Expanded Friends School of Portland opens

The Friends School of Portland was able to safely open to all of students Aug. 31 – thanks to a little help from their friends.

The Friends School of Portland recently completed an expansion featuring four new classrooms. Courtesy / David Kurtis

The school, which opened its new facility in 2015 and was the first Passive House-certified school in Maine, recently completed an expansion featuring four new classrooms for middle school students. A new power purchase agreement with OceanView at Falmouth added during the expansion includes a rooftop system that will help maintain the school’s commitment to Passive House standards and move it closer to the ultimate goal of becoming net-zero.

Contributions from other partners resulted in a successful capital campaign, enabling the full expansion to be completed this summer. With the new footprint and social distancing, masking, outdoor classrooms and other safety measure in place, Friends School is one of the few in the area able to safely open to all students at the start of the year.

A virtual tour of the school is available at youtube.com/watch?v=oY5XrDBNwd4&feature=youtu.be.

Portland schools welcome former Brunswick administrator

The Portland Public Schools has added two new administrators to this year’s staff: Christopher McCarthy, the director of BREATHE Clinical & Behavioral Supports Program, and Jesse Applegate, the new director of Student Support Services.


McCarthy is joining the Portland Public Schools from the Brunswick School Department, where he was principal/director of the REAL (Relevant Experiential Authentic Learning) School, a day treatment school, since 2018. He brings a diverse background of program management and therapeutic administration, including 15 years with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, three years with the Maine Quality Forum and seven years in Integrated Health Services with Bath Iron Works.


He’s also a past member of the Brunswick School Board and has coached lacrosse, football and basketball with Brunswick schools. McCarthy holds a master’s degree in community psychology from Michigan State University and his bachelor’s degree is in special education and psychology from Lyndon State University. He has studied education law at the University of Southern Maine and special education law at the University of Vermont.


Applegate was most recently at the New York City Department of Education, where he served as the director of Special Education Academic Policy and Strategic Planning. Prior to that, Applegate worked with public correctional systems across the country to develop education programs for incarcerated students and he has also been a special education teacher in New York City’s public schools.

“We welcome both of these leaders to our district’s exceptional leadership team,” Superintendent Xavier Botana said at the Sept. 1 school board meeting. “They will be leading teams working with some of our most vulnerable students as we enter a ‘new normal’ in our hybrid return to school this fall. I’m confident Jesse’s and Chris’ knowledge, skills and experiences will be key to ensuring that our students have optimal learning experiences while staying healthy and safe.”

Maine DOE releases COVID-19 back-to-school tool kits

As Maine schools prepare to welcome back employees and students for the 2020-21 school year, the Maine Department of Education has put together a one-stop-shop of resources to help school staff start off the school year with resources to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tool kit include videos, posters and other resources, including symptoms to look for, age and developmentally appropriate resources for youth and how to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other resources will help students with hand hygiene, wearing face coverings and social/physical distancing. In addition, the tool kit also offers links to the latest health-related guidance schools will need to know, such as tracking attendance, what to do if a student appears unwell and caring for students with special needs.

The tool kit also offers links to virtual and recorded learning opportunities, as well as regular office hours to connect with other professionals on education-related, content-specific topics and to help school employees and students cope with stress as they embark on the coming school year. See maine.gov/doe/covid-19/toolkit for more.

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