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Portland Empowered Wins Service Award

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Portland Empowered Wins Service Award
Posted on 10/30/2018
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On Oct. 25, Portland Empowered and its director Emily Thielmann received the Maine School Boards Association Distinguished Service Award for outstanding work in helping families engage in their children’s education and for championing the role of parent and student voices in improving educational outcomes.

Portland Empowered was nominated by the Portland Board of Public Education. The award was presented by MSBA President Maureen King at the Maine School Management Association’s Annual Conference. Receiving the award on behalf of Portland Empowered were Portland Empowered staff Elizabeth Ferreira and Pious Ali, who also is a Portland city councilor.

Portland Empowered is part of the Youth and Community Engagement program within the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service. 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.

“Congratulations to Portland Empowered on this well-deserved award,” said Portland Superintendent Xavier Botana. “Portland Empowered is one of our most valued community partners and its work makes a vital difference to Portland Public Schools families and students.”

Portland Empowered is the lead community partner with the Portland Public Schools, Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, and its work was an impetus for the school board to create a new School and Family Partnership Policy in 2017. This policy change has helped the district better engage all families, including those who speak languages other than English at home.

One example of that engagement, particularly for language minority families, 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 its sessions have attracted 200 people or more.

Portland Empowered also nurtures young leaders through its Youth Engagement Partners Program, engaging students from the city’s three public high schools. It serves as a training ground for students to be leaders in student government and other organizations.

Photo Caption: MSBA President Maureen King (far right) presents the Distinguished Service Award to Elizabeth Ferreira and Pious Ali on Oct. 25.