Career and Education Development
Andrea Levinsky is the Extended Learning Opportunities Coordinator at Portland High School and is working with 40 students in credit-bearing internship placements to develop their career skills and customize career exploration based on their individual needs. Since the statewide shift to distance learning, Andrea has worked quickly and diligently to substitute the placed-based internships with virtual experiences. She is currently working with students individually to create end of the year assignments that reflect what each student wants to learn about. For example, one student who was interested in outdoor education, interviewed a staff member from the Chewonki Foundation. Andrea has also used online NEPRIS and Khan Academy as resources for students to learn about careers. She has set-up informational interviews for her students so they may learn about the training needed for different careers from current college students and industry professionals. All of Andrea’s students have learned about resume writing, cover letter writing, online job preference assessments, and identifying their values in relation to work.
Eliza is the Career Coordinator for Aspire Gorham, a partnership between Gorham Public Schools, JMG, and the MELMAC Education Foundation. Aspire Gorham works to encourage students of all ages to think about and plan for their futures. In this role, Eliza collects data on student career-interests, plans and facilitates a speaker series, coordinates career-focused field experiences, sets up job shadows, informational interviews, extended workplace learning experiences, and full-school career days. Examples of the positive impact these kinds of experiences can have for students include:
- a female student who was struggling in school discovered her interest in juvenile justice and law and was inspired to start a pre-law club and plan several exploration opportunities for fellow students including a trip to Long Creek, a visit to Maine School of Law, and a series of conversations with young lawyers. This gave her purpose and her performance in school dramatically improved.
- a male student who had told all his teachers that he planned not to pursue post-secondary training or work connected with a film producer who inspired him to get certification in sound and light management. He's employed and on his way to certification and financial independence!
During the shift to remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Eliza has taken much of this programming online by facilitating virtual career conversations, informational interviews, and engaging students in exploration using several online platforms.
Rick Wilson is the Director of Community Outreach at Brunswick High School. At the heart of his work is the cultivating of relationships that open doors for students to authentic workplace experiences as they follow their interests, expand the curriculum to the real world and acquire essential, complex skills, and knowledge by actively studying, collaborating, and doing in extended learning opportunities. With the recent COVID-19 requirements for all Maine schools to shift to remote learning, Rick’s commitment to cultivating relationships that open doors for students’ career exploration continues. Rick has pursued direct conversations with vendors of platforms for virtual job shadowing and is developing a contact management system all for the purpose of ensuring many onramps to authentic workplace experiences for students. Rick is also the current Co-chair of Community Coordinators Collaborative (C3). C3 is an organization comprised of education professionals working to support students in career exploration.
Karyn Bussell (Madison Area Memorial High School) is an exceptional health education teacher who genuinely cares about the well-being of her students and community. She has taught health education in this district for many years starting in the junior high school then moving to the high school; is a Maine HEPEC teacher leader; and serves on the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Executive Board. Karyn is a known volunteer in her schools and community helping individual students and groups succeed in all aspects of their lives. Last winter Karyn was given the Spirit Award by the Unified Basketball Team for her enthusiastic support! Professionally she shares knowledge and resources and helps build skills with colleagues and peers through local, regional and statewide professional development. Since the start of distance learning due to COVID-19 Karyn has continued to be a leader. She has participated in the DOE's Health Education and Physical Education Office Hour sessions sharing ideas, both hers and MSAD 59 leadership, for ensuring the safety and well-being of students and continuity of learning. Karyn was teaching suicide prevention unit when schools shifted to distance learning. She was committed to finding a way to complete the lessons knowing how important the knowledge and skills are for her students. As many of her students did not have internet access at the time she created take home packets using screenshots of resources and online materials to make the lessons accessible for all. A skilled user of technology including Google Classroom, Karyn has been able to complete the unit and offer new material to her students that engage them in learning. Karyn selflessly shared all of her suicide prevention materials with her colleagues across the state through the Maine DOE Continuity of Learning – Health Education webpage. Always available to her students to support them academically and personally during these challenging times, she also volunteers weekly for the district's breakfast/lunch program for students and families. An outstanding, shining star always!
MSAD #51 has worked hard to stay connected to families and students. They have created their own Continuity of Learning Website for parents. Here you can find staff members and families sharing videos of messages to one another, read-alouds, and pictures of what remote learning looks like in the Cumberland area. Also linked on this Continuity of Learning website, you can find each school’s individual link. Each school has shared assignments, links for student learning, and communications of updates for families. Live links are available as well as learning menus with responsibilities and possibilities to help support families and student learning. Tech support is available for staff and families. The Library is also linked and is sharing free downloadable e-book, audio books, and links to additional resources.
Christopher Araujo and Todd Papianou are phenomenal physical education (PE) teachers at Mountain Valley High School (RSU 10) and they are champions for PE amid COVID-19 and distance learning. They not only talk the talk, but through Zoom we know they walk the walk as well! Their enthusiasm, positivity, leadership, and advocacy for PE and wellness practices is appreciated by all. They encourage their students, colleagues and peers across the state during the DOE HE & PE Office Hours almost daily. They have adjusted their curriculum to offer a variety of opportunities for their students that are reasonable and doable at home including "quick hitters" to get students up and moving. These are on one of the many digital resources they have shared. They offer choices and cross disciplinary lessons such as linking literacy strategies to article reviews in combination with activity labs. Being very rural internet access is an issue for some of their students, so they offer low tech or no tech learning opportunities along with motivating apps, videos and website programs. Todd made a statement that will ring true for many, "digital citizenship is now classroom management." So, they use technology now to track student engagement and stay connected. Chris is recording lessons and positive, health-enhancing messages for his students daily. He is motivating his students first and foremost, to stay healthy, safe and hydrated. He willingly facilitated a session on apps, websites and technology for his peers during the HE & PE Office Hours. Todd promotes (and role models) activities that get students moving outside. He sought administrative approval to prepare his fleet of bicycles for his students to sign out and take home this spring. These men care about their colleagues as well. From the beginning of remote learning, every day they put a healthy activity video in their school’s staff folder to connect and with the hope to help them destress and get a little active. Todd and Chris both think outside of the box…gymnasium walls. Todd shared his outdoor education program during the Office Hours and ended with "My dream is an external classroom in the woods near a brook...a yurt with a path for classes to travel out to." These two educators are facing this distance learning experience as another adventure in life.
Abbie Whittier (Helen S. Dunn School/Greenbush) is using Google and Zoom technologies to stay connected with her colleagues, students, and their families. While acknowledging the difficult job ahead, her goal is “to have students feel connected and continue to learn in what is an unprecedented time.” Abbie is focusing on social studies instruction with her elementary students because “it is a great opportunity to integrate many subject areas, without overwhelming students.” She is utilizing current events to talk about scarcity (like toilet paper) or taking advantage of virtual field trips and lessons presented by museums like the Maine State Museum, or our bicentennial, gives us a chance to read, write, and talk about topics in our state's history, and today.
Anthony Feldpausch (Mt. Blue High School) is working to make sure that his students see themselves as part of a bigger historical experience as part of the distance learning activities for his class. To achieve this, Anthony set a goal to provide a way for students to think of themselves in a historical context and realize that their experiences will have value to future historian, regardless of access to technology or the Internet. His students are journaling to reflect on their actions in a productive way. Anthony has contacted state and local historical groups with the goal to archive these journals and make them available to the public.
Brandi LeRoy (Bangor High School) is working through the challenges of distance learning by supporting student learning through the use of ArcGIS online resources in her classroom. Brandi uses the US History and World Geography GeoInquiries as ways to make students look spatially at topics and her geography students have been looking at the COVID-19 Dashboard since January and they have continued to do so. With access to this type of information, Brandi’s students now they look at the data and ask bigger questions, such as what type of data and information is not included in this source. Story maps are also put onto Google classroom for her students as supplemental activities that allow for asynchronous student inquiry. Brandi says that, "GIS brings the world into the classroom and especially the remote classroom. You can see how events and topics are interconnected and understand how our world works a little better."
Craig Milledge (Mountain Valley Middle School/RSU 10) is working hard to keep providing learning for his students despite the challenges. With this in mind, he has sought out new ideas that help to make connections to what the students were already focusing on in his classroom. Craig has been using a variety of both state and national resources including the Maine State Museum, iCivics, and BrainPop to supplement student learning as part of student enrichment in social studies. In this new distance learning environment, Craig learned about Flipgrid in a MDOE Social Studies Office Hour and has integrated Flipgrid into his classroom. Through the use of short videos, Flipgrid allows Craig to share lessons with his students and to check their understanding when they produce their own videos in response.
As the wide variation of student access to internet and technology forces teachers to think deeply about their approaches to remote learning, Jenn (Ellsworth Elementary School) has become a leader in sharing the choice boards she has developed for her elementary students. While the use of choice boards was always a key component of her classroom, the flexibility of this educational resource has become apparent for both teachers and parents alike during these difficult times. As a member of the current teacher leader cohort, Jenn has worked to support teachers is the use of choice boards as part of an elementary cohort presentation, during a social studies office hour, and led a recent training highlighting Low Tech/No Tech educational supports.
Special Education Services
Katelyn Sorensen (Windham Middle School) is going above and beyond to make sure her students have access to high quality, comprehensive, and specially designed learning opportunities each and every day. As a special educator for 6th graders with Individualized Education Plans, Katelyn is no stranger to creating and delivering specially designed instruction for her students to help them close their achievement gap and remain connected and engaged in learning. A most recent example is her work with teaching students how to write a literary essay through the exceptional use of screencast software, Google Docs, Google Classroom, and Google Meets. Each day, Katelyn prepares a mini-lesson video highlighting just exactly what she wants her students to do, and she pairs that video with a specific exit ticket to check for understanding. Utilizing Google Meets appointments she facilitates 10 minute one-on-one check ins with each student to go over the video and check for understanding, further clarification, reteaching, and other modifications as needed. Then, through the use of carefully designed graphic organizers and step-by-step increments, she provides easy to use documents in the Google Classroom for students to attempt their work, and she gives timely feedback during 10-minute check in the following day. Ms. Sorensen demonstrates strong dedication to her students through effective use of technology in a time of uncertainty.
Visual and Performing Arts
Cory Bucknam has taught Visual Art at Brunswick Junior High School since 2005. She enjoys high levels of interest from her students, including those in her GT Art and Art Club offerings. In this time of remote/distance learning, Cory has served as a leader in the field, attending office hour sessions to share what she’s doing to provide for continuity of learning with her students while they’re apart. She is in constant pursuit of ways that she can creatively engage her students in making art at home, and this includes making instructional videos for her students to follow along... and this leads to great amusement by all when Cory’s cat, Nicky, takes a starring role! Although being an Art educator is her passion, Cory understands the need to connect with her students in a number of ways, specifically during this difficult emotional time for many statewide; this is why she has taken to some pretty serious baking projects that she shares with the kids. Cory’s spirit and her gentle way of making sure that each student feels a part of the collective is what makes her a special Arts educator during this time!
Rob Westerberg is a celebrated music educator throughout Maine and New England. Rob’s tenure at York includes an amazing choral ensemble legacy, as well as strong convictions that Performing Arts education should be (and, in fact, is) a graduation requirement for every graduating student in his school. Rob’s successes extend beyond what he’s doing with technology to continue to work with his students... Early on in this “new world” Rob realized that converting what he had been doing into something that is “meaningful but manageable” evolved into a weekly 1-hour Zoom meeting with colleagues from across Maine and in surrounding states (participants from NH and PA as well!) Rob quickly realized that his colleagues needed more support emotionally and not as much procedurally or pedagogically – this spawned sessions that have included social-emotional learning specialists at the DOE as well as cathartic opportunities to help each other cope with the sense of loss that has settled in from this experience. Rob’s leadership has once again made him an incredibly valued member of his professional community.