American Education Week, Nov. 18-22, is an opportunity to celebrate the collaborative work of Maine’s educators and communities. Our educators — teachers, education technicians, bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, food service workers — at all levels of preschool to higher education thank our communities for their support of local public schools.
Maine’s educators, with the help of parents and community organizations, provide wonderful opportunities for our students through hands-on, real-life experiences — even in a world that emphasizes standardized testing as an easy evaluative model.
How many of us are aware of the Maine School Garden Network, with the culminating Maine Harvest Lunch Week? These school gardens encourage school programs that teach healthy eating and environmental stewardship.
We hear about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but what are Maine public school teachers doing in this area? Recently, a small-scale program funded by the National Science Foundation for girls and minority students was announced by the Maine Department of Education. Students and their teachers will participate in the Stormwater Institute to learn more about managing stormwater runoff and ultimately benefit the environment for all Mainers.
School-based projects such as these happen all over Maine while engaging students in their own futures.
Teachers from around the state share knowledge with their students at every opportunity. Cindy Duguay from Regional School Unit 52 broadcast from the Puerto Rican Trench after receiving one of 47 Educator at Sea awards worldwide. Teacher Ken Williams of Nobleboro traveled with former student and now scientist Seth Campbell into Denali National Park in Alaska while sharing his experience about climate change research online with students. Lisa Damian of Rockport received a grant for a three-week capstone project challenging high school juniors and seniors to research, design and build a model rocket applying Newtonian physics and numerical simulation to solve a second order differential equation from the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.
These examples are the norm for the work, dedication and student-centered teaching that Maine teachers use to involve students in learning. The motivation and interest generated by these activities can’t be translated to test scores, but they will stay with our students throughout their lives.
As we approach American Education Week, let’s remember that Maine public schools are proven success stories. Good things are happening in our schools, thanks to collaboration around the state to provide high-quality education to our students every day.
Lois Kilby-Chesley is president of the Maine Education Association.