October is National Farm to School Month

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) and the Maine Department of Education (DOE) join thousands of schools, farms, communities, and organizations across the country in celebrating National Farm to School Month. Maine is home to more than 8000 farmers and 185,000 students, making the partnership between schools and farmers an important part of the state’s agricultural landscape.

Over the last decade, more Maine schools have prioritized adding local foods to student menus. Many have developed school gardens and other education programs. In 2015, the USDA found that 79% of Maine school districts surveyed take part in farm to school activities. In that survey, school districts spent an average of 16% of their food budgets on local products, totaling $3.8 million statewide.

The Maine Department of Education supports Farm to School efforts by promoting local products during the annual Maine Harvest Lunch Week and Farm to School Cook-off, among other initiatives. According to Stephanie Stambach, the department’s Child Nutrition Consultant, “Students look forward to seeing local foods on the menu. When they know it is coming from a farm in their community they get excited, and it’s an educational opportunity. Students and parents seem increasingly aware of where their food comes from, and schools play an important role in supporting this awareness.”

Renee Page is the Maine Farm to School Network Coordinator. “Farm to School’s three-pronged approach includes agricultural-based education, experiential learning through gardens and greenhouses, and more Maine-grown food in school meals. These strategies help connect kids to their food and to farmers. They become savvier consumers and have better health and learning outcomes. These efforts also support the local food economy,” according to Page.

For farmers, schools can be important local customers. Martha Putnam, owner of Wealden Farm, is such a farmer. “Schools are a very good market. Working with them makes a difference and is a boost to farmers. It’s good for student awareness; they get to see the diversity of foods that Maine produces,” according to Putnam. Maine farmers and producers have provided local products to many schools across Maine, and have helped with annual programs such as Maine Harvest Lunch Week.

Schools across Maine provide local foods and nutrition education to their students, and many are eager to grow these efforts. In School Year 2019, students at more than 150 Maine schools will receive a variety of fruits and vegetables at no cost during the school day as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). Food service directors at schools participating in the FFVP program can be excellent partners for farmers, especially those who are new to selling to schools.

For more information, contact Maine DOE Child Nutrition Consultant Stephanie Stambach at 207-624-6732 or stephanie.stambach@maine.gov, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Marketing Director Leigh Hallett at 207-287-3494 or leigh.hallett@maine.gov, or Renee Page from Healthy Communities of the Capital Area at 207-588-5347 or r.page@hccame.org.

PRESS RELEASE: Maine DOE Awarded $5.5M Grant to Support Student Mental Health Initiative

The Maine Department of Education has been awarded a 5-year grant (1.1 million per year) from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The funding will go towards an initiative called Maine-AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) aimed at helping Maine develop a comprehensive framework and infrastructure to support student mental health through effective state and local collaboration between education and health providers.

The project is grounded in a belief that strong implementation of evidence based universal positive behavior and social emotional learning supports coupled with universal behavioral health screening can help schools and communities focus intensive resources on students and families with the greatest need. The project also aims at developing coordinated support services at the school level so that school clinical capacity is maximized and well-articulated with the community’s therapeutic resources.

The framework for building a statewide comprehensive approach to student mental health will be gained through the experiences of an initial implementation with three school administrative units (SAU) which will serve as pilot sites for the initiative: Calais School Department, RSU 10, and RSU 40. They were selected prior to the application submission and are representative of the challenges faced by Maine’s school districts. Factors considered in the selection were geographic location, rate of uninsured children, data from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (mental health and substance use), local employment of a licensed clinical social worker, and existing relationships with community mental health agencies.

The primary goals of Maine-AWARE are to:

1. Tier I: Ensure that all students have access to evidence-based social emotional learning (SEL) strategies, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and screening for behavioral health needs.

2. Tier II: Provide students and families identified as at increased risk of negative academic and behavioral outcomes with team-based school and community supports, targeted interventions, and indicated mental health screening.

3. Tier III: Provide targeted, evidence-based clinical interventions to youth and families experiencing serious mental or behavioral health disorders.

4. Systems Building: Implement a comprehensive workforce and infrastructure development plan to provide technical assistance on evidence-based behavioral and mental health interventions and an effective statewide implementation strategy.

The Maine Department of Education will be working in collaboration with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services on the Maine-AWARE Initiative.

School Safety and Security Bulletin: Transportation Safety

Throughout the 2018- 2019 school year, the Maine Department of Education, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Health and Human Services, Maine State Police, Maine Sheriffs Association, Maine Chiefs of Police Association, and the Maine Emergency Management Agency will provide tips and resource information to Maine schools to help provide some guidance for identifying signs and preventing school violence.

School Safety and Security Bulletin  – October 2018

Further questions and inquiries can be send to Pat Hinkley, Maine DOE Transportation and Facilities Administrator at pat.hinckley@maine.gov.

National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest

The Maine Department of Education in collaboration with the Maine State Police are helping to promote the 2019 National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest, a nationwide contest administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The contest is designed to promote awareness among teachers, parents/guardians and children and engage them in discussions about safety.

Contest Rules

  1. Applicants must be in the fifth grade.
  2. Artwork should reflect the theme “Bringing Our Missing Children Home”. This phrase must appear somewhere on the poster.
  3. The theme may be depicted in the student’s artwork through one or a combination of illustrations (e.g., signs and symbols, people, abstract, industry, wildlife) and can be created using media such as acrylics, watercolor, pencils, charcoal, magic markers, spray paint, crayons, and pastels. Digitally produced images, collages, cutouts, and stamping will not be eligible for consideration.
  4. The finished poster must measure 8½ x 14 inches.
  5. The poster must be submitted with a completed application, which includes a description of the poster and a brief biography of the artist, either typed or written legibly.

Awards

  • State Level – Each state winner whose poster is selected to go to the national judging competition, will receive a national award certificate from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
  • National Level – The national winner, his/her teacher (or designee from selected school) and parents/guardians (typically two people), and the state manager will be invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in the U.S. DOJ’s National Missing Children’s Day ceremony on May 22, 2019. Transportation and lodging will be provided. The national winner will also receive a national award certificate and a professional print of their poster.

Further information can be found in the Poster Contest Packet.

For further information and to confirm your participation in the contest and to obtain the submission deadline for your state, contact Maine’s State Contest Manager Ms. Carol Tompkins, Maine State Police at 207-626-3805 or carol.tompkins@maine.gov

Training Opportunity: TransACT Parent Notifications – Part of Your Parent and Family Engagement Planning

The Maine Department of Education will be hosting three trainings across the state to assist districts in using TransACT, a resource that supports parent and family engagement. Use of TransACT is provided to Maine districts at no cost, sponsored by the Department’s Office of ESEA Federal Programs.

Description:

Research has shown that when parents and families engage in the education of their children, the children tend to perform better academically. TransACT’s Parent Notices are an important tool to engage parents and families, especially those with limited proficiency in English. This presentation provides:

  • Information about the TransACT Parent Notices purchased for you by the Maine Department of Education;
  • Directions for how to access those Parent Notices in English and other languages;
  • Highlights of the importance of communicating in a language that parents and family members can understand;
  • Information on how to identify important notices that need to be sent, who to send them to, and when they need to be sent; and
  • Information about other resources available from TransACT.

Facilitator Bio:

Dr. David Holbrook earned his Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of the West Indies in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and has over 20 years experience working with speakers of other languages. He has lived in five countries and worked in more than 15. He taught ESL at Colorado State University for approximately two years. He spent nearly six years at the Wyoming Department of Education, where he held positions as Federal Programs Division Director, Title I Director, and Title III Director. He trained with the U.S. Department of Education and participated in federal monitoring of Title III in five states. He served nine years with the National Council of State Title III Directors, two years as President. He was designated as their first Honorary Member and now serves as their Executive Director. His current position is as Executive Director, Federal Compliance and State Relationships for TransACT Communications.

Portland
November 5, 2018
8:00am-10:00am
1945 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102
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Bangor
November 5, 2018
1:30pm-3:30pm
Elks Lodge
108 Odlin Rd, Bangor, ME 04401
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Machias
November 6, 2018
11:00am-1:00pm
University of Maine at Machias
116 Obrien Ave, Machias, ME 04654
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