Week of Feb 26



GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Feb 26 – Students and Teachers return from February Break
Feb 27 – Team Leader Meeting, 2:30 Melanie’s Room
Feb 28 – Whole School Assembly in the GMS Gym 1:00 pm
Feb 28 – Faculty Meeting, 2:30 Library (Agenda Below)
Mar 2 – Read Across America Day
Mar 2 & 3 – 7th & 8th Grade Honors Chorus to South Portland HS
Mar 3 – EdCampMaine, Waynflete School 8:00 am – 3:00 pm (more info below)
Mar 5 – 8 – RtI Team Meetings, please be prepared for these meetings.
Mar 6 -PBL Steering Committee 3:15 pm Central Office
Mar 6 – GHS 8th grade Parent Night 6:00 pm, MPAC
Mar 7 – Spread the Word to End the Word Day
Mar 7 – GHS Administration to meet with all 8th Grade Students 8:00 am GMS Auditorium
Mar 7 – Content Area Meetings 2:30 pm
Mar 9 – School Dance sponsored by the 7th Grade 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Mar 14 – Early Release Day, All students will see the GMS Musical
Mar 16, 17 & 18 – Public performance of Beauty and the Beast, GMS Auditorium

Faculty Meeting Agenda

We will meet as an entire faculty in the Library beginning at 2:30 pm, sharp. Heather Perry and Chris Record will join us at this meeting to review the work of two committees who have completed their work and are making proposals to the School Committee in the coming weeks for their review.

Heather will review the work of the K-5 Configuration Committee. This may not seem as though there is a great impact upon the Middle School directly, however, we do receive all of these students into our school at the 6th grade and we are charged with making them all part of one school. This can be a very challenging task!

Also, many of us live in the district, and the work of this committee may have a direct impact on your lives.

Chris will report on the work of the School Day Committee. This will have a direct impact upon our school and our students, so we need to be very attuned to these possible changes, and be prepared to offer our positive suggestions.

If there is time, after these two topics, we may discuss contemporary topics of the day… I hear there may be a few!

Healthy, Happy Gorham

As part of the Happy Healthy Gorham Year-long initiative, we will be hosting Robert Emmons, a noted author, College Professor at University of California, Davis on the Psychology of Gratitude and Thankfulness and renowned speaker, world-wide. He has written over 200 journal articles for peer-review and presented his findings to various professional organizations of psychological health.

Dr. Emmons will present to our students on Wednesday, February 28 beginning at 1:00 pm. We will call down each grade to the gym beginning at 12:45 and the students will be returned to their classes at about 1:45.

Read Across America Day

In conjunction with the birthday of Theodore Giesel, better to known to all of us as Dr. Seuss, The NEA sponsors Read Across America Day (RAA). RAA is a day that is used as reading motivation in order to engage as many of our students, teachers, staff and all community members to engage in reading for one day.

Please let me know if you are planning any activities for your class. If you’d like some resources or ideas for activities, you can check out the RAA Web site here.

EdCamp Maine

I know many of you have heard this for the past several years, but EdCamp Maine is an incredible opportunity to meet and learn from teachers just like you! There is no “expert” hawking their latest book, or someone who wants you to do something their way, it is just people just like us, trying to get better at what we do.

I encourage all of our staff to take a couple hours on a Saturday morning, March 3 at 8:30 am until 12:30 pm, and checkout what the EdCamp Maine has to offer. It is not just technology, it is RtI, PBL, Classroom Management ideas, and so much more. And, yes, there is technology if that’s what your looking for as well!

The EdCamp is free, the coffee, juice, muffins, bagels and snacks are free and the learning is priceless! Here is the link for more details and to register. Did I mention it was free!?!

Spread the Word to End the Word Day

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of LuAnn Amell, we have celebrated this day at GMS by having our students go to the r-word.org website and make the pledge to end the use of the “R” word. Being a Wednesday, and a day we have advisory, I think this would be a great activity for all of our students. There are also some great resources on the website r-word.org that would be very helpful in making this activity stick with our students. LuAnn has also begun a wonderful display in the Allied Arts wing of colorful hands created by our students. Stop by for a visit to see how powerful the display is.

Also, many of us have t-shirts or buttons from the past and this would be a good day to display our commitment to ending the use of the “R” word in our school.

Our Talented Students

We have been blessed at Gorham Middle School with many incredibly talented young people. We have students who excel in the classroom, on the fields of athletic competition, in the art studios and on the stage with their voices and talents with musical instruments. Each year, we are amazed and bemused by our talented thespians after the annual presentation of the Middle School Musical.

We are now approaching that time of the year when each of these talented young people get to show off their talents to folks beyond our local community, in settings ins which they will be critically assessed and given constructive feedback on how they can improve their skills and hone their individual talents. These are very important times for each of these students. Sometimes, in fact, the critical, constructive feedback their receive during these opportunities is more important than what happens each day in our classes.

Why am I going on about this? Because sometimes we classroom teachers believe that what happens in our class is the most important learning our students must undertake. The idea that a student should take time away from my social studies class in order to rehearse or work on a painting, seems a misplaced priority. However, for that student and their learning, it is not misplaced, it is critical, and may be the difference between success and failure.

So, I am asking each teacher in our building to be mindful of all of our students as a whole entity. If a students says they need to rehearse, even though you know deep in your soul that their time would be better spent on reading, please, please please, defer to the student and allow that student to rehearse… with no guilt trip sent their way! Who knows, we may be in the presence of artistic greatness in the making!

8th Grade Parent Night

We will be sending out to all 8th grade parents on Monday morning, an email with information about the 8th grade parent nigh at Gorham High School, but I am asking each 8th grade advisor to also remind their advisees of the evening event as well. As with anything, the more we remind the students about this upcoming event, the better the chance that they will get the information home to their parents.

So, please let you advisees know that on Tuesday evening, March 6 at 6:00 pm in the McCormack Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Gorham High School Administration, School Counselors and Department Heads will be presenting about their child’s first year of High School.

On Wednesday, March 7 at 8:00 am, Principal Jandreau will address the 8th grade class in the GMS Auditorium about the first year, registration process. This meeting usually lasts about 40 minutes and includes several department heads as well as school counselors.

Assistant Principal Search

I am very happy to report that we have received more than 25 applications for the position acted by Susie’s retirement. The quality of the candidates has far exceeded my expectations. Fortunately for us, this will be a difficult choice.

Several of you have expressed interest in serving on the interview committee. I will be reaching out to three teachers to serve on this committee. Because of the number of quality candidates, I expect the interview process to occur over several afternoons and evenings. It will be critical that those involved in the initial interviews be able to attend all of the interviews.

I am also looking to develop a bank of questions for our candidates in hopes of being able to truly evaluate each of the candidates fitness for our school. So, if you have a question that you would like to be considered for inclusion in the process, I am asking that you forward that to me by the end of this week.

To give you an idea of what I see as the interview committee, this is a rough idea:

3 – Teachers
1- Support Service
1- Paraprofessional
2- Students
1- Parent
1- Secretarial

I expect to begin interviews later in March with a goal of having a candidate to present to the School Committee by April 11.

As with anything, this is always subject to change and modification.

School Dance

Our next school dance is Friday, March 9 and it is sponsored by the 7th grade. I would ask the 7th grade teachers to seek out parental chaperones for the dance and to make arrangements to be present at the dana was well.

Let Me Finish with This

On Valentine’s Day, American, and the World, experienced a nightmare of the proportions we, in Gorham, could never imagine.  I expect the folks at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School thought, if the they thought about it at all, on February 13th exactly the same thing, “… this couldn’t happen here!”

Since then, the 24-hour news cycle has been filled with stories of heroism, resolve, activism, awakening and some unbelievably horrible ideas and recrimination. The airwaves have been filled with all sides of a debate that has raged for far too long with no viable solutions.

What can we at Gorham Middle School do to make sure that this doesn’t happen here?

We will continue to follow the adage of “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” to happen here, certainly. We will also continue to refine our plans seeking to improve our preparation to respond to such an event, but one of the pillars of our preparations is called Mitigation. Mitigation goes beyond the idea of “see something, say something”. Mitigation means making sure we know our students well. We reach out to our students and truly understand what is happening in their lives beyond the school day. Mitigation means that we understand that some of our students leave our building every day not secure in their housing resources, some are not sure if they are going to be able to eat or what will await them when they try to complete homework that has been assigned. Mitigation means that when these students don’t complete homework or do well on a test, this is not a personal affront to the teacher, it is a reality of their life.

Mitigation means being visible in the hallways during times that our students are changing classes. I know these can be times when we talk with individual students about questions they may have, but I can tell you that all students would notice when you say something like “sure, lets talk about that question, but lets move to the doorway.” I promise you, that would not go unnoticed by all of the students.

If, while you are present in the hallways, you see or hear something that doesn’t sound right, say something, anything. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a simple “hey, not here!”. I cannot tell you how far that 3-second intervention goes in helping to make our students feel safe during their school day.

Is this going to stop an individual intent on causing harm and mayhem, even at the expense of their own demise? Of course not, but we may be able to keep someone from getting to that point. Someone who has formed that thought didn’t just think it and the  do it. This was something that fomented within them for a long time. Perhaps our work can keep that from happening.

It has been 10 days since these events transpired. The activism of the students, and the response of those resisting the students’ call for change has become the story for now. I expect, that as our students come back to school, there will still be conversations they will want to hold, and I think we need to be prepared. With that in mind, I ma including a link to a New York Times article that has included some resources that might help us in forming these conversations and keeping them productive, constructive and positive.

Welcome back, and remember, this is when the school year really begins to pick up speed!

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