Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Sarah DeCato

Maine DOE Team member Sarah DeCato is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Sarah in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

The role of School Nurse Specialist, works directly with the Statewide School Nurse Consultant, to provide school nursing leadership, consultation, and direction across the State of Maine. The School Nurse Specialist works as a team within Coordinated School Health to assist in synthesizing and disseminating information as it relates to trends in health care, school nursing practice, and health related policy changes. The School Nurse Specialist plans and provides educational offerings as they relate to special projects.

Sample focus areas include:

1) Establishing regional Communities of Practice (CoP) for school nurses statewide
2) Establishing communication interdepartmentally and externally with partners around the creation of a Child Care Health Consulting (CCHC) network as it relates to the role of the school nurse

What do you like best about your job?

I love working with the people I work with and having the opportunity to impact student health statewide working alongside school nurses. I enjoy collaborating with other departments within state government to best meet the needs of the populations we serve. Having a job where my expertise can be put to good use, where there is also the opportunity work/life balance is important and I am fortunate to find that here at the DOE.

How or why did you decide on this career?

The bulk of my professional nursing career has been working with or for children. Having worked in the non-profit world a number of years both running one of our former Healthy Maine Partnerships and while managing a 21st Century Afterschool Program grant, I realized I needed to become a nurse to make a larger impact on public health. I received my undergrad in nursing from the University of Southern Maine, and my graduate degree, with a focus in community/population health nursing, from New Mexico State University. I’ve worked with children as both a Public Health Nurse for the MeCDC and as a former Director of Health/School Nurse for a private high school. In my free time, I have served as adjunct faculty in the population health nursing program at the University of New England, helping shape the next generation of nurses.

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

I enjoy being a chicken farmer, gardening, kayaking, hiking, biking, skiing, and going on camping adventures with my family. I also enjoy listening to live music and reading (but not at the same time).

Book Study – Finding Your Blind Spots: 8 Guiding Principles for Overcoming Implicit Bias in Teaching

Join the Maine Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of School and Student Supports (O3S) as they read and reflect on Finding Your Blind Spots: 8 Guiding Principles for Overcoming Implicit Bias in Teaching, by Hedreich Nichols. Members of the Maine DOE not only introduced this book study to participants at the Educator’s Summit in early August, but they also introduced participants to the author! Hedreich Nichols is an educator, writer, and passionate advocate who is sharing her lived experiences with readers and participants of this book study so that we can be reflective practitioners and can truly understand bias. You can also find her work at #Smallbites.  The O3S first heard Nichols’ work on Jennifer Gonzalez’s podcast: Uncovering Your Implicit Biases: An Exercise for Teachers | Cult of Pedagogy.

This opportunity is open to all Maine educational personnel.  Sessions are being held on Thursdays – either at 3:30 in the afternoon or 7:00 in the evening.  Participants are welcome to join for both!  October 6th is our first offering, and we will be reflecting on chapters 1-3.

Check out the authors website to learn more about the book. For any questions about this opportunity, please direct those to O3S Director Julie Smyth at julie.a.smyth@maine.gov.

Department of Education Family and Community Needs Analysis Survey

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is inviting all families to participate in our “Family and Community Needs Analysis Survey” by October 14th, 2022.

The survey responses are confidential, and names of respondents will be anonymous. Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. This survey will ask family members questions about how COVID-19 has impacted the learning and development of their children and youth. The survey is designed to be completed within 15 minutes.

The survey responses will be used to identify additional projects and initiatives that the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds may be used to support. The ESSER funding can support activities and interventions that respond to students’ academic, emotional, aspirational, and social needs while addressing the impact of COVID-19.

Please take some time to complete the anonymous survey here

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Shelly Chasse-Johndro at (207) 458-3180 or by email at shelly.chassejohndro@maine.gov. Thank you very much for your time and support. 

 

Maine DOE Update – September 23, 2022

From the Maine Department of Education


Reporting Items

| Visit the DC&R Reporting Calendar |


News & Updates

Governor Mills Announces New Initiative to Bring Mobile Computer Science Labs to All Maine Schools

Governor Janet Mills today announced the launch of a new Maine Department of Education (DOE) initiative that will provide every Maine public school with a free mobile computer science lab. The effort, funded through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, will enable all Maine students to access high-quality learning experiences that provide real-word training in robotics, programming, augmented and virtual reality, coding, and hardware. |  More

Free Mobile Computer Science Lab Application

The application is now available to claim your school’s free mobile computer science lab! To claim your school’s lab, complete the brief application by Friday, September 30th, at 8 PM. Read more about the initiative and the equipment…. |  More

Introducing the Maine Association for Improving Literacy (MAIL) – a Statewide Literacy Network

Literacy, as defined by the Maine Department of Education, is the ability to construct and convey meaning for a variety of purposes through an array of contextual forms and symbols, including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. |  More

Maine DOE Celebrates Newly Named ‘Community Schools’ Grant Awardees

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that four Maine schools have been awarded $50,000 grants to support their ‘community schools’ work. Community Schools is a local engagement strategy that creates and coordinates opportunities with its public school to accelerate student success. It is an effective, evidence-based, and equity-driven strategy for school improvement included under section 4625 of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. |  More

Get to Know the Maine DOE: Meet Courtney Belolan

Maine DOE Team member Courtney Belolan is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Campaign. Learn a little more about Courtney in the question. |  More


Maine Schools Sharing Success Stories

| Submit your Maine School Success Story |


Professional Development & Training Opportunities

Health Ed. and Physical Ed. Inclusive Teaching Practices and Learning Workshop to be Held in December – Register Now!

The September Health Education and Physical Education Inclusive Teaching Practices and Learning Workshop dates are being postponed. The first sessions will now be held in December. |  More

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health: Calling Maine’s Anti-Hunger Advocates

Join other educators and advocates to learn about the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and review federally recognized innovations & data-driven solutions. Then, join with local multidisciplinary teams to collaborate on opportunities specific to your region and make a commitment to eliminating disparities. |  More

| Visit the Professional Development Calendar |


Latest DOE Career/Project Opportunities:

View current Maine Department of Education employment opportunities here


 

Maine DOE Celebrates Newly Named ‘Community Schools’ Grant Awardees

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is pleased to announce that four Maine schools have been awarded $50,000 grants to support their ‘community schools’ work. Community Schools is a local engagement strategy that creates and coordinates opportunities with its public school to accelerate student success. It is an effective, evidence-based, and equity-driven strategy for school improvement included under section 4625 of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The grant awardees and the projects supported by the funding are as follows: 

  • Biddeford Schools/Biddeford Primary – Increase mental health supports; provide access to legal services; create community garden; host vacation-week camps
  • Portland Public Schools/Talbot Elementary School – Add positions (i.e. stipends) for After-School Coordinator, Homework Diner Coordinator & Interpreters, and Walking School Bus Coordinator; increase materials to support these enrichment opportunities
  • RSU 9/Cape Cod Elementary – Hire Community School Coordinator; provide Social Worker and Nurse stipends; increase after-school academic and enrichment support; support adding a service animal; increase dental care access
  • RSU 34/ Old Town Elementary School – Add after-school enrichment; continue food security/insecurity support; add Homework Diner

Supported by the Maine DOE’s Office of School and Student Supports, last spring a Community Schools Request for Applications (RFA) process resulted in these four schools receiving $50,000 each in grant funding to support their work. So far two of the awardees have implemented a Community School Coordinators position to create a community of practice (COP) including Jennifer Goodwin, RSU #34/Old Town Elementary School; and Kristin Hanna, Portland Public Schools/Talbot Elementary School. It is anticipated that Biddeford and RSU 9 will be able to use grant funding to add such coordination throughout the school year.

“To be able to fund four districts at the time we did is a great start heading into what we hope is a post-pandemic school year,” said Director of the Office of School and Student Supports Julie Smyth. “Community School models are receiving so much attention nationally – the Biden administration is committed to adding 25,000 new community schools, which will impact over 300,000 students,” added Smyth, who is committed to working with state partners to grow Maine’s understanding and support for Community Schools.

Smyth and her team have already begun convening a community of practice (COP) group among the grant recipients this week.  The purpose of the COP is to build community to support each other, to learn together, and to leverage existing knowledge to support more schools in moving forward with Community Schools work.

Although the next Community Schools RFA will not be available until SY 2024-2025, it will have the potential to provide up to 10 additional school administrative units with start-up funding.  In accordance with Title 20-A, §9923: Designation of community schools (maine.gov), the Maine DOE hopes to biannually designate 10 additional community schools.

For more information on Community School Coordinators and Community Schools visit any of the following websites:

For further information and questions, reach out to Julie Smyth, Director of the Maine DOE Office of School and Student Supports at julie.a.smyth@maine.gov.