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For the past few months, the leadership team has been working with pro bono strategist, Mark Falbo.

Executive Director’s Report
November 1, 2018

For the past few months, the leadership team has been working with pro bono strategist, Mark Falbo. The intention is to present a first draft proposal of the strategic plan at the All Staff meeting on November 28th. In order to create a solid 3-year strategic plan, it is most likely that the final draft will be presented to the board during the February meeting.

Two Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) have been completed. The first with Maine Medical Center for required medical consultation services, and the second with Portland Public Schools. These are slow moving processes yet each equally important to have in place.

An administrative evaluation process is underway for two veteran administrators and will be completed prior to the December board meeting. In late Spring, the two remaining confidential employee evaluations will be completed.

During the past four weeks, The Executive Director has attended a number of meetings and conferences, mostly in Maine, which include: MSMA Superintendent’s conference and MADSEC (Special Education) conference. On October 11-12th, he attended the COPSD held at Isola Bella Camp (American School for the Deaf summer camp location) located in Taconic, Connecticut. This latter group comprises many influential Deaf leaders from Pennsylvania to Maine. The take away from these conferences is that Maine is held in high esteem.

As you are well aware, Jason White resigned from the board and his position as Chair. In his resignation letter, Jason cites increased work and family demands as the reason for his resignation. We are grateful for his seven years of service on the board and, for the past year, assuming the position as chair of the board. We wish him and his family the very best. Terry Morrell will assume the role of interim chair for the upcoming board meeting. Terry wishes to remain in his current role as Vice Chair thereafter. Nominations for the next Chair will be sought at the November meeting.

Terry Morrell and Michelle Ames (policy subcommittee) have been working with the Executive Director to update policies. In the upcoming meeting, we will conduct a second reading for the initial policy then review ten revised policies for the initial first reading. It is hoped that between 10-15 policies will be presented each month. Going forward drafts of policies will highlight changes made to the original document. The current drafts include handwritten edits to the original policies.


Statewide Education and Family Services

The Statewide Education and Family Services Department has been extremely busy this past month. It is hard to believe we are into November already! Our staff are working hard to be out supporting students, teachers and families. Karen had the opportunity to be on the road with some of the PSO consultants this month and is looking at ways to add more support and direct service delivery to the services we provide. There are many deaf and hard of hearing students throughout the state that are getting wonderful support from our staff, but we continue to look at ways to meet their social, emotional, and language needs that may not be getting the attention needed in the mainstream.

Cathy Glover, from our ECFS department, Lori Levesque, from Preschool, Donna Casavant, from Public School Outreach, and Casey Etter, from East End Community School all attended the Clarke School Mainstream Conference. It was good to have representation at this conference and all reported they learned a lot!

Karen Hopkins and Cathy Lushman attended a LEAD K training on Oct 26th and 27th to look at ways to firm up our MOU with CDS and propose to the legislature to become law. We are working with Darlene Freeman from Hands & Voices to gather feedback from families and professionals in a variety of areas and one area we are looking at is language acquisition and Kindergarten readiness. We will be creating a new committee to oversee this work and also be able to support ongoing monitoring of outcome data of deaf and hard of hearing children in Maine.

ECFS has been actively entering child and family data and service logs into the CINC database. This is time consuming for our staff, but allows for a higher level of accountability and transparency of service provision. It is also where we approve our staff work and invoice CDS for the work completed. ECFS has been looking at our statewide service delivery to ensure we are providing consistent information statewide. Our staff have been doing such a great job in supporting families and ensuring that all needs for 0-5 year olds are met in a timely manner.

Karen Hopkins has been meeting with regional MADSEC groups to gather suggestions and collect feedback on our services. They have been most welcoming and offer great ideas. Karen has been stressing the need to follow the IEP process and take note of the "special considerations" section of the IEP which has specific focus on deaf and hard of hearing children. We will be providing training in some areas on this topic. We are doing a lot of work in the PSO department to update forms, train staff and look at ways to ensure we are serving the most kids possible.

Karen Hopkins is working with the Augusta area Special Education Directors to write a grant that will support our Regionalization efforts. The directors were very supportive and excited to be collaborating in this manner. The grant is due on November 7th and we will keep you updated on this progress.

We have a few new students starting in preschool in the next couple of months. It’s always nice to see numbers grow in our programs and to know we are continuing to support their growth. Please feel free to contact Karen if you would like to set up a tour of our preschool program.

There has been a lot of work happening in the HRSA grant. We have been collaborating with EMMC to look at ways to support their hearing screening process and the follow up that happens through their audiology clinic. We have also been working with CDS to ensure children are enrolled in early intervention and analyzing any gaps we are finding. We finalized a roadmap for families for follow-up after screening, updated the new family resource binder, and are actively preparing for our annual Hands & Voices conference. If you haven't registered yet, please plan on registering and join us on November 16th in Augusta!

Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs

October has been a fun and busy month. Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that kids and staff get sick. It is wonderful to see staff supporting one another to ensure breaks and lunch. We have also been fortunate to have David Sherry, former Executive Director, as a substitute teacher on occasion.

East End Community School MECDHH staff have been working to group children so that their IEP and social needs are being met. Students are fortunate to have social peer groups with other Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.

I recently met with the EECS public school teachers who have our students in their classes.  They had many questions for me about how to teach and assess D(d)eaf children, how to use interpreters, and more. They each expressed thanks for all of the support that they receive from our staff. We plan to have regular meetings so that our students’ needs continue to be met.

Portland High School students just participated in the PSAT. They have also been busy in their classes at PHS and at Portland Arts and Technology High School. The coffee cart has been a great success, as well, and is good life-skills and pre-employment training for students.