Friday, August 18, 2017

Business spotlight: World Class Taekwondo by Michelle Libby

World Class Taekwondo in the Windham Mall, next to Smitty’s, is so much more than learning punches and breaking boards. It is a place where children and adults learn respect, care, discipline and more. 
Grand Master Park

Taekwondo is good for kids. It teaches self-confidence and self-esteem. Mentally, it challenges people who worry and deal with anxiety. It teaches self-defense, but more importantly, it teaches students how to depend on oneself. This is the key to having self-confidence and trusting oneself, said Grand Master Park, who owns and runs the school.

“Respect is best for life,” said Park. Park is originally from South Korea, where he was an Olympic training coach and represented the country as an ambassador, traveling to developing countries to teach Taekwondo. He speaks French fluently and is now an American citizen and chose Windham to be his home.

“I always teach and travel overseas as dispatch from government of Korea. That’s why I am a qualifying person,” Park said. “I was one of twelve Taekwondo masters chosen by Korean International Corporation Agency to teach to developing countries.” With 30 years of experience and as a seventh degree black belt, he is qualified to teach Taekwondo to students in the area. 

Park lived in Portland, Oregon when he first moved to America, then he traveled across the country consulting with various schools until he arrived in Portland, Maine. 

“It’s a beautiful and peaceful town. There’s the lake, ocean and forest. There are very gentle people here,” Park said. 

World Class Taekwondo has three classes a day, all different levels divided by ages and abilities. On Wednesdays, there will be a junior class starting at 1:40 p.m. for those who get out of school at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. 

The school has strict rules from: I will obey my parents and I will be faithful to my spouse, to respect others, the environment and myself. There are also tenets of success with courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit that are put into each lesson. 

“It’s more about building the whole person,” said Park. 

The students are asked questions that make them think about what makes a good role model and what makes a good student. All of the students from three to seventy call Park “sir”. Taekwondo is used for self-defense and students are taught to walk away from fights. 

The school is a melding of cultures where the students learn the Korean language fluently and are taught many customs during lessons. 

Linda Potter is a blue belt, one of the highest in the school which just turned one. She enjoys doing Taekwondo with her husband who is 70 and the oldest member of the school. She is also a student teacher for the junior classes.

“My husband and I wanted to stay fit. We wanted sharp balance, flexibility and to have focus. This is a magic pill,” Potter said, who moved to the area recently. “Finding a community was a huge factor,” she added. “This is a remarkable place for community.” Potter is a retired teacher. 

“She’s dealing with the soul. She is sharing her talent here,” said Park. 

“It’s a wonderful thing for kids. A lot of children find this to be very powerful in building their self-esteem,” Potter said. “The level of quality she brings to Windham is unbelievable.”

Parents who watch the class will often join the class after a week or two. 

There is rolling admission and students are invited to join any class they are qualified for at any time.  
For more information on World Class Taekwondo and to see the class schedule, visit

Friday, August 11, 2017

Business spotlight on Fiddlehead Art and Science Center by Michelle Libby

Learning and enrichment take center stage at Fiddlehead Art and Science Center on Shaker Road in Gray. The non-profit is in its 15th year as a preschool, before and after school program and private music, theater and art classes. 
The program started in the center of Gray, moved to Pineland and is now in its’ 10th year at the current location, where they have 16,000 square feet for all of their offerings; including a large backyard for gardening, playing ball and other outdoor activities. There are plenty of classrooms including an art room with clay wheels, a theater with a stage and private music rooms. Fiddlehead has offered 40 summer camps options this season, “and we have had about 60 campers each week enjoying art, science, theater and music” said executive director Kimberly Allen. 

“Based on the Reggio Emilia approach, it is child directed, explorative play,” Allen said. The children learn from the world around them, inside and outside and what is on their minds. Their creativity provides the learning opportunities. Teachers use art, story books and science projects based on what the children are interested in or have questions about. 

There are classes offered as a part of the afterschool program, along with additional learning opportunities for those that want to participate outside of the after school program. Classes in music, theater, pottery and art are offered most week nights. 

“The private music program is really a secret,” said Allen. “People don’t realize we offer private music lessons once a week for adults and children.” The classes vary depending on the needs of the students: a music appreciation class for younger students, voice lessons or lessons in violin, guitar, piano, fiddle, woodwinds and brass. Many of the instructors are the same ones that teach in Portland. The half hour lessons are once a week September to June with an optional recital at the end of the year. 

Music classes are offered to those who know little about music to someone who wants to refine their current skills. “No experience is necessary,” said Allen. There are guitars and violins for rent from Fiddlehead. “We want it to be accessible for anyone interested,” she said. 

Fiddlehead has space for 60 students in its before and after school programs and 22 in its preschool program and 100 private music spots available each week. 

The fourteen employees are highly trained and knowledgeable in early childhood education for preschool. The after school program has instructors who are local artists, performers and formally trained teachers. The music teachers are professionals from the community and some are music students in college pursuing music education. 

“We have really talented staff. We are offering what people are looking for, a deeper experience in arts, science and music,” said Allen. “We are about caring and building relationships with people.”
Kids come back to visit even after they have left the school. One student came back to be a teacher and the present program manager was a music student. 

“It’s really a special place. You’re part of a community when you’re here,” Allen said. “I think the students enjoy being here, they are excited as they arrive to tell us about their day and look forward to what the classes are offering. Each child is welcomed and I hope that they feel cared for while in our center.”

Students come from a 20 mile radius for the programs offered at the center. Other places have components of the Fiddlehead’s program, but none have the all-in-one-place availability. Fiddlehead even offers an unlimited program for after school students, where they can partake of everything from music to pottery to acting for one price. “They have the opportunity to try everything and learn what they enjoy the most and go deeper into that subject,” Allen said. 

Fiddlehead isn’t only for children - as they offer private music classes, theater programs and pottery classes for adults. 

Fiddlehead is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with preschool from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and music from noon to 8 p.m. 

There are openings in the preschool class and for two after school teachers, particularly teachers that are well versed in science. 

For more information or to check for openings, visit, call 657-2244, email, or find them on Facebook under Fiddlehead Arts & Science Center.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Business spotlight: The Scholar Room by Michelle Libby’s teachers have much more pressure than ever before to teach, to test and to meet students where they’re at in a classroom of 25 students; and to meet the requests from the parents. Andrea Logan has the solution for parents and students who find themselves stuck moving forward on the treadmill of education. The Scholar Room is a private tutoring service that can help students meet their goals, learn study skills and meet benchmarks for math, reading and more. 
“The Scholar Room is small group tutoring designed to provide support within the Windham/Raymond and lakes region communities,” said Logan. She offers one on one tutoring and small group skills classes for extra practice in a specific area. Some small classes only last three to five sessions to catch the students up on something like subtracting with regrouping. 

“I work on anything to support educational goals teachers are working on, but in a different setting,” she added. “Ultimately I got into it to do consulting and be a support person for educators in the K-12 curriculum.”

Logan has been in education for 18 years and has dual master’s degrees in education and special education. She is a middle school language arts teacher in Portland and is dual certified to teach kindergarten to eighth grade in special education and regular classrooms. She started tutoring in 2008 and she is well versed in 504 plans, Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

“I’m a lifelong teacher and lifelong learner,” she said. She is proving that by finishing her doctorate degree in transformational leadership. 

Tutoring “allows me to teach to each child and each family on a one on one basis. It’s a highly targeted intervention and specialized plan. I meet parents where they’re at in a personalized setting.”
Logan uses her background in special education and regular education to help all types of students. She will also work with a mom and dad who might not have the time or the resources to help their student. 

Her specialties are reading and writing, math, spelling and study skills. She helps those fifth and sixth graders who struggle with the transition of more homework and classroom work by teaching organization skills, executive functioning skills and decision making, that can take them on to success through middle and high school. She will come to the client’s home to set up a study station and work where the studying takes place to help the family establish good study habits with the students.

Logan designed her own spelling program that works in 20 minutes per week. In school it is always said that spelling will come later, but then later never comes. Logan can help students hurdle over the spelling gap. 

She teaches rote knowledge like multiplication tables, fact practice and handwriting. She believes in printing letters and writing. “As the kids age, just because we have technology, it’s not necessarily the best way to teach all of our children,” she said. 

Other issues she helps with are dyslexia, dysgraphia and orthographic processing, which is seeing and writing at the same time, where students see and remember letters in the mind’s eye. 

Tutoring sessions are offered at her home on Pasture View Road in Windham or in the client’s home. Small groups sometimes meet at the Windham Public Library. She works with students from K to 12.
Logan also serves on the board of directors for the Maine Association for Middle Level Educators and is a consultant through the New England League of Middle Schools. 

She also offers Make and Take Party Events as fun learning experiences. Watch Facebook for those announcements. 

For more information or to schedule a session, call or text 207-418-4807, email, or visit on Facebook or at The