Windham Students Embark on New Community Supported Fishing Program

Pictured (Left to Right) – Front row: Robb Cotiaux, Brittany Taylor, Bridges Class teacher Windham Middle School, Connor McNeill, Bridges Class teacher Windham High School. Middle row: Austin Rice, AJ Mains and TJ McAllister. Third row: Jack Hedrich, James Tucker, Eric Loftin, Cameron Malone, Sue Hedrich, Bridges Class Ed Tech.

Story submitted by Susan Hedrich, Educational Technician with the Bridges Program in RSU14.

The Bridges classes at both Windham High & Middle Schools recently went on their first community fishing trip as part of their educational programming. An integrated life skills course, the Bridges program serves students from middle school through independence at the Windham Raymond School District.

Capture1.JPGStudents were greeted at The Pond at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester by registered Maine Guide, Robb Cotiaux, and RSU14 central office staff volunteer, Jack Hedrich, who provided instruction about the mechanics of using a fishing pole with worms for bait.  Despite heavy rain that day, the students enjoyed the fishing lesson immensely and caught three fish.

The Bridges teachers would like to include fishing as part of the students’ community engagement experience in the future and determined that they had a need for their own equipment this spring.  The Trout Unlimited Sebago chapter was contacted about this need and the Conservation Chairman, Mr. Cotiaux presented to the Board a request for a grant for $250 to purchase new fishing gear for the Bridges students.  That grant was awarded this month and will finance the purchase of enough sets of gear for each student on their future trips.

After their fishing lesson was over the students had lunch in the Pineland Café and were treated to complimentary ice cream cones courtesy of the Café Manager, Dore Campbell.

Carrie Ricker Elementary School Students Throw Shoebox Parade to Celebrate Maine History

For the fourth year in a row, fourth graders at Carrie Ricker Elementary School in Litchfield assemble around one-hundred homemade parade floats. Such a quantity of floats can fit inside the school cafeteria because each one is little bigger than a shoebox. All spring long these students have been studying Maine culture and history leading up to the Maine Shoebox Parade as the culmination of their learning. This month long project begins in early May when each teacher on the Fourth Grade Team (Beth Pfeffer, Chuck Beganny, Jody Raio, Judy Davidson, and Sarah Radasch) provides their classes with nearly 40 Maine-related topics from which to choose. With each class at around 20 students, the choices are abundant.

For many students at Carrie Ricker this was their first formal experience with research. By introducing students to research-based learning in fourth grade, these students will have abundant background and foundational knowledge for what is to come.

4th Grade teacher Judy Davidson
4th Grade teacher Judy Davidson looks at students with admiration as she applauds them

Some of the students who covered local businesses even reached out to the proprietors. One student who researched Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream had the opportunity to interview that business’ owner.  In addition to research and construction, students must write a short informative paragraph about their topic. Either the student (if they choose to read themselves) or their teacher will read their words in front of the assembled fourth grade classes at the parade. A combination of research, writing, creative construction, and public speaking skills make the Maine Shoebox Parade a festival about social studies learning, creativity, and presentation as well as State celebration.  Fourth grade teacher Judy Davidson explained this is why parents, teachers, and students alike get so excited about the project each year.

Christine Lajoie-Cameron, Keli Terry, and Joe Schmidt
Left to right: Principal Christine Lajoie-Cameron, Keli Terry, and Joe Schmidt judge Student’s Shoebox Parade float

This year three judges presided over the festivities.  Principal Christine Lajoie-Cameron, Administrative Assistant Keli Terry, and Maine Department of Education Social Studies Specialist, Joe Schmidt were tasked with choosing the best of the floats. One crowd favorite was the Litchfield Diving Horses, a local attraction from the early 20th Century. Still other projects were made more powerful considering personal student or teacher connections to the topic. The student whose project featured Moody’s Diner was related to the patron family. However, Maxx Crowley took home the Student Choice Award for his lighthouse float.

Moody’s Diner Shoebox Parade float
Moody’s Diner Shoebox Parade float

All judges, teachers, parents, and DOE observers agreed the parade was a display of excellent student behavior and work. The student contenders were respectful and friendly. They demonstrated an appreciation for the hard work of their peers. Each year, following the parade, fourth graders bring their floats through the third grade wing. This reprise of the parade gives younger students a glimpse of life next year, as well as something about which to get excited. After the presentation we walked down a hallway and saw the abundant art on display. It is evident the people at Carrie Ricker value student art and creativity, a tool they use to motivate students and strengthen school community. Ms. Terry, Administrative Assistant, commented how special it was to see students and their work, out from behind the front office desk. All those present look forward to the next annual Maine Shoebox parade, and whatever else the students at Carrie Ricker create.

This story was written by Maine DOE Intern Simon Handleman in collaboration with Carrie Ricker School. If you have a story idea or would like to submit a written story for the Maine DOE Newsroom, email Rachel Paling at

Mt. Blue Student Honored with National Freedoms Foundation Award

Valerianne Hinkley of Wilton has been awarded the National 2018 George Washington Honor Medal by the Freedoms Foundation. This honor is awarded to groups or individuals who “go above and beyond the call of duty” on a local, regional or national level which promotes good works and serve their communities on an ongoing, day-to-day basis.

17 year old Valerianne is a member of the Class of 2020 at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine. She created her own anti-bullying campaign in 2017 after being bullied herself. The campaign has since reached international levels, including being recognized by the national Bullying Project, in Canada and has been invited over to the Italy headquarters should she be in the area for a visit.

Be Bold Stand Up To Bullying includes a post-it notes locker project at local schools, posters of positive words and sayings, and many more initiatives that promote kindness throughout the school and community.

Valerianne meets and speaks with groups that are interested in hearing her story so that she can share her project and its goals to help raise awareness about bullying in local schools and communities, talk about how to report incidents, and share how to find resources. Her goal is to let everyone know they have a voice when it comes to standing up to bullying, no matter who you are.

East Grand School a 2019 Finalist for National Student Voices Award

East Grand School a 2019 finalist for the national State Education Technology Directors Association’s (SETDA) annual Student Voices Award, which highlights schools leveraging technology for project-based learning and workforce development. More information about each of the 5 finalists can be found on SETDA’s website.

The school has developed its own project-based learning curriculum and educators share that as a result of shifting to this model (which intentionally integrates technology), they have seen students become more willing to take risks, be more persistent when challenged by learning, show empathy and encourage others more readily, and communicate more efficiently when working in groups.

East Grand’s Nomination Video

The curriculum is designed to build a sense of and an appreciation of place (6-8) and community (9-10), as well as a sense of self (11-12). The goal is to empower students to have the skills and self-knowledge to choose a life-pathway they are passionate about and can build upon for a successful future. The learning process also helps students realize the great potential of the area in which they live and the strength of the people around them. Because of the plentiful natural resources in the area, much of the curriculum ties into and connects the students with outdoor experiences. These experiences develop science and social studies skills as well as workforce development skills like persistence, resilience, and thinking flexibly.

Some examples of project-based learning include:

  • Habits of Mind: The “Habits of Mind” project introduces students to a number of attributes and practices that they will use throughout their years at the school (and in life!)
  • Field Guide Project: Students created a field guide to the local area, highlighting human, natural, and civic structures. They gathered information through field trips and interviews, and used technology to create a guide that could be shared widely.  View the Field Guide
  • Latvis Project: During the Latvis Project, each educator develops a project idea and students choose one to join for the month. All are community based and help students develop skills that would be great for future jobs. East Grand received the “Service Above Self” award from the Houlton Rotary Club for these projects.
  • Dream Team: A subset of high school students also participate in the “Dream Team” and learn to lead the school’s Virtual Reality Makerspace – helping them gain both technical and leadership skills. 

Additionally, a website was made by East Grand students and educators to share what they do with other educators when they hosted a Learning Design Lab in March. Visit the website.

The winner of the Student Voices Award will be announced on June 22nd, 2019 and will be invited to join the SETDA conference in Washington, DC in November.

East Grand is Pre-K to 12 school located in Danforth, ME (on the borders of Aroostook and Washington counties) and is home to 140 students. The school’s culture and learning environments are highly student-centered and is connected to the small, rural community. It has a strong and supportive superintendent and group of educator leaders that foster student leadership and student ownership of learning across the PK-12 school.

For more information, contact Jennifer Gilman ( or Jill Plummer ( at East Grand School.

Students Learning In and Outside of the Classroom at Belgrade Central

This submission is from the May 2019 RSU 18 Administrative Report, submitted by RSU 18 Assistant Superintendent Keith Morin.

Belgrade Central Classroom

Belgrade Central school has been challenging their students to excel in and outside of the classroom in recent months. They completed the Black Bear Book Award Program with a total of 481 books read. The fourth graders won with 165 books read, followed by third grade with 160, and fifth with 156. Educators Daniels and Bailey expressed their pride over their students’ achievements.

One group of students in Mr. Brooks’ third grade class read the Newbery Honor Book, Because of Winn-Dixie.                                                                                    

Outside of the classroom, second graders spent the day at Bond Brook in Augusta to release salmon fry into the wild. The fry were raised from eggs this winter, with 194 out of 200 surviving even through a power outage and a cooler malfunction. The students were able to witness the lifecycle of a salmon firsthand. 

Belgrade Central Students

A third grade class, under the instruction of Mr. Brooks, wrote nonfiction books as part of the Lucy Calkins Units of Study, which is a method of teaching literature to students in applicable ways that adapt to their needs while providing challenges. Students wrote books about the Sun, Computers, Moose, Harpy Eagles, Sloths, Hummingbirds, Flamingos, and many other topics; they then included tables of contents, headings, page numbers, captions, diagrams, and other information. The elementary students were required to perform their own research and take notes in order to write their books. More can be learned about the Units of Study method here: 

Second grade students at Belgrade Central are celebrating the last 26 days of the school year with an “ABC” countdown. Every day involves a special activity starting with a letter of the alphabet.

Kids have been learning in and outside of the classroom, but they have also been improving their fitness with the BCS Running Club. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, you can find first through fifth graders running around baseball and softball fields. This club includes 94 students, and after every club meeting, students use QR codes to track their mileage, which totaled to 1,890 miles, the highest yet. Each session, the students’ mileage is compared to lengths of travel to certain parts of the U.S., then the students learn a fact about the given location. Twenty runners in the club have totaled more miles than the length of a marathon, with the highest at 42 miles. 

Third graders in Brooks’ class were introduced with great joy to the Newbery Honor Book, Because of Winn-Dixie. Students couldn’t stop reading the novel, finished their assignments with excitement, and at the end of the book created a number of projects based on the story. The author’s use of figurative language and more complicated vocabulary, as well as themes such as change and loss, provided a deeper learning experience for students to explore. The unit ended with a Winn-Dixie-themed party featuring menu items inspired by the book. 

Belgrade Central SchoolBelgrade Central also had students delving into the arts, with first graders creating a mural of the four seasons. Throughout the year, the students heard stories about the seasons, explored the uniqueness of each one, studied authors and illustrators, and discussed things such as healthy living, the senses, and nature, among many other things. After finishing the mural, pictured below, students wrote about their experiences and what they learned.