National Bullying Prevention Month

Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Educators and communities across the nation raise awareness about bullying and promote bullying prevention.

The Maine Education for Association reported these facts and finding about bullying in their newsletter:

  • Bullying occurs once every seven minutes in schools across America. In fact, one in every three students reports being bullied weekly, in person, via email, or through social media.
  • When NEA surveyed members a few years ago, nearly 100 percent of respondents said it was their job to intervene when they saw bullying occur.
  • Research by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) shows that vulnerable students, who often are targeted for bullying because of their race, ethnicity, or LGBTQ status, can generally name at least one supportive adult in their schools, but it takes six or more supportive adults to make a difference when it comes to bullying.
  • GLSEN’s Ally Week, September 25-29, is a student-driven program in which students and educators who are LGBTQ lead conversations about what kind of support, understanding, and encouragement they need from their allies.

So, what can you do to stop bullying and promote acceptance in your classroom? PACER’s NBPC provides these and other various ways to get involved in promoting bullying prevention:

  1. Join the cause- Historically, bullying has been viewed as “a rite of passage,” but National Bullying Prevention Month is now a nationwide call to action — providing schools, parents and students with the educational resources and support to better respond to bullying behavior.
  2. Provide resources and reminders to students- PACER offers various resources for students and teachers, including FREE “Kids Against Bullying” bookmarks that can be printed or ordered (plus shipping and handling). A daily reminder of the cause will help children remember the importance of preventing bullying.
  3. Make it a known campaign- Tell everyone that your school and community are participating in National Bullying Prevention Month by alerting news media, sharing on social media, campaigning around town, etc. Get the word out there!
  4. Let victims know that they are not alone-  Make it a priority to promote empathy and compassion for those being bullied. Encourage them to talk about it, address it, and let children know that there are people who are there for them no matter what. Children always need a hero.
  5. Create a communal art project- Allow students to be artistic and work together on a banner, poster, sculpture, video, or anything else that relays the anti-bullying message. Allowing kids to work together on one project will form a sense of community and belonging within all children, as well as allow them to have their ideas and voices be put into the initiative.
  6. Wear orange- NBPC has dedicated orange as the color of National Bullying Prevention Month, and PACER will soon be coming out with a line of t-shirts and other orange items promoting the cause.

 

By working together as a community and nation, we can end bullying among children and teens and promote a more accepting and welcoming environment for all. While teaching and/or interacting with students and children, especially during the month of October, remember the importance of promoting a bully-free environment and incorporate these tools and lessons with everyday experiences. For more resources and to learn more about PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, visit their website.

Meet the New Faculty of Special Education

The Special Education department at UMF is proud to welcome some new, bright, exciting members to the professional team. Kate MacLeod, Dominique Tetzlaff, and Kevin Good are the newest professors in special education at UMF.

Kate MacLeod is joining the the special education faculty in the Secondary and Special Education Division here at UMF. She is completing her doctorate in Special Education at Syracuse University and holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Disability Studies from Syracuse and a Masters of Science in Special Education from Long Island University. Kate was a high school special education teacher and inclusion facilitator in New York City, and has expertise working with urban adolescents with disabilities. Her research and writing has been published in academic journals such as Educational Leadership, Disability & Society, Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and International Journal of Whole Schooling, educational magazines such as Rethinking Schools and TASH Connections, and book anthologies focused on inclusive and special education. Her current research agenda is focused on best practices for the inclusion of students with complex support needs; understanding the culture of inclusive schools; and the development of teacher networks to support inclusive education. Kate is also an educational consultant who works with administrators, teachers, and families in the northeast and across the country to support their work to create and improve inclusive practice and culture for all students. She is a new resident of Unity, Maine and when she is not teaching, researching, or working with schools and families, she loves to play music with her husband and friends, and spend time outside with her dog Amelia. Kate is absolutely thrilled to join the UMF community!

 

 

Dominique Tetzlaff has been in the field of education for almost ten years. She started her career as a special education teacher in a middle school serving at-risk students in a high poverty community. Dominique recently completed her doctorate in Special Education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and she specializes in high incidence disabilities, using technology for students with disabilities, and methods for teaching English Language Learners. Her dissertation study Using Mobile Technology to Increase the Math Achievement and Engagement of Students with Disabilities focused on the critical design features and implementation of mobile devices to support teacher-directed instruction. Dominique hopes to further expand this research line to develop guidelines for using digital lessons in the core content areas for students with disabilities. Dominique is very excited to be part of the UMF faculty and is looking forward to enjoying the community with her family!

 

 

Kevin Good is an instructor in Special Education.  He holds two master’s degrees and is preparing to finish his Ph.D. His focus in special education has resulted in various experiences including teaching, research, advocacy, and assistive technology consulting.  Kevin is interested in all areas of special education, but his primary teaching and research is on assistive technology, inclusive education, teacher education, literacy, academic and behavioral instructional approaches, and best practices in instruction and technology use.  His primary goal is to develop and mentor future teachers as they prepare to meet the needs of all learners.  He is also excited to work with community members with their assistive technology needs be it related to pk-12 education, higher education, or life.  As the Maine CITE coordinator at UMF, Kevin seeks to help all individuals at UMF learn more about the roles of assistive technology in the classroom and in life. Kevin is excited to be joining the UMF community because of its longstanding reputation in teacher education and its location in one of the most beautiful places in the country!

UMF is very excited to welcome Kate, Dominique, and Kevin to our faculty. If you see them around campus be sure to say hello and welcome them to Farmington. From all of here at UMF, we want to give a warm welcome to our new professors in Special Education!

Live and Work in Maine

Maine is facing a demographic dilemma- the population is growing older, and workers are retiring at rates higher than new employees are entering the field. Maine needs to develop a strong workforce to help ensure that employers can continue to thrive. Live and Work in Maine is an initiative to recruit hard working individuals from across the country and the world to live in the beautiful state of Maine.

With Live and Work in Maine, you can search for places to live or places to work, and the other will follow. If you care more about living in the mountains than anything else, they can help you find the perfect location and then a job to follow. If you are willing to live on the beach, in the woods, or in the city- wherever it takes to get you your dream job- then Live and Work in Maine can help you find that job and then a place to live from there. “Our mission is to show the world that in Maine, you can have it all when it comes to quality of life AND quality of career.”

So, how do you go about finding the perfect place to live? You can search for a location based on three different categories:

Region– the various regions of Maine that are listed include: Aroostook County, Downeast & Acadia, Maine Lakes & Mountains, Kennebec Valley, Maine Highlands, Midcoast, Greater Portland & Casco Bay, and Maine Beaches

Lifestyle– if there are certain hobbies, sceneries, structures, or population density that you prefer, you can filter for them! Various lifestyle choices listed include (but are not limited to): lakes & ponds, bricks and cobblestone, “trees, trees, & more trees”, camping, fishing, golf, hunting, ski/snow sports, historic, live music, shopping, theatre/arts, always active, peace & quiet, etc. It is easy to find something for everyone!

Career– You can also search for regions/areas that have available jobs that meet specific filters, such as job industry, region, employer size, internships, seasonal jobs, and entry level jobs.

 

 

How do you go about finding your dream job in Maine? Jobs and internships can also be searched for and explored in a couple of ways:

Job Board–  on the Job Board page you can search for jobs by keyword, job title or specific location. Jobs can be filtered by type, geographic region, and industry. The Job Board also lists job postings with job title, employer name and location, description of job, and links to apply, view the employer profile, and save the job posting. See a job that your friend would be perfect for? There is also an option to share the job info with a friend! What better way to find your dream job and move to Vacationland than to do it with a friend?

Explore Employers– The Explore Employers page allows for you to search for employers based on employer name, career, and lifestyle. Each employer profile includes brief description, location information, and contact info to get in touch with the employer.

 

Live and Work in Maine strives to help individuals relocate to an area they will love, and work in a position that will allow them to thrive. The Live and Work in Maine Instagram page (@liveworkmaine) includes an abundance of pictures exhibiting the various lifestyles and hobbies that can be lived in Maine.

Foodies, hikers, adventurers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, and everyone else is sure to find somewhere and something they love in Maine. Find what you love, and find it in Maine.

  

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!

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!

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.

#OperationGiveBack: Student MEA’S Campaign to Tackle Child Poverty

UMF’S Student MEA (Maine Education Association) club has launched a semester long campaign to promote awareness and tackle child poverty in the Franklin County area. Student MEA president Stephen Riitano came up with the idea after completing his practicum and reading “Poverty, Be the Difference” by Donna Begal. “The idea behind doing this is to be getting preservice teachers involved in just how real the [poverty] situation is here in Franklin County,” says Stephen. “By addressing the privileges and fortunes that some of us have, and then being able to put ourselves in other’s shoes (and sometimes those people don’t even have shoes), it allows us to better understand where they’re coming from.” 

Student MEA has been collecting clothing donations for children in the area. While the clothing drive has ended, they are still taking donations of gently worn clothing that children in the area could use. Along with collecting donations and various items, Student MEA will be hosting events to education preservice teachers, promote child welfare, and get the whole community involved.

The National Education Association awarded UMF’s Student MEA with a grant that allows them to do work in the community. Student MEA decided to take a narrow approach and address the issue of child poverty. Through this campaign preservice teaching will gain education and awareness of how poverty can effect students both at home and in the classroom, and how they can help those students prosper.

Student MEA will be hosting various events across the semester, including an entertainment night in March, a panel discussion about diversity that will be cosponsored by UMF faculty and administrators in April, and possibly a carnival day for children. Student MEA is interested in hearing other ideas and getting more of the UMF community involved. “UMF students and faculty can get involved by spreading the word,” said Stephen. “You do not have to be an education major to help. You do not have to donate money to help. It is as easy as educating yourself about the issues that are prevalent in Franklin County. You can be a resource for those who are struggling.” If you are interested in getting involved, join their meetings on Thursday nights at 7:30 in the Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center- room 103.

“By knowing our students both in the classroom and their life outside, we can better address the needs of those students and promote and foster their success” says Stephen. “Education is a way for all to rise, but if we have children coming to school without the basic needs being met, they are set up for failure.”

On behalf of the UMF community, we are very proud of Student MEA and their efforts to make a difference in the community and the lives of children, and we are excited to watch this campaign flourish. #OperationGiveBackUMF