WVII (Channel 7) reported on the annual Black Bear Beauties Plant Sale held at the University of Maine over the weekend. The sale was organized by the UMaine Horticulture Club and greenhouse management students.
Fandom Sports ME posted a “Downtown with Rich Kimball” radio interview with Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn after his visit to the University of Maine. Strathairn participated in a reading of the Sophocles play “Ajax” as part of the Outside the Wire theater program’s “Theater of War.” The reading took place during Maine Center on Aging’s Clinical Geriatrics Colloquium at UMaine last week.
The Village Soup previewed a slide talk on climate change by Sharon Tisher, environmental lawyer and University of Maine economics professor. Tisher will present “Climate Reality: Connecting the Dots Between Extreme Weather and Global Warming” at Camden Public Library on June 4.
The University of Maine will hold its annual Clean Sweep Sale 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday, May 24 and 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday, May 25 in York Commons on Square Road of the UMaine campus.
Furniture, electronics, appliances, housewares, cleaning supplies, books, bedding and clothing will be among the items for sale. Items were donated by the university or students who moved out of the dorms at the end of the semester.
Proceeds will support programs and services offered by the Black Bear Exchange and student service projects coordinated by the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism.
Contact the Bodwell Center at 207.581.3091 for more information.
A free exercise program designed to prevent and help reverse the symptoms of osteoporosis through strength training, balance exercises and health education is being offered in eight locations in eastern Maine by the University of Maine Center on Aging’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
The RSVP Bone Builders Osteoporosis Exercise and Prevention Program, funded by a grant from the United Way of Eastern Maine, is an evidence-based program developed by Tufts University researchers who determined that adults can improve their strength and fitness at any age.
Researchers found a low-impact weight training exercise program can improve balance, bone density and muscle strength. These improvements, along with education that focuses on diet, medications and lifestyle can also help prevent the risk of falls.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone density decreases, making the bones thin and brittle and easily broken or fractured. One out of every two women and one out of every four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Research indicates that proper exercise can stress and stimulate bones, increasing bone density and making bones stronger.
The exercise portion of the UMaine Bone Builders class helps improve overall balance and flexibility, which leads to more confidence in walking in different environments and rebounding from falls.
Another major element of the program is the education focusing not only on diet and medications for osteoporosis, but also lifestyle, which includes how to maintain a home, reach for objects on high shelves, or get in and out of a vehicle safely to avoid falls and fractures.
The Bone Builders program offers free hour-and-a-half-long classes twice a week for six-month sessions. Classes currently are running at the Women’s Health Resource Library in Milbridge, the Ellsworth Senior Center, Island Community Center in Stonington, Parker Ridge in Blue Hill, Avalon Village in Hampden, Sunbury Village in Bangor, Brewer’s Housing Authority, and the Old Town-Orono YMCA.
Classes are limited to 15 participants, and spots are currently available at the Brewer and Hampden locations.
Those who wish to attend must register and get medical clearance from a licensed health care provider.
RSVP members who have been trained by certified health and fitness consultant Kevin Dunton lead the Bone Builders classes. There are two volunteer lay leaders per class.
The exercises in the class range from warm-up and cool-down stretches to movements using hand and ankle weights.
“The RSVP staff and lay leaders are dedicated to providing class participants with a safe and comfortable atmosphere for an exercise regimen which can be adjusted to an individual’s condition whether or not they have engaged in regular exercise over the years,” Program Director Paula Burnett says.
The Center on Aging’s RSVP is one of three national senior service corps programs sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service whose “mission is to invest the skills and life experiences to make a difference for generations in Eastern Maine through volunteer service,” Burnett says.
For more information on how to participate or serve as a volunteer lay leader, call Paula Burnett, 207.262.7926.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
A new University of Maine training program for graduate students in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) is expected to reduce the cost of providing speech therapy services, while reaching out to underserved children and adults in rural areas throughout Maine — or around the world.
The university’s Communication Sciences and Disorders Department has developed a Web-based speech therapy telepractice training program to give graduate students the competencies that are revolutionizing the delivery of health care worldwide. It is now accepting speech therapy clients who would benefit from the remote access of telepractice.
“We have created one of the first nationwide speech therapy telepractice training programs,” says Judy Walker, a UMaine CSD associate professor who developed the program in collaboration with colleagues in the Speech Therapy Department at Waldo County General Hospital (WCGH) in Belfast.
The UMaine program is one of only a few programs in the country that offers speech therapy telepractice training at the college level in an emerging service model for delivering health care through evolving technologies. Speech therapy telepractice involves almost no travel expense and expands the reach of therapy services to more people in Maine, where an overabundance of people in need of speech therapy is compounded by a severe shortage of speech therapists, Walker says.
“Telepractice is not only efficient in reaching people, but also cost-effective,” Walker says.
Nationally, at least one study estimates that telemedicine services provided via broadband Internet would save $700 billion nationally over the next 15 to 20 years, according to Walker.
The program uses a secure, password-protected Web-based platform that allows virtual face-to-face therapy between service providers and clients. Clients can be assisted by designated “e-Helpers” — family, friends or caregivers — according to Walker. All that is needed is a computer with a webcam and broadband Internet access, located in a private setting, such as a home, school, clinic or community center.
“In addition to overcoming barriers such as geography, weather and transportation, we can also bring in family members and caregivers to participate in the therapy from their own computers in any location,” Walker says. “With this service delivery model, anyone involved in a child’s or adult’s therapy program can actually view or participate in the session, regardless of where they are,” Walker says.
The UMaine graduate training program in speech therapy telepractice, based in the Madelyn E. and Albert D. Conley Speech, Language and Hearing Center in Dunn Hall, complies with American Speech-Language-Hearing Association guidelines for demonstrating competencies and skills in speech telepractice services, which standardizes the training of the UMaine graduates.
That’s important, according to WCGH Speech Therapy Department Director Michael Towey, who oversees the hospital’s 5-year-old speech therapy telepractice, on which the UMaine program is modeled. Competency standards have not been well defined nationally, says Towey, a UMaine alumnus and adjunct CSD faculty member assisting the university with its telepractice training curriculum.
Industry credentials reassure clients that telepractice therapists are competent, he says. Towey says the UMaine speech therapy telepractice training program is among the first to establish training standards for therapists at the college level.
Waldo County General Hospital’s speech telepractice program is provided by staff professionals, who have served people from Canada to Russia and Taiwan, in addition to more that 40 Maine communities between Kittery and Fort Kent. It is one of only a handful of speech therapy programs in the country with Training Program Accreditation from the American Telemedicine Association, according to Towey, and the only one that allows therapists to work with clients in home settings rather than at designated clinics, he says.
Walker along with Casey Monnier, a CSD staff speech pathologist and lecturer, and WCGH staff offered the first telepractice training class in August 2012 to 10 CSD graduate students, including Taylor Rodgers of Standish and Janet Ciejka of Brunswick. Following the class, Rodgers and Ciejka applied their new skills in two semesters of clinical practicum providing telepractice speech therapy to clients under the supervision of Walker and Monnier. A new cohort of 12 CSD graduate students are currently in a telepractice training class this month and will be involved in applying their new telepractice skills in clinical practicum during the next school year.
Prior to graduation, Rodgers had been providing speech therapy to a woman from southern Maine, who as the result of a stroke in April 2012, had difficulty finding the words to communicate with her family for much of the spring and summer. Speech therapy telepractice sessions began in the fall 2012, involving one adult daughter videoconferencing from Rhode Island, another daughter at her mother’s side in southern Maine, and Walker and Rodgers in Orono. Now, the woman can retrieve many nouns and other words (verbally or in writing using e-Tools) as Rodgers displayed digital materials that are unique to this client on the computer screen where all participants can see- bread, rice cakes, butter or milk, for example.
Therapy by videoconference is working better than the daughters expected, they say. Their mother is progressing faster as a result of more frequent therapy sessions and outside practice of activities involving the daughters and their mother between online sessions with Rodgers and Walker.
“I had a telephone conversation with my mother last week and I understood everything she was trying to say,” the southern Maine daughter says of her mother.
Therapy at home also ended a “convoluted and complicated” transportation problem when her mother was visiting a therapy clinic, says one daughter, a nurse.
“I was driving her to therapy two and three times a week, and we had to arrange transportation. I felt I was losing touch because I wasn’t there for all the sessions,” she recalls. It was worse for the daughter in Rhode Island, a school bus driver who can now participate in therapy sessions with her mother between her shifts at work. “Being so far away, I feel so much more involved now,” she says.
For the mother’s part, starting telepractice speech therapy “was wonderful,” she says. “It’s helping me.”
Rodgers, who recently received a master’s degree, is convinced the new telepractice skills will give UMaine speech-language pathologists an edge in the job market.
“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity the University of Maine makes available to us,” Rodgers says. “I have friends in speech pathology at other universities and they really don’t have anything like this, and this seems to be the future direction of speech pathology.”
The University of Maine, Madelyn E. and Albert D. Conley Speech, Language, Hearing Center is accepting new clients for speech therapy telepractice services this summer and fall. Telepractice is covered by many insurance plans, including MaineCare. For more information or to make an appointment, call the Conley Speech, Language Hearing Center, 207.581.2006, or visit the telepractice website.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
A blond-haired boy and Reading Recovery teacher Bonnie Simko sit side by side at a small table for their one-on-one, 30-minute lesson at G.H. Jewett School in Bucksport.
After the first-grader enthusiastically reads a familiar story about fire trucks Simko preps him for a new, more-difficult book and he eagerly jumps in.
As the boy reads, Simko keeps a running record of her observations of his reading behaviors — successes and challenges, including his ability to problem-solve during reading.
Based on her observations, Simko continually adjusts her instruction to match the boy’s learning needs. She gently questions, prompts, encourages and coaches him during the fast-paced session on the sunny spring afternoon.
The boy’s father smiles as he watches the interaction through a large one-way mirror. Mary Rosser also observes the lesson alongside the boy’s father and five RSU 25 educators.
Rosser is director of the University Training Center for Reading Recovery at the University of Maine. She champions professional development for teacher leaders and new Reading Recovery teachers around the state.
While Simko and the boy interact, Rosser and the educators share observations and write notes to review later with Simko.
“What a great storyteller you are,” Simko says to the boy.
“She set him up as the learning agent,” Rosser says to the educators, including one high school and several elementary teachers.
“Big … big … big … bigger. He broke the word apart with his eyes,” Rosser says after the youth independently figured out the word. “He said big and kept searching further.”
Similar scenarios routinely play out in Reading Recovery lessons throughout the state, where trained educators work one-on-one each school day with approximately 2,000 first-graders.
More than 32,400 students in Maine have benefited from Reading Recovery since the initiative started two decades ago in the state.
In the 1970s, New Zealand educator Marie Clay developed Reading Recovery — an early intervention, prevention initiative for first-graders experiencing difficulty reading and writing; in 1983, it became a national program in New Zealand.
During each lesson, students revisit familiar books so their reading becomes “phrased, fluent and expressive.” Children are encouraged to develop in-the-head strategies to problem-solve print difficulties while reading for meaning.
“When we read, write, speak and listen, we draw on multiple sources of information simultaneously,” Rosser says. “To a reader, words on a page have to make sense, sound right and look right,” she says.
Comprehensive, coordinated and coherent is how Rosser describes the scientific-base and design of Reading Recovery.
It’s also effective.
National data indicate within 12 to 20 weeks, about 75 percent of at-risk learners who complete Reading Recovery intervention achieve grade-level expectations.
“It makes a difference in the lives of human beings,” says Rosser. “It’s life-altering. On a daily basis we work with students who find themselves on the downside of opportunity, for a range of reasons, and through no fault of their own, they struggle with literacy learning. These are the students for whom Reading Recovery makes a life-altering difference.”
Teachers from around Maine gathered in early May at the Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor to thank Suzanne Cole and the Galen Cole Family Foundation for their long-standing financial support of training for Reading Recovery teachers and teacher leaders.
One by one, educators in attendance shared touching stories about their students’ successes. Several first-graders who have taken part in the initiative also read from favorite books.
Sidow Osman, 42, and Markaba Sheikh, 39, of Lewiston have witnessed the program’s positive power with their children.
Osman and Sheikh were born and reared in Somalia, then lived in Kenya before moving their family to the United States eight years ago.
Osman says Reading Recovery has been instrumental in helping their son, Sheikh Mohamed, 8, and daughter, Rukia Mohamed, 7, read and write English.
“Reading and writing are the most important parts of education,” Osman told Jodi Smith, a Reading Recovery teacher leader at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston.
Osman, who works an overnight shift at a plant in Auburn, described Sheikh as quiet and confident and Rukia as curious.
Sheikh, who wants to be a soccer player, told Smith reading and math are his favorite subjects at Montello. Rukia, who wants to be an actor, listed reading, recess and writing as her favorite parts of the day at the 700-student elementary school.
They both told Smith they enjoy reading at home for fun. Sheikh cited homework as another hobby and Rukia liked writing in her journal.
With all the successes resulting from Reading Recovery, and the potential for so many more, it’s not surprising Rosser says she’s never experienced a more satisfying time in her professional career.
It’s satisfying for elementary educators, too. Simko and Amanda Hammond, a K/1 looping teacher at the pre-K through grade 6 Montello Elementary School, say literacy training has improved their overall teaching knowledge and skills.
Reading Peter Johnston’s book, “Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning,” has been transformative, Simko says, adding it shifted her way of thinking and interacting with students.
“They (students) need to please themselves, not me,” Simko says.
Hammond always knew she wanted to teach. “As a child I would pretend to be a teacher to my stuffed animals at home,” she says. “I wish I could go back in time (before taking Reading Recovery training) and give those students the instruction my students today receive.”
Hammond is thrilled to play a role in helping children flourish.
“It has boosted the confidence of so many of my students. They walk away feeling successful,” she says. “They know they are readers, writers and hard workers … and the strategies they learn not only benefit them in literacy but set them up for success across content areas.”
Children are eager to learn when it’s an affirming and enjoyable experience, Rosser says.
And learning is elementary to future well-being. Being able to read is imperative for individuals and society, says Rosser.
Two-thirds of students who can’t read well by the end of their fourth-grade year will end up on welfare or in jail, according to One World Literacy Foundation.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Pat and Barb Cyr of Millinocket slept in shifts after their daughter Courtney was born in 1992.
Courtney was diagnosed with impaired cognition function, cerebral palsy and autism, and she required constant care when she was awake, which was most of the time. Courtney slept a few hours a day, if that. Barb says when Courtney was 18 months old she was hospitalized and treated after barely closing her eyes for 11 days.
When Courtney was 3 and becoming more mobile, the couple sought to buy her a protective pediatric bed but their insurance company wouldn’t help with the purchase.
Soon after, Pat sketched a design of a special bed on a napkin while having lunch at Applebee’s. He tweaked the pattern, then built Courtney a 7-foot-long, 6-foot-high four-poster bed.
He used sturdy awning fabric — with built-in window netting — as side and end panels. The internal sleeping compartment was designed to keep Courtney from falling out of bed and wandering at night. The front panel had a large zippered opening. The hardwood frame was plenty sturdy to support her when she bounced. And the interior compartment was padded and tightly fitted to protect her from banging her head or burrowing under the mattress.
Courtney felt safe and was content in her special bed, Pat says. She slept more and so too did Pat and Barb.
In 2003, Great Northern Paper laid off 48-year-old Pat, and 1,400 other employees. Pat had been at the mill 30 years; he started soon after he graduated from Stearns High School. Pat loved being a beater engineer, mixing pulp with water, chemicals and dye to turn it into paper.
He knew the job and did it well.
While contemplating his future, Pat discovered he had a knack for repairing PCs; he fixed a computer that Barb had bought to use for her college classes. He subsequently enrolled and excelled in courses at Eastern Maine Community College, then started a computer repair business, ComputerFixx. The business, he says, is very enjoyable and thriving.
But his invention that had changed his family’s life wasn’t far from his mind. Pat realized if a bed could so drastically improve Courtney’s life, it could also help other families in similar circumstances.
He dusted off the napkin design and he and his cousin Ron Cyr, a furniture maker, began building “Courtney Beds.” After obtaining a patent and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the design in 2008, they built and sold seven beds. In 2009, they built and sold seven more.
While Pat was confident in his and Ron’s carpentry skills and work ethic, he knew he needed help with a business plan. So he asked for it. U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud, who had previously worked 29 years at Great Northern Paper, listened.
In 2009, help arrived.
Michaud was instrumental in securing a $1.82 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to fund the Knowledge Transfer Alliance (KTA) at the University of Maine.
The grant, created to help communities and businesses like Cyr’s prevail through economic hardships caused by the Great Recession and natural disasters, has grown to assist all Maine companies seeking engineering, manufacturing or business expertise.
Hugh Stevens directs the KTA, which is overseen by George Criner, director of the School of Economics; and John Mahon, a professor in the Maine Business School.
UMaine business and economics students as well as faculty members from business, economics, engineering, UMaine Cooperative Extension, the Foster Center for Student Innovation and Forest Bioproducts Research Institute all pitch in.
“We get them (business owners) to the right place on their terms,” says Stevens of the KTA staff. “We’re serving them. It’s gratifying to help them through their rough spots.”
Pat says he received considerable free expert advice from the KTA, in particular from previous employees Bernardita Silva and Sue Medley. “They helped me create and facilitate my business acumen,” he says.
KTA provides a range of valuable services, including consulting, market and financial analyses, software training, website management, branding, sales strategy and production and accounting guidance.
That’s the goal of the initiative — to transfer the knowledge and information of UMaine professors and staff to Maine businesspeople.
Since 2009, Stevens says KTA has assisted about 300 Maine businesses. Its motto is “Helping Maine communities and business overcome hardships — one business at a time.”
Since utilizing KTA’s counsel, Pat has steadily increased the number of Courtney Beds he’s constructed and sold. After selling seven beds in 2009, he sold 16 in 2010; 37 in 2011; and 50 in 2012. Courtney Bed, Inc. now operates out of two shops with six employees.
Children in the United States, Canada and Australia are sleeping in Courtney Beds. Families from Israel, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala and most of Western Europe have inquired about the invention. Five families requested, and received help through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to purchase beds, Pat says.
Pat sells the FDA-approved hospital beds, which are comprised of 27 pieces of Maine ash, for $4,400.
The customer feedback, Pat says, is priceless. With each Courtney Bed he ships out the door, he knows he’s helping improve lives, one family at a time.
“Some folks have called and started crying,” Pat says. “They say they can’t believe how our bed has changed their lives.”
Pat says Courtney, who will be 21 in December, is thriving. She still sleeps in a bed named in her honor. “Barb and I have been God-blessed,” Pat says. “Courtney has a good life. She’s growing at her own pace and tee-hees and giggles much of every day.”
And she sleeps at night.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777