Employee of the Week: Michael Ashmore

Michael Ashmore, Program Development & Training Officer for the Maine Commission for Community Service is the Maine Department of Education’s Employee of the Week this week. Get to know a little more about Michael through this brief question and answer:

What is your role with the State of Maine?

I work for the Maine Commission for Community Service, a partner agency of the Maine DOE.  My role with the Commission is as the Program Development & Training Officer.  In this role I provide outreach to community agencies regarding the opportunities the Commission provides (grants, National Service support, training) and I am the trainer and technical assistance provider for Service Enterprise and for our grantees, among other things.

What do you like best about your job?

I love helping community agencies build their capacity to engage and utilize the skills of volunteers and to help them develop more volunteer opportunities here in the state.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I was a public educator for 2 decades and then moved into nonprofit management.  I became connected to the work of the Commission as a grant recipient and then moved to the Commission as grants Officer ten years ago.  I appreciate the value of service and the importance of volunteerism in keeping communities healthy, vibrant and resilient so it is rewarding work.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I love to hike and to read, to spend time with my three children; and cooking is a passion of mine.

Wells Junior High School Actors Take Action Against Hunger

Submitted by Josie Perkins, Director of Theatre Arts Education at Wells Junior High School.

Students from Wells Junior High School were highlighted recently for their efforts to take action against hunger in their community.

“We give back through our arts. We affect people’s lives by doing arts and entertainment and taking them out of their daily lives. But what else can we do as global citizens to give back to our community?” says play Director Josie Perkins.

See the full news story here.

Garret Schenck School has Success with Positive Action Program

Submitted by Lisa Savage, Reading Interventionist for Garret Schenck Elementary School.

Garret Schenck School serves healthy choices to preK-5 students in Anson every day. At every grade level our Positive Action program helps students learn that making positive choices feels better, and that positive choices include caring for our bodies through nutrition and hygiene.

Supporting nutrition learning, our 5-2-1-0 participation brings raw fruits and vegetables right into the classroom. Older grades receive a visit from a nutrition educator who conducts food prep classes where everyone gets to eat what they just learned how to make. Younger grades learn about a food before daring to try a bite of something new. The motto, “Don’t yuck my yum!” helps create a positive atmosphere for guided nutritional risk taking.

Our school’s community garden brings together students, teachers, school board members and neighbors to grow produce and nurture a love of gardening. Some of the goodies make their way to classrooms at snack time while others are used for our annual harvest dinner, which is held on open house night. Students at each grade level help prepare a harvest meal that is shared by their families.

Cooking club for grades 2-5 also benefits from the bounty of the harvest. In this after school activity teams work to prepare popular dishes like lasagne, shepherd’s pie and tossed salad using tomatoes and basil from the garden in season. Students learn teamwork, measurement, and math through cooking, eating and cleaning up.

We are proud of the healthy positive choices we are making at Garret Schenck!

Madison Junior High School Teacher Recognized with 2019 NELMS Master in Middle Award

The New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS) announced at its 38th Annual Conference (held March 21-22, 2019) that Kathy Bertini, a teacher at Madison Junior High School in Madison, Maine was awarded a NELMS 2019 Master in Middle Award. Jeff Rodman, Executive Director of NELMS, state “Paying attention to the learning needs of young adolescents and recognizing their unique developmental stage can make a significant difference in the lives of 10-14-year olds.” He added “recognizing those experienced in middle level educators is a major part of the work of the Recognition’s Committee who often have a very difficult task choosing winners.”

Kathy Bertini is the project director for the cooperative FEDES grant awarded by the Maine Department of Education in 2017, for a project called Kennebec Valley STEAM Outreach. Among the FEDES STEAM Outreach Project goals is the development of an upper elementary/middle level STEAM curriculum including a curriculum pilot in the three project partner districts, RSU 74, RSU 59, and RSU 83/MSAD 13. The STEAM curriculum is based on the engineering design process and incorporates trends in the work force and builds skills in areas of the State’s workforce where shortages are projected. The STEAM project also employs University of Maine engineering undergraduates to aid classroom teachers with curriculum implementation. The UMO undergrads also consult with the curriculum writer, Kathy Bertini, providing specific guidance on the engineering elements of each build, they act as mentors, and help with staff professional development. The KVSOP curriculum includes lessons/builds for grades 3-8 including a scope and sequence, alignment to NGSS content, Maine Learning Results and Engineering Design standards. Embedded in each build/lesson is a digital reference that reinforces the science content appropriate for the grade level.  Each build is connected to a real-life science career to support the connection with real world science application and a referenced to a habit of work element to encourage design change and performance expectations.

Employee of the Week: Nate Menifield

Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Nate Menifield is the Maine Department of Education’s Employee of the Week. Get to know a little more about Nate through this brief question and answer:

What are your roles with DOE?

As the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, I primarily support teachers of music, visual art, theatre, and dance in Maine’s Pre-K-12 public schools in a variety of ways ranging from designing professional learning opportunities to managing arts-related initiatives. Additionally, I serve as the Regional Education Representative for Cumberland County; a valuable chance to meet with that region’s superintendents and curriculum coordinators once each month.

 What do you like best about your job?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I find the most joy  – at work and elsewhere – in my relationships with the people around me. Since joining the DOE last July, I’ve quickly grown to appreciate and admire the dedication and expertise of my incredible colleagues, each of whom contributes something uniquely valuable to the collective work that we do. Beyond the office, I’ve discovered that I feel most energized by my direct interactions with our state’s educators and young artists. There are amazing levels of support, creativity, and passion being fostered in arts classrooms all over Maine. If you want to be inspired, go observe a rehearsal or attend an art exhibit – you won’t regret it!

 How or Why did you decide on this career?

I’ve long maintained the belief that, for me, educating others is more a personality trait than a career choice. Throw in the fact that I’ve always been “artsy,” and my tenure in arts education only makes sense! From my days as a young musician in Aroostook County to the nine years I spent teaching music to high school students in Southern Maine, I’ve had a rare and extended opportunity to witness the unique joys and the challenges facing arts education throughout our state. Over the years, though, one thing that’s remained clearly evident and remarkably consistent is that Maine arts educators are among the most dedicated, talented individuals you could ever hope to meet. So, when the opportunity to support them from the state level presented itself, I was both honored and humbled by the chance to give something meaningful back to the many educators who have given so much to me and many other generations of students.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I’m a classically trained singer, so a lot of my time outside of cubicle #56 is spent rehearsing, performing, and occasionally guest conducting choirs. Other things to know? I also love traveling, am a big foodie, have enjoyed baking since I was a kid, and am dad to a rambunctious but adorable black lab mix named Toby. Stop by and share your interests any time!