Friday, August 25, 2017

Business spotlight on Gorham Cooperative Preschool by Michelle Libby the shadow of Gorham High School, Gorham Cooperative Preschool teaches a whole new generation of students, preparing them for kindergarten. The preschool is owned and run by a group of parents with children in the program. There are two paid teachers and a board made up of parents who handle the school finances, cleaning and maintenance. They generally stay on the board for two years until their child graduates from the program. 
“They really do keep the school moving and going,” said head teacher Mary Mathieson. Recently the board changed the curriculum and the programs being offered. “Everyone really has a say,” she said. The co-op started in January of 1968, with a group of parents who wanted quality education for their children and wanted to be involved in their learning. The program has evolved over the years, but the core of quality education and involved parents hasn’t changed. 

“We have some great families,” said Mathieson. “People make lifelong friends here, not just the kiddos, the parents, too.”

The curriculum is a developmental play-based program with each part of the day broken into segments where the students have time to explore different areas of the classroom like dramatic play, art, fine motor skills and the sensory table. There is also small group time where volunteers and teachers do specific activities based around themes. 

“It’s very hands on,” said Mathieson. Each class has circle time, where they work on pre-learning skills like sitting in a circle, learning letters, numbers and raising hands. They also have story time, snack time and play outside in the fenced in yard. 

The students enjoy the sensory table filled with a rotating material like sand, rice and beans. “They love building in the block area, the art center where there are no guidelines, or playdough. The dramatic play area changes with the theme from a pet hospital, kitchen area, space station. They also love our playground,” Mathieson said. She also mentioned that volcanos are always a hit. 

The center is unique because each parent helps in the classroom. They get involved with the kids and the activities. New this year, Gorham Cooperative Preschool is offering an opt-out program. For a fee, parents who have to work or can’t volunteer can choose this option. “It’s not that they don’t want to help. They have to work. We want to be inclusive and open up to all types of families,” said Mathieson. 

“We spend a lot of time getting to know our students and getting to know them as individuals. We focus on the whole child,” she said.  

For 10 years, Gorham Cooperative Preschool has been at its present location at 28 Ball Park Road in Gorham. There are programs for children ages three to five. The program for 3-year-olds takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the second session is from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

Four-year-olds have preschool on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. There is also a full day program for 4-year-olds getting ready for all day kindergarten, where the children attend school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. 

The final program is a combined 3- and 4-year-old class on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. To enroll, the child must be 3 years old by October 15. The teachers prefer the children are potty trained, but will work with them. Children with disabilities or who work with CDS are welcome and occupational or speech therapies are available during class time for those children who need it. 

“We foster children socially, academically and emotionally,” said Mathieson. “We want them to feel good about themselves, learn how to ask for help and have good self-esteem.” 

Children come from Gorham and all surrounding towns including Windham. 

Classes begin September 5th and follow the Gorham Public School schedule. Enrollment is now open. For more information, visit or call 8

Life event checklist: changing jobs. Courtesy of the Windham Edward Jones office

Chances are you'll change jobs more than once during your career. A job change can be exciting and daunting at the same time – and it will probably have financial implications. We're here to help you through the process. You might also like this checklist to address the issues that apply to you.

Review your financial situation

Save six months' worth of living expenses for emergencies. 
Review your budget, and increase the amount allocated to saving and investing, if possible. 
Develop and adhere to a monthly budget to help stay on track toward your goals.
Evaluate financial considerations
Consider establishing direct deposit for your paychecks.
Participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan. Sign up for payroll deduction so it's automatic. Invest at least enough to earn an employer match, if applicable.

If you're relocating: 

Determine who will pay relocation expenses.
Consider differences in the cost of living.
Determine whether you will rent or buy.
Consider transportation costs to your new job. Will you need a new car? How long is your commute?

Understand your benefits

Understand coverage and eligibility requirements for health insurance.
Learn what your options are for health savings accounts (HSAs), if available.
Discuss disability insurance needs and eligibility for individual coverage, if applicable.
Enroll in appropriate benefits and cancel any overlapping coverage, if necessary.
If you don't qualify for insurance right away, consider the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, COBRA continuation coverage, private medical insurance or enrolling in your spouse's plan.

Review your investment strategy

Review your investment strategy with your financial advisor, and make updates if appropriate.
Set up automatic contributions to investment accounts.
Evaluate your options for money in your previous employer's retirement plan, such as a 401(k), pension or stock options.
If you're earning more, discuss increasing contributions to retirement or college savings plans.

Income tax considerations

Consult with your tax professional to discuss:
Tax bracket changes
Relocation and job hunting expenses
Capital gains on a home sale
Severance and unused vacation pay, unemployment compensation, etc.

Estate considerations

Review your existing life insurance coverage to ensure that it meets your current needs and your beneficiaries are up-to-date.
Work with an estate-planning attorney to consider whether the following would be appropriate for your situation:
Living will
Durable power of attorney
Health care power of attorney
How we can help

Always talk to your financial advisor as you prepare for your new endeavor.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Business spotlight: World Class Taekwondo by Michelle Libby 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. 

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. 

Grand Master Park
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 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