Troy Howard Middle School Expands Food Pantry with Community Caring Cart

Like many school districts across Maine, RSU 71 provides a school food pantry program to ensure there are free food options for families to take home with them as an added service to those in need.

“The District has been feeding families in need since, well, forever,” said Carrie Robinson, Front Desk Secretary at Troy Howard Middle School (THMS) in Belfast.

While there is no data point in Maine that details just how many schools offer this type of service, it is abundantly clear that there are a wide range of efforts on all levels throughout Maine and often times they can be found at the local school.

“When our school buildings were closed last spring at the onset of the pandemic, our school nurses partnered with food services and transportation to send home weekly boxed meals and produce,” said Shannon Robbins, School Nurse at A Ames – Gladys Weymouth Elementary Schools in RSU 71. “In fact, we sent home over 22,000 pounds! Families shared with us how much it meant to have these necessities delivered to their homes when it felt too scary to shop in town.”

It’s worth noting that school food pantries and backpack programs are a volunteer effort at most schools and go above and beyond the complimentary school meals that students receive while learning at school and remotely. With the help of several USDA waivers during the pandemic, school nutrition programs have been allowed to be flexible and adaptive in the way school meals are served and most have been able to offer these services at no charge to families.

Suffice it to say, pantry and backpack programs are becoming an important addition to many school communities across Maine and at Troy Howard Middle School they have recently undergone an expansion to reach more families.

Although the district’s nurses, administrators, and guidance staff usually have a good idea of who needs help, they have found that it is still difficult to know if they’ve provided the service equitably.

“We really just never know who is in need,” explained Robyn Mailloux, THMS Nurse.

That is when they came up with the idea to offer the Community Caring Cart as a service to anyone who wants or needs something – they can just come pick it up. Instead of handing a backpack full of food and supplies to a specific student or families, now the cart is available in public areas at school that are easy for parents and students to just take what they need.

“Over the course of the year, I’ve been surprised at what has disappeared from the hallway shelf and who has been taking it,” said Mailloux. “You just don’t know what people’s stories are.”

In addition, there are bags available for people to donate items if they wish and the team is also working on some grab and go bags that are quick and easy to take.

“Anything taco related flies off the shelves, as does of course easy to make staples, mac and cheese and canned soups and fruits,” said Robinson. “Since we are at a middle school level many of our students have some basic cooking skills so they will grab things they can make for themselves. Any time we have fresh produce it goes well, the kids actually like fresh stuff!!!!”

“Lightweight, prepacked goods such as cereal, pasta or rice mixes, soups are very popular. We have also offered fresh produce from Maine farmers including potatoes, apples, carrots- families loved these,” adds Robbins.”

Knowing that food programs are a service provided in many community and schools throughout Maine, we asked the RSU 71 team if they have any advice for schools that are thinking about starting or expanding food pantry programs at their schools.

“I would remind any schools that are trying to do anything like this that you never really know who needs the help so get the word out every way you can,” offers Robinson.

“Partner with your community resources – we couldn’t do this without GBAM (Greater Belfast Area Ministerium Food Cupboard), GSFB (Good Shepard Food Bank), and our area boosters, such as Bell the Cat (a local restaurant) and individual donors,” said Robbins adding that when RSU 71 School Food Pantry began in 2019, they received a generous grant from the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation that has enabled them to expand their support during the pandemic.

The Maine Department of Education would like to take a moment to thank the dedicated team at RSU 71 as well as the countless school staff members, volunteers, and community partners across Maine working tirelessly to provide services to the families in their communities through food programs and other similar efforts, especially throughout the past year. Your dedication and selflessness does not go unnoticed by the Department or the grateful people that benefit from your work.

Information for this article was provided by RSU 71 as part of the Maine DOE 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 rachel.paling@maine.gov.

 

 

 

MSSM Participates in Spring 2021 YMCA Youth and Government Program

The Spring 2021 YMCA Maine Youth and Government program wrapped up this past weekend  (April 9, 10, 11). This year’s session, historically unique, occurred via videoconference, as pandemic restrictions prevented Maine high schoolers from gathering at the Maine State Capitol in Augusta for the model state program. Instead, students found themselves logging in from their respective locales across Maine to engage with one another on the pressing public policy matters of the day. Students  worked to convince their peers of the merits of their own individually written bills, and the political  process was front and center, as students found their voice, engaged in campaigning, learned the art of  compromise, and identified ways to improve the communities around them.

MSSM’s 2021 delegation, totaling fourteen students, was especially active in the weekend’s events. And given that the majority of the MSSM delegation was on campus, students spread out across multiple rooms on two floors in the academic building to simulate separate committee rooms and legislative chambers, thereby ensuring opportunities for MSSMers to work collaboratively in person  while also following covid protocols. Seeing students moving up and down the hallways over the  weekend and engaging in debate and collaboration with their peers provided much enthusiasm and  excitement for all.

Of particular note from this past weekend, MSSM’s own Marcello Santomenna will serve as the 79th YMCA Youth Governor of the State of Maine following his election to serve as head of next year’s program. In his campaign speech on Saturday night, Santomenna stressed the importance of compromise, compassionate leadership, and adept policy making as foundational priorities for his  administration. As youth governor, Santomenna will attend the YMCA Youth Governor’s Conference,  representing the Maine YMCA, and will serve as Governor for this fall’s Youth and Government program where he will be responsible for putting forth a legislative agenda for participants to consider.  Additional responsibilities will include working with the Maine YMCA program director in planning the  fall 2021 program and aiding in outreach for the Maine YMCA on related civic-engagement  opportunities. Congratulations, Governor Santomenna! 


Also, on Sunday, outgoing Governor and MSSMer Martin Brozman completed his record length term-in-office following his election in the fall of 2019 prior to the pandemic delaying the start of what  would have been the fall 2020 program. Governor Brozman, in weekend remarks, spoke about the  human spirit and the power of resilience, as students have faced new and unusual challenges in the past  year. Brozman noted that students have shown perseverance and adaptation in the face of  extraordinary challenges while remaining positive and committed to doing good work. Brozman vetoed  eight bills to close out the weekend while also advancing his own legislative priorities, which included  the passage of a “right to repair” law, a school start time law, and a law to promote voting accessibility.

To close out the weekend, MSSM’s Peter Butera received the Maine YMCA Youth and  Government’s “Best Bill Award.” Butera’s bill, “A New Comprehensive Plan for Combating Addiction in  Maine,” revised the penalties for some drug offenses to be treated as civil rather than criminal matters.

This article was provided by Maine School of Science and Mathematics as part of the Maine DOE 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 rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Early College Online: UMF Course Gives Mt. Blue Senior the Chance to Research and Share Family History

Early College student Sylvie Haslam, a senior at Mt Blue High School recently published the first part of a three part story on University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Professor and Author Luann Yetter’s website as part of an Early College course she took this past summer at UMF.

“Sylvie was just one of many high school students, statewide, really, who took advantage of the opportunity to take classes last summer, when the pandemic hit and UMF moved their summer classes online,” said Clarissa Thompson, Early College Campus Coordinator and Associate Professor of Secondary and Middle Education at UMF.

Early college courses are available to Maine high school students at University of Maine System Schools and Maine’s Community Colleges as well through Maine’s Aspirations Program, which is administered by the Maine Department of Education. Students may now apply for early college opportunities at all of Maine’s colleges and universities using one common application portal, this new tool is a significant usability upgrade for students and families navigating early college options in Maine.

The UMF course that Sylvie took is called, Local Stories/Your Stories. Along with classmates from across Maine, she dove into her own local town and family history as material for creative nonfiction, engaging in personal interviews, genealogies, and looking through old newspapers (among other things) to create a vivid story of her personal history.

“This is a great example of the types of expanded opportunities our high school students have as part of the Aspirations program,” said Amy Hubbard, Executive Director of Early College at University of Maine System.

As an introduction to Sylvie’s story, Professor Yetter writes:

Last summer when I taught my class on writing local and family history I got to read some wonderful work. One of the projects I know will be of interest to my readers is this one by Mt. Blue High School senior Sylvie Haslam. Sylvie’s family history in Weld is interwoven with the Cushman family, prominent in the 1800s, and with artist Seavern Hilton who made his mark in the mid twentieth century. Join us as Sylvie explores Weld history, family history and the folk art that traveled far beyond the village of Weld. I have divided her fascinating account into three parts. In Part I, below, we are introduced to the Michael Graham farm and the Cushman family, whose ties to the land go back to the mid-eighteen hundreds. I’m sure you will agree that Sylvie is a talented writer. This high school student has a great future ahead of her!”

Read Part One of Sylvie’s story here: The Shop Land, Part I

UMF and the other University of Maine System campuses, as well as Maine’s Community College System campuses offer a wide range of classes that Maine high school students have continued to participate in online.

“Students have really jumped at the opportunity to take them,” adds Thompson. While participation had been growing steadily before the pandemic, early college programming helped provide additional options for students as high schools adjusted to online and hybrid schedules. Students who participate in early college are more likely to attend college, have higher grades in college, and are more likely to graduate on time.

For more information about early college options at UMF specifically, contact Clarissa Thompson at clarissa.thompson@maine.edu.

Information for this article was provided by the University of Maine System and the University of Maine at Farmington as part of the Maine DOE 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 rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Maine Celebrates 21 New and 5 Renewed National Board Certified Teachers in Virtual Ceremony

Maine recognized 21 teachers newly certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) during an April 8 virtual ceremony. These exemplary educators join more than 400 teachers across the state who have gone through this highly reflective and transformative professional development, including five of their colleagues who renewed their National Board Certification this year.

Friends, family, colleagues and administrators joined the celebration hosted by the Maine Education Association (MEA) and the National Board Certified Teachers Network of Maine (NBCTs of Maine). Offering congratulatory remarks were Education Commissioner Pender Makin, MEA President and NBCT Grace Leavitt, NBCTs of Maine Chair and NBCT, Melissa Guerrette, and Representative Rebecca Millett.

Featured speaker Kelly Elder, NBPTS, NBCT Board of Directors, 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year and 2018 NEA Foundation Fellow, shared a talk titled “What’s Next? Moving Forward from the Intersection of Emotional Health and Learning in a Post-pandemic World” Elder, a grade 6 geography teacher, acknowledged the challenges involved in teaching in a year unlike any other, and the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on our most vulnerable students. Elder noted that NBCTs, given their experience in such a highly reflective process as National Board Certification, are uniquely positioned to create, innovate, and lead the differentiated work (including rethinking assessment practices) in the coming years, in order to meet the needs of all of our students.

The event’s emcee, Heidi Goodwin, NBCT and NB Professional Learning Facilitator, was joined by Kristi Charette, NBCT and NB Professional Learning Facilitator, in leading this year’s unique pinning ceremony, with attendees being “pinned” by a family member at home. Dan Allen, MEA Professional Development Director, offered closing remarks, encouraging the NBCTs to engage in ongoing leadership opportunities, including offering support to candidates working on National Board Certification.

The journey to National Board Certification is a challenging one—the process, on average, requires nearly 400 hours of time and effort to achieve. Educators must submit a detailed portfolio that includes examples of student work and video recordings that show how they teach and interact with students. In addition, they must submit a reflective piece on student assessment and learning and demonstrate mastery of the content of their chosen certification area. This evidence must meet the Five Core Propositions and the National Board Standards, a body of knowledge that is maintained by teachers. Practicing teachers, through a peer-review process, assess the portfolios.

In pursuing and achieving National Board Certification, the following teachers have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their students, schools, and districts. Please join us in congratulating them!

Maine 2020 New NBCTS

  Name National Board Certificate Position District/School
1. Heather Sinclair Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher RSU 2 Hall-Dale Middle High School
2. Heidi Corliss Music: Early Adolescence/YA Fine & Performing Arts Teacher RSU 22 Hampden Academy
3. Alyce Delfino Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Adolescence/ YA Special Education Teacher Five Town CSD

Camden Hills Regional High School

4. Christopher Driscoll Mathematics, Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher Falmouth Public Schools/ Falmouth Middle School
5. Sara Jones Mathematics: Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher Falmouth Public Schools/ Falmouth Middle School
6. Tara Robertson Literacy: Reading -Lang Arts: Early & Middle Childhood Title I Teacher Lisbon Public Schools

Lisbon Community School

7. Linda LaCasse Literacy: Reading -Language Arts: Early & Middle Childhood Title I Teacher Lisbon Public Schools

Lisbon Community School

8. Julia Bemis Science: Adolescence and Young Adulthood High School Science Teacher RSU 6 Bonny Eagle HS
9. Jennifer Fronczak- Math: Early Adolescence Middle School Math Teacher RSU 84 East Grand School
10. Vicki Bailey Generalist: Early Childhood Grade 1 Teacher RSU 22 Earl C McGraw Elementary School
11. Audrey Bracciodieta Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Special Education Teacher RSU 22 George B Weatherbee School
12. Jennifer Brown Generalist: Early Childhood Kindergarten Teacher RSU 12 Chelsea Elementary School
13. Robin Tiller Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher Biddeford Public Schools

Biddeford Middle School

14. Rachel Singh Generalist: Early Childhood Grade 1 Teacher Bar Harbor Public Schools

Conners-Emerson School

15. Rebecca Sanborn Generalist: Early Childhood Kindergarten Teacher RSU 60 North Berwick Elementary
16. Krista St. Cyr English as a New Language: Early Adolescence/YA English Language Learner Teacher Lewiston Public Schools

Lewiston Middle School

17. Lacey Todd Generalist: Middle Childhood Grade 5 Science Teacher RSU 10 Mountain Valley Middle School
18. Kaitlin Woodbury Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Grade 1 Teacher RSU 1 Phippsburg Elementary School
19. Lorene Hinkley – Gordon Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Title I Teacher RSU 49 Albion Elementary School
20. Jessica Archer English Language Arts: Early Adolescence Middle School: English, Science and Health Teacher RSU 26 Orono Middle School
21. Danielle Quimby Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Gifted & Talented Teacher RSU 6 Buxton Center Elementary School

Maine 2020 Renewed NBCTS

  Name National Board Certificate Position District/ School
1. Laurie Alves Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early/Middle Childhood Grade 5 Teacher Scarborough Public Schools Wentworth School
2. Brian Cote Science: Early Adolescence Middle School Science Teacher Bar Harbor Public School

Conners-Emerson School

3. David Doubleday Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Adolescence/YA High School English Language Arts Five Town CSD

Camden Hills Regional High School

4. Rachel Landry Exceptional Needs Specialist: Early Childhood/YA Special Education Teacher Portland Public Schools

Harrison Lyseth Elementary School

5. Joanne Powers Literacy, Reading Language Arts: Early Middle Childhood Elementary Literacy Teacher RSU 1 Dike-Newell School

National Board certification is voluntary and open to all teachers who have at least three years of classroom experience and a bachelor’s degree. Certification is available in 25 certificate areas, from preschool through 12th grade.

Maine offers an annual salary supplement for teachers who have achieved National Board Certification and scholarships to support up to 30 teachers, annually, in attaining National Board Certification.

Contact information for National Board Certification in Maine:

NBCTS of Maine:

Heidi Goodwin: nbct.heidi@gmail.com

Melissa Guerrette: nbct.melissa@gmail.com

Susan O’Brien: nbct.susan@gmail.com

Kristi Charette: nbct.kristi@gmail.com

Maine Education Association:

Dan Allen: DAllen@maineea.org

Maine Department of Education:

Tamara Ranger: tamara.ranger@Maine.Gov

Maine Community College Students Named to All-Maine Academic Team

Twenty-one Maine community college students have been named to the All-Maine Academic Team in recognition of their outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and service.

They were honored last night in a virtual ceremony. For a recording of the presentation go to: https://youtu.be/91_Vk9STdH8

The students receiving the award and a $500 scholarship from the MCCS Board of Trustees, are:

  • Nicholas Bennett, Gray, Central Maine Community College in Auburn
  • Emma Gay, Winthrop, Central Maine Community College;
  • Coleen Heiser, Canton, Central Maine Community College;
  • Jeffrey Palmer, Tamworth, NH, Central Maine Community College;
  • Britney Eberhardt, Prospect, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor;
  • Jennifer Hodgins, Brewer, Eastern Maine Community College;
  • Joy Sharrow, Bowerbank, Eastern Maine Community College;
  • Adrian Hoyt, Benton, Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield/Hinckley;
  • Felecia Paradis, Fairfield, Kennebec Valley Community College;
  • Natacha Valley, Winslow, Kennebec Valley Community College;
  • Kristin Wallaker, New Portland, Kennebec Valley Community College;
  • Valerie Bilogue Minkala, Presque Isle, Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle;
  • Leeann Kaiser, Easton, Northern Maine Community College;
  • John McNally, Patten, Northern Maine Community College;
  • Savannah Green, South Portland, Southern Maine Community College in South Portland/Brunswick;
  • Cortney Luce, Poland, Southern Maine Community College;
  • Rachel Ackley, Cooper, Washington County Community College in Calais;
  • Donna Mutty, Calais,  Washington County Community College;
  • Jessica Stevens, East Machias,  Washington County Community College;
  • Dana Comeau,  Kennebunkport,  York County Community College in Wells and
  • Travis Richards, Moody, York County Community College.

In addition, Jennifer Hodgins (EMCC) and Kristin Wallaker (KVCC) have been named Maine New Century Scholars for earning the highest scores in the state on their All-USA Academic Team applications.

Hodgins has been named the 2021 Maine New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar and will receive a $2,250 scholarship.

Wallaker is the 2021 Maine New Century Workforce Pathway Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

KVCC’s Adrian Hoyt was one of only 50 students nationwide name a Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

The New Century Pathway Scholarship program is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, the American Association of Community Colleges, and Phi Theta Kappa. Only one New Century Transfer and Workforce Scholar is selected from each state.

The All-Maine Academic Team is a program of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges. Students are nominated and selected for the team by their college.

Information for this article was provided by Maine Community College System 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 rachel.paling@maine.gov.