Phil Brookhouse Honored at Annual Conference

At the Annual Conference at Point Lookout earlier this fall, Phil Brookhouse was honored as the 2014 Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Educator.  Because the award is always a surprise to the honoree, Barbara Greenstone kept everyone in suspense as she slowly revealed details of Phil’s career as a exemplary middle level educator. Below are her comments:
It’s my honor to announce the latest recipient of the Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award. If you’ve been to past conferences where this award has been presented, you know that it’s a surprise to the recipient, and we try to introduce that person in a way that gives out little clues to the identity and builds suspense. I don’t know how I can do that today, because this person is so well-known across the state of Maine that many of you will know immediately who I’m talking about, and so will he. That’s clue number one. It’s a he.
Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.07.28 PMThis teacher has more than three decades of experience as a middle level science teacher. In the classroom his practice demonstrated his passion for his content as well as his deep commitment to the young adolescents he inspired every day. Science pedagogy for him had to be hands-on and inquiry-based; he couldn’t do it any other way. I never had the pleasure of visiting his classroom, but knowing him, I’m sure his classes included many aha moments as well as ha-ha moments.
Then, in 2005, he left all of that to be a full time teacher of teachers and my partner in crime. We were Statewide Integration Mentors (SWIMs) for MLTI and we traveled the state together, providing professional development for middle level teachers. (If you don’t who I’m talking about now, you haven’t been paying attention). As we prepared for our first workshop together, I remember thinking, “This will be good. This guy’s smart, hard-working, and likable. He has good ideas, It will be okay.” I had no idea what I was in for. He showed up for that first workshop with Jolly Roger flags pbrookhouse_1352732796_140and a Jack Sparrow hat because it was September 19, Talk Like a Pirate Day. That may have seemed like a risky thing to do when you’re starting out with a new partner whom you don’t know very well yet. But he soon found out that I love that kind of thing. So it turned out to be a great teaching partnership, although some people mistook us for a comedy act. In fact, we were doing a workshop together one day, and we must have been in rare form because one of the participating teachers said, “You guys are so funny. You have this Sesame Street thing going on. You’re adorable.” That may have been the first and last time the word adorable was used to describe me.
But seriously, this teacher has demonstrated a deep commitment to helping middle level educators develop their practice. He understood from the beginning that MLTI was not just a technology initiative, but was a catalyst for changing teacher practice, making it more relevant for the 21st century. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just go to and read his posts, listen to his webinar recordings, or go to iTunesU and listen to his podcasts. You’ll hear about his work with EcoScienceWorks, developing games and simulations specifically for Maine teachers and students that were installed on every MLTI laptop. (And some components of EcoBeaker Maine Explorer are still in use today by teachers in my school.) You’ll read about visual literacy and how to use visual representations for making meaning of complex information and concepts. If you dig deeply enough into the MLTI archives, you may even find evidence of his starring roles in epic films like “Be a 21st Century Teacher with Studywiz” in which we played good teacher/bad teacher (He was the good teacher.) Or “Will it Blend: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge” in which he played Perry Pedagogy the pirate puppet.
In a career that has spanned 4 decades, his work has directly or indirectly affected thousands of students across the state. And in our work together we learned so much from each other (and not just the location of every Dunkin Donuts and every gas station with a clean restroom in the state.) He stretched my thinking and reminded me that we teach kids not subjects and one of the most important things we do with kids is make memories. He also showed me how one can face life’s challenges with courage and grace. But maybe the best and truest thing I can say is that he’s the middle school teacher I wish my son had had.
philandbarbaraIt’s my great pleasure and honor to announce that this year’s Janet Nesin Reynolds Outstanding Middle Level Educator Award goes to my friend and colleague, Phil Brookhouse.

from the President’s desk…

Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE
Jeff Rodman, President of MAMLE

It’s late August and once again it’s butterfly season in Maine. No, not the season for any of the more than 55 species of butterflies that inhabit our great state, but the ones that we feel in our stomach as another school year approaches. These are the butterflies that keep us up at night wondering about those first days of school. Will I have a good class? Will the students like me? Am I prepared? Did I remember to zip up my fly?


Teaching middle school is a great challenge as each fall enthusiastic, energetic, eager, and well-rested budding adolescents arrive to begin a new school year. The students come to us in all shapes and sizes with a myriad of abilities and needs. They are simple, yet complex. Just when we think we know our students, we find out there is so much more to learn about them. Middle school students are truly a wonderful enigma. As middle school educators, we need to understand what it means to be simple, yet complex. We are lucky to work with them but we have an incredible task that takes great skill, great patience, and great humor.


We should expect to bring to our students a firm and professional commitment to their educational, intellectual, and social-emotional well being that will ensure their growth and development toward becoming positive members of our schools and our communities. Teaching is an obligation we have all made. We have all dedicated ourselves to being the best teachers we can be. I am confident we will all succeed in this endeavor. There is so much to be accomplished in all of our schools but there is no better place where it can happen than in our middle schools.


As my mother-in-law, who was a great teacher herself, always said, “If you don’t feel a little nervous before the school year starts, it’s time to retire.” This year, I begin my 38th year in education, and thankfully, I guess I’m ready as I’m still feeling the butterflies.


I wish you all a successful school year. May it be filled with great learning, great patience, and great laughter.


Jeff Rodman

Principal, Middle School of the Kennebunks

President, Maine Association for Middle Level Education

15th Annual Scholar-Leader Dinner


Scholar-Leader Dinner
Scholar-Leader Dinner

MAMLE and NELMS partner each year to recognize scholar-leaders from across the state. Participating schools choose two eight graders to honor. The criteria for this award include:

  • Demonstrates Academic Achievement
  • Provides service to classmates and school
  • Is a positive role model for peers
  • Demonstrates integrity, honesty, self-discipline, and courage

Below are images from the 2014 Scholar-Leader banquet held at the Augusta Civic Center on May 15. All of the smiles indicate a enjoyable time was had by all!

MAMLE Board members Lindsay Mahoney and Cathi Wood welcome our honorees.

Lindsay & Cathi
Lindsay & Cathi

The Medway Middle School Jazz Band under the direction of Mrs. Page entertained guests as they found their tables.

Medway Middle School Jazz Band
Medway Middle School Jazz Band
Principal Pray proudly looks on as the Jazz Band warms up!
Principal Pray proudly looks on as the Jazz Band warms up!

Our national anthem was sung a cappella by 4 young women from Medway, and Senator Susan Collins congratulated the honorees via video.

The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner
Senator Susan Collins
Senator Susan Collins



There were 66 proud and happy families in attendance!




3 generations

Mr. Burns takes cares of the the Mt. Ararat table.
Mr. Burns takes cares of the the Mt. Ararat table.

Here are some of the 2014 Scholar Leaders!  Congratulations to all!


award winner4


Award winner2

award winner3

award winner


We hope to see you next year!