Owen Logue, Executive Director
Hopefully, everyone had a wonderful time with family and friends over the recent Thanksgiving break. The school year is progressing well all around despite the number of vacancies that exist. Spirits remain high among staff.
One of the most pressing vacancies nationwide is the shortage of Teachers of the Deaf. It is estimated that nationally, 500 positions in this area will be unfilled. We are no exception here at MECDHH/GBSD with at least 4 vacant teaching positions. The Executive Director recently submitted a grant to the UNUM Charitable Foundation for a two-year proposal that would fully fund a cohort of six potential candidates to complete a two-year Masters in Deaf Education online program through Texas Woman’s University (TWU) out of Dallas, Texas. This grant would go to the Percival P. Baxter Foundation which would then pay the cost of each candidate. Due to the setup of the foundation candidates from outside of MECDHH/GBSD would be welcome to apply. Each candidate would have to be admitted to TWU, then undergo a selection process to select the top six candidate. If this program is funded and successful, a continuation of this concept would be sought for the next two years upon completion of first graduates.
We are still awaiting word on the request for supplemental budget specific to the Brewer Program. The State has a new Director of Special Education, Erin Frazier, who knows our programs. Hopefully, we will receive word on our status by January, 2020.
We are pursuing a partnership with Maine Behavioral Health to be the temporary site of their new initiative for pre-school children with autism. We will lease two classrooms to them while they complete a building project that is scheduled to be completed by August 2021. Aside from the revenue that will be acquired, this partnership will benefit deaf preschoolers that we aren’t able to serve. This new program will begin in January 2020.
We have selected Katie Duncan, to be our Maine Care Specialist. She will receive a stipend to coordinate our billing procedure as we believe that we are not recuperating funding that is rightfully ours.
Mainstream and Deaf Education ProgramsRebecca Falbo, Director
East End Community SchoolStudents are busily working on reading, writing, and math skills. Units include Ocean Zones, animals, buoyancy stem (salt vs. fresh water and how animals live in water), weather, changes of seasons, hibernation, study and importance of bees and telling time. Last evening EECS held another community dinner. We invited our parents to come 30 minutes early so that they could learn some signs and also community with their children through an interpreter.
In the latest school-wide rating of our programs, EECS public school teachers rated us as mostly 4s (good) and 5s (excellent)!
Lyman Moore Middle SchoolStudents are at the end of their first trimester. Testing has occurred in all classes. Lyman Moore students do not receive grades; rather, they are evaluated using the Habits of Work and Learning Standards (HOWLS) on a scale of 1-4, based on respect, responsibility, and perseverance. This has been a learning curve for our students. Fortunately, all of their teachers use the same language around the HOWLS so students are reminded during every class.
Portland High SchoolAnd the beat goes on. More classes, more testing! Three of our students recently attended the Junior National Association for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. They returned having developed some leadership skills. They recently served the Deaf Senior Citizens group at their annual Thanksgiving dinner. It was a wonderful community service activity.
Our teachers and Educational Technicians do more than teach. Here is picture of one of our boys learning how to tie a tie for a Thanksgiving event with his family. Learning never stops!
Statewide Education and Family ServicesKaren Hopkins, Director
The SES department continues to get referrals on a daily basis for all the services we provide birth to 21. It is wonderful to see how we are fully embedded into the IFSP and IEP process of Deaf and hard of hearing children statewide. This week we have a statewide meeting for all outreach staff. Staff will come to the island for a day of training on the IEP process and IEP services. This training will be conducted by our coordinators and led by our Special Education Specialist, Kristen Shorey.
With funds from the HRSA grant we were able to send three staff members to the Deaf Mentor training in Concord, New Hampshire. We now have 6 staff who are certified Deaf Mentors! This is wonderful to be able to provide qualified, trained staff to families who wish to learn ASL. This training is an intense four day training. Thank you to our staff for being willing to attend and become certified!
Maine will be represented at the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference again this year! HRSA Funds support attendance at this conference annually. Several presentations have been proposed and accepted and our programs will be highlighted throughout the conference! There will be presentations on our statewide model of newborn hearing screening into early intervention, our statewide Educational Audiology model and our Bilingual Bimodal preschool program. We will also be presenting on the transition to school age services, late identified children, and a new App that is being created for new families and physicians that work with deaf children! Presenters from Maine include, Katie Duncan, Karen Hopkins, Lori Levesque, Darlene Freeman, Dr. Duskha Thurston, Anne Banger and Roy Fowler. It will be a great way to highlight our programs that MECDHH and the HRSA grant are promoting and also learn from other states!
The preschool is re-designing its model a little to be able to include Special Education services for children that are Deaf Plus. This is very exciting as in the past we have not had the capability or expertise to be able to serve children with additional needs. Now that we have four teachers, we can have Steva Scarpelli work in the Special Ed capacity she was hired to do a few years ago. Kristen Shorey is supporting this effort from her Special Ed Specialist role. We are also working on a potential collaboration with Maine Behavioral Health to run a collaborative autism program which would have specific space for Deaf and hard of hearing children who have autism. Families are thrilled that we will be able to support more children!
The New Hampshire grant work is beginning! Karen will head to NH next week for a few days to work with Cheryl Deconde-Johnson and Anna Paulsen to plan for the work we will do both in NH and in Maine. It is exciting to think of the possibilities of a New England partnership and also a statewide model for K-12 outreach that will support more students and follow the National Deaf Education Guidelines.
Hands & Voices is hosting a Holiday Craft Fair this weekend!
Come to Mackworth Island and bring your family! Lots of crafts will be available to purchase for gifts and there will be lots of fun activities for the children, including a Signing Santa!
Come join us and support Hands & Voices!
Business Operations and HRCathy Murphy, Director
Business and Human ResourcesThe Business Office is gearing up for calendar year end reporting requirements; W-2’s, 1099’s, ACA forms, etc. I attended a Human Resource law seminar this past month which gave an overview of changes to certain federal and state employment laws.
FacilitiesDue to a transformer malfunction on Andrews Ave on November 25th (wind and rain event) the island had no power and pre-school was cancelled. The maintenance crew has been prepping the island for snow removal and has made needed repairs to our snow removal vehicles.
TechnologyRich has been busy planning for upgrades to our Microsoft Window machines as the current operating system we are on will no longer be supported. He is also in the process of moving the majority of our server’s offsite where they will be hosted by the associated software company