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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools and School Principals

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             April 24, 2006

RE:                   A Celebration of School People – Follow-up to Informational Letter #123

            Below please find a letter from Patsy Wiggins, Kathleen Alfiero, and Linda Hogan.  This letter is a follow-up to Informational Letter #123 dated April 6, 2006 and gives additional information about the upcoming Celebration of School People.

Dear Superintendents and Principals of Maine,

We, Patsy Wiggins and Kathleen Alfiero, co-founders of the live television show i’monair are very excited to be writing to you today. By now you have received Commissioner Sue Gendron’s e-mail announcing the Celebrate School People project that commences with a kickoff reception a the Blaine House on May 15, 2006 and reaches its crescendo on October 18, 2006 at the Augusta Civic Center.  This first of its kind initiative has five vibrant components including an extensive statewide media campaign and a comprehensive sustainability plan that will promote this model for replication nationally and internationally.  Our list of enthusiastic endorsements from around the country continues to grow, as evidenced in Commissioner Gendron’s letter.

This is a long held dream of ours. After years of talking about the importance of all the individuals who contribute to educating our kids, we called together a focus group of teachers, social workers, administrators, media experts and child advocates to ask how we could best honor the over 41,000 School People in Maine. We wanted to be inclusive, recognizing the crossing guard, cafeteria worker, librarian, ed tech, coach, secretary, social worker, speech therapist, nurse, custodian - everyone who contributes to the educational experience of every child. We wanted each of these people, as well as the teachers and administrators, to be reminded that their professional and personal commitment is essential to the well being of our children.  This group affirmed i’monair’s commitment to make a Celebrate School People project come to be.  

In our enthusiasm to do this, we rented the Augusta Civic Center, not knowing exactly how this would happen. We know now.  We have invited representatives from the full spectrum of the school community comprising all of Maine’s 809 schools. Make it fun. Honor all the participants with incredible music, delicious food treats, and unexpected, heartfelt messages of appreciation delivered by videotape and in person from surprise guests.  Say Thank You for all they give of themselves, every day, for the children. It is of necessity that we tell School People how we feel, and we want to do it in a festive, honoring atmosphere that will have lasting effects.

So we begin.  With the enthusiastic support of Commissioner Sue Gendron and First Lady Karen Baldacci, Celebrate ME will launch this project on May 15th at the Blaine House.  We will announce a multi-tiered media campaign comprised of television, radio and newspaper spots that highlight the stories of School People in Maine. The formal program for the October grand event, which will have 4,000 participants, will be comprised of the voices and sentiments of the public acknowledging the enduring gifts of extraordinary School People.  Celebrities and special guests will share the stage with children and grownups performing.  There will be plenty of surprises.  Cameras crews and photographers will be capturing the faces of the celebrants on this memorable day.

Following the October event, a resource guide will be created and distributed through workshops and trainings in Maine and beyond.  A videotape library of interviews by voices from across the country will be assembled and available. And a symbolic gift will be presented to each school building in Maine that will be embossed with the slogan, I Matter, as a constant reminder to School People that the work they do is valued and appreciated.  It is our further hope that this project will be the first of a trilogy:  celebrating school people; parents/community; and children.

We have attached a brief summary of the Five Components of the Celebrate School People project.  What we ask of you, and hope you will freely give, is your full support of this initiative.  Your personal endorsement will be the first statement of appreciation, echoed thereafter by officials, celebrities, past and current students, neighbors and others throughout the campaign. 

Here are the steps ahead:

  1. Approximately 40 School People have been selected as Ambassadors to launch this campaign. They were chosen as part of an intentional matrix to reflect the diversity of school sizes and locations. Every county in Maine will be represented. Those 40 persons will receive a formal invitation sometime in the next two weeks.  They will be asked to come to the Blaine House on May 15th for a 2:00 p.m. Kickoff Tea.  Your support in releasing them from their duties, for this day, is key to its success.
  2. The names of the over 41,000 Maine School People will be placed in a statewide lottery to be held in early September.  Every staff person, including central office staff from your respective districts will be part of that lottery.  Names will be drawn at every school, at the same time, on a date that will be widely advertised.  We anticipate excellent media coverage.  Eight names from each school will be drawn; four as guests, four as runner-ups. The first four persons will be invited to attend the October 18th event at the Augusta Civic Center from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.  Again, your support and cooperation is key.  They will be representing all the School People in your buildings. We are also inviting every local school community to demonstrate their appreciation in creative and fun filled ways to show support for the School People who are staying with the students on that day.
  3. At the October event, one school name will be drawn from a basket. That school community will be asked to host a live, on air production by i’monair, showcasing their school community. The date of this filming will be negotiated with the principal, and scheduled for a mutually suitable time.  If your school is chosen, we will be honored to work with you to feature the voices of your assembly and the special attributes of your extended neighborhood.

We realize that releasing people from your schools to attend this event requires planning.  The October celebration occurs early in the 2006/07 calendar year, which we hope will allow you ample time to make those arrangements. Our staff team will be happily available to work with the participants to help arrange event transportation and answer questions.

We would be delighted to answer any questions you have regarding any aspect of the Celebrate School People project.  We can be reached by phone at 799-4544, or by email at

Finally, thank you for all you do for our children.  We look forward to joining hands around the State of Maine in this celebration.  We know that if our School People feel appreciated for the work they do, it will directly benefit the children in their care.  We are overdue in thanking all School People for their ongoing devotion. It is of necessity.



Patsy Wiggins, Director Producer
Kathleen Alfiero, Executive Creator
Linda Hogan, Social Architect