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Staff & Community Newsletter - May 12, 2023

Letter from Interim Co-Superintendents – May 12, 2023

Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,

May 12 is the final day of National Teacher Appreciation Week, and we want to again express our gratitude to our stellar Portland Public Schools teachers for all their hard work and dedication in support of students and families.

We also want to give a special shout out to teacher Joshua Chard at East End Community School, who on May 11 was named 2023 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year! That puts him in the running to be the 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year.

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Two Finalists for Superintendent of PPS

After a nationwide search, the Portland Board of Public Education has narrowed the pool of applicants for the position of superintendent of the Portland Public Schools down to two finalists. They are Eric Moore, currently senior advisor to the superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, and Dr. Ryan Scallon, who is an assistant superintendent in the School District of Philadelphia. Scallon holds a doctorate degree in education and Moore is on track to earn his doctorate in education later this year.

Now that the field has been narrowed down, key stakeholders, including members of the Portland Board of Public Education, staff, students, parents and other community members, will interview them on May 17 and 18. The interviews with students, parents and community members will be live-streamed and recorded for public viewing.

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New Principal for Rowe July 1

William Anton, a school superintendent from Vermont, will be the new principal of Rowe Elementary School, starting July 1. Anton was selected for the role by Interim Co-Superintendents Melea Nalli and Aaron Townsend, and his appointment was approved by the Portland Board of Public Education at its May 2 meeting.

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EECS Multilingual Storytime a Success!

East End Community School students recently enjoyed a multilingual storytime in which high school students read to them in a variety of languages. “The younger kids were starstruck by the teens, and the teens were charmed by them in turn,” said Shana Genre, EECS teacher librarian. “The teachers, too, were delighted and warmed to see kids of all ages connecting with each other over books.” She said the event also was a learning experience for both the older and younger students.

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Ethnobotany Fair at PHS

On April 11, students in teacher Tom Talarico's ELL Foundations of Science Class at Portland High School shared their research projects on plants native to their heritage countries. Students from neighboring classes walked through the gallery presentations and asked the presenters questions geared to build on their English skills from class.

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Designing Students

In the course,  students study the design process and use it to guide their actions. After learning the basics of such skills as vinyl cutting, 3D printing, engraving, basic circuitry and soldering, students use their creativity and newly developed skills to tackle real-world problems.

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PHS hosts Women in STEM panel

On April 27, students at PHS had the opportunity to speak with women working and studying in STEM fields. Dr. Catherine Miller, a biology professor at USM, Sarah Meyer Wlado, a software engineer at PTC, and a USM biology student shared their experiences working in science and engineering. Students asked questions about their research, their educational and career paths, and the challenges they've faced as women working in male-dominated fields.

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PHS physics students visit guitar workshop

As part of their unit on waves and sound, students in Rosalee Lamm's AP Physics classes at PHS visited the workshop of classical guitar maker Toby Rzepka. Toby talked about the physics he uses when choosing his materials, including stiffness measurements of soundboards, and demonstrated the Chladni patterns made by a vibrating soundboard, which showed the dominant frequencies that the guitar produced.

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Amplify Visits Talbot School to See PPS Mobile Makerspace in Action

Amplify Science, a creator of a high quality K–8 science curriculum that blends hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and argue like real scientists and engineers, recently came to visit Talbot Elementary School. Amplify created this short clip of their visit.

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Congratulations to Kai Hernandez of Portland High School

On June 12-13, 2023, Kai will be a part of the student delegation representing the state of Maine at the 2023 National History Day Competition, which will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park.  The theme this year is Frontiers in History: People, Places and Ideas.  Kai will be competing in the performance category, The impact of Jazz on Civil Rights during the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond.

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MIH Seniors Made It Happen!

High school seniors in the Portland Public Schools’ Make It Happen! (MIH) program were honored for their accomplishments at a ceremony May 10 at the University of Southern Maine. High school graduation is just weeks away and many of the 105 students recognized at this year’s MIH Senior Celebration are headed to college. The special ceremony each year honors the students and their families, acknowledging that their educational journey has not been easy and that their achievement is something very much to be celebrated.

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DHS Students Visit Courthouse on Law Day

Students from Deering High School got an in-person lesson about the legal profession on Law Day , May 3. Sydney Wiliams, Deering ELO coordinator,  took eight students that day on an extended learning opportunities field trip to the Edward T. Gignoux U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland to hear from a panel of judges and attorneys working in Maine. The group spent an hour listening to the panel speak about their day-to-day experiences.

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Talbot Community School Sculptures

Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery is featuring an exhibit May 5-July 15, exploring the theme of sustenance. It includes an installation of sculptures by Talbot Elementary School third graders who participated in a Side x Side program, integrating their science curriculum on river ecology and migratory salmon this winter/spring.The students’ sculptures are exhibited alongside the nationally recognized artists.

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First page of the PDF file: PATHSGardenSale2023SpringFlier
PPS Helps Advise on Reinterpretation of PMA Collection

The Portland Museum of Art (PMA) has announced a major, collaborative, and community-driven reinstallation envisioned by museum curators, educators, and an Advisory Committee (which included the Portland Public Schools). Passages in American Art is a fundamental reinterpretation of the museum’s collection, platforming multiple voices, revealing new ways of looking at some of the museum’s most beloved works of art, and inviting community members to drive the conversation. Opening May 27, 2023, the project examines the existing collection, and along with recent acquisitions, commissions, and select long-term loans, integrates Atlantic narratives and Indigenous perspectives to expand the story of American art.

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Upcoming Events

Superintendent Finalist Interviews

Wednesday, May 17

Student Interviews:
4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Parent & community Interviews:
6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Seal of Biliteracy

Wednesday, May 17
 4:00-5:00 PM

Deering High School Auditorium