Staff & Community Newsletter - June 23, 2023
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff, and community members,
It is an honor to join the Portland Public Schools community. Throughout the selection process, I had the opportunity to engage with students, families, staff, and community members. While everyone answered the “what should I know about Portland Public Schools” question differently, they all expressed a faith in the school system that was exciting.
Even though my official start date is July 1st, I have already begun to engage members of the Board and central office and look forward to hearing from the broader community. My transition plan is focused on learning from each of you about the great things within PPS that we should build on and where we can do better. I call these first three months my “listen and learn phase.” We will share more information on the website about how you can engage in the listen and learn through town halls, focus groups, and surveys, as well as in more informal conversations.
The first of many opportunities will actually take place on June 26th from 4:00 - 6:00 pm for a Playground Meet and Greet at East End Community School with Portland families. If you are available, please stop by for informal conversations. We will plan to gather in the playground weather permitting, but if it does rain we will convene in the cafeteria.
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
Co-Superintendents Aaron Townsend and Melea Nalli and Board of Public Education Chair Sarah Lentz issued statements of gratitude in response to city voters’ overwhelming approval June 13 of the Portland Public Schools’ $143.8 million budget for fiscal year 2024.
The Board of Public Education has unanimously approved a resolution that directs the superintendent to establish a program for all non-ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) educators to acquire some form of an ESOL credential to better serve the district’s growing number of multilingual students. The vote took place at the Board’s June 20 meeting.
The program would be phased in, with substantial progress expected over the next four years, the resolution states. It also says that the Board pledges to provide “the resources and support necessary to ensure all educators in PPS have or acquire some form of an ESOL credential, certification, or micro-credential.” Details on how the program will function in practice remain to be worked out collaboratively with educators.
The Portland Public Schools will be operating various summer meal sites across the city of Portland this summer. Meals and times will be posted at sites and maps have been distributed to students at school. School Sites will begin operation on June 26, 2023 or July 5, 2023 and continue through August 4, 2023, and some through August 11, 2023, Monday- Friday. Community sites will operate from June 26, 2023 to August 18, 2023, Monday –Friday.
Despite the rain, the Portland Public Schools had a good turnout for the Pride Portland Parade on Saturday, June 17, continuing the tradition, begun in 2015, of the district joining in the annual celebration of diversity and inclusion with a yellow school bus “float.”
Interim Co-Superintendents Melea Nalli and Aaron Townsend wrote in their June column in The Forecaster about the graduation ceremonies held this month for Portland, Deering and Casco Bay high schools. “Each school is unique and their graduation exercises for the more than 400 graduates of the Class of 2023 reflected their distinctive characteristics,” they wrote. “However, what all three ceremonies had in common was the powerful voices of student class speakers and the unifying themes they expressed.” Read the column: “Powerful student voices represent the Class of 2023”
The Portland High School Latin Department recently gave a shout out to PHS students learning Latin who went above and beyond this year and won a variety of awards. Click HERE to read about these students’ accomplishments, as described by PHS world language teacher Peter Bermani.
Two outstanding math students, Asa Tussing from Deering High School and Caden Hemond from Portland High School, were recognized by Interim Co-Superintendents Melea Nalli and Aaron Townsend and the Board of Public Education at the Board’s June 20 meeting.
At its June 20 meeting, the Board of Public Education approved an adjustment to the 2023-2024 school year calendar that makes Tuesday, Sept. 5, a day for staff training and moves the first day of school for students in grades 1-12 to Wednesday, Sept. 6. That day will be a full day of school, not an early release day.
On June 9, King Middle School teacher Patrick Abedi’s sixth- and seventh-grade ELL class fundraised and then cooked and ate traditional Congolese dishes made by both Mr. Abedi and students’ parents at King. The goal behind the luncheon was to honor those new to Maine with foods from back home, and to provide a sense of belonging through sharing these foods with staff and faculty at King.
Ashley Anderson, a special education educator at Presumpscot Elementary School, has been appointed as the school’s new assistant principal as of July 1. The appointment, which was approved by the Portland Board of Public Education at its June 20 meeting, is a half-time position. Anderson also will continue half-time in her role as a special education case manager at Presumpscot.
Meet & Greet
East End Community School
Monday, June 26
Beyond Borders Conference
University of Southern Maine
Wednesday, September 27