Portland School Notebook: May 23

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Portland superintendent honored by United Way for advocacy 

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana recently won an award for his work toward achieving equity in education for all students in the city’s public schools.

Botana was among those recognized at the UNITED We Thrive Award Luncheon on April 25. The event celebrated and recognized the triumphs of organizations and individuals committed to helping the community thrive through their work in United Way’s focus areas of education, financial stability, and health.

Botana won an Individual Advocate Award for his advocacy to advance a citywide vision of education that puts equity at the center.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school and some assessments show there are opportunity and achievement gaps for students from poverty and students of color. Under Botana’s leadership, the district launched a new Portland Promise initiative last fall to benefit all students and to help reduce those gaps. It set four goals – Achievement, Whole Student, People and Equity – and set five-year targets to measure progress towards those goals and strategies to achieve them.

Portland college student recognized with Gorman scholarship

Seven Maine community college students were awarded scholarships in honor of Leon A. Gorman at a ceremony held May 15 at L.L. Bean in Freeport, among them Zahra Abukar, who is studying business administration at Southern Maine Community College in Portland.

This is the third year the Leon A. Gorman Scholarship has been given and the second year it has been awarded to a student from each of the seven community colleges. Each scholar receives an award equal to a full year of tuition at a Maine community college.

The Leon A. Gorman Endowed Scholarship was established in 2014 by the children of Leon and Lisa Gorman in honor of Leon Gorman’s 80th birthday. The scholarship supports Maine community college students who demonstrate strong academic achievement, financial need, and a commitment to community service, a hallmark of the scholarship’s namesake.

“My father was proud to support Maine’s community colleges and its hardworking students. He would have been honored to be associated with these outstanding recipients, their educational aspirations and their dedication to their families and communities,” said Jennifer Wilson on behalf of her family.

“Leon Gorman was passionate about the state of Maine. His investments in Maine’s community colleges exemplified that passion. He understood that Maine’s community colleges not only positively impact the lives of many aspiring individuals and their families, but also have a positive economic impact. Quite simply, he believed that well-educated community college graduates forge a bright future for the State of Maine,” said Derek Langhauser, president of the Maine Community College System, in remarks at the awards ceremony.

UNE launches new collaborative ocean studies program

University of New England President James Herbert has announced the creation of “UNE North: The Institute for North Atlantic Studies.” Located at 1075 Forest Ave. in Portland, UNE North will train the next generation of leaders to develop research, industry, and community partnerships to meet shared challenges and opportunities throughout the North Atlantic region.

One of the inaugural academic programs, a Professional Science master’s in Ocean Food Systems, will partner with the University of Akureyi and with Holar University College in Iceland to train leaders for Maine’s seafood economy. Other undergraduate, graduate and professional educational programs will be designed to address specific shared challenges and opportunities in the region. UNE North will also develop collaborative research and policy initiatives with other universities, governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses. Executive Director Barry Costa-Pierce said, “The potential for collaboration in the North Atlantic region is endless. UNE’s broad research and education strengths, combined with our entrepreneurial spirit and ability to execute, make us uniquely suited to shepherd partnerships needed to develop sustainable solutions to the region’s problems.”

Waynflete announced those seniors in the Class of 2018 who are graduating cum laude. Front row from left are Isabel Dubois, Charlotte Rhoads, Shuhao Liu, Nick Wagg, Nick Hagler, Luna Soley, Genevieve Welch, Sophie Good, Molly McNutt and Dorrie Pinchbeck. In the back row are Callie Banksmith, Leeza Kopaeva and Sara Wasdahl.

Portland Superintendent of Schools Xavier Botana was recognized by the United Way for his efforts to equalize opportunities for all city students.