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Staff & Community Newsletter - Feb 8, 2024

Charting a Course for a High School of the Future

Portland has two amazing opportunities in 2024 to apply for funds through the Maine Department of Education to reimagine and consolidate our high schools, our career and technical high school (PATHS), Portland Adult Education, and post-secondary partnerships into a cutting edge, 9-16 learning environment on one campus. This new campus would offer exciting opportunities for Portland students. 

We recognize that students, staff, alumni, and community members love our schools and feel a deep loyalty to each one. We understand that the idea of merging them into one or several new academies on one campus may evoke a sense of loss. However, our plan calls for honoring each school’s legacy by building on the strengths of each to create a high school learning experience that provides more rigorous classes, wider class options, improved facilities, increased access to early college and career preparation, and enhanced resources for visual and performing arts.

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FY25 Budget Update

The Portland Public Schools formally kicked off our budget season with a public forum this week on Tuesday, Feb. 6. We presented factual information about the budget outlook for the 2024-2025 school year (also known as fiscal year 2025 or FY25) and we heard important feedback from community members. If you missed the budget forum, catch up on YouTube HERE.

We will have an initial budget proposal on March 5, when Superintendent Ryan Scallon will present his recommended FY25 school budget to the Portland Board of  Public Education.


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Q&A with 2024 MaineTOY Joshua Chard!

Joshua Chard, a second- and third-grade looping teacher at East End Community School, was named the 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year last fall. Now he’s starting off the new year by sharing his insights about teaching in a Q&A with the Maine Department of Education. Find out why this veteran educator still loves teaching – one reason is that he gets “to be playful and joyful all day long with a bunch of small people” – and also how being Deering High School’s drama director helps him in the classroom. Learn more.

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FPPS Launches Ed Feeney Athletics Fund

Anonymous donors have given the Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) a $50,000 matching donation to launch the Ed Feeney Athletics Fund, named after retired Portland High School girls basketball coach Ed Feeney. When Portland Public Schools coaches, teachers, or school social workers learn of a student who lacks basic athletic gear to play sports, the Foundation can now purchase that gear for students.

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Rowe School’s Colorful Art Showcase Shines Bright

Rowe Elementary School recently added a student art showcase to its lobby. Teacher Rene Custeau provided the following write-up:

If you've walked in the Rowe Elementary School lobby recently, you might have noticed something eye-catching right at the front – our very own art display. It's like a burst of colors led by Jean Rank, our wonderful art teacher. There's a bit of everything – paintings, drawings, you name it. And it's all about what the students wanted to do.

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Check Out These Videos on Learning that Involves Play – Even in High School!

What does it look like when schools commit to play-based learning, even at the middle and high school levels? To find out, Edutopia, a website that celebrates and encourages innovation in K–12 schools, set off on a journey throughout the United States and the world. From Denmark to Scotland to Portland, Maine, Edutopia found that play opens students up to all kinds of learning opportunities, and the benefits extend to teachers too. 

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Rowe Students to Sing at Mariners’ Game March 5

A group of talented young voices at Rowe Elementary School comes together once a week during recess, forming an extraordinary musical chorus led by dedicated music teacher Aidan Boardman. This group has not only become a source of joy for the students, but is now gearing up for a special performance: singing the national anthem at an upcoming Maine Mariners game, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on March 5.

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IEEE Women in Engineering: Brooke Teller: Bringing science to our youngest students

If methane were personified as a villain, what would it look like? Maybe a sinister figure, manipulative and cunning, with a malicious charm, able to stay invisible and undetectable? Perhaps there’d be an entire origin story, an arch nemesis, and an evil agenda. It’s the kind of project a student could really get into.


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Recognizing School Counselors!

Feb. 5-9 is National School Counseling Week this year. This week is a time to recognize and celebrate the unique contribution of school counselors within school systems. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

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‘Voice of Portland High School’ Retires

A special ceremony was held at the Portland Expo on Feb. 1 to honor longtime Portland High School educator and public address announcer Pete Gribbin, as the 84-year-old retired from being the “voice of Portland High School.” Gribbin, who has been inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame, is an unofficial historian of the game. For over fifty years, Peter was known as the “official” public address announcer for Portland High School and the MPA tournament. His voice resonated throughout the Expo for half a century. In the process, his sense of humor and authentic geniality welcomed countless student-athletes and coaches to the facility. The Expo became Peter’s second home for five decades. His love of all sports started as a young student in Portland High School, class of 1957.

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CBHS Student Magazine Wins Top Award!

 “The Blue Heron,” Casco Bay High School’s student literary magazine, was recognized as a 2023 REALM First Class magazine by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). REALM stands for Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines, and is an NCTE program. “The Blue Heron,” is the only student magazine in Maine to receive that top honor in the 2023 REALM contest. The CBHS publication also is one of just 105 student magazines nationwide to win the REALM First Class award in 2023, chosen from among 375 entries.

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February break this year is Feb. 19-Feb. 23. Here are some fun opportunities for students during the break


Nominate a Distinguished Alum!

Portland Public Schools Alumni & Friends, a project of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, is launching a Distinguished Alumni Award this spring. The 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Casco Bay, Deering, and/or Portland High School graduates who have notably distinguished themselves in some aspect of their life.

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National History Teacher of the Year Nominations Open

Nominate an outstanding teacher in our community for the 2024 National History Teacher of the Year! Each year, Gilder Lehrman recognizes first-rate K-12 teachers who find creative ways to bring history to life in their classrooms.  Winners are selected from each state and US territories and become finalists for the national award. State winners will receive $1,000 each. 

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April 1 Is Deadline to Apply for $10,000 Mitchell Scholarships!

The Mitchell Institute awards scholarships each year to graduating students from Maine’s public high schools as they pursue higher education.

Recipients of the Mitchell Scholarship represent public high schools from every community in Maine, and each Mitchell Scholar receives a scholarship award for $10,000 that is paid in four equal installments of $2,500.

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Breakwater School Offering Saturday Enrichment Program

Breakwater School in Portland is offering a weekly, multicultural, multilingual enrichment program beginning Saturday, February 24. This program is for students in K-8th grade and runs Saturdays from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Lunch service is available & transportation (bus) stops in Portland & Westbrook will be provided according to families' needs. Please see this flyer for more details on registration.

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First page of the PDF file: LearningWorks_SocialMedia

Upcoming Events

Kindergarten Enrollment
February 26 to March 15

Parent Survey Opens
February 26 

Make It Happen Black History Month Art Show
March 1, 2024
9 am to 6 pm

FY25 Budget Presentation
March 5, 2024
6 pm

Pre-K Acceptance Communication
March 8, 2024