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On August 23rd and 24th, our entire staff convened on Mackworth Island for a highly productive two days of required trainings.

Executive Director’s Report
September 6, 2018

It’s hard to believe how quickly this summer came and disappeared on us! On August 23rd and 24th, our entire staff convened on Mackworth Island for a highly productive two days of required trainings. Former Gallaudet University President, Dr. I. King Jordan, zoomed in on our final day together to provide an inspirational message to the entire staff. As you may know, he became the first Deaf president of not only Gallaudet but of any institution of higher education. He was not initially offered the job but after a lengthy student protest known as “Deaf President Now” the board rescinded their decision and offered him this position which he assumed for 19 years. Three of our staff members, Karen Hopkins, Matt Welch and Cathy Lushman, were part of the protest movement. It was very moving to have each greet Dr. King on camera.

Morrison Center has secured full staffing to operate the residential housing for four of our students. The students will arrive on September 3rd. We do have a capacity for 8 students. The new head of housing, Melinda “Mel” Stamp, is a GBSD alum with a strong background in residential programs as well as experience working with deaf adults. We look forward to partnering with the Morrison Center this coming year.

During the staff training week, Traci Drake, unveiled the Time Clock Plus product that will provide efficiency and accountability around payroll. This pertains to non-salaried personnel only. It was piloted by a small group of staff and now is in effect school wide and going well.

We received a few resignations late in the summer in the area of Public Outreach and Pre-school which is compounding our staff shortage in the area of statewide education and family services. We continue to search for candidates nationally. We are well aware that there will be challenges in meeting all the needs this coming year yet will work with our current staff to best address these pressing needs.

Jason and myself have been working with the Governor’s office to secure new members for the board. Several candidates were presented yet not accepted for various reasons. The good news is that three of our current board members have been reviewed and their terms continued. It appears that the governor’s office is not going to consider any further nominations for this year.

We continue to pursue future funding streams for the organization. On August 30th the leadership team conferenced via zoom with Cameron Crane the head of the Assessment Center at Ohio School for the Deaf. Cameron provided great insight in how their operation runs and offered up ideas on getting such a center up and running at GBSD. He will continue to be a great resource as we move to advance the concept of a one-stop one assessment center on Mackworth Island.

Despite all these challenges, I remain optimistic for the future of MECDHH not only because of our current staffing but for the support of our leadership team and school board alike.

Director of Statewide Education and Family Services, Karen Hopkins

The school year is getting off to a good start in the Statewide Education and Family Services Department.   ECFS and PSO met during the weeks of August 22nd and August 29th to look at new processes. Time was also spent focusing on our report forms for our consultative model. We had great training with Kristine Giles from Behavioral Health. She helped our team find their strengths for supporting families and offered resources for support as well. It was a good way to kick off the new year!

Our team also spent time discussing webinars. We have decided to focus on three webinars for the upcoming school year:

1.  ASL for Families Explained

2.  Myths about Deaf Children and Deaf Education

3.  What is a Teacher of the Deaf?

In ECFS, Karen has been busy preparing the new 2018-2019 contracts with CDS and with our Community of Practice contractors. Our early interventionists will adhere to the same contracts as our contractors. The ECFS staff have been seeing families and also getting their students set up in their new preschools. This team has worked VERY hard all summer!

The PSO team is looking at new processes, setting up contracts for direct service with school districts, providing in-services and beginning to see students that we have requests for! All staff have been extremely busy!

The preschool team is busy preparing for 26 students to arrive on September 4th. We had a session the week of August 29th with the hearing peers to explain our program, the cultural aspects of deafness, attention getting strategies, ASL, etc. They are ready to join their peers with a basic understanding of who we are. On Thursday, all students attended a fun-filled Open House! The kids love exploring their new classrooms and seeing old friends!

Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs, Rebecca Falbo

It has been a busy summer creating training programs for all MECDHH staff, providing ESY services for K-5 students on the island and for a high school student Down East. Teachers and staff are busily preparing their classrooms, offices, lesson plans, etc. for the start of school on Tuesday, September 4.  I am impressed with the teamwork and camaraderie of our staff.

Two teachers and two interpreters participated in a grant program “Teachers on the Estuary”. They traveled to Cape Cod, specifically the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, to learn how to teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing students about “watershed stewardship in action”. The team we sent learned new, conceptually accurate ASL vocabulary and had experiences in both the classroom and outdoors using science and engineering practices from the Next Generation Science Standards. This opportunity was made possible through funding from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and developed by researchers at the Boston University School of Education and The Center for Research and Training at The Learning Center for the Deaf.  Our teachers are excitedly planning lessons around watersheds and estuaries and hope to make a trip to two to the watershed in Wells.

We have 25 students to begin the year. East End Community School celebrated the upcoming school year with Popsicles in the Park. Our students’ teachers were there, as well as OJ, interpreters and me.  It was a fun, though hot (!) afternoon in a downtown park. On Tuesday, September 5, Portland High School will have an Open House for students. I am certain it will be equally as fun.

While we diligently search for an ASL teacher for Portland public schools’ students, Jonathan Connick has agreed to teach ASL to the PHS students. I will be teaching ASL to the middle school students at Lyman Moore Middle School. Feel free to drop in!

We are already off and running with student IEP meetings. I am looking forward to a training at the end of the month with other new Special Education Administrators in Maine.