Scarborough schools enter exchange with Dominican Republic university

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SCARBOROUGH — A new study-abroad program in the Dominican Republic is available for high school juniors in the upcoming school year.

The program will be established through a partnership between the School Department, the University of Southern Maine School of Human Development and Education, and Unibe, a private university in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The two-way exchange program includes a handful of student teachers from Unibe, or Universidad Iberoamericana, who will attend USM, live with host families in Scarborough, and fulfill their student teaching and practicum at Blue Point, Eight Corners and Pleasant Hill primary schools. 

Next spring, around a dozen students will travel to Unibe for eight to 10 days, Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III said. They will study science, humanities or language, and earn global academic credits. 

“It’s very unique,” Entwistle, who chartered the same dual-exchange program with Unibe when he was superintendent of the Falmouth School Department, said. “It truly is a bridging of cultures.”

The hope, he said, is to eventually increase the program to one trip per semester. 

On the instruction side, new developments this year include the adoption of a pilot Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth plan, Entwistle said in his office on Tuesday.

The program is a new way of providing feedback and measuring teacher effectiveness for instructors at all levels with “equal emphasis on professional growth,” Entwistle said. 

The district’s new model for teacher evaluation will further aid in the transition to standards-based curriculum, he said.

“Across the district we’re really looking at ratcheting up our focus on being clear about curriculum standards and being cognizant of those standards as we move toward a standards-based diploma,” Entwistle said. 

Other new developments include the implementation of one-to-one technology at the high school, which Entwistle said will be “a game changer.”

In addition to affording students new learning opportunities, the decision to provide Lenovo laptop computers to each high school student will allow more room for students to explore engineering, computer science, programming and coding, he said. 

Funding came earlier this summer, after pleas from members of the School Board. Prior to approval from the Town Council, Scarborough was one of three school districts in the state that did not provide one device per student, school officials have said. 

With the school budget process still in recent memory, for next year’s process, “we’re hoping to continue working collaboratively with the School Board and Town Council (to work toward) doing this budget process better,” Entwistle said.

Generally, he said, “we continue to work on the important building blocks of a really high-performing school.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

Scarborough High School.

Back to school

For Scarborough students entering third grade, sixth grade and ninth grade, the first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 1.

For the remaining students in the district, excluding kindergarten through second grade, school reopens Wednesday, September 2.

The first day of school for kindergartners, first- and second-graders is Thursday, Sept. 3.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.