News & Feature Stories

Planning Environments for Young Children: Seeing Designs Come to Life

For the past few years Early Childhood Education professor Dr. Patti Bailie has been implementing an assignment that requires students to plan, design, budget for, and create a visual of a proposed childcare center. This is a very in depth, hands on assignment that allows students to express their creativity while learning about the processes that go into planning an environment for young children.

Planning Environments for Young Children (ECH 420) is an upper-level course offered every fall semester and has evolved greatly over the years. Students engage in a three-phase process of designing a learning environment that incorporates  indoor and outdoor spaces. First, students are put into groups of three and interview early childhood educators and directors to get their input on what is important to include in the space. They then write a program for their proposed center, draw out the environment to scale, and decide what materials need to be in the environment. This assignment requires a lot of work and new knowledge, as students need to draw the space with proper dimensions that align with childcare center policies, create a budget and a list of all of the materials they would need, and consider any challenges that may evolve through this process.

Another interesting aspect of this assignment is the implementation of nature based education. Professor Bailie has expertise in the field of nature based education, which is the promotion of using the natural outdoor environment to encourage children to explore and learn from their organic surroundings. “The whole idea of nature based education and nature play areas is taking hold in preschools and elementary play environments, so I am excited to implement it more,” said Professor Bailie. “I am excited to see pre-educators taking this mindset and enjoying this topic as well.”

Not only do ECH 420 students engage in planning the environment, but geography students have played a part in the past, as well. In the Fall 2015 semester, geography Professor Matt McCourt partnered with Professor Bailie to create a co-lab, incorporating the expertise of students in both fields to create a sustainable nature based environment. Geography students surveyed the land next to the Sweatt-Winter learning center located on campus to determine where the sun hits the land the most, how wind effects that area, rain drainage, and more. Early childhood students then used this information to design and implement a nature based outdoor area for children to use. They created tree stump seats, mud kitchens, and willow tree tunnels to encourage children to engage in the natural resources that surround them. This was a very hands-on experience, as students used chainsaws and other tools to create the materials for the outdoor play area. They then watched their ideas come to life, as the children enrolled in Sweatt-Winter then got to explore the space and learn about the various materials from the students.

There has been talk about relocating Sweatt-Winter and building a new space for the center. In the Fall 2016 semester, Professor Bailie’s students proposed ideas which were presented to various faculty and community members in January, including President Foster. While there are no set plans for the new center yet, those involved in the process did write down common themes or ideas that ECH students had that could be implemented in the new center.

Professor Bailie is always impressed with the ideas that students have. One group designed an outdoor trampoline area that incorporated the use of technology, one group created a circle-shaped lobby that had pods extending around it for kindergarten, first, and second grade classes, and one group included various rooms and resources for parents as well. While some groups had similar ideas, no two design proposals were the same. Through this class, students are able to get a taste of what goes into planning a learning environment, budgeting, following policies, and collaborating with other professionals in order to create the best space possible. This is a great assignment that allows students to use their individual creativity while planning.

When asked what her favorite part about this assignment is, Professor Bailie said she loves watching it all come together. “Students start off feeling very challenged, but by the end of the semester they are drawing and designing and are excited about their ideas! I like to see the change in students’ attitudes over the semester as these projects come together.”

 

Are you interested in nature-based education? Professor Bailie has taught an honors nature-based education class in the past, which may be offered again. UMF is also working on developing a nature based education minor program available to all students, not just education majors. Keep an eye out for more information about various nature based programs offered at UMF, including the Nature Based Education Summer Institute taking place on campus this summer!

For more information about the co-lab that took place in 2015, read the article about it here.

Faculty Farewell: Professor Rick Dale and his impact on students and UMF

It is a bittersweet moment when a beloved professor and faculty member leaves the University of Maine at Farmington. Professor Rick Dale is closing the chapter on his time at UMF as he prepares for his retirement. After 11 years as a professor of special education at UMF and 38 years in the field, Dr. Dale has made many positive impacts on the students and colleagues he has worked with.

Dr. Dale was working as a special education professor at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania when he came to UMF in 2006. After previously working as a practitioner, Dr. Dale wanted to focus more on the teaching aspect of special education as opposed to the research process. “My focus was to be a teacher and not focus on research, and thats what the program here does,” stated Dr. Dale. “Research is important too, but it is not what I wanted to do.” The geographic location of UMF was also appealing, and the small size is similar to that of Mansfield University, which is something Dr. Dale enjoys.

Over the past eleven years, Dr. Dale has seen many changes to UMF. During his first semester his office was in Franklin Hall, but he soon moved to the Education Center. There have been changes made to the special education department as well, as Dr. Dale and his colleagues have continuously worked towards improving things that do not work and maintaining those that do. Also, when Dr. Dale came to UMF in 2006, NCATE was the accrediting agency, but now it is CAEP. “There have been many changes in what needs to be done to reach the CAEP standards,” he said, “as well as the focus on Common Core teaching standards and the standards for students.” Dr. Dale has worked very hard to alter the curriculum in order to prepare future educators as they begin to enter the field of special education.

When asked what some of his greatest career accomplishments are, Dr. Dale spoke of his dedication to the field. “I stuck to and stayed in a career that serves a very vulnerable population,” he said. “I started right after college and this is my 38th year in the field. I gave up other career paths that would have made more money, but this was more satisfying and I can look back and say ‘I had an honorable career and I am proud of that.'” When working at the Department of Education in Pennsylvania, Dr. Dale oversaw important regulatory changes in special education as the Regional Service Director in the department. As an administrator in PA and a director of special education, he was very successful in creating and growing programs to help students in the area. Dr. Dale has also been published in Teaching Exceptional Children, writing about influencing IDEA regulations. He was also faculty president for a year at UMF and then became chair of the division. “It’s about the day to day accomplishments of doing what you do,” said Dr. Dale, as he is most proud of the little things that make a big impact.

While being a professor of special education at UMF, Dr. Dale has also repeatedly taught a First Year Seminar class titled, ‘What Would Kerouac Do?’, which was a wonderful opportunity. Typically, Dr. Dale teaches upperclassmen, so teaching First Year Seminar also exposed him to the freshman classes each year. He was able to incorporate his own personal hobby and interest in the works of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation into his teaching curriculum while also working with students from various majors that he might not otherwise have the opportunity to do. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to teach first year seminar,” said Dr. Dale. “It’s a great chance for professors to teach outside of their discipline, which I did for 5 years.”

When asked about post-retirement plans, Dr. Dale said that he wants to do the things he does not have time to do now, such as travel, read, exercise, and write. He is currently planning a trip to Europe in the fall and plans to visit his family in California. What better way to spend your time than doing the things you enjoy with the ones you love?

Students and colleagues speak very highly of Dr. Dale and his work at the University of Maine at Farmington. He will truly be missed, but the impact he has made on the lives he has touched will never be forgotten. “UMF has been a great place to work and is a great place to finish my special education career at,” he said. “I’ve always felt very supported here and have great colleagues in my program. Special education is a very rewarding career and I encourage anyone interested to consider it as their career path.” Thank you, Dr. Rick Dale, for your work and contributions not just here at UMF, but in the field of special education.

Congratulations on your retirement from all of us here at UMF!

#UMFReadtoME: UMF students and faculty participate in a state-wide literacy initiative

The Maine Department of Education has launched a state-wide initiative challenging parents, educators, and anyone who interacts with children to spend at least fifteen minutes a day reading to children in order to increase their literacy. Various UMF students and faculty participated this year at three different locations, making an impact on many young children in the area.

Kathryn Will-Dubyak is an assistant professor of literacy education in the elementary education and early childhood division and has been working here since August of 2016. She collaborated with Julie Farmer, the director at Sweatt-Winter, and Tracey Williams, the principal at WG Mallett School to organize read-in sessions at each school on February 16th and 17th. Sweatt-Winter had eight participants that spent a total of one hour reading to the children, and Mallett had sixty participants that read to all of the students for about 45 minutes. Participants included UMF students, professors, and staff. The UMF Women’s Softball Team also took on the #ReadtoME challenge and visited Phillips Elementary School to read to children there. When one of the softball players explained that she might struggle with pronouncing some of the words, a first grader said, “Well, if you don’t know a word, remember to slow down and sound it out!” How inspiring!

“This is a great program organized to encourage the power to reach to children early and often and to spread the word on social media,” said Professor Will-Dubyak. “The children loved it. Chompers came and some children read to him, which they really enjoyed!”

#ReadtoME is an annual event, so if you are interested in taking on the challenge keep an eye out for next year’s events! “Stay tuned,” said Professor Will-Dubyak, “we are going to make it bigger and better!”

For more information about the #ReadtoME challenge, visit the Maine DOE website here, or search for the #ReadtoME or #UMFReadtoME hashtags on Twitter.

Faculty Farewell: Recognizing Dolores Appl and her contributions to UMF

While the spring semester is halfway through, most students and faculty are preparing for final projects and exams, symposium, and graduation. Some faculty, however, are closing the door on their time at the University of Maine at Farmington and are preparing to retire. One of those faculty members is Dolores Appl.

Dr. Appl is a professor in the Early Childhood Special Education department and is the facilitator of the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup on campus. Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen and contributed to many positive changes at UMF and has made a difference in the lives of students and young children.

Dr. Appl was working in Pennsylvania as an early childhood special education instructor when she applied to UMF in 2002. When asked what is was about UMF that she liked, Dr. Appl started listing various appealing attributes. “I liked the birth-5 ECS certification, I liked the small size of the school, the ability to work with students over the years, and being able to live within walking distance of where I work” she said. Another quality that drew Dr. Appl to UMF was the available space to implement the PIWI-inspired playgroup.

Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI) is a playgroup designed to encourage and facilitate parent-child interactions to help parents create a bond with their young children while contributing to their development. The PIWI Playgroup was founded by professors at the University of Illinois. One of the founders was Dr. Jeanette McCollum, Dr. Appl’s advisor and mentor during her graduate studies. When Dr. Appl came to UMF, she implemented a similar PIWI-Inspired Playgroup that served as a practicum site for students and as a resource for parents. ECS students that implement their practicum with the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup plan various activities and topics of discussion for each weekly playgroup. Students then lead and facilitate the discussions and activities, assisting parents in engaging actively with their children. Dr. Appl mentors the students and helps guide them through planning and instruction. The PIWI-inspired Playgroup meets on Maguire street next to Public Safety and has a generous amount of space and materials for children and families to use.

Below is a photo of Dr. Appl and Dr. Jeanette McCollum at the 2015 Division for Early Childhood (DEC) conference, posing with Dr. Appl’s poster on research being done on the PIWI-Inspired Playgroup. This Playgroup has been a great resource for UMF students and community members and families!

Over the past fifteen years Dr. Appl has seen many changes in UMF. When she started here, most classes were worth 3 credits and most professors taught four classes a semester at 3 credits each. Once the classes became 4 credits each professors started teaching three classes a semester. This was a shift that required a lot of changes in the curriculum to be made, which Dr. Appl assisted in. The accreditation system as also changed considerably, and the ECS program was revamped by Dr. Appl and Lorraine Spenciner.

Dr. Appl has made many great accomplishments throughout her career. Implementing the Playgroup at UMF is one of her greatest, including her publications and presentations about the playgroup. “Since being at UMF I have been published in peer-reviewed journals ten times, six of those including collaborative work with students.” Dr. Appl also contributed to the creation of the individual progress monitoring document (IPMD) which helps ECS students keep track of various assignments that line up with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and DEC standards in order to better organize final portfolios. Dr. Appl has enjoyed working with students during symposium and served on the Institutional Review Board, reviewing research done by faculty and students. Dr. Appl certainly has been very involved over the years.

When asked what her post-retirement plans are, Dr. Appl listed an array of options. “I am thinking about doing accreditation through CEC and increasing my involvement with CEC and DEC. I plan to consult with the UMF playgroup, try to implement playgroups in Texas where my kids live, travel, and spend time with family. I plan to stay in Farmington for a while and will probably volunteer somewhere nearby.”

Dr. Dolores Appl has made tremendous contributions to the University of Maine at Farmington and the early childhood special education department. The PIWI-Inspired Playgroup will carry on and will be taken over by the incoming ECS professor. While Dr. Appl will be missed at UMF, the impact she has made on students and children will be remembered. Thank you, Dr. Appl, for your hard work and dedication over the years.

Teaching Abroad: From Maine to South Korea

The University of Maine at Farmington currently has four teacher candidates conducting their student teaching at the Daegu International School in Daegu, South Korea. The Daegu International School (DIS) has a partnership with UMF that allows students to conduct their student teaching internationally while meeting all of the requirements to receive their degree. Tori Lands and Kayla Girardin were able to share their experience and discuss various challenges, opportunities, and stores from their experience.

Student teaching abroad provides students with the opportunity to use and build on their skills and professional development while traveling and immersing in a new culture. Tori  always had an interest in studying abroad but was not sure if it would work out for her in an education major, until she learned about student teaching abroad. “I believe that one of the most important responsibilities educators have is to help guide students to becoming global citizens,” says Tori, while discussing some of the reasoning behind her decision to go abroad. “I feel as if my time at UMF both as a secondary education/ social studies major and an International Global Studies minor have greatly influenced my ability to be a compassionate and conscientious member of society. I hope to be able to foster these qualities in my future students and feel as if going abroad is allowing me to build on the foundation UMF gave me as well as develop my own understanding of what it means to be apart of the global community.”

While teaching abroad, students are exposed to a different school system and classroom structure that they may not be used to. It can be challenging going into a new classroom with expectations and situations that you may not have experiences with. Kayla found this to be a challenge at first. “Many of my students are ESL (English as a Second Language), which challenges me to differentiate instructional strategies,” she said. “There is no Special Education here, so there may be students with learning differences who do not receive services because there are none to offer.  It is interesting for me to see the difference between the way disability is perceived here compared to the United States since I have a minor in Special Education.” Kayla has since adjusted to these challenges and has been able to connect to her students, which she believes is the most important aspect of teaching.

Tori has found the cultural differences between Maine and the students she teaches at DIS to be most interesting. Maine is not as diverse as DIS, as Tori has students in her classroom from Korea, America, China, the Philippines, Japan, Australia- just to name a few. The diversity in her classroom has allowed her to learn from her students as well. “Instead of just reading about different cultures and countries these students can share personal stories and experiences,” Tori said. “It has been challenging to make sure I am sharing content in a way that makes sense to all the different learners in my classroom and making U.S. history relevant to students who may have only been to the states once or twice is interesting.” Both Tori and Kayla believe the cultural experience that students gain when teaching abroad has been much richer than teaching at home in the states.

Are you interested in students teaching or studying abroad, but don’t know where to start?

There are many resources on campus to help, including your academic advisor, the Financial Aid department, the Study Abroad office, and more! “The logistics of planning for the trip can get hectic and overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask questions,” advises Kayla. “Reach out to people who have done it before and see what they have to say about it.  Research the country you’re going to and be aware of the culture, history, and language.  See if there are any places nearby you would like to travel to during any breaks and work those costs into your budget.  If you’re going to be abroad, make the most of it! Your student teaching responsibilities come first, but don’t forget to truly experience the country you’re in.  Get involved as much as you can with the school as well because it will help you make more connections with teachers and students.”

It can be scary and overwhelming to go abroad, but students find it to be very worth it. “I think it is easy to stay in places and environments that are comfortable and when thinking about the joys and obstacles that come with student teaching it may seem overwhelming to go abroad, but I have already seen growth in both myself and my teaching because of this experience,” says Tori. “I am confident that it will have lasting benefits in both my personal and professional life.”

If you are interested in studying or teaching abroad, you are encouraged to talk to your advisor and whomever else might be able to provide more information about the process. Take advantage of the opportunities that UMF offers, as these opportunities may not present themselves again.

Thank you Tori and Kayla for sharing your expereince in South Korea so far. On behalf of the UMF community, we wish you luck with the remainder of your endeavors.

 

Partner Spotlight: Thomas Desjardins and the 21st Century Kids of Franklin County

The University of Maine at Farmington values the partnerships held with various community members and organizations. These partnerships allow UMF students to get involved in the community while building on their field experience and engaging in a hands-on learning environment.

The Franklin County Children’s Task Force provides extensive employment, practicum, volunteer, and internship opportunities for students, including their 21st Century Kids of F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N After School Program. Thomas Desjardins, Program Coordinator, was able to give an insight into the program, the opportunities it provides for UMF students, and the value of this partnership.

“The Franklin County Children’s Task Force generally assists families in need in Franklin county,” Mr. Desjardins explains. “Specifically, my program is the 21st Century After School Program and the mission of this program is to provide quality after school programming with intensive academic supports at no cost to the students in both Farmington and Wilton and the Mt. Blue school district. We provide a safe space for parents to leave their kids when they are at work. We know how much child care costs, but we want to do more. It is more than just a safe space. We want to promote positive interactions and academic achievement in these children. It is all about caring about the people in the community.”

Out of the 31 staff members, 28 of them are UMF students. Kathy Kemp, a UMF Rehabilitation Services professor, is also on the Task Force Board of Directors. Partnering with the University has given the Task Force and the 21st Century Program numerous cooperative and valuable contacts within the community.

UMF students that are employed through the 21st Century Program have the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it to this program, as they are involved in lesson planning and implementing those lessons at Mallet or Academy Hill Elementary School. UMF students serve in the role of enrichment facilitator, academic tutor, homework helper, and as the site coordinator. They plan various STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities, provide academic supports, kinesthetic activities, visual and performing arts, and health prevention education.”

As a previous school principal, Mr. Desjardins enjoys coaching and supporting new teachers and helping others build on their own skills. “[UMF students] learn how to interact, manage, teach, plan- all aspects of being a school teacher. It’s not babysitting, it’s more like being paid for student teaching or practicum. They participate in monthly staff meetings and professional development, they bring in professionals from various fields, and engage in professional discussions around teaching and learning.” Mr. Desjardins values the “organic connection” that students have with him and his program. “Students look for opportunities to further their craft outside of the classroom. It’s a win win situation, they get the experience and I get to coach them. And they get a paycheck!” Mr. Desjardins said with a chuckle.

When looking for prospective candidates, positive energy and good character are the most important qualities for a potential employee to have. “My realization is that in your early 20’s as a student you have a lot of capacity to be built, but you do not have a lot of tools in the tool box,” says Mr. Desjardins. “It is incumbent upon me to expand your tool box. I run this program as if I am a principal and these employees are my teachers.”

Thomas Desjardins and the 21st Century After School Program are valuable assets to the community and the University. Mr. Desjardins cares a lot about the community, families, and his employees. His experience as a school principal gives him the skills and knowledge to work with future educators and help them build on their own skills to reach their full potential. He is a tremendous leader, educator, coordinator, and partner. The University of Maine at Farmington and the Franklin county are lucky to have him as a partner and a supporter.

The Franklin County Children’s Task Force and the 21st Century Kids of F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N Program are always recruiting UMF students for practicum, student teaching, volunteer, and employment opportunities. For more information about this program and how to get involved, please contact Thomas Desjardins at tdesjardins@fcctf.org or (207) 778-6960, or visit the Franklin County Children’s Task Force website.

On behalf of the UMF community, we would like to thank Mr. Desjardins and his program for all that they do for University students and the community. “Franklin County Children’s Task Force, strengthening families for over 30 years.”

 

Praxis Core Prep Sessions

PRAXIS Core prep sessions led by Learning Commons tutors will take place on the following days. These sessions will be repeated at the end of the semester.
All sessions will meet in Ricker Addition 217 at 7pm.
Monday, 2/6 Writing: Multiple Choice
Tuesday, 2/7 Math: Functions and Algebra
Monday, 2/13 Writing: Informative Essay
Tuesday, 2/14 Math: Geometry
Monday, 2/27 Writing: Argumentative Essay
Tuesday, 2/28 Math: Stats and Probability

Money Saving Options for Education Majors

College is expensive for everyone. The fees, tuition, room and board, and everything else that is factored in can add up to a hefty dollar amount. Did you know that there are loan forgiveness programs and UMF scholarships designed for education majors? Read below to learn about some of these options.

 

Loan Forgiveness: The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, if you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. If you have PLUS loans only, you are not eligible for this type of forgiveness. Participants in this program must have a bachelor’s degree in education to be considered a qualified teacher, and ust have completed their five years of full-time teaching before applying for Loan Forgiveness. You may visit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness website to learn more information about eligibility requirements, loan qualifications, or to fill out an application.

 

 

 

UMF Scholarships: UMF offers over one hundred academic scholarships for students, and many of them are dedicated to students in the education field. Many scholarships have very few requirements to be eligible, and they are designed to help all students that are deserving. Below is list of just some of the scholarships offered to education majors at UMF. For a complete list of UMF scholarships and recipient requirements, visit the UMF Scholarships website.

Scholarships for Education Majors (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Allen, Grace Stone Award
  • Ambrose, Dr. Edward S. and Barbara Dickey Scholarship
  • Arsenault, Katie J. Memorial Scholarship
  • Brooks, Leonard Knowles ‘58 Scholarship
  • Clawson, Gene and Sue Scholarship
  • Cobban, Margaret R. Scholarship Fund
  • Cramer, Rowena Titcomb Scholarship Fund
  • Currie, Edmund D. Scholarship Fund
  • D’aiutolo, Sadie Redding
  • D.A.R. Scholarship
  • Genthner, Grace Berry Scholarship
  • Irwin, Charlotte M. Brett
  • Johnson, Alice Miller (Class of 1939) Scholarship
  • Kaulback, Vera Macbean (Class of 1940) Scholarship
  • Lake, Doris Francis Scholarship
  • Lockwood, Helen E. Scholarship
  • Macinnes, Beatrice Hudon Memorial Scholarship
  • McGary, Ruth Webber (Class of 1950) Scholarship
  • Mosher, Nettie Taylor Scholarships
  • Nickerson, Clement (1956) and Patricia Craig (1959) Scholarship
  • Parlin, Millard S. Sr. and Alverna, W. Scholarship
  • Richards, Leona Coy Scholarship
  • Verrill, Joan R. Scholarship

A Semester Abroad: Special Education in Ireland

Lindsay Gorman is a junior at the University of Maine at Farmington studying Special Education and International and Global Studies. Lindsay is spending her Fall 2016 semester at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. Lindsay was able to answer some questions about her experience in Ireland, how it has differed so far from her experience at UMF, and what else she is looking forward to this semester.

lindsay-2
How has your experience at UCC differed from your experience at UMF?
-The class structure is much different than I’m used to. At UMF, the professors really encourage group discussion and collaboration. At UCC, and most European Universities, all of the classes are strictly lectures, even the education class I’m taking. The classes are much larger too, all of them have at least 100 people in it! Also, the work load is much different. For most classes, you are expected to show up to class and take notes to prepare for your final exam at the end of the semester, and that’s it. Your exam really determines your final grade.

What made you choose Ireland?

-I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland! With my last name being Gorman and my family being traced back to being from there, it’s been on my Bucket List for a while. I already knew a lot about Senator George Mitchell since I’m a Mitchell Scholar from my high school, and when I learned about the George Mitchell Peace Scholarship, I started to look more into the Senator’s work in Northern Ireland. I was really inspired with what he was able to do to create peace during the conflicts in Northern Ireland, and I wanted to learn more. And what better place to do it than Ireland itself!

What are you hoping to gain from this experience?

-With my major in Special Education and my minor in International and Global Studies, I’m really interested in learning about how other countries look at people with disabilities, such as their laws to protect them, how society perceives them, etc. I was able to learn a little bit about Tanzania’s perception of disability when I went there this past June on a travel course, but I didn’t get as much research done as I would have liked. I’m hoping that since I’m here for a whole semester, I’ll be able to really get an idea of what life is like for someone with a disability in Ireland, particularly what their education is like. I think that being culturally aware will make me a better teacher!

What differences have you found in the way special education is perceived in Ireland versus in the U.S.? Similarities?

-With the United States and Ireland both being developed nations, I’ve found a lot of similarities so far. Both seem to have had a difficult history of their treatment of people with disabilities, but both have seemed to make great progress since then. I actually learned that the reason American Sign Language and Irish Sign Language are so similar is because when Sign started to become really popular for thlindsay-1e Deaf, both Americans and Irish went to the same country to learn it, which was France. I found that really neat! That being said, there are a few differences I’ve also found. First, there seems to be a lot more non profit organizations supporting people with disabilities in Ireland. For example, one of my first days going into the city, there were some people asking for donations for Ataxia Ireland. Also, in many government run buildings, there are statues of dogs with coin slots in them, and the money goes towards Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. I’m sure there are also organizations that support people with disabilities in the States, but it just seems to be more apparent over here. Lastly, in the field of Special Education, we use person first language, meaning we put the person before their disability when speaking about them, such as “a person with a disability” rather than “a disabled person.” That doesn’t really seem to be the case in Ireland.

What have you learned so far that has been surprising to you?

-When my professor first used the term “disabled,” it definitely surprised me, since all of the Special Education professors at UMF use person first language. Also, I was looking for local schools I might be able to volunteer at by looking at their websites. I was specifically looking to see if there was any information about their Special Education department, and was surprised to see that very few of the websites had information about it. That is something I am definitely going to look into more while I’m over here.

What has been your favorite experience so far?

-This is a very touristy answer, but a few weekends ago I went on a trip to the Ring of Kerry, and I got to see a double rainbow. It’s definitely my favorite memory so far!

Thank you Lindsay for taking the time to answer these questions and tell us about your experience. For more information about Lindsay’s experience visit her blog, and check back with us in the next few weeks for more updates.

Alumni Connection: PBE with RSU4’s Laurie Catanese

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-8-33-26-pmOn Wednesday October 12th, Johanna Prince, Director of Graduate Programs got to see alumna Laurie (Rodrigue) Catanese (MSEd in Educational Leadership 2015) in her new role as Assistant Principal of Oak Hill High School in RSU 4.  Laurie began her morning working with a teacher who was creating a new unit plan as part of the district’s work in Proficiency Based Education.  

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-8-37-36-pmAfter a tour of the building, Laurie was able to share her energy and excitement for supporting staff and her passion for bringing engaging, relevant, hands-on learning to students.  Laurie shared that her capstone research on the value of mentoring has helped her feel prepared for supporting the teachers she works with and aligning that support to district goals.

Keep up the great work, Laurie!

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