Upcoming Important Dates
Wednesday, April 1 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 (Agenda below)
Tuesday, April 7 – Gorham All-District Band Concert 6:30, GHS Auditorium
Tuesday, April 7 – 6th Grade Sebago Team Ancient World Museum 6:00 pm GMS 6th grade wing
Wednesday, April 8 – Faculty Meeting GMS Library 2:30 pm (Agenda to follow)
Friday, April 10 – GMS School Dance sponsored by the 6th grade. 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, April 14 – All Gorham Chorus Night, GHS Auditorium 6:00 pm
The Next Couple of Years at GMS
By now, I am sure that each of you has an understanding that the next few years in education will be very interesting! This is probably a great understatement, but there will be implications for GMS in the near future.
Let’s talk about the things we do know.
Next year, we will send 205 of our wonderful 8th graders to the High School, and the 3 Elementary School will be sending us 235 wonderful, new 6th graders. I know that 30 new students sounds like we really need a new 6th grade teacher, but it really is only (ONLY!) an increase of 2 students per classroom (18 students). While that is not ideal, it is something that I believe we can manage.
What is of a larger concern for us is, as a whole school, we will be adding at least 30 new students into an already overcrowded (in many classrooms) Allied Arts, school wide. This will cause a strain in several areas. Next year, instead of 205 8th graders receiving instruction in French or Spanish, there will be 225 students. Physical Education and Art will also see some demonstrable increases in student/teacher ratios… if we do nothing.
We also know that a District Drug Education Committee, organized by the Gorham School Committee, examined the issue of substance use by our students in grades 5 through 12. The committee has made several recommendations for the District to alter where we might address the questions raised in their deliberations. One recommendation was the addition of a Health Class for all 8th graders that would focus on positive life choices and an education of the consequences of substance abuse. Also, as the budget stands, the Committee on Drug Education recommended to the whole School Board the addition of a School Counselor with a background in dealing with adolescents and substance abuse, which would allow us to “beef up” our Support Service offerings.
We also know that for school year 16 -17, our current 6th graders (who will be 8th graders by then) will be required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in a World Language by the time they finish High School in order to be awarded a “Proficiency Based Diploma”. With this knowledge, we need to truly examine what the role of the Middle School will be in helping our students reach a sufficient level of proficiency in World Languages, which leads us to the understanding that in school year 16-17, we will have to provide our students with a full year experience in a World Language.
Some of the pieces that aren’t yet as clear are connected to funding and staffing to accomplish these goals, the implications for the programs we currently offer to all of students and what, if anything this will do to our schedule.
I am going to ask the folks who have been working on our schedule to continue to meet and look at the information they have collected and the several different schedules they have collected during their school visits, and be prepared to have a conversation at our April 8th Faculty Meeting. I don’t expect that we will have any definitive suggestions at this meeting, but I think we need to begin the conversation, sooner rather than later.
April 1st Early Release Day
We will gather in the Library at 12:15, after lunch on your own. We will do a very short check-in on the SBAC Training of our students. By now, all teachers and Ed Techs should be certified in the test administration, and all of our kids have completed the the training test. This is the first big hurdle we needed to overcome, and this should be behind us. We can now have our students getting used to the types of questions that this assessment will ask. So, we will just quickly check-in on this.
The rest of the time will be dedicated to Jumprope and getting all teaching staff more familiar with how the program works. It would be very helpful for each of you to start with one summative assessment that you can input into the system and then build to that assessment through a series of formative assessment measuring student growth.
At this time, I do not have any plans to have Sara Needleman join us on Wednesday, burr it would be very helpful to all of us if we could develop a list of questions or concerns that she can then respond with answers and suggestions.
Busy Night on April 7
We have a very busy night on the evening of April 7th. At 6:00 pm in the 6th Grade Wing at GMS, the Sebago Team will be presenting their Night at the Museum exhibition. This is the culmination of months of work by these students discovering the wonders of the Ancient World and creating intricate and beautiful artifacts of their learning.
After you have had the opportunity to view the Wonders of the Ancient World, journey over to the High School Auditorium to hear the sounds of all of the music students in the Gorham Schools. The Gorham All District Concert begins at 6:30 and it will include lots of Middle School musicians as well as many of our former Middle School students who just happen to go to Gorham High School (but we still think of them as “OURS”!).
Our Next Dance
The next school dance is sponsored by the 6th grade and it will help to fund some of the end-of-year field trips as well as a couple of other projects. Please remind your students to join their friends and classmates for this fun night of dancing and “running around at school”.
The Student Council will be providing snacks at the snack shack, but we have a very special arrangement with Sophie Gagne, who is raising funds to pay for a trip to a National Dance Competition in Las Vegas this summer. Please remind your students to bring some extra money to help Sophie realize her dream.
EICAL and MEA Test Prep
I truly applaud everyone for their dedication to the test prep from the upcoming MEA. This will truly be a shift in the manner in which our kids have taken the “high-stakes test” this year and that causes an increase in the anxiety levels of all of us. From some of the comments I have heard from several of you, there is a recognition that this may be a bit more difficult that anything our kids have experienced in the past.
In spite of this, I don’t want us to lose sight of our overall objective with our kids. We must still provide our students identified with disabilities their “direct specialized instruction”, our kids in Band and Chorus must still rehearse for their upcoming competitions and concerts. The Learning Labs still have to operate, the kids who receive Gifted and Talented service still need their time with Diane Knott and Courtney Smith, and we have a large group of kids in our Steel Band who have concerts in the coming weeks that will require rehearsals.
Most of these activities do not happen every day, so kids can be present for some of the sessions. The tests do not need to follow a direct path, kids can enter and exit whenever, these tests don’t count for anything, they are just practice.
And, remember, as we go through this trail two things… We will make it through these just fine, and, BREATHE!!!!