The Maine School Boards Association honored work within USM’s Muskie School of Public Service to reach out to local youth and nurture young leaders.
The MBSB recently presented its Distinguished Service Award to Portland Empowered and director Emily Thielmann, highlighting their work to help families engage in their children’s education and for championing the role of parent and student voices in improving educational outcomes.
Portland Empowered is housed within the Cutler Institute, the research arm of USM’s Muskie School.
The Portland School Board nominated Portland Empowered and the award was presented by MSBA President Maureen King at the Maine School Management Association’s annual conference. Elizabeth Ferreira and Pious Ali received the award on behalf of Portland Empowered.
The group’s goal is to increase leadership opportunities and knock down barriers for students and parents when it comes to deciding matters such as curriculum. Its aim is to make learning more student-centered.
Portland Empowered is the lead community partner with Portland Public Schools and its work was the impetus for the School Board to create a new School and Family Partnership Policy. This policy change has helped the district better engage all families, including those whose first language is not English.
One example is the creation of the district’s Parent University, where parents and caregivers can learn from experts and each other. Through free classes and events that are fun and interactive, Parent U focuses on topics important to families, and sessions have attracted up to 200 people.
Reporter Kate Irish Collins of the Forecaster covered the award with a story, "Award honors 'barrier-busting' Portland school program."