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There has  been much activity and energy on Mackworth Island as preparations are underway for the annual Deaf Culture Festival on Saturday September 28th, and for the dedication of the re-opening of the Museum on September 27th.

Executive Director’s Report
October 3, 2019

There has  been much activity and energy on Mackworth Island as preparations are underway for the annual Deaf Culture Festival on Saturday September 28th, and for the dedication of the re-opening of the Museum on September 27th. The Museum is wonderfully designed and extremely informative. We cannot wait for the board to see it.

The Executive Director hosted a special luncheon for eleven members of the class of 1959 for their 60th class reunion. It has been exciting to see such vibrancy around the Deaf Community to returning to their second home here on Mackworth Island.

Much progress has been made toward making Building C, home of Disability Rights of Maine, accessible. Recently, paving was completed and the accessible bathroom is nearly finished. We look forward to celebrating with DRM the completion of this project. We have enjoyed our partnership with them, along with Hear Me Now and Maine’s Office of Instructional Technology.

The Executive Director recently attended a fall retreat hosted by the Coalition of Private Schools for the Deaf spending time with eleven other Deaf School Administrators. The site of the retreat was at Camp Isola Bella owned by the American School for the Deaf. One of our student from East End Community School attended this camp last summer. It is exciting to share the work we are doing and to gain knowledge and insight from other Deaf School administrators. We are definitely respected throughout the country for our accomplishments.

Recently, I informed the board of unforeseen challenges around the creation of the new regional program in Brewer. We were granted an opportunity to submit a supplemental budget  to the Department of Education. This funding will ease the financial pressure of this new program and allow us the time to rewrite Chapter 304 and construct a more accurate budget beyond Fiscal year 2021.

Statewide Education and Family Services
Karen Hopkins, Director
Early Childhood and Family Services

The ECFS team has been working exceptionally hard given that we have three open positions. We are doing our best to meet the needs statewide. We are thankful that we have Community of Practice contractors that we can use to support family need. We are working on formalizing our early communication options process and also working with a new database to ensre we have  documentation on the referrals we are receiving and sending out.

The Parent infant Program  is in its first 8-week session. In this program we have a Deaf Mentor and an Speech Language Pathologist/Teacher of the Deaf co-teach and facilitate play with the children and their families. This program is bvased on the families routines and allows for communication and language exploration.

We are having success with our Deaf staff providing ASL instruction via Zoom to families statewide.   Famiies are so fortunate when they learn ASL from a Deaf mentor. We are fortunate to have added two more certified Deaf Mentors to our team.

Kristen Shorey is doing a great job in her new role as Special Education Specailist.  She is building capacity with our staff to support the needs of our Deaf/Blind and Deaf Plus students. She is supporting The Morrison Development Center and the Mackworth Isalnd Preschool Program as well.

Mackworth Island Preschool

Preschool has been busy the last few weeks transitioning to the start of the school year.  We started the first day with 20 children enrolled and are now already up to 25 attending with a few more children on the horizon to enroll soon. We have quite a few children who are attending preschool for the first time and they are doing a great job settling in.

We have an incredible team of teachers, therapists, and ed techs this year who have made the start of the year run very smoothly.  The teachers are focused on establishing routines, encouraging new friendships, and building a sense of community. We still have three full-time ed tech positions and one classroom teacher position open at this time. Luckily, we have some great substitute teachers who are filling in for us. If you know anyone looking for employment with this kind of work, please encourage him or her to apply. Stop by and see some of the preschoolerís artwork that is being put up in the hallways!

The preschoolers also showed their artwork by making a beautiful banner for the Deaf Culture Festival this weekend! This banner will be the first thing particpants see when they arrive at the festival!

Karen Hopkins  recently attended the CEASD Leadership Aacdemy at Camp Isola Bealla in Conn. This was a great opportunity to connect with other school administrators and work on various strategies to improve our organization. She then attended the Hands &Voices Leadership Conference as part of the HRSA Grant requireents. These conferences allow us to showcase our programs and learn from others to improve services for our children and families in Maine.

Public School Outreach
Kevin Bohlin, Coordinator

  • Currently; the department is busy with re-organizing with assigning Teacher of the Deaf-Consultants to their regions and we are continuing receiving more requests for: Observation-Consulting, Function Listening Evaluation, ASL Supports and to participate students’ IEP or 504 meeting. The good thing about receiving requests from school districts is that they know who to reach out, completing required paperwork and be in constant communication with us to ensure that we all are on the same page.
  • PSO is experiencing staff shortage but everybody in this department has been doing wonderful work to ensure that students are receiving services and covering areas that are impact by this staff shortage. We are currently looking for Speech Language Pathologist.
  • PSO and ECFS continues to work together closely — staff have been reporting that they are enjoying the concept that we are becoming “one department,” with an exception that we are working with different age groups.
  • Kids Like Me will continue to have weekly programs at different schools around the state so younger children will have opportunities to socialize with their Deaf/Hard of Hearing peers from different schools, learn more about their identity and how to advocate for themselves. The KLM weekend program for the older students will happen again this year on: October 25th & 26th, February 7th & 8th, and May 15th & 16th.

Business Operations and HR
Cathy Murphy, Director

Business and Human Resources

In October all staff will begin using an online leave program which will enable a more streamlined process for recording and tracking leave and will allow employees easy access to leave balances. During leadership team meetings we have discussed the current year’s budget and strategies to deal with unanticipated expenditures.

Facilities

The maintenance crew has been very busy preparing the grounds for the Deaf Culture Festival and supporting the Deaf Senior group with completion of the museum. Work continues on the Disability Rights Maine building and the pavers were here the week of September 26th to complete ADA upgrades to the parking lot. The Maine State Bureau of Parks and Recreation and the Conservation Corp made improvements to the trail system around the island. They also installed more signs along the trail to assist hikers with staying on the trail and identifying points of interest such as Governor Baxter’s pet cemetery and the fairy house forest area.

Technology

Rich has been instrumental in the implementation of the online leave program mentioned above. He continues to service our hardware and software and provide support for all of our staff’s technology questions and needs.

Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs
Rebecca Falbo, Director

East End Elementary School

We are in the process of changing our approach to teaching, in part because many of our children are not understanding what is being taught in the mainstream and, in part, because we are short-staffed. That being said, there are many wonderful things happening at EECS. Our new approach will be Montessori-like in that students will be able to have small group lessons followed up by centers that relate to the lesson or other skills that students are learning. We hope to be up and running with this in a week or two

The public-school teachers appear to be working well with our staff, and vice versa. Boyd Marley, principal at EECS, has created a survey that he gives to all of his teachers, rating how we are doing.  He will be sharing the results of the September survey to the whole school on Wednesday, October 2.

Lyman Moore Middle School

We have three students, one teacher, and one educational technician at LMMS.  LMME has “houses” to which students are assigned.  Ironically, our students are in the Baxter house!  The students have taught all of their teachers about the difference between Baxter School for the Deaf and the Baxter house.

One student has joined the cross-country team and another student has joined the tennis team.  The students are fitting in well with their peers. Our teacher, Peggy Levy, actually runs with our CC student – and enjoys it!

Portland High School

We have three seniors this year.  One is planning to go to NTID. Two others are working toward a career; one in marine repairs and the other in auto support.  Our junior is at PATHS learning about culinary.  Our two sophomores are very busy in their classes. Our three freshmen, two of whom are new, are getting accustomed to high school.  It has been a very busy start of the school year.

Many of our high school students went to Augusta on September 19th for the annual Deaf Tea. Our senior girl won the Citizenship Youth Award! This same student is the President of Jr. NAD.  Governor Mills was there and greeted our students.