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Author, Public Speaker to Discuss Difference Educators can Make for Those Living in Poverty

The effects of poverty and how educators at all levels can make a difference will be the theme of a program offered by the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development on Friday, Oct. 18.

Dr. Donna Beegle, an author and public speaker who uses her personal story and research to teach others how to make a difference for children living in poverty, will deliver the keynote.

The free public program takes place from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 18 in Minsky Recital Hall, Class of 1944 Hall on the UMaine campus.

Beegle is scheduled to give her talk, “The Impact of Poverty on Education: Recommendations for Educators,” from 8:45-10 a.m.; a panel of Maine experts will then respond to her remarks during a discussion.

Panelists will include Julia Sleeper, executive director and co-founder of Tree Street Youth in Lewiston; Alan Parks, UMaine College Success Programs director; Chris Betts, assistant teaching principal of the Carleton Project Alternative Education programs at Shaw House in Bangor; Marjorie Withers, director of Community Caring Collaborative in Machias and member of Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) at the Cobscook Community Learning Center; Suzen Polk-Hoffses, a kindergarten teacher at Milbridge Elementary School and a Maine Teacher of the Year 2014 finalist; and Sherri Mitchell, an attorney with the Native American Unit of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc., and executive director of the Land Peace Foundation.

Linda Silka, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center and economics professor at UMaine, will moderate the discussion and following question-and-answer session with Beegle and the panel.

Beegle will meet over lunch with UMaine students who have lived in poverty.

The author of “See Poverty… Be the Difference!” and “An Action Approach to Educating Students Who Live in the Crisis of Poverty,” writes and speaks across the country about poverty and education. For 23 years, she has worked with educators, justice professionals, health care providers, social service agencies and other organizations who want to make a difference for those living in poverty.

Her talk at the university is one in a series of three workshops scheduled in eastern Maine by UMaine, Maine Highlands Poverty Workshop and Healthy Peninsula to raise the visibility of the problem of poverty for Maine children and families.

Beegle is scheduled to appear at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17 for the Maine Highlands Poverty Workshop (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013PovertySeminar), “The Language of Poverty,” and at the Blue Hill Consolidated School in Blue Hill from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 for the 2013 Healthy Peninsula Early Childhood Conference (http://healthypeninsula.org/), “The Poverty Hurdle: In Pursuit of Goals and Dreams for Every Family, Every Child.”

She grew up in poverty and was the only member of her family to not be incarcerated. Beegle left school and married at age 15. At age 25, after continuing to live in poverty while raising two children, Beegle had no husband or job skills and little education. She went on to earn her GED, an associate degree in journalism, a bachelor’s degree with honors in communications, a master’s degree in communication with a minor (with honors) in gender studies, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership, according to her official biography.

In 1989, Beegle co-founded Communication Across Barriers with her mentor Bob Fulford and currently serves as the organization’s president. She was selected 2008 National Speaker of the Year by the New Mexico State Bar Foundation. In 2010, Portland State University’s School of Social Work dedicated the Donna M. Beegle Community Classrooms in her honor, and in 2011, she won the Oregon Ethics in Business Award.

For more information, to request a disability accommodation, or to register, contact Phyllis Thibodeau at 207.581.2433 or phyllis.thibodeau@umit.maine.edu; RSVP by Oct. 11; seating is limited.

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