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New Award Provides Summer Opportunities

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New Award Provides Summer Opportunities
Posted on 02/05/2019
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A new award being presented for the first time Feb. 15 will enable Portland Public Schools students from immigrant families to participate in unique summer program opportunities — including an educational adventure on a sailing ship, a residential pre-college program at an Ivy League college or an art school, or participating in a national student leadership conference in Washington, D.C.

Winners of the new award, titled “Rising Tide: The Linda Ward & John Williams Burgess Leadership Award,” will be able to select the summer program they want to participate in. The programs are designed to help students build leadership skills, strengthen their college applications and pursue academic and personal interests.

The Rising Tide award, which is funded by private donations and for which the Foundation for Portland Public Schools is the fiscal agent, was created in memory of John Williams Burgess, who passed away this past summer. John was a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, a passionate advocate for social justice and active citizenship, and a lover of all things nautical. The award honors him and his mother, Linda Ward. Linda is an educator and artist who has worked with Maine’s immigrant community for more than 30 years.

The Rising Tide award will pay for the full cost of the student-selected summer program and for travel expenses. The programs students can choose from reflect John’s and Linda’s passions and interests – sailing, political science, social justice, ESL, language, art, and entrepreneurship. Click HERE for a menu of Rising Tide summer opportunities.

The award is open to 10th- and 11th-grade students participating in the Portland Public Schools’ Make It Happen! program, a college readiness program that helps multilingual students build competitive academic profiles for admission and financial aid, by providing tutoring, civic engagement, and leadership development.

The award will be given annually in February. Each year, two students will be selected based on competitive presentations and the financial status of the award fund. Awards will commence this year in time for summer applications.

For this year, nine students from Casco Bay High School, Deering High School and Portland High School have applied for the award. The students are developing creative slide shows about their backgrounds, interests, and passions. Linda, her husband Steve, and Margy Burns Knight, children’s book author and former ESL teacher, are coaching the students in their presentations.

The students will deliver these brief, Pecha Kucha-style presentations to a panel of judges and a supportive audience at a special event on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Mechanics Hall Ballroom at 519 Congress Street. The best presentation(s) will be awarded at the event.

More about Linda Ward and John Williams Burgess:

Linda works in the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual & Multicultural Center and formerly was an ESL teacher at Longfellow Elementary School. She has served as president of Northern New England TESOL and The Maine ESL Network. She is also a painter and political activist. Linda and her son, John Williams Burgess, shared a passion for social justice and active citizenship. In 2012, John graduated from the University of Southern Maine summa cum laude in political science. He received from the faculty the Student Senate Distinguished Service Award. John was a world traveler, an entrepreneur, and a lover of all things nautical. He put himself through college as captain of Kylie’s Chance, the scenic lobster cruise boat in Kennebunkport, and later served as manager of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., water taxi captains. At the time of his death, in August 2018, John had recently launched charter boat businesses in Fort Lauderdale and Kennebunkport.

About the Foundation for Portland Public Schools

The Foundation for Portland Public Schools is a private nonprofit organization committed to raising philanthropic support to enhance educational opportunities for present and future students in Portland’s public schools. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at www.foundationforpps.org and/or contact Kate Snyder, Executive Director, Foundation for Portland Public Schools, at 207-842-4658 or ksnyder@foundationforpps.org