June 16, 2020Executive Director’s ReportOwen J. Logue
What a whirlwind month it has been and yet filled with so many exciting events! At the upcoming board meeting, I will be presenting several key personnel to fill vacancies due to retirement. First, we have Phil Sleeper who will be joining us July 1st to assume the position of Maintenance Supervisor to replace Bill Rix. Phil comes to us with a wealth of experience in all aspects of maintenance. Second, Kim Matthews will be assuming Rebecca Falbo's position as our new Director of Mainstream and Deaf Education. Kim has worked for MECDHH/GBSD for over 10 years and is currently a PSO/ECFS Teacher of the Deaf (Public School Outreach/Early Childhood and Family Services). She is an excellent fit for our organizational needs. We greatly appreciate the contribution of both Bill and Rebecca, they will be sorely missed. Searches are also underway to replace two additional retirees, Doreen Spears, Human Resource Generalist and Theresa Rouleau, Accountant III. More than 50 years of combined dedicated service have been rendered by these two individuals. I have enjoyed my daily interactions with each while working in the mansion.
Rebecca Falbo had lead the effort to create the new Host Family concept. We were very pleased to have two applicant families and final interviews are underway. We fully expect to share the final selection at our next board meeting. Jenn McCann is serving as our consultant and the liason between families, students and MECDHH/GBSD.
Karen Hopkins, Terry Morell and I have been involved at the state level with multiple agencies and the University of Maine to create a meaningful strategy to acquire the appropriate PPE devices for not only our classroom teachers, but students and the deaf community as well. We have agreed to pilot different products and offer specific recommendations around the design features needed. I am also involved at the national level, monitoring what other deaf schools are doing with regards to PPEs. This coordinated effort is crucial to ensure high quality products and affordability.
Members of the Leadership Team have attended zoom sessions with state and national entities to determine the best strategy around reentry to school. At this time no clear guidance from Maine's Department of Education has been offered as to whether we will be able to offer face-to-face instruction or continue instruction virtually. All Extended School Year (ESY) services will be offered virtually.
On June 3rd, a virtual graduation was held for our four seniors. Despite the complexity of pulling this off, it went exceedingly well with multiple staff members, community members, and interpreters participating. The graduates looked terrific in their caps and gowns. Marena Thompson, our school board representative, was presented the John L. Hawkes Family Award for $17,500 toward her full tuition cost to attend National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in the fall of 2020 to study Design and Imaging Technology in Visual Communication Studies. Anna sent each graduate a note of congratulations included in a gift bag from MECDHH/GBSD. Congratulations to not only our graduates, but also to their parents and our incredibly dedicated staff!
Mainstream and Deaf Education Programs Rebecca Falbo, Director
K-12 staff continue to offer virtual schooling. All Portland Public Schools had their last day on May 29. This week and next week are called “Sun School” and are being used for students to catch up on any work that has not been completed. Rebecca is still trying to get access to two of our Portland residents. She has been going into their homes (masked and practicing social distancing) to help parents with helping their children get online.
Extended School Year (ESY) will also be offered virtually during the month of July. Sadly, several parents are asking to have their children be excused from ESY because it is too difficult for the parents.
Three seniors will be graduating on Wednesday, June 3. PHS/GBSD staff will be doing individual zoom graduations. We had GBSD yard signs made in addition to the PHS signs, as we want our students to remember their roots in GBSD.
Our enrollment will be down for the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year. We anticipate having 6 high school students. No new students are expected for the high school at this time. Our good news is that we have had two applicants for the host family program! This program should be a financial savings over contracting with a company for a dormitory. I expect that our two high school students, who will be using this program, will enjoy it much more than they did living in the dorm.
One elementary school student will be moving to Lyman Moore Middle School in the fall. We will have a total of 4 students at LMMS next school year.
East End Community School is expected to have 11 of our current students plus 2 possible kindergartners.
We are certainly hoping that we meet in person as soon as is safely possible.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve MECDHH/GBSD. It has been my honor.
Sincerely, Rebecca Falbo
Operations and Human ResourcesCathy Murphy, Director
Business and Human Resources
The Business Office Staff in now back in the office full-time which is in line with Governor Mills’ Phase 2 opening schedule. We have a considerable amount of work needed to close out the current year, start the new year, and prepare for the audit which will run the entire week of July 20th. We do not know yet if the audit will be virtual or in person – it will certainly add some complexity if it is virtual. We continue to increase the efficient use of our Accounting software. This year we will send contracts to staff via our Human Resource module and they will be able to accept contracts electronically. A shift towards paperless Human Resource and Payroll will reduce costs, save valuable time, and is better for our environment. I am currently interviewing candidates for our Payroll and our Accountant III positions.
Rich Foisy is still immersed in the constant flow of requests for assisting our staff with distance learning;
Distance Learning: connected staff with zoom accounts, PPS Google classrooms, Google meet, and transitioned to remote access of on-site apps. He is also preparing for the year-end collection of technology, and at the same time gearing up for the arrival of new staff this summer and fall.
We have hired Philip Sleeper as our Maintenance Supervisor with a start date of July 1st. Phil comes to us with over 20 years of experience in maintenance and supervision. His most recent position was Maintenance Supervisor at Camp Sebago, where he served faithfully for almost twenty years. We included many of the current maintenance crew in the hiring process, and they are thrilled with the skill level that Phil will bring to the department.
Our maintenance crew are also now back on the island full-time. The State Park is open and therefore the gate at the end of Andrews Avenue is now open 24/7. While our staff was working from home they were able to participate in virtual learning labs provided by MEMIC, our workers comp carrier. We were able to address many needed upgrades/maintenance projects such as tree removal, deep cleaning of our facilities, HVAC systems maintenance and control upgrades. Also, the water damage in the mansion has been repaired and re-construction and painting are nearing completion.
Staff have graciously accepted an offer to come and help us weed and clean gardens as, for obvious reasons, we are behind this spring.
Statewide Education and Family ServicesKaren Hopkins, Director
Early Childhood and Family Services
ECFS continued providing virtual support to children and families during May. Consultants offered coaching, consultation, ASL support and training, and specially designed instruction using virtual platforms including Zoom, Google Hangouts, YouTube, FaceTime, cell phone calls/texts, and paper resources. Special emphasis continued on providing parents and children support using the media with which families are most comfortable. For some families, ECFS support consisted of simple check-ins and shared links and resources. For some, teleservice was a possibility. Some children or families accessed only a few minutes of screen service at a time, and some were able to engage in their regularly planned service. Families seemed comfortable asking for the services that meet their needs. Consultants completed eligibility observations, evaluations and assessments in collaboration with other CDS team members. Consultants met with parents of newly referred infants and are beginning the initial process of exploring communication options. Several consultants also participated in a Zoom meeting with internationally renowned researcher Robin McWilliam who developed the Routines Based Intervention Model that serves as the core of our Birth to three coaching model.
Consultants made almost 400 entries in Part C and B service logs for a total of over 195 hours of direct service, consultation, and coaching to families.
Here are just a few specific details:
Mackworth Island Preschool
Preschool continues to offer virtual sessions with children in light of the school closure. The teachers and therapists have really come up with some creative ways to stay connected and engaged with children and families. This week we are learning about seeds, flowers, veggies, and fruit! We continue to use Flip Grid to pose questions to the children in video format both in spoken language and ASL. The children and preschool team are having fun recording their video responses!
We are holding morning meeting sessions in each “classroom” as well as 1:1 sessions with classroom teachers, therapists, and some special sessions with our Ed Techs. The Ed Tech sessions are: Get Up and Move, Science, Cooking, The Pickle and Olive Show (Miss Marsha’s cats), and Show and Tell. They are a great opportunity for the children to be together in a more informal way and just talk with each other while doing a fun activity. We also added some small group lunch bunch sessions with Miss Steva and Miss Emily. The teachers, with the help of the Ed Techs, are also recording storybook readings in both languages and we are sending those home to families each week, too.
Our enrollment is now at 28, with 20 Deaf and Hard of Hearing friends and 8 hearing peers. We miss seeing them on island every day, but are really impressed with how quickly they have taken to the online format of instruction.
We are almost finished with Kindergarten transition meetings and are very busy preparing for our drive by graduation celebration on 6/18 at 4:00 and end of the year projects!
Public School Outreach
PSO consultants have been working hard from home; providing more consultations for families to provide better access for their children, specially designed instructions (SDI) and taking a variety of professional development trainings.
The majority of Maine’s Public Schools end on May 29th or June 5th — however several school districts are providing additional opportunities for students who may be struggling academically or receiving special education services that will go on until June 11th. Our consultants have communicated with families and school districts that we will continue with our consulting or SDI until June 18th — up to this point; only few families and school district have accepted this offer.
In the two weeks when services are expected to be less busy; the PSO team has scheduled online ZOOM training sessions provided by our own consultants sharing their learning from their professional development or online advanced certification workshops. During the online ZOOM session; the consultants will share materials/resources related to what they have learned in the past three months — we are hoping to utilize this new knowledge in the upcoming Academic Year.
Virtual Kids Like Me program has been very popular with PSO students statewide and Patricia Cook has done phenomenal job offering a variety of Deaf/Hard of Hearing community members and creative games! This program will end on June 18th and we are looking forward to see what Fall has for this program. PSO want to wish Patricia Cook an amazing retirement and we are looking forward to having her to join future KLM programs as a volunteer—we will miss her positive presence around the island!
The PSO ASL Specialist has been doing an outstanding job of providing community ASL class in the past two months and saw increased participation from parents/families, students, and a variety of school personnel who work with D/HH students. Please visit https://www.mecdhh.org/resources/asl-families to view the wonderful videos that were created by Emily Blachly!
Summer Transition Program preparation has been amazing with the collaboration between Maine Vocational Rehabilitation, Disability Rights Maine, Maine Behavioral and Healthcare, All Together Now NH, and several agencies from New Hampshire. The registration website has been established (https://tinyurl.com/yb7yrupr)
The team has recently decided to allow any current High School student and students that have recently graduated to register for this program. If a large number of applications are received, Juniors/Seniors will have priority. We are working on finalizing the learning modules that will be used this summer.
We have received some requests for Extended School Year services for the following services:
Several families have expressed they will not be accessing extended school year services due to the extensive virtual learning time they have experienced already this year. We continue to accept requests as needed.
Brewer Regional Program
This new program has been a successful pilot this year! Serving 17 students, our team has worked collaboratively with the Brewer School Department to meet the needs of the Deaf and hard of hearing students in this school district and region. Our teachers of the deaf and Ed Tech., supported students in their mainstream classes, as well as in our Deaf education classroom. We provided ASL Support and spoken language services to those students with these services on their IEPs. We will be providing ESY services to students in the Brewer program and return in the fall ready to continue our collaboration with Brewer.
The SEFS Department would like to thank the School Board members and the Leadership Team for their ongoing support with this department as it has been an unique ending for 2019-2020 academic year — we are looking forward to an exciting 2020-2021 School Year!