Portland School Notebook: Nov. 16

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CBHS principal wins leadership award

Derek Pierce, principal of Casco Bay High School, recently won the 2016 Silverberg Leadership Award from EL Education. The award is given to an exemplary school leader who has raised student achievement through implementation of EL Education practices. The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

Pierce received the award at EL Education’s National Conference, held Oct. 27-29 in Detroit, Michigan. EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning), is a leading education nonprofit that is redefining student achievement in diverse communities across the country.

CBHS is a credentialed school in the EL Education national network of schools, and for 2015-16 was again selected as a Mentor School within the network.

The Silverberg Leadership Award was created by EL Education Board Member Irwin Silverberg. Silverberg presented the award to Pierce on Oct. 29, recognizing him for his leadership and management skills that have resulted in the successful implementation of EL Education pedagogy and culture.

In accepting the award, Pierce said, “Great leadership requires both great humility and the confidence to keep taking risks, to keep innovating, even amidst the inevitable failure.”

He added that being part of the EL Education network has taught him that “it’s all about the relationships … If the adults in your building really like each other and share a vision for how to achieve excellence, then teachers can achieve the same joy in the hard work that we hope kids will experience.”

Leslie Appelbaum, a CBHS English teacher and literacy coach who nominated Pierce, said, “Derek deeply believes in his teachers, and I have always felt that he seeks a conversation about the bettering of practice for all. He truly leads by example and is an inspiration in what he does, achieves and how he interacts with students and staff.”

At the national conference, CBHS student filmmakers Matice Maino, Evie Dodson and JoJo Ingabire showed the full-length documentary that the Class of 2017 created after the Junior Journey to Detroit last spring. “Detroit: Stories from Inside the City” premiered in Detroit. The students were on hand with CBHS English teacher Susan McCray to introduce the film and take questions. Some of the Detroit residents featured in the documentary also were on hand.

Portland Adult Education names new interim executive director

Anita St. Onge is the new interim executive director at Portland Adult Education. St. Onge is an attorney with 15 years of practice and 15 years of experience managing more than $11 million in grant-funded projects at USM’s Muskie School. She has worked on problem-solving and strategic planning with multiple mental health, social service, and legal organizations, including the Maine Justice Action Group, the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine (formerly United Somali Women of Maine), the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement, the Maine Attorney General, and the Portland Police Department. She has also taught at the University of New England and University of Southern Maine. After recently working in Haiti, St. Onge also attended the Boston Language Institute to study teaching English as a foreign language.

“We are fortunate that Anita has accepted this position on an interim basis,” said Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana. “I believe she has a strong set of skills that are a good match for the work that needs to happen at PAE through this year. We will look to hire a permanent director in the spring.”

Botana thanked Assistant Superintendent for School Management Jeanne Crocker who filled in this fall after former PAE Director Bethany Campbell stepped down for another career opportunity. “Jeanne … will continue to be involved in the day-to-day operation and support Anita’s transition and the search for a permanent director. 

PAE served more than 4,000 adults in the 2015-16 school year, in academic and ELL classes, as well as enrichment and job skills classes. Last fall, PAE won an Education at Work for Maine Award from the Finance Authority of Maine for its work fostering “self-sufficiency through education” for adults in the community, including immigrants and refugees.

Cheverus Key Club students launch annual Thanksgiving drive

The Key Club at Cheverus High School holds one of the largest and longest-running turkey drives in New England. Last year the Club and members in the Cheverus community provided 500 baskets to needy families in the greater Portland area. This year, members of the Key Club will sort and load the Thanksgiving baskets into trucks for distribution 11 a.m.-noon Friday, Nov. 18.

The collection for this year’s drive began on Nov. 4, when Mark Smith, a longtime faculty member and Cheverus alumnus, donned a turkey costume in front of the school and accepted donations of frozen turkeys and other items. 

The Thanksgiving baskets will contain the ingredients for a complete holiday meal, including, stuffing, bread, milk, potatoes, vegetables and dessert.

Friends School first in Maine to be near net zero

Friends School of Portland went solar this fall with 144 solar panels purchased by OceanView at Falmouth, a local retirement community, through an energy purchase agreement. Within the first year of operation the school met its goal of being near net zero – the solar offset 60 percent of the school’s total energy needs. The solar array was installed by ReVision Energy.

“Because it was our first year of operation, we weren’t sure we were on track to be net zero,” Head of School Jenny Rowe said. The school used 70,871 kilowatt hours of electricity over the course of a year; the solar array generated 41,491 kW hours. The school worked closely with architects, mechanicals, and electrical engineers to reach the goal. Under the energy purchase agreement, the school pays the cost of the solar electricity produced to OceanView and pays Central Maine Power for the energy it consumes when the sun isn’t shining. At the end of six years, the panels will be donated to the school as an intergenerational gift from OceanView.

Friends School of Portland, which educates students in preschool through eighth grade, embraces the Quaker belief in the unique worth of each individual. 

Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce accepts the Silverberg Leadership Award from EL Education board member Irwin Silverberg at the national conference held in Detroit on Oct. 29.

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