Staff & Community Newsletter - Oct 5, 2023
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
It is hard to believe that Friday marks one full month of school. In the past month, I have been able to visit all of our schools except for one (Cliff Island, I am coming!). In those visits, I have been able to see what everyone has told me about - the amazing people we have in the Portland Public Schools. From our elementary school students, who are excited to tell you about their day, to our teachers who come every day ready to support and challenge students, Portland is great because of the people in our district.
The Portland Public Schools' Multilingual and Multicultural Center hosted Beyond Borders: A Conference on Migration and Integration on Sept. 27 at the University of Southern Maine. We welcomed attendees from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including educators, policymakers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, members of community-based organizations, and individuals.
In partnership with the Portland Board of Public Education and many others, Superintendent Ryan Scallon has spent his first three months with the district engaged in a listening and learning tour with the community. Across more than 16 forums, he has heard from more than 500 students, staff, families, community members, business leaders, elected officials, and nonprofit partners.
Here’s the latest Portland Public Schools’ Staff & Community Newsletter! To better accommodate our busy families and staff, we’re making the newsletter more focused and streamlined and will be sending it out just once per month. The newsletter will be posted on our website and sent to families and staff on the first Thursday of each month. The PPS Communications Team welcomes your newsletter feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has begun mailing out Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) cards to Maine families, and some parents are understandably reaching out with questions. Here are some answers.
On Sept. 12, students from Casco Bay High School and East End Community School and supporters celebrated the completion of the new SolaRISE Lean-To on the East End campus. The solar lean-to, which will not only help EECS save on electricity costs but will serve to help educate students about solar energy, is a project spearheaded by SolaRISE Portland, a collaboration of students, teachers, and residents advocating for solar energy to power Portland’s schools.
Three Portland Board of Public Education seats are up for election Nov. 7: an at-large seat and the District 4 and District 5 seats. Only the at-large seat is contested on the ballot.
Three Portland Public Schools students have been named as Semifinalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program: Adrian Darlington, Caden Hemond and Matan Schoenfeld, all seniors at Portland High School.
September was Attendance Awareness Month nationwide but here at the Portland Public Schools, the 2023-2024 school year is Attendance Awareness Year. We have so much to offer students at PPS, and we don’t want anyone to miss out!
Studies show that students with repeated absences risk falling behind in reading, failing middle school and dropping out of high school. By contrast, students who attend regularly are more likely to graduate. At PPS, that’s because they’re able to fully benefit from all we have to to help them succeed.
Deering High School turns 150 this school year and is extending a warm invitation to all “Ramilies” (current students and families), Deering alumni and Deering neighbors to celebrate with special 150th Homecoming events in October.
It is very important that all parents and guardians fill out your family’s Household Income Data Form. The information from the form helps us maximize the state revenue our school district receives.
On Sept. 28, the district sent a letter to families and staff about plans for managing a potential shortage of bus drivers due to illness this school year, as COVID, the flu and RSV circulate in our community. If you missed the communication, it is shared here.
PPS IN THE PRESS
Here’s a sampling of recent media coverage of PPS staff, students and programs. View additional coverage:
Mr. Chard is one of four finalists for 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year and the 2023 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. He was nominated by his principal and assistant principal. Colleagues say he builds relationships with every student, meets every student where they’re at, and finds joy in the uniqueness of each human.
It’s easy to see why people say that about him. On a recent morning visiting Mr. Chard’s class, he and his Chardlings were happily seated on a colorful carpet, passing around a stuffed bear and telling their visitors what’s great about their school.
According to a report that came out last October, Maine school districts have been failing when it comes to teaching Wabanaki studies despite a 2001 law requiring schools to teach Wabanaki history and culture.
Now, Portland Public Schools is making significant strides to improve its curriculum, something it has been working on since 2018. The district has developed a curriculum being taught in classrooms this school year.
For Portland students heading back to Lyman Moore Middle School and Ocean Avenue Elementary School on Wednesday, it was exciting to be back on Ms. Lisa's bus.
Lisa Martel slowed to a stop in front of a cluster of parents and children standing on a street corner in Portland’s Back Cove and opened the door of her brand new school bus.
Martel enthusiastically welcomed each student as they flooded towards the bus and ascended the stairs, excited for the first day of school.
The garden at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland now has a new element, thanks to a local nonprofit and the helping hands of third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders. On Wednesday, ReTreeUS made a stop at the school, spending the morning teaching students about apple, peach, and pear trees and helping them plant their own orchard that may provide fruit for decades to come. The nonprofit has been planting educational orchards at schools and in communities across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts for 11 years.
EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES
Can any of my professional certifications, work or military experience be turned into credits? Can I apply my previous credits or my associate degree toward a bachelor’s degree? What online degree programs are available? Find answers to the questions and more at an Adult Degree Completion Night hosted by the University of Southern Maine. Click here to learn more and register.
The City of Portland’s Public Health Division and Northern Light Home Care & Hospice will be offering two free vaccination clinics with influenza (flu) and COVID-19 vaccines on Oct. 6 and 17, for both insured and uninsured adults; while supplies last!