It has been a year since our last Gala and much has happened between July 2011 and July 2012. Since we last met in these surroundings, the Abbe Museum welcomed nearly 25,000 visitors from around the world. We provided educational programming for 3,000 school children from over 50 schools across Maine. And, more than 100 Maine teachers received support and training to fulfill the unfunded state mandate, LD291, requiring Wabanaki education in the classroom at all grade levels.
It’s this last part I want to talk a little more about. And you are the first to hear this news. Just yesterday (7/17/12) we received a call from Senator Susan Collins office – we have been awarded a $144,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to help us seriously make a difference in the lives of Maine students and teachers. This three year grant program will send Abbe educators across the state to train teachers in classroom content to meet the LD291 mandate. In their letter of support for the application, the Maine Dept. of Education stated, “with the Abbe Museum’s undisputed reputation and its strong partnerships with all of the Wabanaki tribes, the…teacher education program promises to enhance and elevate the teaching and learning of Wabanaki studies in Maine schools.” We couldn’t be more thrilled about this transformative gift that will not only improve the Abbe’s performance, but will transform the lives of Maine students and educators and re-frame the classroom conversation about Maine’s first nations and peoples.