NOTE TO SELF: Remember to Breathe

During this Difficult Time Filled With Great Uncertainty- Please remember to take moments each day and Breathe On Purpose. As HUMAN BEINGS, it’s critically important to check in with ourselves especially now.  Ask yourself- “How Am I Feeling Right This Moment?” and “Where Do These Feelings Live in My Body?”

These questions posed to ourselves help us to slow down the business of our lives and to self-reflect. This is important because this helps human beings (who are far too often existing in a state of automatic pilot) to build our emotional intelligence. Self-Awareness takes practice and requires our concentrated effort. All other emotional intelligence skill development requires a solid foundation of self-awareness. Without being self-aware of our thoughts, feelings, needs- we are not able to fully self-regulate, form meaningful relationships, cope with life difficulties or make responsible, ethical and reasonable decisions.

Collectively, across the planet- we have been given this opportunity to sit in the moment. We are obligated to take care of ourselves in a mindful and compassionate way, as our lives depend upon the choices we make right now. Together, separately we can weather the seas of this storm as we mindfully attune to our basic human survival needs with attuned hearts and minds.

Educators- take care to check in with your sense of urgency to get lessons prepared and sent out to your students. Be aware that we’re all in this together and each of us can only do the best we know how with the resources we have available.

When we get to the other side of this- our students will not remember the science, math, reading or writing lessons we asked them to do. They WILL remember your kind words of support, your smiles, your encouragement, your calm and centered presence and most of all your love.

Take care of yourselves today and everyday so that you can continue to take care of others (family, friends, students) and BREATHE ON PURPOSE.

With Great Gratitude-

Kellie D. Bailey, Maine DOE SEL Specialist
Bear Shea, Maine DOE Mental Health / School Counselor Specialist

Join Kellie or Bear during their Brain Centered Emotional Support Sessions that are available twice daily as part of the Department’s virtual meetings.

Narraguagus Students Support Community

Students of Narraguagus High School’s FFA Chapter (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America, with designation abbreviated to reflect the diversity of modern agriculture/natural resource management) worked with their advisors during the month of March to address the issues of local food insecurity and homelessness.

Food Delivery – Megan Smith, Community Resources Coordinator at Maine Seacoast Mission Food Pantry in Cherryfield, receives Narraguagus FFA Chapter Advisor Caroline Foote’s delivery of donated food
Food Delivery – Megan Smith, Community Resources Coordinator at Maine Seacoast Mission Food Pantry in Cherryfield, receives Narraguagus FFA Chapter Advisor Caroline Foote’s delivery of donated food

With over 700,000 members enrolled in secondary and middle school agriculture and natural resources education, the National FFA Organization and its local chapters have long valued assisting communities through volunteer efforts, donations and grants. Under a “Living to Serve” grant from the National FFA Organization, the Narraguagus FFA chapter completed activities related to a statewide effort by the Maine FFA Association.

Megan Smith, Community Resources Coordinator at the Maine Seacoast Mission food pantry in Cherryfield spoke to students about the complicated issues of homelessness and food security and how they affect Maine communities.  From funds provided by the National FFA and with support of the Walmart Supercenter in Ellsworth, Narraguagus FFA purchased $1,000 in priority items for the food pantry.

Narraguagus FFA members have additional planned activities to support the food pantry that they hope to pursue in the fall when they return to school.  Advisors Caroline Foote, Kathy Howell and David Riddle are proud of their students’ accomplishments and welcome other students to become involved in their FFA chapter.

For additional information on starting an FFA chapter, please contact Doug Robertson, Maine FFA Advisor, Maine Department of Education,, 207-624-6744.


Students Participate in Virtual Maine State Science Fair on 3/28

The 74th annual Maine State Science Fair (MSSF), organized by The Jackson Laboratory and Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, was held virtually on March 28, 2020, and included 199 students representing 32 schools in 11 Maine counties. From this group, 142 finalists were selected to virtually present their research or engineering project to a panel of judges, in competition for coveted state titles and over $640,000 in scholarships and awards.

The Maine State Science Fair was originally scheduled to be held at The University of Maine, but the in-person event was moved online in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Maine high school students have been working on their projects for months, with support from many dedicated teachers and mentors,” said Stefany Burrell, STEM Education Specialist, Maine Math and Science Alliance. “We knew we had to shift gears, and quickly, to ensure students still had the opportunity to present and potentially be rewarded for their work.”

“Despite the obvious difficulties, Maine students and teachers are creative and resilient,” said Michael McKernan, Program Director, STEM and Undergraduate Education, The Jackson Laboratory. “All of our scholarship partners, led by UMaine, stuck with us, and with the students.”

The winners were announced during a virtual award ceremony.

This year’s Grand Award winners include:

  • 1st Grand Award – Vetri Vel, Bangor High School, “Real-time Fall Detection System for the Elderly Using Deep Learning and Thermal Imaging”
  • 2nd Grand Award – Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School, “Using Biofiltration Media and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) to Enhance the Phytoremediation of Heavy Metals from Stormwater Reconstructed Wetlands”
  • 3rd Grand Award – Patrick Wahlig, Falmouth High School, “Precision and Relative Accuracy of Striped Bass Age, Proportional Length, and Origin Estimates from Both Scales and Sagittal Otoliths of Maine Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)”

In addition to the above awards, over $640,000 in scholarships, including several full-tuition scholarships, from The University of Maine, College of the Atlantic, University of Southern Maine, University of New England, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, University of Maine at Augusta, and Husson University were distributed to students who demonstrated creativity, innovation, aptitude and great scientific potential.

The following students received full tuition four-year Top Scholar awards from The University of Maine:

  • Meaghan Caron, Bangor High School
  • Hannah Dunn, Bangor High School
  • Nicholas Geiser, Bangor High School
  • Matthew Hafener, John Bapst Memorial High School
  • Grace Kessler, Maine Coast Waldorf School
  • Rachel Kingsley, South Portland High School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Alexander Maker, Washington Academy
  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Lilian Nowak, Bangor High School
  • Swetha Palaniappan, Cape Elizabeth High School
  • Vetri Vel, Bangor High School

The following students received a $20,000 four-year scholarship from the College of the Atlantic, renewable for four years.

  • Aniela Holtrop, Maine Coast Waldorf School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center

The following students received full tuition four-year scholarships from the University of Southern Maine:

  • Josephine Ek, Robert W. Traip Academy
  • Adam Taddia, Baxter Academy for Technology and Science

The following students received a $5,000 four-year scholarship from the University of New England, renewable for four years:

  • Beau Briggs, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Jenna Drake, John Bapst Memorial High School
  • Marian Easton, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Josephine Ek, Robert W. Traip Academy
  • Natalie Shields, Medomak Valley High School

The following students received a $2,500 four-year scholarship from St. Joseph’s College of Maine:

  • Owen Arsenault, Noble High School
  • Natalie Shields, Medomak Valley High School

The following students received a $1,500 four-year scholarship from the University of Maine at Augusta, renewable for four years:

  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Wade Wahlig, Falmouth High School

The following students received a $1,000 scholarship from Husson University:

  • Meaghan Caron, Bangor High School
  • Ariel Larrabee, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Alexandria Morgan, Washington Academy
  • Patrick Wahlig, Falmouth High School
  • Wade Wahlig, Falmouth High School

Acadia Institute of Oceanography and the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership offered experiential awards, including scholarships to attend residential summer camp programs.

The following students earned experiential awards for STEM enrichment programs in Maine:

  • Acadia Institute of Oceanography: Hannah Dyer, George Stevens Academy
  • Hurricane Island: Erin McCarthy, Bangor High School

The JAX Promising Scientist Award for outstanding research and engineering projects by 1st year students, given by The Jackson Laboratory:

  • Margaret Kastelein, Lincoln Academy
  • Anthony Ayer, Harpswell Coastal Academy
  • Jett Lindelof, Islesboro Central School
  • Aleah Sebrey, Medomak Valley High School
  • Hazel Van Dis, Islesboro Central School

The Reach Award for students from schools who are new to the Maine State Science Fair, given by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance:

  • Kylie Brown, Boothbay Region High School
  • Collin Peterson, Islesboro Central School
  • Thomas DiPhilippo, South Portland High School
  • Elizabeth Chattley, Hancock County Technical Center
  • Adam Nussbaum, Brunswick High School

MSSF Category Winners

  • Animal Sciences – Behavior and Ecology: Alexander Maker, Washington Academy
  • Animal Sciences – Nutrition and Development: Patrick Wahlig, Falmout High School
  • Behavioral Sciences – Cognitive Psychology: Molly Hale, Greely High School
  • Behavioral Sciences – Sociology and Mental Health: Isabel Harkins, Boothbay Region High School
  • Biomedical and Health Sciences: Ijeoma Obi, Bangor High School
  • Chemistry: Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School
  • Computer Science and Mathematics: Micah Pietraho, Brunswick High School
  • Engineering: Vetri Vel, Bangor High School
  • Environmental Sciences – Water Quality: Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School
  • Environmental Sciences and Engineering: Leila Davids, Bangor High School
  • Materials Science: Jaylee Rice, Nokomis Regional High School
  • Microbiology: Melissa Tian, Bangor High School
  • Plant Sciences: Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School

Additional winners of special awards from the Maine State Science Fair, include:

American Meteorological Society Award

  • Naomi Noack, Bangor High School
  • Chloe Grant, Addison Bracken, Rachel Kingsley, South Portland High School
  • Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School
  • Melissa Tian, Bangor High School

Association for Women Geoscientists Award

  • Ginny Hunt, Bangor High School
  • Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School

Society for Science and the Public Community Innovation Award

  • Isaac Burtis, Brunswick High School

Office of Naval Research Naval Science Award

  • Sydney Sheehan, Old Town High School
  • Vetri Vel, Bangor High School
  • Nathan Chatterton, Boothbay Region High School
  • Oscar Hennin, Morse High School

Stockholm Junior Water Prize

  • Jordyn Miller, Bangor High School
  • Rain Bugado, Noble High School
  • McKayla Kendall, Bangor High School
  • Mia Wang, Gould Academy
  • Amber Halligan, Medomak Valley High School
  • Liulu Yue, Gould Academy

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Award

  • Amara Ifeji, Bangor High School
  • Ogechi Obi, Bangor High School

Download results from the 2020 MSSF, including scholarships, category awards, special awards, and the Maine ISEF Finalists.

Maine State Science Fair is further supported by Texas Instruments, Maine Space Grant Consortium, and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

The Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance supports educators to teach STEM in more meaningful ways through professional development resources for K-12 educators, research and evaluation of STEM learning experiences, and building relationships and networks to sustain systemic statewide improvement.

The Jackson Laboratory offers educational programs for scientists throughout their careers — from STEM education for high school students and training for science and math teachers to courses and conferences for experienced researchers defining the cutting edge of genomics research and specialized training for physicians interested in incorporating genetics and genomics into their practices.

Tri-County Tech Center Instructor Makes 3D Printed Masks for Health Care Professionals

Scott Wilhite, a CAD/STEM Engineering Instructor at the Tri-County Technical Center has been busy making 3D printed masks that could potentially be used to by healthcare professionals to protect them against COVID-19.

The Career and Technical Center (CTE) instructor’s wife heard about the critical shortages of protective equipment for hospitals on the news and challenged him to see if he could make one.

“Knowing that 3D printing is a large part of my program she challenged me to ask myself if I could help in a similar manner,” said Wilhite. “I researched the article and downloaded the source file into AutoCAD software and streamlined the design. I then uploaded it to a slicer known as Cura and printed the first prototype.”

With full support from his administration, he has since reached out to his local hospital to see if they can use the masks and has even been in touch with the Mayo hospital to offer the prototype as a resource on a larger scale.

Wilhite’s work background includes working for Maine companies such as Bath Iron Works and Cainbro and he has also owned an independent full-service automotive company. After 16 years of working in the trades, he returned to school not only as a student working towards a second master’s degree and a doctoral degree but to teach CADD and STEM Engineering classes for Tri County Tech Center in Dexter.

“I love CTE and I have designed my program to develop students not to just be users of technology, but innovators of it. In my classes, we build a great deal of our equipment. Especially 3D printers. When a student takes a box full of open source parts and builds something that works, in this case a 3D printer, they develop an intimate understanding of how it works. I have found that this also helps my students to get a better grasp on seeing things in the X, Y, Z context, making them a stronger CADD student. CTE is not just project-based learning, it is also problem solving, critical and analytical thinking education. We in the CTE world are not so much teaching our students “what” to think, but more importantly “how” to think. I guess that is what I love about this type of education model.”

Maine DOE Stays Connected with Educators Through Daily Virtual Office Hours

In an otherwise isolating time, Maine Department of Education (DOE) staff have never felt more connected to Maine’s education field. Through daily virtual office hours, Maine DOE staff have been hosting content specific and mindfulness online meetings with school staff in an effort to answer questions, connect teachers and other school staff with one another, and offer resources and advice about how to provide remote learning and school support while school buildings are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The meetings have been a gift of time with Maine educators,” said Maine DOE Career and Education Development Specialist Diana Doiron. “We connect at a very human level, collectively sharing our questions, our insights, our worries, what is working well, and what resources are worth recommending to others.”

In daily email blasts to educators, school and district administrators, and other school personnel, DOE staff are sharing links to join various sessions held using online conferencing platforms. This allows anyone interested to join meetings remotely, see the faces and hear the voices of other education professionals from Maine who are experiencing, and in some cases overcoming, challenges like never before.

While school buildings are closed around the state, educators and other support staff are tasked with the unprecedented challenge of continuing to support and connect with their students, all while experiencing an unanticipated isolation, having to distance themselves from other people while COVID-19 creeps its way into communities across the globe.

“Every session has been exemplary and so helpful at this unusually confusing and difficult time,” said Woodside Elementary School Counselor Helene McGlauflin, who has been regularly attending sessions on social emotional learning and school mental health supports.

“I participated in two of his [Maine DOE Social Studies Specialist Joe Schmidt’s] office hours on Tuesday, and they were great, primarily in that they weren’t scripted,” said one of the participants. “He wanted teachers to set the agenda with their questions and concerns.”

Originally offered as a way to provide resources for remote learning for traditional education subject areas like math, social studies, and the arts, the popular sessions quickly expanded into other areas like special education, social emotional supports, and school finance, among many others topics. The virtual office hours have been widely attended by Maine school staff drawing anywhere from 50 to upwards of 300 people in some of the sessions. With an average of 30 sessions held per day since March 16th, the virtual meetings have drawn educators from other states and even some international participants.

“I’ve had tremendous response to these sessions,” said Maine DOE School Nurse Consultant Emily Poland. “I started providing sessions once per week, but now I do them twice weekly. Today there were 178 people on!”

An outside-the-box session with an element of well-being for school staff has recently been added to the mix. Fifteen-minute Brain Centered Emotional Support sessions are being offered at the beginning and end of each weekday to bolster resilience and provide a chance to connect and share space with school professionals around the state. The sessions are hosted by Maine DOE Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialist Kellie D. Bailey and Mental Health/School Counselor Specialist Bear Shea and have provided a space for educators and school staff to take a deep breath and be mindful of their own well-being before they try to address the needs of others.

“LOVED this today,” said MSAD 40 Assistant Superintendent Cristina Wotton after one of the first Brain Centered Emotional Support sessions. “I felt like jelly after, why do we resist taking care of ourselves? Thank you!”

“As a Special Services Department, we at MSAD 20 have greatly appreciated the timely and impactful support that we’ve received through the Brain Based Emotional Support sessions provided each day,” said MSAD 20 Director of Programs for Exceptional Children Eric McGough. “In our staff meetings, these are consistently brought up as being of great value not only to helping us design supportive experiences and resources for our students, but also in helping us carry on with our work during these difficult times.”

The Department has vowed to continue offering the virtual office hours for as long as needed in addition to continuing to provide a listing of resources for remote learning and support, as well as regular updates and other essential resources for schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department is in the process of working with educators and school staff to provide more focused support sessions and virtual professional development options in addition to transitioning to more consistent virtual meeting schedule.