Brunswick Community Support Group is Working Hard to Welcome Refugee Families

This article was written by Maine DOE Intern Simon Handelman in collaboration with community members from the Emergency Action Network (TEAN) in Brunswick.

When Sarah Singer, Teresa Gillis, and other community leaders founded The Emergency Action Network (TEAN), they were responding to the rising poverty and homelessness afflicting students at Brunswick Schools. TEAN worked with teachers and administrators in Brunswick schools to identify the needs of struggling students and families. Once a specific need was clear to TEAN, they utilized the Yard Sale feature on Facebook to collect donations or, members of TEAN purchased the necessary item outright and delivered it to the Superintendent’s office.

Each fall TEAN members visit faculty in all four Brunswick schools. They connect with educators and identify needs the taskforce is equipped to address. When a child needed running shoes to participate in gym class, TEAN got those shoes to the student. Singer expressed how happy the recipient was once he was able to participate in activities with the rest of his class. When mobile home park Bay Bridge Estates experienced well failures, TEAN delivered a U-Hall filled with Poland Springs bottled water to the residents. These examples of TEAN’s excellent work explain Singer’s classification of the organization as a “catch-all safety net” and a “crisis response group.”

In recent weeks, the organization has committed itself to assisting families of asylum seekers in Brunswick. Erin Mangalam and Singer, both on the board of directors for TEAN, use their own multi-lingual skills to connect families to the resources they need. Maggy Jansson, another director, is using her background as a home visiting pediatric nurse to help families access healthcare services. However, TEAN understands they do not have the necessary background to provide optimal assistance, for this reason the taskforce pushed the town of Brunswick to hire a Cultural Broker. Nsiona Nguizani has been working in the Maine immigrant community for several years. His job is to break down linguistic and cultural barriers so support groups like TEAN or Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) can more efficiently meet the needs of these new Brunswick community members.

Support groups in Brunswick learned from Musalo Chitam at the Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition that newcomer families often travel thousands of miles over the course of several months. These families know how to be independent–they just need to become oriented in their new home. In response to this message, Mangalam and Dana Bateman (another TEAN volunteer) collected bikes for the families. TEAN does not have the resources to buy every family a car, but they can mobilize the community to get a significant number of bikes for families. Once the bikes were collected, Bruno Inacio translated Kris Haralson’s bike safety training from English to Portuguese so as many people as possible could understand the information.

TEAN is working on many projects, and more information can be found on their website and Facebook page. Moreover, TEAN is just one of many support groups working hard to help their neighbors, new and old. Similar efforts are being undertaken in Topsham by Mt. Ararat TEAN, and in Freeport by Freeport Friends. Singer says the goal was to build a “totally replicable model.” She says that it is necessary to understand that needs are different in each community. In some towns like Brunswick, the role of support groups is changing rapidly. However, dedicated people with open minds can alleviate some of the burdens for families, students, and teachers by building networks like TEAN in their own communities.

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Shelly Chasse-Johndro

Title II Program Coordinator Shelly Chasse-Johndro is being highlighted this week as the part of a Get to Know the DOE Team campaign! Learn a little more about Shelly in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Title II Program Coordinator and the State Ombudsman on the Elementary and Second Education Act (ESEA) team.  My role within the team is to manage local funding allocations and the Title II programming for districts and schools. Our team also ensures continuous state oversight, support and technical assistance for districts and schools, and assists districts and schools in serving eligible students and implementing effective programs. In my role as the state ombudsman, I serve as the SEA’s primary point of contact for addressing questions and concerns from private school officials and LEAs regarding the provision of equitable services under Titles I and VIII; and monitor and enforce the equitable services.

What do you like best about your job?

The best part of my job is supporting districts and schools that are of putting students first in public education along with engaging and collaborating with the department’s dedicated and energetic staff.

How or why did you decide on this career?

At my kindergarten graduation, my career goal was to become a teacher! So, at a very young age I knew that I wanted to be in education. I began my career overseeing the day-to-day operations and supervising employees for a National Professional Development Title III grant at the University of Maine, then moved into a position focused on state approval and CAEP accreditation for the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). With over a decade and a half with the University of Maine System, I transitioned into the Title II Program Coordinator at the Maine Department of Education for a new challenge and outlook.

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

It’s all about my FAMILY! My husband of 15 years, 7 year old daughter, and 3 year old Moyen Poodle keep us all busy with sports, swimming, and playing outside.

Migrant Education Program School Survey

The Maine Migrant Education Program (MEP) provides the following School Survey to all Maine school districts to help the Maine MEP locate families that may qualify for related services. Families can elect to complete this form in their primary language.

Each school district is responsible for sending out a Migrant Education Program School Survey for new students entering their school district. This school survey can be in a  “New Student Packet”. The school survey is sent back to the Maine Department of Education if all questions are answered “Yes”. Schools should shred forms that are answered “No”. The Migrant Education Office at the DOE follows up with all referrals with families, determines eligibility for Title I, Part C (Migrant), and provides supplemental services based on individual needs.

If families have traveled (including over the summer) to do work in agriculture or fishing, their children may be eligible for free supplemental educational support services through the Maine Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program.

For more information, please contact Amelia Lyons at 207-557-1787 or

RSU 57 Prek Teachers Train Fellow Educators on Research-based Prek Practice

Prek teachers Melissa Brown, Jessie Carlson, Morgan Gallagher and Sarah Smith from RSU 57 provided training recently for new teachers ready to implement the PreK for ME program in the coming school year.

Prek for ME is a curriculum program based on the Boston Public School’s open source curriculum. Last year, 14 prek classroom teachers, including the 4 from RSU 57, were part of the pilot program that was successfully conducted last year assisting participants in improving their prek classroom instruction. RSU 57 saw great results in this research-based, whole child/multi-domain program.

Excited and eager to help bring their experience and expertise to others, the four RSU 57 teachers co-trained with some assistance from Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist from Maine DOE who is leading the efforts to adapt the Prek for ME curriculum for Maine.

The evaluations from the program help to illustrate its success:

“This was a super training!  I appreciated the balance between presentation and hands on with the teachers.” 

“Teachers who have used the program are very helpful!” 

The prek teachers from RSU 57 invited participants to visit their classrooms and to contact them with any questions.  The Prek for ME program will be available on the Maine DOE website by the end of August.

Graduation Reporting-Phase Two- Reminder and Webinar for Assistance

Phase II of graduation will allow schools the opportunity to review and make necessary changes to correct or update exit codes from the 2018/19 school year for their 4th, 5th and 6th year students. The only exits changes allowed during this phase are to the exit of ‘Graduated with diploma’ or ‘Not enrolled, eligible to return’. This phase will focus on ensuring accuracy of exit statuses for students who are part of the 2019, 2018 and 2017 cohorts.

Graduation Reporting Phase II
Opens: August 1st
Due: August 30th

Graduation Phase II Webinar
The Department will be holding an online webinar for Phase II of graduation reporting. The webinar is designed for any school staff who may be asked to complete Graduation Reporting Phase II for their school or district.  During this webinar we will review the process, as well as give a detailed walk through on how to complete Phase II of reporting. Registration is free, but necessary prior to the webinar. This ensures that connection details can be shared with participants.

Webinar Date/Time: Thursday, August 22nd 11:00am-12:30pm

Webinar Registration:

More information on the Graduation Reporting process can be found on our website at:

If you have any questions regarding reporting or NEO access, feel free to contact:
Access: MEDMS Helpdesk – (207) 624-6896
Reporting: Trevor Burns (Student Data Coordinator) – (207) 624-6678