Empty Bowls fundraiser to be held at Messalonskee

Empty Bowls has been a fundraiser for several years at Messalonskee High School. The purpose of this project is to raise money for food pantries in our communities. It is also about raising awareness that many people are struggling to provide food for their families.

Students in pottery classes, faculty members, and people in the community have been crafting ceramic bowls under the direction of ceramics teacher Sherrie Damon, to be sold as part of the dinner. The bowls will be on display for diners to choose and take home after their meal as a reminder of the event and what is represents.

This year the Empty Bowls will be held on Friday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Messalonskee High School Cafeteria. Cost is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

The menu will include homemade soups, salads, rolls, drinks, and desserts. There will also be a raffle and prizes to give away.

Diners can complete the evening by attending Something Wicked This Way Comes, performed by the MHS Players. The show starts at 7 p.m.

For more information call Susan Perrino at 465-9135 or email sperrino@rsu18.org.

Instructional coaching important part of RSU #18

Instructional Coach Shelly Moody, left, works with fifth grade teachers Brianna Brockway, top left, and Alexandra Cotter on analyzing student data, reflecting on instructional practices, and determining interventions and goals for individual students. (Contributed photo)

by Mandi Favreau, Communication Coordinator RSU#18

Teaching is not for the faint of heart. As rewarding as the profession is, it can also be overwhelming to be the caretaker of dozens of young minds while juggling planning, assessments, and trying to keep up with the best new trends in curriculum within your classroom.

Enter the instructional coach. From analyzing student data to mentoring and planning professional development, these teacher leaders have a terrific positive impact on the schools they work in. “Our staff who fill these roles are the most talented, patient and invested individuals,” said Assistant Superintendent Keith Morin. “They make it their job to increase student achievement by working with incredible staff.”

RSU #18 has four instructional coaches – two at the elementary level and two at the middle school level. Shelly Moody covers Atwood and Williams as an instructional coach and Literacy Specialist while Pam Prescott works part-time with Belgrade Central. Jenny Barry is a part-time teacher/part-time coach for MMS while Dean of Students Meagan Murphy fulfills the instructional coach role at CMS. While a typical day looks a little different for each of them, the main focus of the position is always to support teachers around particular goals for student learning.

Coaches spend time in teachers’ classrooms at their request or based on coaching cycles. They offer feedback and support, present direct instruction to students or co-teach with the classroom teacher. They offer planning support, assist teachers in developing their SLOs and growth plans, and assist with the implementation of new curriculum. “Teachers have a place to go,” said Atwood Principal Jennifer McGee, “a non-evaluative and safe arena, to question, probe, analyze and improve the teaching practices they are delivering to children each day.”

Instructional coaches also work with students on reading and writing intervention.  “The best part of every day is the time I spend in classrooms collaborating with teachers,” said Shelly Moody. “There’s nothing better than watching students apply their strategies to solve math problems or sitting beside a student to conference on his/her reading or writing. As a classroom teacher, I was able to have an impact on 20 students during the school year.  In my role as an instructional coach, I’m able to support teachers in the growth of students in twenty-four classrooms.”

At the elementary levels, coaches facilitate weekly grade level meetings to help teachers examine data and plan across content areas. All of our instructional coaches help the administration make curriculum and instruction decisions based on student data and instructional practices. They also spend time developing and leading professional development focused on analyzing data, exploring instructional practices, and developing interventions. “Our instructional coaches ensure we have the best practices and most recent research regarding instructional practices in our teachers’ hands,” said Principal McGee. “They are always reaching out, to a broader state-wide and national platform, about best practices, and then bringing those back to our schoolhouses and classrooms.”

This year, RSU #18’s coaches have also been working closely with Assistant Superintendent Morin on supporting new teachers across the district. “This is new to our job,” said Jenny Barry, “and as far as I can tell it has been a wonderful addition to what we already do to support the teachers within our buildings.”

For each of these coaches, it’s hugely rewarding to be able to collaborate with and support other teachers. “My most favorite part of the job is when a teacher expresses their enthusiasm and excitement when they either try something new or focus on a particular strategy and see the success of it,” said Barry.

That’s key for all our coaches.  These are experienced educators who understand all the struggles that teachers face and want to use their expertise to help.

“After spending 35 years in the classroom, I am well aware of the precious little time teachers have to procure new resources, communicate with their colleagues and specialists, or talk with each other about curriculum, instruction, and interventions,” added Pam Prescott. “I love having the time and opportunity to make this happen. It benefits our entire school.”

Oak Grove School Foundation offers grants

The Oak Grove School Foundation is accepting applications for grants to support the education and cultural needs of students and non profit organizations in the greater Central Maine area.

Recipients must be educational, charitable or religious organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(30 Of the internal revenue service code.

Grant requests should be received by April 5, 2019. Funding decisions will be made in May and shortly after the funds will be distributed in July. Recent grants have ranged $500 – $5,000. The OGSF has also provided seed money for initiatives that last up to three years.

Groups interested in obtaining application forms and guidelines should contact Joann Clark Austin, Oak Grove School Foundation, P.O. Box 150 South China, ME 04358-0150 or Susan Briggs at briggsusan@gmail.com (https://sites.google.com/site/ogsfoundationorg/).

Kennebec County retired educators support classroom

Two teachers in Kennebec County were recently awarded $150 grants by the Kennebec Retired Educators Association (KREA) to supplement expenses for classroom projects. The recipients were Nathaniel Paine who teaches science and technology at Cony Middle School in Augusta and Sarah Lucas, a Grade 2 teacher at the Helen Thompson School in West Gardiner.

Paine proposed an inter-disciplinary project known as “Raspberry Pi” allows students to assemble the hardware of a computer and code in Python—one of the most widely used programming languages. He will collaborate with other seventh grade teachers—Mrs. Moore, Mr. Joyce, and Mr. Colburn.

He explains, “Our seventh grade team has structured time into our schedule for extension activities that encompass four major study areas—science, math, English language arts, and social studies. Raspberry Pi enables students to design and code computer programming to solve problems that integrate across our four subject areas.”

Ms. Lucas also plans to integrate interdisciplinary studies in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). “These projects encourage creative problem solving and innovative thinking as well as teamwork and communication skills. These skills translate into real life work environments where problem solving and teamwork are integral parts of the relevancy of the project.”

George Davis, of Skowhegan, KREA president and chairperson of the KREAtive Grant Committee, says, “We are committed to helping teachers and students in many ways—by substituting, volunteering, serving on Boards of Education, and undertaking projects to enhance the classroom experience.”

Other members of the KREAtive Grant Committee are Phil Gonyar and Carl Daiker, both of Waterville; Linda Ellis, of Clinton; Joann Tyler, of China; and Kay Grindall, of Oakland.

The Kennebec Retired Educators Association (KREA) is an affiliate of MEA-Retired and is comprised of retired educators from 60 schools in 31 cities and towns. Grant description and applications disseminated to every principal of all Kennebec County elementary, middle, and high schools in September of every year. The principals make them available to classroom teachers.

MDEA activates anonymous drug tip hotline

Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigations many times start with a tip from the public and now the agency has a new way for citizens to forward those tips, and do so anonymously. MDEA Director Roy McKinney said the agency gets an average of two dozen tips a month from concerned Maine citizens about suspected drug activity and many of those tips results in seizures of drugs and arrests.

Developed by tip411, the Maine DEA app is available for download free via the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, or by visiting the MDEA’s website at www.maine.gov/dps/mdea.

“Someone dies every day in Maine from a drug overdose and all communities are affected by drug use and abuse. Our partnering with tip411 brings a new investigate tool to forward information to us,” McKinney said.

The new Maine DEA app enables the public to share an anonymous tip with members of MDEA and allows agents to respond back for more information, all as an anonymous two-way conversation.

The Maine DEA app and tip411 texts utilize technology that removes all identifying information before agents see the tip, and there is no way to identify the sender.

Maine residents without a smartphone can also share information with MDEA by sending an anonymous text tip via their cell phone by texting keyword MDEA and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411). Anonymous web tips can also be submitted through the agency’s website.

MDEA’s telephones are another way to forward tips – the MDEA tip hotline – 800-452-6457, or an urgent tip can be phoned into the Maine Department of Public Safety’s communications center in Augusta – 800-452-4664.

BBBS recruiting new volunteers

Husson University student and Big Sister Mikhaila Necevski, left, and her Little Sister Savannah Dube enjoy coloring, making clay sculptures and playing jump rope as part of their new match through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine.

January is National Mentoring Month, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine is celebrating its mentors (Bigs) and recruiting new volunteers to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters to over 100 children waiting to be matched.

Every January, the news is full of the same stories of people trying to eat healthier or hit the gym more often. This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine (BBBSMM) is changing that story by asking: What if this year, you could resolve to do something more important, more impactful? What if you could make a resolution worth keeping, one that inspires more resolutions? In 2019, the agency is asking people to resolve to become a Big Brother or Big Sister.

“Bettering yourself in the new year is a great goal,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson, “and we know people are also thinking about how to better their community and how to make sure that when they reflect on the past year, they know they made a difference.”

According to Hudson, more than 100 youth in the agency’s 7-county service area from eastern and central Maine to the midcoast and Androscoggin County, are waiting to be matched with a mentor. “The only way to ensure they have someone to inspire them to reach their potential is for more adults to step up and volunteer to become Bigs,” she said, adding that becoming a mentor means committing to spending a couple of hours a week with a young person doing things that you love to do, like playing basketball, visiting the library, taking a walk or learning how to cook. “A small investment of time can have a big impact on a child.”

Community residents can learn more about local Littles waiting and how to become a mentor by following BBBS of Mid-Maine’s weekly “Waiting Wednesday” Facebook posts, sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets. Throughout the month, BBBS is encouraging followers to tag a friend who would be a great Big Brother or Big Sister, using the hashtag #TheBigResolution. To learn more about becoming a Big or other volunteer opportunities, visit bbbsmidmaine.org, email info@bbbsmidmaine.org or call 207-236-BBBS.

WGN back

Charter Communications director of government affairs Shelley Winchenbach, locally known as Spectrum, has reported that they have reached an agreement with Tribune Broadcasting to provide WGN America and multiple local ABC, CBS, FOX and CW, and digital multicast channel affiliate stations to customers. They announced that they have reached a fair agreement and appreciated subscribers’ support and patience.

CMYHA Tier III Squirt travel team

Members of the Central Maine Youth Hockey Association Squirt Tier III travel team include, front, left to right, Cody Sack, Caleb Morgan. Second row, Kash Pollard, Joshua Hitchings, Chase Sack, Peyton Gifford, Parker Doucette. Third row, William Owen Beale Tate, Grady Tibbetts, William Flood, Baylon Walther, Nolan Dow. Back, coaches Peter Sack, Peter Tibbetts and Kevin Pollard. (Photo by Central Maine Photography staff)

CMYHA Tier IV Squirt travel team

Members of the Central Maine Youth Hockey Association Squirt Tier IV travel team include, front, left to right, Liam Hague and Corey Scott Jr., Second row, Conner Mushero, Lucas Churchill, Gavin Mushero, Caden Giroux, Chloe Scott and Kadence Fogg. Third row, Callum Goldsmith, Madelyn Martin, Lucas Fisher, Abigail Webb, Landen Parker and Johnathan Smith. Back, coaches Josh Giroux, Arthur Churchill and Ryan Parker. (Photo by Central Maine Photography staff)

Central Maine Squares to hold open house

Bob Brown, of Newport, president; Becky Potter, of Fairfield, treasurer; Jeff Howes, of Pittsfield, vice president and Karen Cunningham, of Pittsfield, secretary (Contributed photo)

On Tuesday, January 15, the Central Maine Square Dance Club of Watervillle will host an open house at their weekly workshop for the purpose of attracting new students for their beginner lessons of square dancing.

The club looks forward to doing this at this time of year because they know that the holidays are over and people are now looking for something to do. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house for a couple hours a week, do something fun and rewarding, meet new people, and get a little exercise at the same time.

Club president Bob Brown, of Newport, says it’s all very casual and low key. An evening of learning to square dance with your spouse, partner, or best friend is just what the doctor ordered. Getting another couple or two to join you only adds to the fun.

This night along with the following Tuesday night will be free for beginners and after that the cost is $5 per person per lesson. Much less than the cost of going to the movies. Also, due to the season everything is weather permitting. So, for more info, call Bob @ 447-0094 or Cindy @ 631-8816.