Portland School Notebook: Jan. 13

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School therapist elected to state office

Tracey Falla, district occupational therapist for Portland Public Schools, was recently voted president of the Maine Occupational Therapy Association. Falla will serve at the post for three years. Part of her duties will include attending the National American Occupational Therapy Association conference in April to meet with other state OT presidents. Falla has an undergraduate degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Southern Maine. She has worked for 12 years in Portland Public Schools in many different buildings; she currently services the BEACH, ISP, and Bayside programs. Falla is an emerging leader in the field of occupational therapy, and an advocate for the role of occupational therapists in the school.

Occupational therapy is a health care profession that maximizes functional independence and quality of life using meaningful and purposeful activities. Writing and drawing, fine and gross motor development, vocational skills, sensory regulation and self-care are among the areas that OTs look at to help school teams provide appropriate interventions when indicated.

New minor offered at UNE

The University of New England is now offering an innovative, interdisciplinary minor in Climate Change Studies.

The Climate Change Studies minor at UNE is designed to equip students with a fundamental understanding of the issue of climate change from diverse perspectives, providing education on the scientific, social, political, psychological and ethical dimensions of the issue. Open to all students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the minor comprises classes drawn from an array of UNE departments, including Environmental Studies, Business, Biology, Political Science, Chemistry and Physics, Marine Sciences, Society, Culture and Languages and History and Philosophy.

Housed in UNE’s Department of Environmental Studies, the new minor in Climate Change Studies includes both required courses and electives from the categories of policy, natural science and social science.

College credits open to McAuley

An agreement allowing Catharine McAuley students who complete a rigorous academic program and matriculate at UNE to earn up to 30 college transfer credits will be formally announced Jan. 15. The agreement has the potential for students to enter the university with sophomore standing. A ceremony to mark the new program will be held at at the high school, located at 631 Stevens Ave.

Paging all students

Sens. Justin Alfond and Anne Haskell of Portland are accepting local students for the Senate Honorary Page program at the State House in Augusta.

The day-long program gives students an opportunity to observe and participate in the state’s legislative process. All students from third grade through high school are encouraged to apply.

Honorary pages help deliver messages, distribute documents within the Senate Chamber, interact with the senators and take part in a real-world, interactive legislative learning experience.

The Legislature will began its second session Jan. 6 and is expected to run through April 2016. Honorary pages are needed throughout the session, so scheduling is flexible.

For more information or to schedule a visit, contact the senators’ office at 287-1515 or email justin@justinalfond.com or annehask@maine.rr.com.

Fair to fill in the gaps

Maine teens will have the opportunity to learn more about available programs for Gap Year students at the 2016 Greater Portland Gap Year Fair. A Gap Year is a structured time of personal growth aided by activities of enrichment.

The event will take place 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at Scarborough High School. The fair will highlight programs that offer students the chance to volunteer, study abroad, intern, travel internationally and more.

“Students are increasingly recognizing the personal and financial benefits that come from taking a Gap Year between high school and college,” said Julia Rogers, director of the Gap Year advising firm EnRoute Consulting and keynote speaker at the upcoming fair.

Author Karl Haiger found that 60 percent of Gap Year students said their Gap Year either confirmed their choice of major or helped them choose an academic direction in college.

The fairs, hosted by USA Gap Year Fairs, offer students the chance to meet with volunteer and internship coordinators from scores of international and domestic organizations, representing every budget.

Student studies ‘abroad’

John W. Carroll, of Peaks Island, is one of eight St. Lawrence University students participating in the Adirondack Semester program of study in New York during the fall semester. Carroll graduated from Portland High School.

Following the model of studying abroad in another culture, the Adirondack Semester offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves full time in the natural world. The program includes extended wilderness experiences, as well as courses that examine natural history, ecology, cultural history and ethics. It is based in a remote camp in the Adirondacks, without cars, television, or most electronic devices.