Mid-Coast School Notebook: June 16

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Founding advisory committee member retires

Patrick Moore, who has served the longest on The Merrymeeting Adult Education Advisory Committee, is retiring after 17 years of service.

Moore, who is also the SAD 75 Special Services director, had served on the board since it was formed. According to Dawn Wheeler, project administrator for Merrymeeting Adult Education, Moore will be remembered as a strong student advocate who, over the years, helped teachers find resources for special needs students and find new ways to build student support services.

The Merrymeeting Adult Education Advisory Committee’s mission is finding new projects, directions and ideas to better serve the community. Member come from different agencies, companies and roles, including Workforce Solutions, Southern ME Midcoast Chamber, Tri-County Literacy, and Southern Maine Community College. Each member brings a unique perspective to the committee, said Wheeler.

At present, the board has 16 members. Two are selected or re-appointed annually from the school boards of Brunswick and SAD 75. The adult education director and the superintendents of Brunswick and SAD 75 serve as ex officio members. Two students also serve on the board.

St. John’s awarded grant for new gender-balanced robotics program

St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick will use $7,250 in newly awarded grant funding to start a robotics program at the school. The Gizmo Garden Fund provides financial grants that empower teachers, librarians, and after school leaders to carry out gender-balanced projects in computer coding, electronics and robotics for Maine students in grades 6-12. St. John’s was one of eight schools statewide to be awarded. 

“I plan on beginning with the Sensation Jollification Collaboration Spiritualization, a non-competitive, creative, and weekly program that focuses on building fun things while learning about C++ coding for grades 6-8,” said Jennifer Nelson, the new technology coordinator at St. John’s and All Saints Parish. Nelson formerly served as a software engineer for a U.S. Navy subcontractor. 

The grant will help the school purchase resources such as Adafruit kits and Arduino-controlled Parallax robots.

Six boys and six girls have already shown interest in participating in the program, starting with learning electronic assembly skills and progressing all the way to creating robotic Popemobiles to demonstrate for their parents at the end of the year.

“St. John’s is blessed with a lot of curious and avid students that are interested in robotics, coding, and engineering skills,” said Nelson. “It’s a perfect fit for the Gizmo Garden mission.”

The program will also include field trips and visiting speakers who will share their insight into different aspects of engineering and technology, but the gender-based component of the program is one that is particularly important for Nelson and the school.

“I believe in giving girls the opportunity to build confidence in technology and themselves,” said Nelson. “By working together while they are young, it can instill a cooperative environment between males and females that lasts a lifetime. St. John’s is always focused on finding new ways to prepare our students for the future.”

Patrick Moore is congratulated by Diana McCain, director of Merrymeeting Adult Education, upon his recent retirement. Moore has been on The Merrymeeting Adult Education Advisory Committee since it was formed 17 years ago, and was also the SAD 75 Special Services director.