October 27, 2013

High school chemistry teacher honored as state finalist for prestigious national award - By Elizabeth Richards

Lisa McLellan inspires students at Windham High School to love learning science. Her enthusiasm and hard work has earned her recognition as a state finalist for the national Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
After being nominated for the award by assistant principal Kelli Deveaux, McLellan chose to go through the rigorous application process. The application included recording a classroom lesson, and writing a paper on that lesson explaining how it demonstrates all the dimensions of good teaching, said McLellan. She also had to gather recommendations from parents, students and administrators. “It was an involved process, but it was really pretty enlightening. I learned quite a bit about myself. It made me think about what I was doing and why I was doing it, and resulted in me improving some of the lessons that I was doing within that unit,” she said.

A state committee met and reviewed the applications. Up to five finalists for the awards can be selected from each state. In Maine this year, four finalists were chosen, one in mathematics and three in science. The application materials of each finalist is then sent to a national committee which reviews materials from all the states and US jurisdictions, and can choose up to two from each to receive an award. Those who are selected will go to Washington DC to attend professional development activities and awards events. They each receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, as well as a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation. 

The state finalists came together last week in Gardiner to attend a day of professional development and to be recognized. McLellan said that was a nice experience because she was able to talk with the other finalists and share ideas. 

Teaching at Windham High School was McLellan’s first job after receiving her teacher certification, and she has now been teaching at the school for ten years. Initially, she taught physics and chemistry classes. Now, she concentrates on chemistry, teaching Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and an independent study designed for students who have completed two years of chemistry and want a third, more advanced year in the subject. 

The development of the AP Chemistry program is one of McLellan’s teaching achievements. When she began at the school, it had been a while since they had offered AP Chemistry, she said. Wanting to teach honors classes, McLellan struck a deal with the department head. “He told me that he would give me a shot at the honors classes if I would develop an AP chemistry program and recruit enough students to make the program viable. I’ve definitely done that,” she said. There were so many students wanting to take the class this past year that they considered running two sections. In the end, the budget wouldn’t allow for that, and they had to cut several students who wanted to take the AP course. 

But even if students aren’t able to take every course they want, there are other opportunities to dive into science at the high school. McLellan runs several extracurricular activities available for students who want to go more in depth with their studies, including Science Olympiad (co-coach), Science Bowl, and the ACS Chemistry Olympiad.

Those activities outside of school offer chances for students to compete, build things, and solve real world problems, said McLellan. “There’s a lot about it that is really exciting and really relevant to kids lives and to the world. It’s really important that we give kids really high bars, and we make it relevant, and we keep it fun and exciting,” she said. 

McLellan said the most rewarding part of her job is when she hears that former students, either in college or beyond, are successful. “It’s really exciting to know that we’re providing them those tools that they need, and then it’s also really nice that they want to come tell me about it,” she said. “It’s those connections with kids that last into their adult lives that means that I’ve done something that made a difference in somebody’s life.”

McLellan appreciates Windham High School and its science department. She said the way that the team meets weekly to collaborate with one another is special and unique. “Everybody’s always coming up with these new things that they want to do and there’s enthusiasm for it. We don’t just work in our own separate classrooms.”  She said that the department can only work that way because of the people there, and the support of the administration. 

McLellan feels supported not only by the school administration, but also by the parents. “In Windham, the community has been really open to trying new things and being excited about science. In order to be able to go for this award and have some success with it, I had to be in a place where it would work. The community has been really great. It is really a nice place to be,” said McLellan.

Secure Benefits/Nationwide Insurance opens Windham office

A ribbon cutting took place Thursday, October 10 at 104 Tandberg Trail where Robert Corthell of Secure Benefits / Nationwide Insurance has his new business in Windham. Many Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce members were on hand to welcome him to his new location. FMI, call 207-482-3328 or email rcorthell@securemybenefits.com.

October 21, 2013

Walking for a cure - By Jim Beers

The Windham High School Leo Club sponsored a Walk to Cure Diabetes at the high school Sunday morning. The crisp, fall air with overcast skies made for perfect conditions as the walk got underway shortly after 9 a.m. Beginning on the school track, nearly 60 walkers of all ages registered to make the 3-mile trek in hopes of raising as much funds as they could for a cure of type 1 Diabetes, (T1D). With all proceeds going to JDRF, (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Leo Club adviser Karen Petcher spoke before the walk: "We, (the Leo Club), are very excited as this is the first time doing something like this for diabetes. We have a club member who has diabetes and of course my son also, so this is very near and dear to our hearts." As the walk began, Petcher added, "Of course I wish there were more here, but it's a start. More people need to be made aware of T1D, and its wide range of symptoms, it has so many variables." 

JDRF is a major charitable organization dedicated to funding T1D Research. The goal at JDRF is simple: "To progressively remove the impact of T1D from people's lives until we achieve a world withOUT T1D." Headquartered in New York City, JDRF has numerous Chapters and branches throughout the United States, with eight international affiliates as well. Sponsoring more than $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries, JDRF is the leader in the fight against this disease. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. JDRF has two national fundraising events in the U.S. that are open to public participation: The Walk to Cure Diabetes, and the Ride to Cure Diabetes. JDRF walks are held at over 200 locations across the country and are managed by local JDRF chapters. Participants can walk as individuals, or join a team, (which can be started by a family, company or any group of people). Leo club president, Alexandria Petcher, who is a senior at Windham High School and the daughter of Karen Petcher, added, "The club is a good opportunity to do things like this within the community. T1D is in my family so it’s great to be able to help." Petcher plans to attend college in the south and pursue a law degree after high school. 

The Leo Club is a service group of Windham High School that focuses on the community. A youth version of the Lions Club, the Leo Club has been involved in such charities as the Ronald McDonald House, Relay for Life, Stuff the Bus, blood drives, fuel assistance, clothing drives, kids activities and now raising money for blindness and Diabetes. 

The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes program has raised over $1 billion since 1992, and has more than 600,000 participants a year. Today with this walk, the local community added to those numbers with hopes for more events like this in the future. 

"Awareness is the key, and it’s great to see so many people come out and show the love and support this event needs. We really appreciate that," said Karen with a smile. If you missed the walk and would like to help, please contact Karen at Windham High School, or go to www.jdrf.org.

The Windham legal eagles prepare for their first flight - By Holly Wilson, teacher

Students of Windham High School have begun organizing a mock trial team that will compete in the Maine Bar Association’s High School Mock Trial program. There will 24 high schools competing in the annual competition. This is the first year that WHS is participating. Teams prepare during the months of September and October, the actual trial competitions are on November 2.
This year’s case is the State of Maine v. Terry Jackson. Although a fictitious case, it does represent a present and real problem of today’s youth. Terry Jackson is on trial for manslaughter. He is accused of texting while driving, causing an accident that resulted in the death of Jane Anderson who was riding in his vehicle.

Holly Wilson, teacher of “Street Law”, at WHS chose to invite the students to participate. David Ezhaya, retired teacher, is helping, along with the lawyer-coach Peter Felmly, an attorney at Drummond Woodsum. 

Felmly traveled to Windham High School to meet with the team on Tuesday. The Legal Eagles are made of the following seniors: Garrick Rogers, Mark Hopkins, Liam Sullivan, James Wynn, Edward Babbitt, Jacob Cross, Scott Gorman, Brad Saucier, Michael McIntire, Carl Berthiaume, Nicholas Cerino. Juniors: Olivia Gilvey, Philip Dow, Mya Burrage, and David Kaschub. Sophomores: Kyle Cidre, and Isiah Flaherty.

Improvements planned for Windham - By Becky Longacre

The Windham Town Council met last Tuesday to discuss some improvement plans for the town. Some topics of interest are the upgrading of the Donnabeth Lippman Park, the establishment of a task force to improve economic development and outlining the goals still needing to be achieved for the year 2013.

Lippman Park improvement
The Town Council is putting a long-term plan together to improve Lippman Park behind Sherwin-Williams on Route 302. The town bought up a large portion of the land in the park from the Portland Water District in 2011 and Mr. Lippman donated a significant amount to the area in dedication to his wife, Donnabeth. It now covers 123 acres of land with 10-acre Chaffin Pond as the centerpiece. 

The first phase of the improvements involve “access roads and parking,” according to Windham town manager Tony Plante. “The council felt that it was better to do it in pieces rather than all at once. This is the first step,” Plante added. He said that the total improvement project would last between four and five years as an estimate. Doing the work is important because it is the first step to increase access to the park is to improve the roads and logistical parking patterns. 

Drew Corporation of Lovell, Maine was chosen by the town to do the site work which should begin in a couple of weeks. A new granite sign was placed this week as well.

Economic Development Task Force
“The Economic Development Task Force was put together by the council,” Plante said. 

Dan Hancock, the spokesperson for the task force spoke before the town council to talk about the research and goals of the Economic Development Task Force. “Development should benefit the entire community, not just growth for growth’s sake,” he said. 

The task force looked at the demographics of Windham, who’s choosing to move in and out and why. They put a focus on community structures. The Task Force suggested that the champion of Windham’s economic development should be the WEDC (Windham Economic Development Corporation). This is a non-government agency, but the final say in finding and allocation would fall under the town council. 

“I think the primary focus is on business development,” said Plante, who will be part of the task force. “[We’re] looking at economic development in a way that enhances community development. Dan Hancock spoke about benefiting the culture of Windham through the new economic endeavors here.

Goal setting at the council level
The major goals that the council anticipated finishing in 2013 are the Lippman Park project phase 1, roads and infrastructure, capital improvement planning, fire protection and the north Route 302 corridor plan impact fees and development. All council meeting agendas and many of the handouts can be found on the town’s website at www.windhamweb.com. Other goals moving forward are listed in priorities. “Nearly all priority A things were done,” said Plante. Some items from the priority B list may be tabled for next year.
Setting manageable goals for anything, especially a town is crucial to a community feeling of success, said Plante.