Meet the Editor: Brittany Jerome

Staff retirements, students teaching abroad, tips for applying to grad school- have you ever wondered who writes the blog posts for ED360? Brittany Jerome, an upcoming senior at the University of Maine at Farmington, has been our “chief journalist” these past few months!

Brittany is from Plymouth, Massachusetts where she was born and raised. She is an early childhood special education major with a minor in rehabilitation services in the Addiction Certification program. After she graduates from UMF in 2018, Brittany plans on moving back home to Massachusetts and going to grad school to get her Master’s degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis. “I want to work with young children with severe behavior problems,” said Brittany. “After my first practicum experience, I realized how important it is for children to receive intervention for behavior-related issues early on, in order to prevent suspension or even expulsion before they reach first grade. They usually just need assistance communicating their needs, they shouldn’t be labeled as a ‘bad kid.'”

Along with being our ED360 editor, Brittany also works as a Behavioral Health Professional (BHP) for Maine Behavioral Health Organization. As a BHP, Brittany provides one-on-one support to teens and adolescents with developmental delays and mental health diagnoses. “It’s a very rewarding job, and it has taught me a lot about patience, empathy, and working with families,” she said. The job definitely keeps her busy!

While on campus, Brittany tries to be as involved as she can! She is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed fraternity that focuses on community service and organizes and participates in various service projects on campus and in the community. Brittany has served as treasurer, Membership Vice President, and President of APO during her past three years in the club, and she is looking forward to taking a break from e-board for the next year and just being an active member. Brittany and her friends also participate in some of the Mainely Outdoors day trips, including snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Brittany has also participated in various trips offered at UMF. In 2016, Brittany traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana with the Intervarsity Club during spring break to aid in Hurricane relief and volunteer fixing up damaged houses. Brittany also recently returned from the travel course to Peru, where she spent two and a half weeks studying anthropology all over the country with peers. Brittany loves traveling and exploring new places!

This summer, Brittany has been working, spending time outside, and exploring all that Farmington has to offer in the summertime. If you see her around town or on campus feel free to say hello! Be sure to stay up to date with the ED360 blog posts to learn more about UMF, our students and faculty, and the various opportunities offered in the Farmington community!

Graduate Studies in Education at UMF

The University of Maine at Farmington understands the importance of furthering and continuing education. That is why UMF offers various graduate degrees and certification programs beyond the first four years. UMF offers two Master of Science in Education programs and five certificates, including other additional programs. With all of these options, future educators have great opportunities to continue their professional development.

Master of Science in Education:

M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood Education- This program prepares educators to also be advocates, leaders, curriculum specialists, program administrators, and resources for young children and their families. The program emphasizes curriculum, child development, assessment, and the family and community dynamic. Through collaboration with community agencies, students are able to get a hands-on approach to building their skills. Students are mentored by faculty with extensive knowledge and abilities in the education field.

Approximately 30% of the program is delivered face-to-face, while the remaining 70% is conducted online. This 36-credit program is designed to be completed in 6 years and is comprised of both core and elective classes, which will be related to the early childhood field.

 

M.S.Ed. in Educational Leadership- This program contributes to the professional, intellectual, and personal growth of educators who wish to serve as exceptional leaders in their schools and communities. The program emphasizes school improvement and action research. Students in the program will complete an acton research project during the final two courses. This project focuses on classroom practice and/or school improvement. It includes planning, intervention, data collection, analysis, and the producing a professional report by presenting to faculty and peers.

This program is also 30% face-to-face and 70% online. The program is designed to be completed in two to three years. The Master of Science in Education program is approved as part of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation of the University of Maine at Farmington.

 

Certificate Programs:

Certification Programs are four-course programs comprised to graduate study courses to provide participants with a comprehensive, strong knowledge and skill base in a defined area of study.

Certificate of Administration- Designed for educators with two years experience teaching (required for admission), this program provides participants with the skills and knowledge to pursue opportunities in school administration.

Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis- This program prepares educators and professionals to work with challenging and difficult behaviors. Applied Behavioral Analysis is one of the best evidence-based practices for working with children on the Autism spectrum. If you are interested in this program enroll now- it will not be offered again until the Fall 2019!

Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education- This program prepares educators to work with exceptionally gifted and talented children. All courses are offered in a blended format, combining both face-to-face and online deliveries.

Certificate in Math Leadership- This program is designed for currently practicing educators to pursue opportunities in mathematics leadership. This program opens doors to various career options, including Math Coach, RTI Coordinator, Title 1: Math Teacher, and more!

Certificate in Proficiency Based Education- This program is designed for educators who wish to grow their content knowledge and increase their pedagogy. Participants will increase their skills in curriculum design, instruction, assessment, organization, and communication in order to best teach their students.

 

Other Programs:

Maine Mathematics Coaching Project (MMCP)- In July of 2015 UMF began piloting the Maine Mathematics Coaching Project. MMCP is designed to support PreK-8 teachers in transitioning to the role of mathematics coach in an elementary school setting. The three goals of the program are to (1) prepare Maine students to meet career and college mathematics demands, (2) provide teachers in the state of Maine with high quality mathematics professional development, and (3) increase interest, engagement, and self-efficacy in mathematics for students and teachers.

Special Education Alternative Route to Certification (SPARC)- This online program helps to address the need for qualified special educators in the state of Maine. This program is open to all current Special Education educators holding a baccalaureate degree, including in-service educators, those working in Birth to Age 5 intervention settings, Ed Techs, and others. Upon program completion, participants will receive their 282 certification in Special Education in the state of Maine.

With a growing demand for qualified, knowledgable, experienced, and competent educators, there are many opportunities for educators to further their education. UMF programs are flexible and designed to meet the demands of a constantly changing field. For more information about UMF graduate and certification programs, visit the UMF Graduate Studies website.

Ten Fun Summer Activities to do with the Kids

Summer is a great time for children to play, hangout with one another, and learn while having fun! It can be hard keeping children occupied and entertained all of the time, especially on these long summer days off. Here are some different activities, indoors and out, messy and neat, that can be done with one child or multiple children:

Go for a nature walk- Nature walks are a great way to get outside and get moving. It gives children an opportunity to explore, ask questions, discover, and learn. Nature walks can have a purpose or a goal, such as finding as many birds as possible, or it can simply be taking a relaxing, quiet stroll together. Nature walks can be as busy or relaxing as you want!

 

Paint with leaves– While on that nature walk, it might be a good idea to collect some sticks and various leaves, pine needles, etc. These items can be attached to the end of the stick with a rubber band and used as a paintbrush! Using a variety of materials will give children different textures and patterns and allow them to creatively express themselves while exploring new materials.

 

Water balloon fun– Water balloons are a fun way to cool off on those hot summer days, and there are plenty of games that can be played! Have you ever heard of water balloon baseball? It’s just as fun as it sounds! Other games can include catch, tag, or just a free for all water balloon fight! Whatever you do with the water balloons, children are sure to have a blast!

 

 

Tie-dye- Tie-dyeing gives children an opportunity to create something themselves. They can create various patterns and observe their creative process at work. You can tie-dye shirts, socks, sheets, towels, hats, shorts, anything really! For various tie-dye patterns, click here.

 

Homemade Play-Dough- Again, why spend the money on store bought Play-Dough when children can help make it at home? This recipe allows for you to chose your own colors and choose how sticky or dry the dough is. For a full recipe on how make Play-Dough using Kool-Aid, click here. You can find tons of variations using other ingredients online as well- have fun!

Ice cream in a bag- Why spend the money at an expensive ice cream shop when you can make your own ice cream right at home? This recipe requires a few simple ingredients such as milk, cream, ice, rock salt, sugar, and any other flavorings or toppings you want! Children can easily assist and participate in the ice cream making process, and it tastes so good! For a complete recipe, click here.

 

 

DIY bird feeders- Children will love watching birds and squirrels come up and eat off of the bird feeder that they helped to make. It is a fun and easy process that any child can participate in. These cookie cutter bird feeders can be hung anywhere and can be personalized to various shapes! For the full recipe, click here. DIY bird feeders also be made in various different ways, so click here for more examples and styles of bird feeders.

 

Messy Twister– Turn an old, family fun game into a messy work of art outside! Kids will love getting messy with this one, and the clean up can be just as fun if you use a hose! Simply pour non-toxic paint on the Twister mat on each of the circles. Every time someone has to place their hand or foot down, they will be putting it in paint and slipping all around, getting covered from head to toe in paint! What a fun, silly way to play Twister!

 

Sidewalk chalk- The sidewalk chalk possibilities are endless! Chalk can be used outdoors for many things. Turn the ground into a studio, and draw some chalk art that can be used as a backdrop in a fun photoshoot! Or use the chalk to play a game like hopscotch or 4-square. Children can be occupied for hours as they let their imagination flow with the chalk!

Scavenger hunt- Scavenger hunts can be fun and designed for anywhere! Children can do an outdoor scavenger hunt looking for things such as ladybugs, blue flowers, or a rock shaped like a heart. Or they can do a scavenger hunt in the grocery store, looking for something that costs $3.99, something with the word “nut” in the name, and a red vegetable. You can make a scavenger hunt for anywhere including around the house, walking around town, the backyard, the beach, etc. Kids will love exploring and finding these items!

 

Finding activities that make all children happy can be a challenge, but these activities can be altered and modified to meet the needs and abilities of all children! Whether you are a parent, a babysitter, an older sibling, a teacher, or a camp counselor, we hope you have a wonderful summer and enjoy it with the children you spend it with!

Graduate School Applications: How to Prepare

Applying to graduate school is a big step, and it requires careful time and attention. It can be stressful and confusing at times, but if you follow all of the steps and prepare for what is required, it will be a lot easier. Follow these steps to make the application process as stressless as possible:

  1. 1. Research schools based on location and disciplines. Once you find programs in the area you want, research each program to find out exactly what research is being done, what you will be doing, and what the application requirements are. You do not want to just apply to any program that has your discipline, because the school and program itself might not be a good fit for you. To find graduate programs that fit your needs, click here.
  2. Reach out to grad school faculty and ask questions. This will show them that you are serious about the program and that you take initiative. It will also facilitate a relationship with graduate school faculty, who are usually the ones to make admissions decisions.
  3. Prepare for the standardized test you will need to take (Graduate Record Exam-General Test, Graduate Record Exam- Subject Test, Miller Analogies Test, Graduate Management Admission Test) and register for the test. Each program requires (if any) different tests, so make sure you prepare for any and all that are needed.  
  4. Request letters of recommendation from undergrad professors, faculty, and internship/work supervisors. Professionals who can speak about your abilities, growth, passion, strengths, and about you as a professional overall are the best resources for recommendation letters. Do not include personal references unless specifically requested.
  5. Draft your essay/personal statement. Read it a few times, have others read it, and edit, edit, EDIT! Make sure it is perfect, because this is the first snapshot that grad school admissions will have of you.
  6. File your application by the admissions deadline. Make sure you know when any and all deadlines are.

Okay so now you know step by step what to do, but what about all of the in betweens? Here are a few tips to help you figure out how to do everything:

  • Breathe and relax. Getting overwhelmed can cause you to make careless mistakes. Take each step one day at a time if necessary.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute, because then you will be stressed and pressed for time, and you will be rushing to get it all done.
  • Make sure you follow all of the application directions. Failure to follow directions could cause faculty to question your ability to follow policies and procedures.
  • Make sure everything is spelled correctly and punctuated right. Poor spelling can have a negative impact on your application, no matter how high your GPA or tests scores are.
  • Be clear about your goals and desires, your strengths and areas for growth, and your professional experiences and abilities. This shows that you have personal insight, know where you stand as a professional, and that you are determined to reach your goals.
  • Communicate those goals/strengths/etc to those writing recommendation letters- these are important topics that they can touch upon and build up for you.
  • Have a backup plan, just in case you do not get accepted to your top choice program(s).

 

Applying for and going to graduate school can be stressful, but it pays off in the end and is definitely worth it! If you are considering furthering your education or for more information about the graduate school application process, visit the UMF Graduate School Resources site.

Peru Travel Course: Something for Everyone

The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to offer many various travel courses to students throughout the year. Travel courses are offered in January during winter break and in May/June once school is out. Each course is about two to three weeks and can be taken for 2 or 4 credits.

Recent travel courses have gone to the Virgin Islands, Cypress, Ireland, Japan and have studied topics such as business, anthropology, economy, and more! UMF travel courses are designed for all students, not just those in the field of study of the course! Brittany Jerome, an upcoming senior at UMF, is an early childhood special education major and just participated in the anthropology course to Peru. Ed360 caught up with Brittany after the trip to learn more about the experience she shared with peers.

When asked why she chose Peru, Brittany had one simple answer- why not?! “I love to travel, and Peru is such an interesting country filled with so much culture. I was taking an introduction course to anthropology with Nicole Kellett in the fall of 2016 and she told our class about the trip. I went to the first informational meeting and left knowing I had to go. Two and a half weeks in another country, getting credits for it, and learning from two professors who have spent a significant part of their lives in Peru and who have an enormous amount of love for the country and the people- how could I say no? I would never get an opportunity like this again, so I had to take advantage of it.”

Dr. Nicole Kellett and Dr. Lucas Kellett are both anthropology professors at UMF. They both lived in Peru during their graduate studies and have been back to visit many times on their own, with their children, and multiple times as leaders of the UMF travel course. The knowledge they both share about the culture, environment, economy, and the history of Peru makes them perfect leaders for such a trip.

The Peru 2017 travel course accommodated both of the Kelletts and fifteen students. Those students come from various majors and fields of study, such as anthropology, education, international global studies, psychology, community health, and more! “Anyone is able to make a connection to such a course and use the experience to grow both personally and professionally,” said Brittany.

The students that traveled to Peru were busy, that is for sure! Over a course of eighteen days they stayed in six locations, hiked two mountains, visited many archeological sights, and learned more than they ever would in a classroom. Brittany gave the following summary of their time abroad:

“We arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru, late on a Tuesday night. Over the next few days we ventured out into Lima. We got to visit an archeological sights, including Pachacamac [pictured right], which was on of my favorites! We also got to visit a cathedral and a few museums. A couple of days later we departed from Lima and flew into the Andes into a community called Andahuaylas.

In Andahuaylas, we stayed in this cute camp-like place called Munay Wasi. We spent our first full day visiting the archeological sight of Sondor and hiking Achanchi, a peak that was part of the Andes Mountain Range! We had lunch on a lake and got to meet some of the Kelletts’ family friends. The next day we went to Sacclaya, a beautiful community that is tucked away in the mountains. Luke and Nicole lived in Sacclaya for a year at one point, so they knew some of the locals. We got to tour the schools, play with the children, eat a traditional Peruvian dish of cuy (fried guinea pig- don’t knock until you try it!) and play soccer with some of the women in the community. It was such a fun day! The next day, Sunday, we got to walk around the regional market in Andahuaylas, which is the second largest market in Peru. People were selling food and fresh juice, jewelry, textiles, clothes, toys, and even some animals. It was really cool to see how the economy in such a rural community works on such an important and busy day to the locals.

The next day we took a long bus ride to Cuzco, where we got to explore some interesting archeological sights surrounding the city. We also took a tour of the Sacred Valley, including sights such as the the Pisac market and ruins and Ollantaytambo. We then took the train to Aguas Calientes, where we spent the night before visiting Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was incredible. You see pictures of it online and in books, but nothing is as breathtaking as seeing it in person. We walked around the sight and then hiked Hyuana Picchu, the big peak that sits right behind Machu Picchu. On our way back to Cuzco we were able to visit some salt mines and Inca terraces. The next day, we traveled to the Amazon Rainforest.

The rainforest was amazing. We first got to visit a community and a school, where the children put on a dance performance for us and played various games with all of us. Then, we rode a motor boat up an Amazon tributary called the Mother of God, where we were able to jump off of a rock into the tributary and ride the current down to the beach. We then ventured into the heart of the jungle where we spent two nights. The guides that we had were so kind and knowledgable- they could just look at a plant or a butterfly or a bird and know the exact species and how they live and survive. One guide took some of us on a night walk where we crept through the dark in search of anything interesting (we mostly just saw a ton of spiders). They also taught us about the resources in the jungle, such as medicinal plants and various foods. One of our guides even used his personal experience to tell us how to survive if we are to ever get lost in the jungle. I was amazed by the rainforest.

We had one final day in Cuzco before departing, where some of us shopped, some went to a few museums, and others just enjoyed exploring the city to it’s fullest. While in Peru we spent time in rural highlands, the lush rainforest, and bustling cities. There was something for everyone to enjoy.”

Sounds like there was a lot to do, and everyone, despite their field of study, was able to make a connection somehow. “While the course was titled ‘Andean Exploration: Past and Present’ and we focused mostly on the Incas and the development of Peru over the years,” said Brittany, “when you spend as much time in another country as we did you learn and take in so much more information that what is academically provided. As an education major, it is important to be culturally competent and understand that other cultures may do things that you do not understand, but you need to respect them. Really, being culturally competent is important in any field where you will be working with people. I think anyone can really make a professional connection when traveling and use their experiences to build on their professional development.”

When asked about her favorite part of the trip, Brittany warmly said, “Out of all of the amazing things we saw and did, my favorite aspect of the trip is the family we became by the end of it. Most of us did not even know half of the people on the trip when we started, but even by the third day we had all made connections, learned from and supported each other, and made some awesome friendships. Other than that, I really enjoyed visiting Sacclaya and playing with the children there. Even though there were some language barriers, I was able to interact with the children and have fun!”

Museums, archeological sights, hiking, cities, this trip offers something for everyone! You do not need to be a world traveler, a trained mountain hiker, or an anthropology student to enjoy a trip like this, you just need to be open minded and have the desire to learn and explore! “If you have the opportunity to go on a travel course, do it!” said Brittany. “You will not regret it. You’ll be learning from experts and sharing this experience with other UMF students who have similar interests. I wish I had known about these courses sooner, I would do one every year if possible!” For more information about the travel courses offered here at UMF and other UMaine System schools, visit the Travel Course and International Exchange Programs page.

MooseTech Conference: UMF’s EDU 221 Students and their Participation

During their time at UMF, students are encouraged to attend and engage in various professional development conferences in order to further educate themselves and expand on their knowledge and skills. Some students, however, go even farther as to present at these conferences. Dr. Theresa Overall and her EDU 221 class attended MooseTech, an event created by and for teachers in the MooseHead Region of schools.

This year, MooseTech was held at the Piscataquis Community Secondary School in Guilford, Maine on March 10th. Conference attendees were able to attend various classes and seminars that were split into three different sections and taught by professionals who volunteered to teach others about subjects that they are passionate about.  Trevor Benson, a student in Dr. Overall’s class who also had a chance to present at the conference, caught up with ED360 to tell us more about the MooseTech conference from a student’s point of view.

“[During] the first two sections of the day, I attended classes with teachers from all over the Guilford area,” said Trevor. “I spent my first class period learning the basics of American Sign Language (ASL) through internet sites, and tips on how to teach one’s self sign language. I found this class to be super informative and helpful. The second class I attended was held by a representative from Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Like the first class I attended, I found it extremely informative. She showed us different programs compatible with students’ laptops and iPads. These programs contained interactive simulations and experiments for science subjects.”

During the third section of the day, Trevor and two of his peers, Jordan McMullen and Mitchell Walston,
had a chance to present and educate others about science-based iPad apps. “We each created our own separate iBook presentations about a single app that could be used in a middle school/ high school class room,” Trevor said. “The three of us took turns presenting our apps on the projector in the front of the class. I personally presented on an app called EarthViewer. It is an interactive app that allows you to see how the world has evolved over it 4.6 billion years of existence.”  What a great way to get students engaged and interested in their learning!

Trevor said that while it was not an extreme amount of work, presenting at the conference was definitely something he had to prepare for, as most pre-service educators do not have this experience yet. “I worked on my iBook alone inside and outside of class. The three of us met two times outside of class to decide in what order we would present and what we would cover during the presentation.”

MooseTech is a great opportunity for pre-service, new, and veteran educators to make meaningful connections and build on their professional development. “I really liked MooseTech,” said Trevor. “Everyone that I met there was extremely nice and excited to be there. The people that volunteered their time to teach the sessions were super informative and great teachers. It was well organized and there was not an extreme amount of people that attended, so the classes I went to were not crowded and presented opportunities to have a conversation with the person that was leading the session. Overall, I thought it was an awesome time. I would definitely go again.”

For more information about the MooseTech Region Technology Conference contact Dr. Theresa Overall at theresa.overall@maine.edu or visit the website. Thank you Trevor, Dr. Overall, and the rest of the EDU 221 class for taking the time to educate others about these helpful resources!

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.