Executive Director’s Report August 2019
How quickly the summer has flown by. I hope each board member had some time to spend with loved ones. MECDHH/GBSD has been extremely busy this summer as noted by the director’s reports.
As you are aware, we received $250,000 from the State to create a new regional program in the Brewer region. This funding created the potential of an additional five part- and full-time positions. At the board meeting, I will potentially announce a full slate of new employees to embark on this new and exciting venture. We are slowly but surely closing our current staffing needs. Nationwide, there is a dire shortage of Teachers of the Deaf (TOD). It is expected that this fall there will be as many as 500 vacancies for TOD!
Union negotiations for professional and support staffs have been progressing well. Cathy Murphy and Michael Pulsifer and I have worked well together to negotiate an equitable contract for all of our deserving staff members.
The new auditing firm Runyon Kersteen and Ouellette have been on Mackworth Island working with Cathy Murphy and staff. We look forward to their report. They will present their findings sometime this fall.
On July 22, 2019 Karen, Rebecca and OJ met with the Commissioner of Education’s Leadership team to discuss our activities of the last school year. We hope this will be the beginning of many such meetings to chart our future delivery system.
On August 7, 2019 we will be hosting our second annual Stakeholder’s meeting on Mackworth Island to discuss the strengths and weaknesses in our existing delivery system. This will also be our opportunity to begin a conversation around our vision for the future with regards to delivering Statewide services to our 800+ deaf and hard of hearing children and their families.
Mainstream and Deaf Education ProgramsRebecca Falbo, Director
Summer is flying by. We are busy putting together trainings for when staff return, updating files in anticipation of an audit this fall, and much, much more.
Rebecca attended a week-long School Law Institute with Drummond Woodsum, which will help with creating professional development for staff.
K-12 Portland Program
We have a robust Extended School Year on the island. Fourteen students, K-9th grade, have been attending. The emphasis is on reading, writing, and ASL. Students are learning through fun and engaging activities. Our older students spent time with our maintenance staff learning about a variety of projects around campus.
Last week, all of the students learned about reptiles. Herp Haven brought lizards, snakes, turtles, and more to our campus.
Statewide Education and Family ServicesKaren Hopkins, Director
Early Childhood and Family Services (ECFS)
Summer is in full swing and ECFS is seeing all parts of Maine in the summer! We continue to have ongoing as well as new referrals each week. Our community of practice is stretched very thin and our ECFS team is still short 3 positions statewide. As a result, we have for the first time really had to waitlist families and return quite a few referrals for services, as unmet needs. It is very discouraging to be not able to meet the needs of families statewide. We will continue to shift things around and do our best to find providers for these families and children. Unfortunately we have a critical shortage of qualified trained teachers of the Deaf and while waiting for applicants have lost others. It is a tough place to be as we begin to look at the school year services picking up again in another month. ECFS has always banded together and got the job done. We will continue to do the best we can with what we have!
Mackworth Island Preschool
Mackworth Island Preschool currently has an ESY enrollment of 17 children. Our typically hearing peers do not attend during the summer. We are running the program July 9 – August 1. Two of our academic year teachers are working, along with a few of our school year Ed Techs and a couple new faces.
Summer program on the island is always so much fun! We were lucky enough to get two brand new inflatable pools
that are huge and awesome! We also have a sprinkler and a slip and slide for outdoor water play. The team sets up center time outside each day, so children have options in addition to water play. They can build with blocks, use chalk, blow bubbles, read books, paint at the
We have been engaged in very fun units about sea creatures, the ocean, and the beach! We are so lucky to have all of those things here on the island to see first hand. The team is preparing to say a final goodbye to many of the children who will be off to Kindergarten in the fall. We were happy to have a few more weeks with them this summer! easel, or play in the sandbox.
Public School Outreach (PSO) July Updates
Currently; the department is ‘quiet,’ during the summer time with an exception of serving several local school district’s Extended School Year programs. One school district has a contract to use one of our Teacher of the Deaf to teach self-contained Deaf/Hard of Hearing students which is really special because the students in that class are experiencing a classroom with full access in communication and have other Deaf/Hard of Hearing peers.
The PSO and ECFS staff professional development-retreat on Mackworth Island on June 7th was a success—PSO staff have replied that they felt a stronger bonds and really optimistic for the upcoming academic year. During this retreat; we were able to reflect 2018-2019 academic year, discussed about some cases to share perspectives, learn how to collaborate more and communicate openly to receive support.
There is currently one position that need to be filled in; this is the joint ECFS-PSO position in the Midcoast region—this is a critical position to fill in as the staff in the Brewer office are already experiencing heavy caseload. We are exploring alternative options if we are not able to fill in this position by delegating caseloads among the Brewer and Falmouth PSO consultants.
PSO Student Online Tracking file system has been established and the department is starting to transfer information from our current hard copies data base — this system is anticipating a full activity beginning of the academic year. We are really excited to have this system as this will enable PSO consultants to have access to their students/school district via their Google Drive at any time rather than depending on the office to send them information.
Service requests for Academic Year 2019-2020 are coming on regular basis and many districts are starting to be familiar with the PSO Procedures as letters was distributed to them at the end of May/beginning of June. We are hoping to enable an online request system through PSO’s webpage on www.mecdhh.org before December 2019 to reduce paper consummation.
PSO acknowledge that there is a severity of transition supports for students in High School and we are exploring options/opportunities to ensure that the students are receiving guidance to post-secondary options. Please see the attached e-mail that a former student who was receiving PSO supports that reached out to see if he can maintain communication with a former consultant who made an impact on his life. This is a wonderful reminder why PSO consultants are very important for students in Maine and how MECDHH can be a life changing experience for students.
We recently had four participants in the Deaf Mentor training in NH! We now have two additional certified Deaf Mentors at MECDHH. This was a great collaborative effort with NH and Maine to ensure we are able to meet the needs of families that request ASL support for their family.