooms (humidifiers, essential oils, sound machines, etc.) which she has used to improve in-class experiences for students in her program. 

In addition, with the support and help from the families of her students, she was able to create safe outdoor learning experiences that helped bolster relationship building, among so many other positive learning and experiential opportunities for her students (and her). Ms. Parker spent many weekends connecting with her students and their families around activities that they could all enjoy together like surfing and skiing. “Her commitment and care for her students during an exceptionally challenging time has helped them to be resilient. They feel safe and supported and Ms. Parker has gone above and beyond to make sure they feel the love,” a parent said.   

In reflecting back on the many changes that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Parker writes that, “the silver linings that have come from this are having more time to connect and build relationships with families, further strengthening relationships with students, and channeling my energies into what and who brings me joy.  

Being apart from my students and team (my best friends) was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. It forced me to explore other passions such outdoor activities and photography. Our first day back at school, after 186 days of being apart, I shared pictures with my students of all the adventures I had. With the main message being, they would always be my greatest one. 

Family Engagement Activity – Capture Your Beauty: 

Information for this article was provided by Carmon Parker and a parent of one of her students as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. The Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign is an avenue for Maine schools to celebrate successes and share innovative ideas, practices, and models that can be adapted and easily implemented by other Maine schools. Stories are not an endorsement of specific materials, services, or practices and are not intended to promote learning programs that are of cost to students, families, or schools. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at 


Comments Sought on Maine’s IDEA Part B Application

The Maine DOE is seeking comments from the public on its annual application for federal funds under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which covers services to children with disabilities, ages 3-22.

The application, which covers Maine fiscal year 2022 (starting July 1, 2021) is posted on the Maine DOE’s webpage at The Part B budget is estimated/projected on the basis of Maine’s award for the State’s current award, pending the State’s receipt of the finalized federal award for the coming year. Both documents will be posted from March 21, 2021 through May 18, 2021.

Written comments will be accepted from, March 21, 2021 until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Please send comments to Erin Frazier at or 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME. 04333.

The Special Education Staff Certification Report (EF-S-05 Part II) Open on March 1, 2021; Deadline is April 15, 2021.

The EF-S-05 Part II Special Education Staff Certification report must be verified and certified by the Special Education Director in the Maine Department Of Education’s NEO System. The report is used to verify the full-time equivalency (FTE) and qualification status of special education teachers, paraprofessionals (educational technicians), and related services personnel who were employed or contracted to provide special education services to students with disabilities ages 3 through 20 as of December 1, 2020.

  • Please note that this will be final year that the EF-S-05 Part II will allow for adjustments of numbers. The 2021-2022 collection will come directly from NEO staff and the EF-S-05 Part II will only be a certification of those numbers.  The timeline of the certification will also change to align with the NEO staff certification timeline.  More information will be provided in summer and fall of 2021.

Access instructions for completing the EF-S-05 Part II report.

If you have trouble logging into NEO or have other technical issues, contact the help desk at 207-624-6896 or .

For questions about the EF-S-05 Part II report, contact Brandi Giguere at 207-446-6526 or