Promising Practices Tour

Maine schools and districts, working with the Maine Department of Education, have made great progress in moving toward a system that supports students in achieving proficiency in rigorous standards that will prepare them for college and careers. Some of the most promising practices and innovative reforms come from the schools themselves.

Commissioner Bowen plans to visit each of the state's nine superintendent regions before the end of the 2012-13 school year to see firsthand the kinds of innovative practices schools are implementing that are showing promise and that are helping to forward the priorities in the Department's strategic plan. Read about the Promising Practices Tour visits below.


Canaan and Bloomfield Elementary Schools

MSAD 54 was the last stop on Commissioner Bowen's Promising Practices Tour on Friday, May 31. At Canaan Elementary, Bowen saw reading and math workshops. Then he traveled to Bloomfield Elementary to speak with the school's student Civil Rights Team and see academic coaches in action.

Biddeford Middle School

Commissioner Bowen visited multiple Biddeford Middle School classrooms before meeting with teachers and area principals on Thursday, May 30.


Troy Howard Middle School, Belfast

Commissioner Bowen visited Troy Howard Middle School to tour seventh and eighth grade proficiency-based classrooms on Thursday, May 23. Under Principal Kim Buckheit’s leadership, the Belfast school implemented a standards-based academy system to give seventh and eighth graders more control over their learning. Like many schools the Commissioner has visited across Maine, THMS transformed their school by examining the school’s data to inform decisions.


Indian Township School, Washington County; Caravel Middle School, Carmel

The Commissioner toured various PreK-8 classrooms at Indian Township School, one of Maine's three tribal schools, on Thursday, May 9. The school operates a one-to-one iPad program for students PreK-3, and kindergarteners demonstrated to Commissioner Bowen how they use technology to learn. Then he saw students participate in a culture class designed to teach them about their heritage.

Bowen continued his tour at Caravel Middle School on Friday morning. As with several other school visits on the Commissioner’s tour, Caravel was designated as a school in need of improvement in 2008 and has since improved its academic program with the help of funding through Title I School Improvement and technical assistance from the Maine DOE and Title I School Improvement specialists.


RSU 17, Oxford Hills; RSU 10, Dixfield

Mountain Valley Middle School student Abby LaBrash explains her genetics project to Commissioner Bowen.Commissioner Bowen visited Mountain Valley Middle School to observe classrooms that have recently adopted the mass customized learning model, which is helping students learn at their own page. At the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway, he talked with Oxford Hills Middle School seventh and eighth graders about the life science and leadership skills they’re developing by participating in the farm’s experiential learning program. Students from the same school then showed off a new race car they’re constructing at Crazy Horse Racing in South Paris with the help of a professional builder. As the vehicle is being built, so is their knowledge of math, science, engineering and teamwork. Bowen says that hands-on learning like this helps some students pick up concepts they would have never connected with in the classroom.


Caribou & Presque Isle Middle & High Schools

Commissioner Bowen visited Caribou and Presque Isle Middle & High Schools, former Continuous Improvement Priority Schools, on Friday, April 12. By introducing an organizational change within the school structure, both schools increased student improvement. Bowen saw an English Language Arts classroom that featured individual learning goals and independent work, along with another ELA classroom for special education students.


Lake Region High School, Naples

LRHS was labeled a low-performing school in 2010, but staff have since introduced a number reforms, including high school academies, extended learning opportunities, and a longer school year. The Commissioner visited six academy classrooms and toured the new Lake Region Vocational Center, which is attached to LRHS.


Riverton and East End Schools, Portland

East End kindergartner Antonio Hernandez explains his math journal to Commissioner Bowen.Both of these schools were identified as underperforming in 2009-10 and 2010-11 and received School Improvement Grants. With the help of those grants and technical assistance from the Maine DOE, the schools have engaged in a number of promising practices. Tour highlights included, at Riverton: writing and reading workshop illustrating a curriculum and instructional model; English Language Learner students working with iPads on language acquisition; and embedded professional development through a facilitated grade level meeting. At East End: use of technology and an instructional coaching model in the classroom.


Lewiston Regional Technical Center

Paige Clabby (left) describes her post-graduation plans.Commissioner Bowen detailed targeted education supports in Governor Paul R. LePage’s proposed biennial budget March 14 at Lewiston Regional Technical Center—the second stop on Bowen’s tour. He also spoke with Lewiston High School students who take early college or virtual classes to supplement their educational program.


Deer Isle-Stonington High School

Commissioner Bowen and Deer Isle-Stonington High School Principal Todd West explore technical arts area of the school.Commissioner Bowen traveled to Deer Isle-Stonington High School on Feb. 25 to speak with teachers about best practices and with students about their experiences. In the past few years, DISHS staff has launched professional learning communities, advisory periods, and student assistance teams to better their school. Bowen also released the statewide 2012 graduation rates at DISHS, which has improved its grad rate from 58 percent (in 2009) to 94 percent.




Be sure to check out the Department's Center for Best Practice website for more materials, support and case studies related to learner-centered instructional practices.