Friday, September 28, 2018

First of three public forums to discuss proposed Windham Community Center held on Monday by Lorraine Glowczak

Joe Crocker of Windham and a Rep. from Harriman Associates
Over 20 Windham residents attended the first of three public forums to discuss the planning of a Windham Community Center on Monday, September 24 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall Gymnasium. The forum also included those who attended remotely on Facebook Live. The evening began with a meet and greet as well as time for conversation that included pizza donated by Corsetti’s. Sodas, water and chocolate dessert were also available.

By 6:15, the organized meeting began with a welcome by Pat Moody, Chair of the Windham Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. A background and historical synopsis that led to the evening’s first public forum was presented by Linda Brooks, Director of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department.

Brooks stated that an advisory committee was established in 2015. Results of a survey taken by Windham citizens from 2016 to 2017, indicated the preference for a community center with intentions and purposes of giving Windham a sense of place that accommodates the needs and activities of all demographics.

The possible site location for the center is at the rotary between Routes 302 and 202 behind the Smith Cemetery.

Two members of the design firm working with the recreation committee, Harriman Associates, were also available at Monday evening’s forum to discuss the possible design considerations. Their discussion included high revenue/high construction cost designs such as a leisure pool, a kitchen, a weight lifting and cardiovascular room, aerobic and dance studio as well as a multi-purpose room. The possible plans also include lower revenue and construction cost designs such as an adult lounge, teen and youth hangout, conference rooms and offices.

After being introduced to ideas, concepts and plans for a community center based upon the results of the survey, three groups of approximately five to seven people had an opportunity to engage, participate and communicate ideas in an interactive session regarding the center’s programming and concept design.

Mary Wassick; volunteer, actor, and director of Windham Center Stage Theater; was present at Monday evening’s forum. “I would like to see an arts and theater section added to the plans,” Wassick explained to her group of five. “Our theater program brings in 900 to 1500 people three times a year and we are one of the only multi-generational programs in town. I see a lot of design for sports but would also like to see the arts/theater added.”

Joe Crocker, a Windham resident who is employed by Lewiston Recreation Department stated to his group that there is one room he deems the most important. “In my professional opinion, the multi-purpose room is the most important because trends change, and that room is adaptive to ever changing needs and activities.”

Other ideas and concerns shared included but were not limited to the following:
Making sure programs and activities for seniors accommodated the age spectrum from 55 to the more elderly.

Installing solar panels to heat the pool.
Installing a commercial kitchen.
Considering programs and room designs that will generate income for payment and upkeep for the center.
Making sure there is sufficient Wi-fi access.

The forum ended with the separate groups coming back together to discuss what they deemed most important as well as programs and designs they would like to see added. For programs and designs that are not on the original suggested designs compiled by the committee, Brooks clarified that “these designs are actually little pieces of the big picture” and that the evening’s forum was part of gaining additional information.

Donna Chapman, Windham Town Councilwoman and Chair was present and participated in the forum. She stated that the community of Windham has been requesting a community center for quite some time. “So, we must start the process of moving forward,” Chapman said. “Although the community center will not totally pay for itself, I think the benefits will outweigh the cost of running it.”

Windham Town Councilman, Tim Nangle was also present. “I think a community center in Windham is a great idea,” he stated. “Its time has come, and it would be nice to give the community something to be truly proud of. One thing we hear all the time is the “small town feel” that Windham still has. A center like this could bring the town together across generations and town.” also added that he acknowledges the cost of running a community center and how to pay for it is a major concern for a majority of people. “Windham’s taxes have gone up by double digits over the last 10 years and there is nothing that the residents can put their hands on and say, ‘this is what my taxes get me.’ Bond rates are pretty low right now, so financing a project like this is doable. What I don’t want to see is the council to look at this project and say, “We’ll only do this if we can grant fund it 100%.”’ Nangle explained that grants require a certain match and the town would have to have that money in hand (a voter approval for a bond for example) in order to trigger some level of grant funding. 

The next step in the Community Center Committee’s process is to put all the information that was gathered in this first public forum, refining the programming and design options that will be discussed in greater detail at a second public forum that will occur in December. An exact date has yet to be established.

For more information about the community center plans, programs and designs, contact the Windham Parks and Recreation Department at (207) 892-1905 or Parks&

Children’s music icon Rick Charette announces semi-retirement by Matt Pascarella

Rich Charette in the early 1990s
If you grew up in or around Maine, you probably know who Rick Charette is. He’s been performing in Maine for close to 40 years. Charette is semi-retiring and will no longer perform at schools or travel for gigs, but he will not give up music completely as he still plans to perform at the occasional event.

Charette, a lifelong Mainer from Westbrook, got his first guitar in junior high school and learned to play by ear from a friend. At the time, Charette was very interested in folk music, especially the music of Bob Dylan. He started playing folk songs and songs from other songwriters of the time. He began writing songs in high school and when he was in his early 20s, opened for folk singer Tom Rush.

Charette has a Bachelor of Arts in English, but music was his passion. He began studying classical guitar and obtained a second degree in music education and then taught music for grades kindergarten through sixth grade.

Charette thought folk songs were ok but wanted something more contemporary for children. One of his instructors at college thought Charette might have a talent writing music for younger audiences and believed this was something Charette should explore.
Charette had an opportunity to meet Mister Rogers

Charette wrote a song called “Bubble Gum” and it got a different reaction from children than when he played folk songs. Charette noticed that children had more energy and attentiveness during his “Bubble Gum” song but didn’t know if it was because he was excited to sing it or that they were up and moving around during the song.

In 1980, Charette met Roy Clark through a roommate. Clark was a good musician and worked for Charette’s roommate’s dad at the Frost and Flame woodstove store in Windham to earn extra cash. Clark liked Charette’s songs and they became business partners.
A record company produced Charette’s first album, but Charette and Clark decided shortly after to start their own company, Pine Point Recording Company, “and 12 albums later, here we are,” he observes.

“Bubble Gum” gave Charette credibility and confidence and, as a result, went on to write two other hits, “Alligator in the Elevator” and “Mud”.

There is no doubt Charette has made a difference within Maine and with many children and individuals. Charette recalls performing at Deering Oaks Park before social media and there was a large crowd filling the park.“That was the beginning; wherever we would go, the place would fill up,” recalls Charette. He recounts a show in Fairfield where he walked by a mother and daughter waiting for his performances and overheard the daughter say, “Mommy, this is a dream come true.” Charette was very moved that he was able to bring so much joy into a child’s world.

Charette has been recognized on a national level as well. He and Clark were at a literacy conference in San Diego in the 1990s where they were performing and conducting songwriting workshops. They bumped into keynote speaker Fred Rogers. Charette was happy to hear that Rogers was familiar with and liked his music.

Charette believes now is a good time to not close all doors but pull back a little. He would like to write a book about what it’s like being Rick Charette. 

There’s a place for everyone when it comes to Charette’s music.

He observes, “It’s been a lot of fun over the years seeing all the smiles and the joy and the laughter and the silliness.”

Friday, September 21, 2018

Local roots for BNI® Maine good for business by Lorraine Glowczak

Kelly and Niels Mank speak at an annual success training 
Most business owners and professionals would agree that the growth and success of their company is due, in large part, through their connections with others. Raymond residents and local business owners, Kelly and Niels Mank, have no doubts that their business successes are a direct result of networking with other professionals. For them, it was their active involvement in BNI®, an international membership-based business networking and marketing organization.

In fact, when Kelly joined BNI® Maine in 2006, Mank’s photography business grew by 100% for the next two years. This was followed by the growth of their printing company (Time4Printing) and the addition of the vehicle wrapping and commercial signage division (Time4Wrapz). Their businesses continue to grow exponentially.

It is for this reason the Manks recently purchased and became Executive Directors of BNI® Maine. The purpose of this acquisition is not just to gain another business venture, but more as a mission to help others succeed as they have.

Cumberland Fair“I attribute our professional and personal successes to our involvement with BNI®,” Kelly stated. “It now feels like a calling for me to help other small businesses succeed and assist people to meet their personal and professional goals. That’s the main reason why Niels and I decided to purchase BNI® Maine. Additionally, we also wish to grow our management and leadership skills.”

Cherri Crockett, Vice President of BNI® – Successful Business Partners in Norway agrees with Kelly’s self-assessment. “Kelly and Niels are so family and community oriented, THIS is their calling and their ticket to helping the rest of us grow.”

The concept of BNI® began in January 1985 in California by Dr. Ivan Misner who was looking for ways to increase clients for his personal consulting business. With the help of a few friends and associates, Misner created the first network gathering. Within a year, 20 BNI® chapters were established throughout California. Moving forward 33 years, one can find 8,500 BNI® chapters world-wide with 20 chapters and 450 members in Maine. Windham has one chapter and a new chapter is forming.

According to the website, the mission of BNI® is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing program that enables companies to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. This occurs through weekly meetings and exclusive resources.

There our many core values that members of BNI® promote and these include the commitment to life-long learning, having a positive attitude, attending weekly meetings and taking accountability. But one core value that builds long-term success was explained by Dr. Misner in a recent interview.
“BNI®’s principle core value is ‘Givers Gain®’,” Misner began. “The idea is that if you help others by sending business their way, they’ll do the same for you. This is a concept that is predicated on building relationships, not focusing on transactions. One of the most important things I’ve discovered over the last 33 years is that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.  It is about building long term meaningful relationships with other business professionals.”

With the ‘Givers Gain®” value by which BNI® members adhere, many professionals throughout Maine have also seen significant increase and growth in their businesses.

Michael Eric Berube, President of Profit Partners chapter stated that in eight years, he has reached a level of success that keeps him busy today and is ready to pay it forward.

“In 2010 I was working part time at a camera store for $12 per hour and trying to shoot weddings and portraits on the weekends in the attempt to feed my family of four,” he began. “With the great recession in full swing and advent of digital cameras, every mom and uncle with a DLSR decided to become a 'wedding photographer' and significantly cut into the market for my moderate price point. I was invited to be a substitute for a Graphics Designer at Profit Partners BNI® Chapter and seeing the positive energy of cooperative relationships in the room I went to the hall, called my dad and borrowed the money I needed to apply and I put in an application. My application was accepted and within a month of membership I received my first large referral and was able to pay my dad back for my first year of membership. Shortly after this, Ridge York, our Realtor in the Chapter introduced me to Real Estate Photography and helped set me up in the business. By 2013, I was so busy with my new business model that I had to quit the part time job and stopped photographing anything but Real Estate. Today, I routinely work with 4 subcontractors just to keep up with the work. Life is good. In 2017, I volunteered to be on the Ambassador and Director Team to be able to hopefully Pay Forward the help I received and to help others in turn achieve the same.”

David Brady of Kane Insurance who is a member of the BNI® Business Partners Chapter in Westbrook stated that in just two years of joining BNI®, he had experienced a significant financial growth. “Through contacts and referrals, I went from $60,000 profit in my first year to $100,000 in the second year.”

The professional growth that BNI® members experience also transform into their personal lives, helping to reach individual dreams and goals.

Mary Emerson, Office Manager of Time4Printing, stated that she cannot say enough about how BNI® has impacted her life. “Every Friday after I leave my weekly meeting I feel so truly happy and energized. Just very ready to take on the day. Everyone is so like-minded and truly wants to see each other’s businesses prosper. Plus, everyone is so positive and optimistic that it is infectious. BNI® has also really helped me strengthen my relationships with friends and family! Every member in the group trains you to listen for key things that could lead to possible referrals.  I love how my friends and family know they can come to me when they are looking for a trusted business professional."

But despite all the successes BNI® members experience, both Kelly and Niels admit that this organization is not necessarily for everyone. “If you are in a profession where you are a solo-prenuer and/or sole proprietor who intentionally wants to remain in that capacity, a BNI® membership is probably not the best fit for you,” Niels explained. “However, if you are reaching for a growth plan that would include increasing staff and/or number of company vehicles, then BNI® can help you reach your business goals.”

Both Kelly and Niels have an excitement for life, business and helping others succeed. Their enthusiasm shows and is catching. BNI® members state-wide and beyond are looking forward to their leadership.

“Their passion for business shows in their daily work, not only with their businesses, but with their children and community,” stated Crockett. “I love that they are teaching their children the value of smart business and commitment to seeing a project through. THIS is exactly how the rest of us will benefit from their new roles, sharing their values and having the integrity to see the rest of us to succeed, in a way that works for Maine businesses.”

Misner, too, is excited by Maine’s future. “I helped to launch the operation in Maine several decades ago and it has been exciting to see its growth there over the years. I have the utmost faith in the Mank’s to continue to serve the BNI® members and the general business community throughout Maine.”

For more information about BNI®, visit the website at or call 207-894-7200.

Windham High welcomes new principal by Matt Pascarella

Ryan Caron is no stranger to Windham. Although he just took over as principal of the high school in July, Caron taught social studies as well as a contemporary issues class at Windham High from 1999-2006. He was also the freshman soccer and freshman and JV basketball coach as well as being an assistant varsity basketball coach during that time.

“It’s great to be back,’ Caron stated. “Although the role is a little different; it’s exciting to be among the students at Windham High once again.”

Many of Caron’s family work or have worked in education in some form or another. Initially, he walked in the footsteps of his ancestors but discovered that he had a different calling.

Caron attended the University of New England and started out in the Physical Therapy program, but soon discovered that was not for him. He switched to a pre-law track. He then took a liberal arts approach and got his degree in Liberal Studies with a full certification as a high school teacher. Caron used his college electives to get certified to teach Social Studies. He then got his Master’s in Educational Leadership. It was “a long way around to have a degree with some law bits and pieces to it...trying to be a high school social studies teacher I had quite a journey to find the classroom.”

Caron began at Spurwink in Casco working as an educational technician. He was then promoted to a special education teacher and then arrived at Windham High for the 1999-2000 school year.
“Teaching and coaching is a lot of fun – the level of impact you can have with individual students is amazing,” says Caron.

Evergreen AutoHe left Windham in 2006 to gain experience as an assistant principal. Caron had been encouraged by Deb McAfee, the high school principal at the time, as well as other faculty members to look into administration and assistant principal work. Taking their advice, Caron became assistant principal at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram for several years and then became principal there for three years. He has been principal at South Portland High for the last five years.

Caron never considered the role of principal until he got the opportunity at Sacopee Valley. He took a one-year position as principal there to see if he liked it and, as it turned out, he did. When the principal position at Windham High School opened, Caron had to consider it – it was a great opportunity to come back where he started. hopes to continue the good work that’s been going on since he left. He and his team want to provide as many opportunities for kids as they can. He wants to take what he’s learned at other schools and apply it at Windham High School so the most benefit is available to kids, teachers and staff.

A Gorham resident, Caron grew up in a small town in Aroostook county. He loved high school and tried hard to take full advantage of it; a lesson he stresses to students. He met his wife in college and they have two children; a daughter in eighth grade and a son in third grade. Caron believes involvement is key. Between Gorham and Windham events, he also believes in supporting community. He enjoys spending time with friends and family.

“I’m happy to be here. I see my job as removing roadblocks for kids, parents and teachers. I love this community. I think there’s a lot of potential in the community and I want to try to maximize that potential.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Make Shift Coffee House to offer food, music and good old-fashioned civic conversation

What good old fashion conversation looks like
We've always had people in our lives that disagree with us - and us with them. But in recent years, disagreements have grown and chasms have developed; not only within our communities but among friends and between family members as well. It might be safe to say we’ve all become tattered and worn by a lack of civil discourse and a breakdown in communication where the desire to appreciate our differences has all but escaped us.

It is true that our upbringing and environment shapes us and our beliefs. Learning a little about someone’s life can help us to understand one another and accept our differences – and thus potentially changing the course of civility.

Seeking to understand another’s perspective and to learn from each other is the purpose of the Make Shift Coffee House to be held on Thursday, September 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Windham Veteran’s Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive in Windham (behind Hannaford’s and Reny’s shopping center). The theme for the event is “Exploring the Political Divide.”

Briefly, a Make Shift Coffee House is an event where people have an opportunity for good old-fashioned civic dialogue while enjoying good food and great music. The occasion provides a chance to ask questions and to hear another’s perspective in a safe and fun environment. It’s not about persuading each other; it’s about coming together with the desire to understand and the willingness to listen and learn.

Make Shift Coffee Houses have been popping up in various communities across Maine for the past 18 months and is the concept of Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions, Inc. According to the website, Freshley, a professional facilitator, stated that he was troubled by the growing political divide and the growing lack of civility in political conversations. As a result, he hosted the first Makes Shift Coffee House event in January 2017 in his hometown of Brunswick in an effort to help bridge that political divide. The event was so successful, volunteer members of other Maine communities have joined Freshley to provide a positive opportunity for conversations with others who have different perceptions.

To follow in the footsteps of that success, seven local community individuals from various political and philosophical perspectives have been working together for the past five months to give Raymond, Windham and other Lake Region residents the same chance to seek understanding with the hope of bridging the gap and returning to civil discourse.

Gary Wittner
The event will begin with music provided by Gary Wittner of Raymond and food donated by area businesses with an opportunity to meet and greet one another. This will be followed by a group discussion, led by Freshley who will manage a civil exchange of ideas as a neutral third party. Questions that may be considered include:

·         How does the political divide affect your everyday life?
·         What are the political differences that divide us?
·         If you affiliate with a particular political party, why?
·         If you feel strongly about a political issue, why?

Individuals in attendance will get a chance to voice topics that they deem important for discussion. Topics will be selected and discussed at individual tables, of which attendees will choose to participate in the issue of their choice. Freshley will bring the smaller groups back together for a large group dialogue to capture a larger viewpoint and to end another successful Coffee House discussion.

Gary Plummer of Windham who is a retired teacher and former elected official, is one of the volunteers who worked to host this Make Shift Coffee House. Being positive and giving back is important to him. “My nearly four decades serving as a local, county and state elected official was a hobby that provided me a chance to give back to a society that has given me so much,” he stated. “I signed on to the Makeshift Coffee House because I see this as a way to help spread and continue a positive outlook on life.” Duffy of Raymond who is a founding member of Raymond Arts Alliance and is a practicing clinical counselor as well as an adjunct faculty member at Central Maine Community College has also volunteered her time toward creating this event. She believes civil, face-to-face discussion is important.Civil dialogue takes the print and visual media, their need for simplification (and to sell their product) right out of the equation,” she said. “I see this [event] as needed more than ever. Our challenges seem more complicated than ever, and we can cocoon in our own likeminded communities and get nowhere forever. We really need to be more interconnected; everybody knows different things that contribute to the whole.”

To learn more about the Make Shift Coffeehouse, visit or call 207-729-5607.

About the musician:
Guitarist Gary Wittner has been performing worldwide for over 30 years. He has released several CDs and officially represented the USA overseas four times. A native New Yorker, Mr. Wittner performs Jazz, Latin music, and Middle Eastern music locally, regionally and internationally.  He also teaches guitar at Bowdoin College and is a faculty member of the Univ. of S. Maine School of Music.

About the Make Shift organizing committee:
In addition to Plummer and Duffy, the other volunteer members of the organizing committee include: Frank Pecoraro of Raymond, owner of Mulberry Farm. Nancy Foran of Raymond, Pastor of the Raymond Village Community Church. Marie Guerin of West Kennebunk, member of the Raymond Village Community Church. Lorraine Glowczak of Windham, Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper; and Sheila Bourque of Raymond, President of the Raymond Village Library.

Speaker tells story of how minor ailment saves him from the tragedy of 9/11 by Lorraine Glowczak

Donato Tramuto
September 11, 2001 is a date that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed and experienced the tragedies that occurred in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Much like any unforgettable catastrophe, everyone remembers that day with clarity. There are also many stories of near misses - seemingly insignificant events – that resulted in a life saved. For some, it was oversleeping and arriving late to their office on the 105th floor, for others it was missing the subway bound for the Trade Center, and yet for others it was an error in flight scheduling.

For Donato Tramuto it was a toothache.

Tramuto, the CEO of Tivity Health, Inc., told his story and explained the purpose for establishing the Tramuto Foundation to a crowd of students, faculty and eight non-profit partners (2018 Tramuto Foundation recipients) at the Stone House on the St. Joseph’s College Campus for a breakfast and commemorative event on Tuesday, September 11 from 8 9:30 a.m.

The morning began with a welcome and opening prayers by President James Dlugos, who has worked closely with Tramuto on other projects over the past three years.

The purpose of the event was to not only gather and commemorate the tragic losses of the terrorist attacks but to recognize the grant recipients of the Tramuto Foundation. A foundation established in memory of two close friends of Tramuto and their son who lost their lives aboard flight 175 on September 11th. The foundation provides scholarships to underprivileged students, as well as providing grants to organizations whose mission it is to better the lives of others.

Two Maine organizations, Saint Joseph’s College and the Good Shepherd Food Bank are this year’s recipients as well as Boston University School of Public Health, Thomas Jefferson University – Jefferson College School of Population Health, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Health eVillages and Lwala Community Alliance.

After his introduction by Dlugos, Tramuto told an attentive and quiet audience that he was scheduled to be on United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, a weekly flight he often took from his home in Ogunquit to California where he was busy creating a healthcare company. weekend prior to the tragedy, he and his partner Jeff were the host to two close friends from California and their three-year-old son. “It was the most beautiful September sunny weekend,” he recalled. “We laughed, we ate, and we enjoyed watching three-year old David as he played and explored, begging ‘just five more minutes’ so he could capture more time before he went to bed. At the end of the day, while sitting on the patio, I raised a glass to toast the perfect weekend. I said, ‘It will never be as great as it is right now,’” After choking back tears he continued, “I will never be able to use those words to toast again.”

Tramuto was scheduled to fly back with his friends and their son on that fateful day, but a toothache caused him to change flight plans so he could visit his dentist in Boston. His friends and their son continued their flight to L.A. as planned. It was the plane that hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

As with many whose lives were spared during this devastating tragedy, Tramuto explained the depth of his anger and guilt he felt during this time. To funnel the intense emotions, he decided to create a living tribute in his friends’ memories, creating the Tramuto Foundation to show there is still good that exists in the world.

When asked what advice he might have for others who face such misfortune and heartbreak, Trumato offered two pieces of guidance. He stated that adversity and challenge can create an opportunity for understanding and compassion. “Do you want to remain bitter and hateful?” he stated. “Evil and hatred does not solve anything. Instead, use the experience for good.”

He stated that by choosing to take the road towards compassion, it changed his life. “I feel like I’m living my calling now. It’s not about my career or material things – it is about compassion toward others. I’ve done more in the past 17 years than I did the first 45 years of my life.”

The last piece of advice he offered is something he stated all great leaders of our time have done at least once in their lives. “Search right down to the core of your being,” Trumato stated. “Find out who you are and what you will do with that.”

He also shared his concern regarding the present political divide. “My biggest fear is 10 years from now, the country will be in a more challenging place,” he reflected “We lack compassion and unity for one another, which was the common denominator during the early days after the attack.”

Dlugos added to Trumato’s sentiments. “I call it ‘radical hospitality’ which goes beyond being tolerant of others,” he began. “If we can stop and take the time to get to know other people and be sensitive to their stories, it will help us to act in a more civil manner. It’s really hard to be uncivil to someone you know.”

Trumato added to his own statement, “Have we lost the lesson from 9/11?”

Following the breakfast and commemorative event, the 2018 foundation recipients transitioned into a private meeting to plan a 2021 20th Commemorative Anniversary Gala foundation fundraiser.

For more information about the Trumato Foundation, visit

Friday, September 7, 2018

Windham High teacher selected to teach financial literacy locally and nationwide by Matt Pascarella

Kelly-Anne Rush
Social Studies teacher Kelly-Anne Rush was one of the 24 teachers, out of over 200 nationwide, selected to attend the Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) summer institute workshop in California and become an NGPF fellow this past summer. She will spend this school year advocating for and promoting financial literacy in Maine and across the nation in her role as both a classroom teacher and a fellow.

NGPF is a free high-school personal finance curriculum and professional development partner helping teachers deliver essential money understanding in an easy-to-grasp, engaging way. WHS (Windham High School) is one of the first schools in the state to have a specific financial literacy course requirement for seniors to graduate. Rush believes financial literacy is an important skill and all students should have access to high quality instruction in this area.

During the summer institute, Rush came away with a lot of new curriculum ideas but also ways to advocate for financial literacy education. She has used the free curriculum resources (lessons, videos, assessments) from Next Gen Personal Finance in some of her financial literacy classes and her students love them.

 My goal for the upcoming school year as a NGPF fellow is to not only continue to develop high quality, engaging lessons and activities for the students in my classroom but also to be an advocate for promoting financial literacy in Maine and across the country,” Rush stated. “I was very excited and honored to be chosen as a fellow and am excited to continue teaching and promoting financial literacy.”

Rush, a Windham native, has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly Rich, was the real inspiration for choosing her career path. Rush credits the “American Girl book series and dolls for instilling her first love of history. Toward the end of high school, she had an extremely energetic U.S. history teacher, Mr. Terry Christy, who inspired her to teach social studies.
She earned her B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine and then earned her master’s from the University of New England in 2007.

Her first teaching job was as a long-term substitute at Lake Region High School in Naples. That position turned into a full-time position and she spent 8 years there before coming to Windham High.
“I really love the community and school district, so I made it a goal to apply for a teaching job [in Windham] when I saw one open up,” Rush explained. “RSU14 offers a tremendous amount of resources, support, and programs for students and staff which makes it a great place to live and work.”

In addition to teaching full time, Rush runs a blog and Instagram account called ‘Crafty Teacher Lady’, focusing primarily on teaching resources as well as home design. She renovates and ‘flips’ houses and furniture, too, and is a bargain shopper, always looking for good deals. She loves to travel and makes an effort to go somewhere new every year, mostly in search of the ‘world’s best donut.’

Local students gain leadership skills, broader understanding of the world through HOBY programs by Elizabeth Richards

Emma Ward and Alexandra Hammond
Two high school students from Windham gained global perspectives and leadership skills at two Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) programs this year. Alexandra Hammond and Emma Ward participated in both the HOBY Maine weekend seminar in June and the HOBY World Leadership Congress (WLC) in July.  
After attending the state seminar, the girls were eligible to participate in the WLC. This year, the program was on the Loyola College Campus in Chicago. There, the girls spent a week with youth from around the world.

HOBY was founded in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, best known for his role as Wyatt Earp, after he spent time in Africa with humanitarian Albert Schweitzer. HOBY’s mission, according to their website, is “to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.” More than 10,000 students participate in HOBY programs each year.

Both the state seminar and the WLC offered opportunities to develop critical thinking skills and discover the power that students have to make a difference in their communities.

The state seminar focused on learning about yourself and how you as an individual can help the community, Hammond said, while the WLC took a broader angle, showing students how, together, they could make an impact.  “It was a different take on the same idea,” Hammond said. 
Ward said, “The world [congress] showed us people from everywhere.”  This brought many different points of view, and many different issues to discuss, she added. “We all got together and helped each other.”

During the WLC, the girls learned about their specific leadership styles, and how people with different styles can work together. One of the most difficult aspects, said Hammond, was trying to understand the point of view of students who came from other parts of the US as well as other countries. Though this was a challenge, Hammond also said, “seeing other people’s perspectives was a big benefit.”

Ward said that it was difficult in the beginning to open up and talk to people.  Her group communicated via snapchat prior to the WLC, but the group time at WLC allowed them to connect on a deeper level.  “They say you make really good friends, lifelong friends, but you don’t really realize that until you actually get there,” she said.  “We’re still all talking, which is really nice. Having friends from all over the world is a good thing.”

Participating in HOBY was a great growth experience, Hammond said. “A lot of people are closed minded. Going into it I didn’t think about how closed minded I was but coming out of it I have all these new ways to think about things and ideas on what we can do,” she said.  Students had an opportunity to help each other talk through issues and share what happens in their own school systems.

Ward agreed that the experience offered a broader perspective. “It really just shows you the people of the world, instead of just from Maine, just from Windham,” she said.

The girls also enjoyed getting a glimpse into what a college experience might be like. “We were on campus with people our own age for a week, we had to do things on our own, and being treated like an adult was a good thing,” Hammond said.
HOBY programs extend beyond the weekend or week-long experience, asking students to bring what they’ve learned back into their communities. At the state level, they are asked to commit to completing 100 hours of community service in the year following the seminar. And at the WLC, Hammond said, they were challenged to up that to 250 service hours in a year.

One of the things Hammond would like to do is to work with her school administration to help students have a bigger say in changes that occur.

#HallImplementWard said she’d like to encourage Windham High School to select students to attend. “If you’re thinking about getting involved in your community but you don’t know what to do, this is a good way to learn what you could do for your community and what other people are doing for theirs,” she said.

Both girls are already busy, active students. Hammond participates in Key Club, and plays soccer, softball and basketball. She also volunteers at Windham Primary School sometimes, working with the special education department. She doesn’t have a lot of time, she said, but participating in HOBY showed her where she can combine passions and fit in more community service.

Ward said she doesn’t currently volunteer anywhere. “Going to HOBY showed me that I could,” she said.  She also is active in soccer, lacrosse, and this year will do indoor track.  

Both girls talked about becoming counselors for the state seminar. In order to do so, they have to complete their commitment of  those 100 hours of community service. “I think it would be a good opportunity if we can fit it into our schedules,” Hammond said.  
Attending the WLC was a commitment of both time and considerable expense. The girls had support from the community and their families to participate. Ward thanked Alternative Sprinkler Fire Protection and Birchwood Nursery School for their support, and Hammond thanked HR Block for their sponsorship.  Both girls also expressed gratitude for the numerous friends and family who supported their experience.