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Happy New Year to everyone! How quickly this past year has come and gone. We have some exciting and important work to be completed in the coming year.

Executive Director’s Report

January 8, 2020

Happy New Year to everyone! How quickly this past year has come and gone. I look forward to the year ahead with the additional board members filling out our various vacancies. We have some exciting and important work to be completed in the coming year. Of utmost importance is Chapter 304 that desperately needs to be rewritten to reflect what MECDHH/GBSD can be responsible for while still meeting the diverse needs of our students throughout the State. We have the support of our local Representative Pierce and Senator Breen to co-write Chapter 304. Later this spring we will undertake our preparation for the next biannual request for FY 21-23.

  • Despite December being a relatively short work month, much was accomplished:
  • Great strides with updating our school board policies. At our next board meeting, we will present 7 new policies requiring approval;
  • Percival P. Baxter's Foundation has increased its membership and are planning a major appeal soon;
  • Representative Pierce met with the Leadership Team on December 3rd to discuss current concerns especially the need to rewrite Chapter 304;
  • Leadership Team met with Sarah Forster, Attorney General representative for MECDHH/GBSD, on December 18th to gain clarity on the process of rewriting Chapter 304;
  • On December 19th we hosted our second Special Education Director's Stakeholders meeting on Mackworth Island. Erin Frazier, Maine's new Director of Special Education, joined us for an engaging conversation on things we have done well as well as input from directors on what they desire from us.

Looking forward to a very productive year ahead for MECDHH/GBSD.

 

Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs
Rebecca Falbo, Director

East End Community School

Students started a unit on Landforms. They will be overlapping the study of our State's landforms
(mountains, rivers, lakes, islands,
capes, etc.) while studyingthe state of Maine itself: statehood, flag, flower, bird, fish, etc. They will also be creating a MECDHH
postcard to share in response to the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf fourth grade class letter with our own school/organization, our state flower, flag, bird, etc.

We look forward to sharing our design with you when we complete it!

Our students participate in EECS’s Rise and Shine program, where they can choose from a number of

When we return to school in January, we will have a new fourth-grade student from Sebago. We are looking forward to welcoming him into ourcommunity. activities that they wish to learn.  Hereare some photos from the program.

Lyman Moore Middle School
ASL I (for hearing children and one of our Deaf students) recently completed famous Deaf people reports. They learned a lot of animal, people, numbers,weather, and similar vocabulary words and incorporated related activities using ASL. The students are very curious, and would ask our student questions about ASL. Some LMMS students go to our GBSD classroom and ask for help with ASL homework assignments. This hasbeen a strong collaboration. It has made our program and ASL classes better than ever, according to teachers.

ASL II is very similar to ASL I except further ahead. Some students are beginning to sign sentences and stories in ASL. In January, the class will start a facial expression poster project.

Portland High School

Financial Literacy Class
The class has covered home and living budget planning. This is the foundation of the class. While learning about and discussing these topics, it became clearthat the students do not know the basics of finding a job. Thus, we took a brief detour. The three GBSD student in the class did a project on job searching, how to find job positions, writing a cover letter, completing applications, and practicing interviews. Falmouth Walmart was used for this project. They all did wonderful work and we had a lot of discussion in ASL covering lot of different scenarios.

The next topics the class will be working on:

  • Proper boundaries, personally and professionally
  • What harassment means and how it is handled

On the Friday before winter break, our GBSD students who attended the Junior National Association for the Deaf conference in Rochester, NY presented a program to our staff, students, parents, and visitors from Vocational Rehabilitation and Maine Behavioral Health.  They presented on leadership and other presentations that they attended while in Rochester.

ASL Classes at PHS
From Jonathan Connick, ASL Teacher: The PHS students recently completed signing ASL from sentences after covering the 5 parameters, handshapes, classifiers, facial expressions and things like this. We had in class tournaments where I would sign and they would write it down. Example: I was driving down the road enjoying the beautiful day then suddenly I saw a big fat moose on the field so I slammed the brakes so I could watch. (I included a little humor to add some spice to fun.) Each team would write them down and we would talk about how we could say in so many different ways and still talking about the same topic.

Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

 

Statewide Education and Family Services
Karen Hopkins, Director

The ECFS team has been working hard on embedding our Deaf early intervention process into the state’s Child Development Services process for new referrals. We will be creating a process document and training all staff in the process. Cathy Glover and Amy Spencer have been instrumental in this process. Cathy and Amy have been working on finalizing the Language Webs initially created by Amy that were fine-tuned and edited by our ECFS team. We are in process of having them professionally designed with funds from the HRSA Grant. The Language Webs will be used when explaining the importance of language development and communication opportunities for supporting language growth for Deaf and hard of hearing children to families.

The Kindergarten Readiness Task Force held its first meeting December 20th and is moving forward to establish a tool for assessing the language development of Deaf and hard of hearing children ages 0-5 years old. Karen Hopkins, Katie Duncan and Cathy Lushman are on this task force and are excited to support this work.

Kristen Shorey and Katie Duncan are supporting the work of the DHHS CMV Task force (Cytomegalovirus: cdc.gov/cmv/overview.html) to look at ways to provide screening and education on CMV in Maine.

The ECFS and PSO teams have been meeting monthly together and are focusing on improving the skills of our team in various areas. Most recently we have been training on the IEP process. This has been a great way for our team to support each other and learn from each other.

Preschool
Preschool is happy to be back after our winter break! This month, our curriculum focuses on winter, wind, and weather. We were so glad we had snow to put in our sensory tables this week!

We are also growing our sub list, which is great. We still have some permanent positions open for Ed Techs both full and part time. Two new children started preschool on January 2nd bringing our enrollment to 27 children at this time. There are at least two more children in the pipeline to enroll soon!

As the new semester gets under way, we anticipate having some volunteers joining us from the interpreting and linguistics programs at the University of Southern Maine. They are fun to have around and many end up becoming substitutes ¾ and sometimes even Ed Techs ¾  for us, which is always a need!

The team continues to work on keeping up with our NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation. Most of the entire team is new since earning the original accreditation 2 years ago. We will also be having a state of Maine licensing visit in the next few months. The teachers are working to put together assessment videos and documentation for each child. It’s exciting to see the tremendous amount of progress children make in this program in just 2 or 3 years.