School notebook: January 26 – Portland Press Herald

OUT Fundraiser for Read the Rainbow

LBGTQ age-appropriate books given to a Vinalhaven school during the OUT Maine Read the Rainbow campaign. Contributed / OUT Maine

OUT Maine Executive Director Jeanne Dooley had a flash of inspiration this fall: What if school libraries made more inclusive books available to their students? OUT Maine, an organization serving LGBTQ+ youth in Maine, already had recommended reading lists for families and educators on its website. The key was to get the books into school libraries.

The Read the Rainbow campaign began when OUT received donations to purchase the books. Requests from 59 school libraries across the state requested select, grade-level appropriate sets of books, and over the past month, OUT Maine shipped sets of books to 43 school libraries in 15 of Maine’s 16 counties.

Each set contains between 16 and 24 books that are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, including books that teach about important moments in LGBTQ+ history from the election of Harvey Milk to the Stonewall riots.

“We still have 79 book set requests waiting for funding to be completed,” said OUT staff member Ingalil Vickerman. “These waitlist orders would cost $22,500 to distribute.”

Once these requests are addressed, OUT Maine plans to raise funds to distribute the books to interested Maine public libraries.

To help deliver LGBTQ+ inclusive books to Maine school libraries, visit A $400 donation sends a complete set of books for one grade level; $400 donors can choose the grade level ensembles they want to support.

Portland Educator ‘Inspirational’ Finalist

Betsy Paz-Gyimesi is a Spanish-speaking Family and Community Engagement Specialist in the Portland School District. Contributed / Portland Public Schools

Betsy Paz-Gyimesi, a Spanish-speaking family and community engagement specialist for Portland Schools, is among 11 Maine finalists for the national Recognizing Inspirational School Employees Award.

Paz-Gyimesi also earned an additional honor: She is one of two state finalists chosen to be honored at the state level representing Maine to be considered for a national RISE award. The US Department of Education will select a national honoree from among all honorees representing each state and present an award to that person in the spring.

A special ceremony was held at East End Community School on January 18, where Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin informed Paz-Gyimesi that she was one of two statewide honorees and presented her with a certificate and flowers and thanked him for his service.

dollars for scholarship holders

Catholic students attending a Catholic high school in Maine are eligible to apply for a 2022 Lila Grace Amirault Scholarship. To view a scholarship application and requirements, visit . The deadline to submit is February 18.

High school and college seniors studying journalism are invited to apply for funding from the New England Newspaper and Press Association, which awards up to 10 scholarships each year through the Journalism Education Foundation of New England. The deadline to apply is March 18.

To qualify, students must be a New England resident, be a senior in high school and plan to attend college the following year or be an undergraduate college student majoring in journalism or a related field, have a GPA of 3.0 or above and demonstrate a serious interest in a career in journalism. For more information contact [email protected]

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