Mock Crime Scene Unit Gives Windham High Students Hands-on Learning and Career Exploration

Back with a bang, quite literally, Windham High School along with the Windham Police Department have expanded an exciting, hands-on learning unit giving juniors and seniors the chance to write police reports, interview witnesses, and collect evidence as part of a mock crime scene project.

The Mock Crime Scene Unit began in 2017 and has expanded into an inclusive community event that now includes many members of the school community and the Windham community. With a few years off after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there has been a lot of planning and coordinating going on behind the scenes to offer the Unit again this year as a much more robust experience for all involved – and it was a huge success!

This year, approximately 110 students got to take part in the Crime Scene Unit by playing one of the various roles of professionals who handle a crime scene in real life, depending on which class they were enrolled in this year. The Unit began this spring and led up to a “Crime Scene Day” which was held on the Windham High School campus on May 5th where the students got the opportunity to apply skills they have been learning in class at a mock crime scene staged by the Windham Police Department.

As part of the Unit, Windham Police Department’s Detective Sergeant Andrews came into WHS earlier this spring to do lessons with the English classes. Meanwhile the math and science classes were visited by the State Mobile Crime Lab, and Detective Gallant and Sergeant Burke from the Windham Police Department visited school as well to work with the math students in preparation of the May 5th Crime Scene Day.

When the big day finally arrived, students from math and science classes got the chance to work as evidence technicians to collect and analyze data. They collaborated with students from English classes who served as detectives to interview the witnesses and suspect and develop a theory of the crime, and students from the journalism class played the role of journalists who were on hand to write press releases and articles to inform the public.

“The purpose [of the Mock Crime Scene] is to have the students learn about forensic investigation and give them a real-life application for the skills that they’re learning in school,” said math teacher John Ziegler. Ziegler and colleague Adrianne Shetenhelm, an English teacher at WSH, originally came up with the idea and now work with a team of teachers plus WHS Director of Community Connections/ELO Coordinator Lorraine Glowczak to plan and coordinate the Crime Scene Unit. “We’re giving them a great example of when they’re going to have to use math [for example] in real life…with a real career-based application to it.”

In addition to learning about blood typing and lab work, students also got to study evidence types and how they are handled from crime scene to trial, they also learned about illegal drugs and evidence testing, as well as about the rights of people who are being accused of a crime. Students in the English and journalism classes focused on nuances of writing about crime, they studied unbiased writing, and learned about ethical writing as well. Students also got the chance to apply mathematical formulas they learned in class to collect additional evidence about the crime scene.

WHS Junior Victoria Lin said she learned many things due to the hands-on and experiential learning aspects of the Unit, including how to communicate between big groups of people and relying on the information from other student detectives through meetings and an organized digital log. “We had to work together to figure out what information was missing, what information was relevant, and what kinds of questions needed to be asked.”

“I enjoy solving the how, what, when, where and why,” said Lake Peterson, a WHS Junior. “We weren’t told anything about the crime scene, so we had to interview the witnesses and process all the information given to us the day of the event.”

Both Lin and Peterson agreed that the mock crime scene curriculum was a fun way to learn by working outside of the classroom and with friends. Other students who participated also agreed resoundingly that being outside the classroom and doing hands-on learning was so much more meaningful for them. They  were also thankful to learn about how important being a good witness can be, and showed an immense amount respect and empathy for the Windham Police Department and to law enforcement as a profession.

“This collaboration provides students with the opportunity to develop teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills and real-world applications to the content skills they are learning in their courses,” said WHS Assistant Principal Vanessa Michaud. “I am so proud of the hard work and dedication our staff put into making this experience possible for our students. It is truly a great thing to see our students building relationships with each other, our staff, and our community partners.”

During the remainder of the Unit this spring, student detectives will be pulling together a presentation for the District Attorney with their theory of the crime.

“My biggest takeaway from this event is just how well-integrated into the school culture it has become over the years,” said Ziegler. “It started out five years ago as Adrianne and I came up with a crazy lesson idea over lunch at Panera Bread, and it has since grown into one of the fundamental parts of the Windham High School curriculum. Thanks to the collaboration of [follow educators] Nicole Densmore, Dan Wirtz, Chelsea Scott, Tammy Lorenzatti, Lorraine Glowczak, and the officers of the Windham Police Department, this is now a project that has a life of its own.”

Career and Technical Education Students of the Year Honored

The Maine Association of Career and Technical Education (MACTE) held its annual Career and Technical Education (CTE) Student of the Year Award Ceremony on April 29 at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s The Green Ladle restaurant.

The event featured a keynote address from Maine Speaker of the House Ryan Fecteau, in addition to an awards ceremony honoring a student from each of Maine’s 27 CTE Schools for their exemplary work in their respective program.

Students Honored:

Hannah Albert
Health Occupations
St. John Valley Technical Center
Molly Bennett
Firefighting
Tri County Tech – Dexter
Abigail Crammer
Digital Media
Foster Tech – Farmington
Eric LaPlante
Machine Tool
Van Buren Tech
Kobe Saunders
Business
St. Croix Tech – Calais
Cadence Allen
Building Construction Technology
Oxford Hills Tech – Norway
Evan Margison
Agriculture and Commercial Drivers License
Caribou Tech
Dustin Taylor
Culinary Arts
Coastal Washington Tech – Machias
Wyatt Smith
Automotive Technology
Region 9 – Mexico
Dane Driscoll
Farm Mechanics
Presque Isle Tech
Desmond Gonzalez
Auto Collision and Composites
Waldo County Tech – Waldo
Kristen Little
Culinary Arts
Lewiston Tech – Lewiston
Timothy “TJ” Fitzpatrick
Auto Collision
Region Two – Houlton
Wyntyr Herrera
Culinary Arts
Somerset Tech – Skowhegan
Taylor Dastoli
Law Enforcement
Lake Region Tech – Naples
Robert Bowker
Computer and Networking Systems
Sandford Tech – Sanford
Daniel Whitman
Mass Media Communication
Mid Maine Tech – Waterville
Victoria Hersey
Pre-Apprenticeship 21/22 and CNA 20/21
Region 10 – Brunswick
Alyssa Stanley
Registered Medical Assistant
Region Three – Lincoln
Elias Libby
Outdoor Leadership
Mid Coast Tech – Rockland
Emily Cheung
Biomedical and Health Science
PATHS – Portland
Samual T. Meyers
Health Occupations – CNA
United Technologies – Bangor
Iassc Hayden
Electrical Technology
Capital Area Tech – Augusta
Dawson Ramsdell
Heavy Equipment Operation/CDL (A)
Westbrook Tech – Westbrook
Amber Rae Pesek
Biomedical Science
Hancock County Tech – Ellsworth
Lucas Martin
Carpentry
Bath Tech – Bath
Grace Sommer
Teaching and Early Education
Biddeford Tech – Biddeford

Special recognition goes to Lewiston Regional Technical Center (LRTC) culinary arts students for food preparation and service, to LRTC mulitmedia technology students for program design, and to Somerset Career and Technical Center (SCTC) digital graphics students for their design of the award certificates.

Thank you to the Maine Administrators of Career & Technical Education (MACTE), the Maine Department of Education, the Maine State Board of Education, and the hard-working educators, students and staff at Maine’s CTE schools!

 

WEBINAR: Understanding the Role of Teachers in Supporting School Safety Before, During, and After an Emergency

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center (a partner of the U.S. Department of Education) will host a Webinar on Thursday, May 26, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET. This Webinar will highlight the role of teachers in supporting school safety at the local level.

Find objectives for the 60-minute Webinar below:

  • Highlight the role of teachers in supporting school safety efforts within their school communities.
  • Demonstrate the importance of developing a collaborative planning team to support emergency operations plan (EOP) development, as outlined in Step 1 of the six-step planning process detailed in the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.
  • Discuss the role that teachers play in supporting the National Preparedness System mission areas — prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery — as well as their role in the before, during, and after phases of a potential emergency.
  • Share resources to assist teachers’ efforts around climate assessment, behavioral threat assessment, continuity of teaching and learning, and overall plan development.

Presenters:

Los Angeles Unified School District, Office of Emergency Management and Division of School Culture, Climate, and Safety

  • Jill Barnes, Administrator

REMS TA Center

  • Janelle Hughes, Project Director

Questions About the Event?

Contact the REMS TA Center Help Desk at 1-855-781-REMS [7367] or info@remstacenter.org from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Get more information and register here.

PRIORITY NOTICE: State Board of Education Adopts New Chapter 115 Regulations for the Credentialing of Education Personnel

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that on May 11, 2022, the State Board of Education voted in favor of final adoption of Rule Chapter 115: The Credentialing of Education Personnel. These changes come after more than two years of work with numerous stakeholders to ensure unnecessary barriers were removed, and that Maine continues to have well-prepared educators to work with students in our schools. The final version includes changes required by the Maine Legislature.

Some of the highlights of the new rule include:

  • Praxis exams are no longer required.  Instead of this specific requirement, an applicant for certification may choose to pass Praxis I, utilize a summative grade point average (gpa) of 3.0 for courses required for the certification, or submit a portfolio for review.
  • References to the latest versions of professional standards for many certificates have been updated.
  • Language was enhanced to include greater flexibilities with degrees, as well as work and academic experiences.
  • Course requirements for human development as well as diversity-centered content related to today’s classroom have been added.
  • Many updates to Career and Technical Education certificates and endorsements have been made.
  • Some grade spans have been expanded to include pre-kindergarten.
  • Greater flexibilities for international teachers and alternative education teachers have been added.
  • Renewal requirements for some administrator certificates have been changed.

The new regulations will now be filed with the Maine Secretary of State and become effective 30 days after. The new rule will be posted here.

To assist in understanding the new regulations, the DOE is offering a webinar series, which will be recorded, for anyone in the field.  Please see below for dates, topics, and a link to the webinars:

May 18 – New Ch. 115 Regulations: How Did We Get Here? 

May 25 – Overview of Chapter 115 Changes 

June 8 – How to Best Support Educators Through the Certification Process 

The Certification Team is hard at work implementing the new changes and providing updated resources on the website www.maine.gov/doe/cert. The best way to reach the team is to email cert.doe@maine.gov.

University of Maine System Early College Program Partners with “Let’s Get Ready” to Assist Students with College Application Process

The University of Maine System (UMS) Early College (EC) Program has partnered with Let’s Get Ready to provide rising seniors (students graduating in 2023) with assistance with the college application process. Let’s Get Ready (LGR) is a non-profit organization that shares values with the UMS EC Program including providing college preparation experiences to Maine’s high school students. Current college students who are trained by LGR serve as mentors and will guide high school students through finding potential colleges, application essays, scholarships, financial aid, and provide deadline reminders. This text-based mentorship is being provided to students for FREE.

UMS EC has graciously provided this opportunity for all seniors that are enrolled in EC courses in 2022-2023 school year, although we encourage students who are first generation to attend college, rural, and/or low-income to apply. Students who are interested must complete a separate application with LGR. Parent permission is required. Permission requests are sent after students apply. While we encourage students to consider Maine’s Public Universities, students are not required to apply to a UMS institution to participate in this program.

For more information about the program and services, contact Katie Flood, Director of Rural Programs, Let’s Get Ready. Katie is a Maine-based educator and former Maine school counselor committed to promoting college access for Maine’s high school students.