Caribou Middle School Innovation Center Highlighted in Local News

Submitted by Timothy Doak, Superintendent of Eastern Aroostook Regional School Unit #39. Article is from The County newspaper, written by Chris Bouchard.

Caribou Middle School in RSU 39 was recently highlighted for their Innovation Center, an initiative led by Maureen Connell, Innovation Center Director. Below is a news article from The County newspaper.

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou Middle School students are now learning about math, coding, technology, and creative design as part of the school’s new Innovation Center, located in the former shop area in the heart of the building.

In its current incarnation, the innovation center is somewhat of a prototype of what will be offered in Caribou’s new PreK-8 school, scheduled for completion in mid-2020. The building is set to have its own space dedicated to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities, and RSU 39 has already hired Maureen Connell as their Innovation Center director.

At first, Connell said she wasn’t asked to start doing classes and activities with students, but soon found herself working with teachers and middle schoolers integrating technology such as 3D printing, LEGO robotics, and programmable mobile spheres into their curriculum.

She said the experience so far has been immensely positive.

“It’s been awesome to be able to learn new things myself,” she said, “and to see kids having a lot of fun with technology and apply their skills in different ways.”

The Innovation Center is not a separate class period like gym or library time, but a resource that all educators can use to augment their classes. For example, CMS fifth graders are learning about the westward expansion in this country, and at the end of the unit they will build their own wagons and create supplies that pioneers would typically bring along for the arduous journey.

Read the full story


Maine School Garden Day Brings Educators Around the State to Trenton Elementary School

(Whitney Ciancetta of Trenton Elementary School, describes their school’s greenhouse and gardens.)

The Maine School Garden Network recently convened 65 teachers from around the state at its annual “Maine School Garden Day” at Trenton Elementary School.  The purpose of the event was to provide preK-12 teachers currently or potentially involved with school gardens a day of workshops and networking.

The day included presentations, workshops, a lunch of local produce, and a tour of Trenton Elementary School’s greenhouse, gardens and outdoor education center and nature trails.  Guest presenters included Erika Verrier, Program Director of Maine School Garden Network, Willie Sayer Grenier of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC), 2019 MAITC Teacher of the Year, Lynn Snow, Maine FFA (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) State President Graham Berry, and many others.  Presentations also included information on establishing school orchards by ReTreeUS, seed saving techcniques, information on bees, and on native plants, as well as other subjects.  Afternoon workshops covered an array of topics of interest to teachers with school gardens.

The day provided participating teachers with valuable information and resources related to ensuring the success of their school gardens.  Erik Verrier of Maine School Garden Network (MSGN) urged all teachers to complete the MSGN online School Garden Survey so that they could continue to network with each other and additional interested teachers, and so that MSGN would be know how to best serve their needs.

Lynn Snow, 2019 MAITC Teacher of the Year, discusses in her keynote address the range of academics that may be achieved through school gardens.

MAITC 2019 Teacher of the Year, Lynn Snow, a 5th grade Science and English teacher at Thomaston Grammar School, described ways in which their school garden helped students acquire skills across numerous academic areas, as well as areas related to important life skills such as taking initiative and perseverance.

Graham Berry, Maine FFA State President, let teachers know that Maine FFA represented many other areas beyond farming relevant to the field of agriculture and natural resources.  He informed the group that any of them with students grades 7-12 would qualify to have an FFA chapter at their school, helping students to access numerous opportunities encompassing competitions, leadership skills, travel, scholarships, and an overall greater appreciation of agriculture and natural resources.

Graham Berry, Maine FFA State President, describes the advantages associated with FFA chapter membership for students grades 7-12.

For more information on Maine School Garden Network, please contact Erika Verrier, Program Director:  (207) 612-8911 or email

For more information on starting an FFA chapter for students grades 7-12, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education,  (207) 624-6744

Falmouth Elementary Students Practice Math and Service Learning Through World of Change Activity

Third, fourth, and fifth graders from Falmouth Elementary school got to practice their math skills and give back to the community all at once during a worldly event that took place earlier this month outside the school.

Parent, World of Change Founder, and Chief Change Maker, Matt Hoidal brought a change truck to the Falmouth Elementary School so that students could come out and donate couch change to some local causes of their choosing. The truck, designed locally, was equipped with six slots entitled, Education, Animals and Nature, Health, Play, Housing, and Food where loose coins and dollar bills could be deposited by students and then weighed for an estimated amount. The activity provided them with a chance to give back to the community with a service learning activity, in addition to providing an opportunity to practice using monetary amounts and measurements.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our children to come together and our community to come together,” said Falmouth Elementary School Principal, Gloria Noyes.

100% of all funds collected will be disbursed according to student choice. Below is a breakdown by focus area (according to how the students decided), and the amount donated:

  • Play: $227.94 (to fund swim lessons for four kids)
  • Housing: $332.41 (to fund three-four beds for kids who are sleeping on the floor)
  • Food: $477.09 (to fund 1,908 meals for kids in need)
  • Education: $273.21 (to fund 12 backpacks filled with books for kids in need)
  • Animals & Nature: $454.79 (to fund pet therapy programs and summer camperships for kids in need)
  • Health: $492.74 (to fund groceries and fuel assistance for families of kids with cancer)

“With nearly 20,000 coins collected, this is true testament to the power of change,” said Matt Hoidal.

Below is a video of the event, done by Bull Dog Media of Maine, which features comments from Falmouth Elementary School Principal,Gloria Noyes.

Below are some images from the coin drop:

Maine School of Science and Mathematics Ranked #2 Best High School in the Nation by U.S. News and World Report

Submitted by Ryan McDonald, Summer Programs Director and Public Relations Coordinator at Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) has been ranked #2 Best High School in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. MSSM received a 99.99% overall score out of a possible 100 points. Ranking factors included #1 in College Readiness Index Rank, #1 in Math and Reading Proficiency Rank, #1 in Math and Reading Performance Rank. MSSM was also ranked #1 in Maine and #2 Magnet School in the nation. This is the highest rank MSSM has received from U.S. News and World Report and has been ranked 8 times in the past 12 years. In recent years, MSSM has recorded rankings in the top 20.

Executive Director, David Pearson, said, “The MSSM family is rightly thrilled about the marvelous U.S. News and World Report educational rankings that places the school top in Maine, second in the United States, and nationally second as a magnet high school.  But as in all things, there is no singular responsibility for such impressive results. These rankings are consequent upon what is, and always will be, a team effort at the school.  As such, we are deeply grateful for the tireless efforts of our staff who teach, coach, advise, and nurture our extraordinary students; but also to the continuous support of their parents, and the many school districts throughout the State who educated them through their formative elementary and middle school years. We also owe very special gratitude to the Maine Legislature for providing the financial support for our academic and extracurricular programming. Quite simply, this is not just an MSSM success story, but one for our entire great State of Maine.”

Dean of Enrollment Management, Alan Whittemore, said, “Although we have received such prestigious recognition from the likes of U.S. News & World Report in the past, it is truly rewarding to reach #2 in the nation. We are happy for all involved here at Limestone, the students, staff, and faculty all of whom are working together to provide an education second only to one!”

MSSM’s College Counselor, Erica Jortberg, enjoys the privilege of working with some of the most motivated students in the state. She noted, “They are what makes MSSM what it is. When they choose to come to MSSM, it is because they are seeking a challenge and the opportunity to push themselves academically. It is exciting to work with them through the college process and see them off on their post-secondary endeavors.”

To produce the 2019 Best High Schools rankings, U.S. News teamed up with North Carolina-based RTI International, a global nonprofit social science research firm. RTI implemented the U.S. News comprehensive rankings methodology which reflects how well high schools serve all of their students, not just those who are planning to go to college. According to the U.S. News Best High Schools methodology, schools were rated on the following six measures and the weights used for each indicator are in parentheses. College readiness (30% of the ranking), College curriculum breadth (10%), Reading and math proficiency (20%), Reading and math performance (20%), Underserved student performance (10%), Graduation rate (10%).

The six indicators were first normalized using standardized scores and then weighted. Those weighed scores are then summed and transformed so that each eligible school receives an overall percentile score between zero and 100 at two decimal places, with the top performer scoring 100. The overall score as a percentile score indicates the percentile position a school is in out of the 17,245 ranked schools. A school with a score of 90 means that 10% of the schools are ranked higher and 90% of the schools are ranked lower. Finally, high schools are ranked against their peers in descending order of their overall scores. High schools placing in the top 75% display their individual rank on

Bonny Eagle Students Participate in Educator Workshop about Assessment for Learning

IMG_0119On Monday, May 6, ten students from the Bonny Eagle School District made a trip to the University of Southern Maine to participate in a session at the 4th Annual Assessment for Learning & Leading Conference.

The session, “Assessment for Learning: Student Involvement and Voice” provided participants with explanations and examples of high-impact instructional strategies, and an opportunity to talk with instructional coaches and students about their experiences related to the research-based practices.

Kirsten Gould and Kate Dumont, Assessment for Learning Coaches from MSAD 6

The session, led by Kirsten Gould and Kate Dumont, Assessment for Learning Coaches from MSAD 6, focused on student perspectives related to the new practices and encouraged participants to think about how teacher clarity and formative assessment can support students’ academic and emotional growth.

During the panel portion of the session, teachers mingled with students to have conversations and ask questions about student experiences and perspectives with the practice. The students, ranging from first through twelfth grade, shared concrete examples that illustrate how their teachers clarify the learning expectations and help students build self-efficacy through tracking progress, self-assessment, and goal-setting.