SEL Training for Maine Educators Serving as Model for Larger Training

Envisioned & Funded by the Maine DOE

The Maine-based nonprofit I’m Your Neighbor Books (IYNB) in partnership with the Maine Department of Education is working alongside Maine Public School Teachers (teaching Grades 2-5) on the PINE Project.

PINE: Picture Books Featuring Immigration Help All Students Navigate Social Emotional Learning

The 16 selected educators will receive a free Welcoming Library: Cart Collection for their school and participate in a series of 11 workshops over the six months of the project. Each educator will be compensated ($1000) for participation.

The no-cost training will help educators explore how they can impart SEL principles of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship building, and decision-making to all of their students through literature.

The training will be grounded in a series of picture books featuring resilient children and families from Immigrant and New Generation backgrounds. The 30-book workshop collection, provided to all participants for free, is part of the award-winning Welcoming Library.

These high-quality SEL workshops will provide teachers with tools to both teach the racial and cultural content in the Welcoming Library’s book collection and to reveal themes that are relevant to children of all backgrounds.

The workshops, led by veteran classroom educator and curriculum coordinator Michelle Amato, will include sessions with educators from immigrant backgrounds and I’m Your Neighbor Books’ staff. These workshops will help close the educational gaps made acute by the repercussions of the COVID pandemic.

The work completed together will inform a set of videos, created for training and as companion materials. These videos will be shared by IYNB nationally and available for participating teachers to share with their district.


In a series of no-cost sessions from December ‘23-June ‘24, the PINE Project will provide:

  1. Welcoming Library: Cart Collection with:
    • 30-book Welcoming Library picture book collection
    • 30 additional self-selected Immigrant/New Generation-themed children’s books gifted at the end of the project
    • Custom library cart
  2. $1000 stipend
  3. New teaching strategies
  4. Ongoing access to training materials


Particpants teach in a:

  1. Maine public school elementary classroom with students from Grades 2 to Grade 5.
  2. District where at least 15% of the students in the district are living at or below the poverty level according to the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) in the 2021 US Census
    District where at least 10% of the school’s students are considered Multilingual Learners.

We will be choosing only one educator per school building.


Participating teachers are expected to read and use the books from the Welcoming Library collection in their classrooms. They will document this work through monthly blog post reflections and in two self-recorded video-taped class lessons.

This work will be supported by 11 virtual workshops with one final in-person celebration.

There will be up to 32 hours of optional check-ins with faculty of which only one ½ hour session is required.

With 20-24 hours of individual out-of-session work, the PINE Project will be a 60-hour commitment.

Questions & Suggestions

For more information, contact Melanie Junkins at or Kirsten Cappy at I’m Your Neighbor Books at


ESSERF (CRRSA and Emergency) funds received from the US Department of Education (USDOE) support the implementation of this project. The project has an award totaling $119,041.16 of which 100% is federally funded and directly attributed to project implementation. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the USDOE or the U.S. Government.