On November 30th South Portland Schools hosted a Community Forum on Equity and Educational Justice. Over sixty people representing parents, teachers, elected officials and community members participated in the event. Presentations from Assistant Superintendent Megan Welter and Superintendent Tim Matheney are available here as slide decks and as a recorded video. Please continue to monitor this page and school communications for future events.
Please join us at Westbrook Middle School (471 Stroudwater Avenue) from 9am-11am on December 11, 2021. Multiple schools will be offering on the spot interviews for potential custodians, bus and van drivers, substitutes, food service workers and student support staff.
South Portland Schools will be hosting free flu clinics in partnership with Northern Light Health this October.
Although the vaccine is provided at no charge, there is an associated cost to administer the vaccine which will NOT be charged to your family. We appreciate it if you include accurate insurance information to keep costs low. Children presenting with an incomplete form will not receive their vaccine. There is no cost to families and those without insurance will be vaccinated if the appropriate form is completed.
If you would like your child to receive the flu vaccine at school please click on the link below from Northern Light and complete the consent form. You must complete all highlighted fields, so please use N/A if it doesn't apply.
For more information please visit: https://tinyurl.com/spsdflu2021
South Portland band teacher Jen Fletcher and Jake Walker, 5th grade band director in Huntley, Illinois came up with the innovative idea to engage students by learning an instrument in a less traditional setting. Dubbed "The PenPal Project," the program enabled students to learn from each other in a safe and teacher-monitored environment using FlipGrid and video conferencing.
"This idea stemmed from the desire to give students some excitement during virtual learning, but also to show them that everyone was going through the challenges and triumphs of learning a band instrument." said Ms. Fletcher.
Since his hiring in March, Superintendent Tim Matheney has been working on his 2021 Entry Plan. In order to accelerate his learning about South Portland's critical issues, organizational strengths and valued traditions, the Superintendent has been actively meeting with members of the leadership team, staff, the Board of Education and the broader community. With the lens of equity, Matheney's plan focuses on all areas of our education system.
Parents, students and staff who are interested in participating in Entry Plan activities are encouraged to contact the Superintendent's Office at 207-871-0555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please continue to visit our website for updates, and click "Read More"to view the Entry Plan.
On Saturday, June 19, 2021 the South Portland High School baseball team captured the 2021 Class A Baseball State Championship with a 3-2 victory over the Bangor High School Rams at Saint Joseph's College in Standish Maine.
The state title is the first for South Portland baseball since 1952 and ends a sixty-nine year state championship drought for the Red Riots. Since 1952 the Red Riots have finished as state runners up twice (1991, 2015) and as regional runners up six times (1980, 1987, 1990, 2001, 2016, 2019).
On Wednesday June 9th former Superintendent Kunin presented a Reopening Plan for the 2021-2022 school year to the Board of Education. The plan detailed a return to in-person learning, full time five days a week, and holds the health and safety of students, staff and community as the primary consideration; strives to ensure equitable access to opportunity for all of our students; and was built to be flexible and to address multiple possible scenarios.
"We anticipate a much more normal and joyous level of activity across our schools with music and athletics" said Kunin.
Viewers in the South Portland area who are cable TV subscribers may also access the program live on SPC-TV Channel 2. SPC-TV will also be streaming the event here.
The event is scheduled to begin at 1pm on Sunday June 6th.
For more information please visit the SPHS website.
To celebrate Children's Book Week, Brown Elementary hosted a One School, One Book project. All students in grades K-5, whether attending school in-person or remotely, read Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham and participated in corresponding activities.
Brown Elementary's Partners for Children partnered with Dead River Company and the United Way for the purpose of meeting the Thrive 2027 goal of giving every child quality early learning experiences. The funds from Dead River were used to purchase books and other literacy instructional materials.
Families and community members joined in on the fun by enjoying the Outside, Inside StoryWalk™ displayed on the fence at Brown Elementary School and around the playground of Brickhill Heights. They painted kindness rocks to help spread joy throughout the community. Those who enjoyed the StoryWalks™ were invited to take a rock, or leave a rock.
"The Brown School community has been experiencing these "unprecedented times" together and our perseverance over this past year deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Every class read the book and engaged in discussions around connecting to the text, caring for others, resilience, hope, diversity, and appreciation" said Principal Alexis Jones.
The Maine Association of School Libraries has honored a South Portland elementary school librarian with its 2021 Librarian of the Year award.
Jennifer Stanbro, 50, has been with Skillin Elementary School since 2004, and now serves as teacher librarian and the district's K-12 libraries coordinator.
Stanbro's work goes well beyond helping kids check out books. She teaches classes in research and technology, focusing on skills such as how to do research online, how to use critical thinking to identify facts, proper usage of social media and even how to identify copyrighted works online.
The Walter J. Taranko School Librarian Award is given annually to a school librarian "in recognition of excellence in school library work within the State of Maine." In a statement, the MASL wrote: "The support and advocacy efforts made by Jen demonstrate the exemplary qualities of a School Librarian that MASL seeks to honor each year."
In early April district administrators met with Stanbro at the Skillin library, while students, staff and Stanbro's family joined via Google Meets to congratulate her.
Skillin School received a donation of $5000 towards school supplies from Burlington Stores via the national non-profit organization, AdoptAClassroom.org
Skillin Elementary Principal Bethany Connolly, Assistant Principal Myra Caron and Gretchen McCloy, Director of Community Partnerships for the South Portland Schools were on hand for the ribbon cutting at the new store on Running Hill Road to receive the donation. The donation will provide new school supplies for each teacher's classroom. Teachers will use the funds on a number of new classroom items such as instructional materials, incentives, art and music supplies, multicultural books, and hands-on learning materials.
At the April 14th Board of Education Meeting, Dr. Daryl Williams, Senior Education Equity Specialist at MAEC, shared a summary of themes from focus groups which took place at South Portland High School in March of 2020. MAEC was engaged by the school department and the Board of Education in 2019 to support South Portland's ongoing work to ensure that schools provide equity of access to opportunity for all students.
"This was a proactive step to guide us in looking at issues around equity as part of our strategic vision for our district. Hearing the voices, particularly the voices of students, is an important part of creating a vision upon which to act," said now former Superintendent Ken Kunin and Dr. Williams in a joint statement. "South Portland Schools will learn from the MAEC recommendations and will work closely with our community and with MAEC to move forward."
Following a national search the South Portland Board of Education appointed Timothy Matheney as Superintendent of Schools effective July 1, 2021. Mr. Matheney is a lifelong educator and the founder and president of the Spire Leadership Group, an educational consulting organization.
Matheney stated, "I am eager to build on the great work of Superintendent Kunin and the amazing educators in South Portland as we continue to pursue the Board's vision for equity and excellence. I look forward to leading the implementation of the equity plan currently under development and ensuring collaboration among all stakeholders – students, parents, community members and staff – during this important effort."
As the sun rose on another day, it left us wondering if January 6 really happened. Did we actually witness an assault on our nation's capital while the Congress was meeting to certify the peaceful transfer of administrations, a bedrock of our democracy since John Adams in 1801? With a very heavy heart, we had to acknowledge that we did.
While we are already striving to continue our students' learning through a year of pandemic, we now have the job of supporting our learning communities through an additional challenge. As we engage with our students we are ever mindful that the sacred purpose of public school, since its very founding, is and has always been to educate our youth to be active participants in our democracy. In uncertain times, our shared task is more important than ever.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) are used for improving behavior and practices that affect student outcomes everyday. These practices, although not new to the SPSD, have come to the forefront of education this year as students work through new ways of learning and navigating their educational experience. At the Small School, teachers, staff, and administrators have a system in place that helps inspire and then celebrate students for their work.
With all of the restrictions on student movement this year between classrooms and interpersonally due to COVID, it has been a top priority for teachers and staff in South Portland to create opportunities for the children of the district to be more active. One creative way this has come to fruition is thanks to Laurie Milton and the Connections Program. Milton knew that the students needed something light-hearted and fun that could double as a mentally challenging, physical activity break during the course of the day and was inspired early in the year while shopping.
For over 25 years, the Chamber of Commerce for South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, along with the city of South Portland, have brought the community together with HolidayFest and the tree lighting at the beginning of December. It's no surprise that this year the event has been turned virtual but that couldn't stop the students of South Portland from doing all they could to bring the joy of the seasons to the community.
Newspapers and the media play a huge role in the local community and Deborah Woodbury and her team at Mahoney Middle School wanted to harness the power of the news to give students an opportunity to share their stories with their teachers and peers this year. Students were tasked with creating their own personal newspaper front page to share this, utilizing many of the important writing skills they've been working on their whole academic career.
From behind masks and plexiglass, the virus hasn't stopped South Portland School District's commitment to students or to our collective vision of the future.
Humanities teachers at Memorial Middle School have been teaching students about the local watershed as part of an interdisciplinary project aimed at helping students better understand their local environment while working on their compare/contrast writing.
The South Portland School Department has teamed up with The Locker Project to offer fresh and non-perishable food to families. This collaboration has provided thousands of pounds of food to community members just this year alone and is district wide, ensuring that everyone has access to healthy, fresh food in South Portland.
"Protesting is a beautiful thing. But I want to see support from all those people who were out there. When we get back during the school year, I want to see them at civil rights team meetings. I want to see them at school board meetings, giving their opinions about policies that are inequitable. We can't just protest and be angry and do nothing with that." - Fiona Akilo Stawarz, Student Representative to South Portland Board of Education
(reprinted from Kelly Bouchard, Portland Press Herald)City voters overwhelmingly approved two spending proposals Tuesday totaling $71.6 million that will pay for a new consolidated middle school and related traffic improvements.
The vote was 3,234-962, 77 percent in favor, to borrow $69.3 million to build a new middle school. The project will receive $59.3 million in state funding and require $10 million to be raised locally for building upgrades not covered by the Maine Department of Education.
The new school will replace the city's two aging middle schools – Mahoney and Memorial – and will be built next to Memorial Middle School on Wescott Road. Both schools have a variety of health, safety and structural issues.
"This is going to be great for the kids," said School Committee Chairman Dick Matthews. "We've been working on this for four years. Thank you to the voters of South Portland."
South Portland senior Toby Laber-Smith was accepted to the National High School Honors Choir. Laber-Smith completed a rigorous audition last May and competed with students from around the country to win this honor. He will travel to Orlando to rehearse and perform under the baton of internationally recognized conductor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, of St. Olaf College.
Photo credit to Catherine Callender
The State Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the concept for a new $67.7 million middle school in South Portland. A total of $59.2 million of the project, which now heads to voters in a Nov. 5 referendum, would be funded by the state with a remaining $8.4 million to be raised locally.
The proposal would replace the city's two aging middle schools, both of which house grades 6 through 8, with one 5-8 school to be built on the site of Memorial Middle School on Wescott Road. The new school would house about 900 students.
SPHS industrial technology teacher Scott Trebilcock was recently awarded a Berlin City Drive for Education grant in the amount of $3600 to purchase a laser engraver.
Students will be able to use the laser engraver in many classes offered at SPHS such as engineering, architectural design, woodcraft and robotics.
"Many local manufacturers have moved from human operated machines to machines that are controlled by a computer. We would like to offer similar experiences for South Portland students and perhaps encourage more students to pursue manufacturing as a career" said Trebilcock.
South Portland High School's Kim Bennett was honored as the 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year Maine Principals' Association.
Students and staff gathered in in Beal Gymansium to honor Ms. Bennett with the award presented by MPA Executive Director Dick Durost.
From July 1st though the 6th thirteen South Portland High School students from the Learning Alternatives Program spent a week at sea aboard the Tall Ship Harvey Gamage.Students managed nearly every aspect of sailing a ship, from cleaning to cooking to raising sales and keeping watch.
"My experience teaching at sea has taught me the value of the sea as a vehicle to deliver experiential learning" observed SPHS teacher Tom Hyland.
On March 29th South Portland High School's Career Preparation Department hosted its fourth Financial Wellness Fair.
In additional to a wide variety of digital and print resources, and one-on-one conversations with experts in the field, students had a chance to participate in various financial literacy workshops such as credit and why it matters.
"A good understanding about personal finances helps people reach their goals and lead the kinds of lives they dream of" said Linda Halleran of Town and Country Federal Credit Union.
Maggie Cole and Brooklynn Ortiz, sophomores at South Portland High School, traveled with Limitless Child International and spent eleven days in India over the holiday break as Peer Soccer Coaches for a group of forty-five young girls from a slum community in Pune, India. Read more about their experiences in their own words.
South Portland High School students Emily Hobbs and Olivia Kierstead were recognized for their poster designs, selected in a statewide contest sponsored by Count ME In to promote improved school attendance.
Thirty teachers from SPHS spent the day at Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS). Teachers toured the facility and participated in a number of the programs offered to our students, learning how to use welding torches, trowels, and drill presses.
"It truly is incredible, the skills that each program is helping the students learn" said math teacher Brittany Stefanilo.
Hussein Maow will be the Portland Public Library's first intern under its new Inclusive Internship Initiative, and his goals for the summer include creating programming focused on New Americans and multiculturalism.
Maow, a student at South Portland High School, was chosen from a pool of about 20 applicants, according to Raminta Moore, who heads the library's Cultural Center Team and will oversee his work.
[reprinted from The Forecaster]
JMG students worked with experts from Gorham Savings Bank to identify a need, develop a business plan, and craft a project pitch. Mahoney students pitched their idea of a "Five Star Chef" program that teaches students how to create nutritious meals to help develop lifelong healthy eating and counter the growing problem of food instability.
Memorial Middle School has demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to use the immense power of digital media to explore, create, connect, and learn, while limiting the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying.
According to commonsensemedia.org, Memorial Middle School is the only school in Maine to have earned school certification, thanks in large part of the efforts of teacher librarian Cidney Mayes and technology integrator Sarah Glatz.