Thursday, September 21, 2023

September 22 Blog Post

That was a quick two weeks since my last post!  Check out the pictures below to get a sense of the exciting things that have happened in our schools since then!  I hope you see what I see...students of all ages having FUN while learning!

Now on to the information!


Assessing student learning is an essential aspect of education, as it provides valuable data to districts, schools, families and students.  The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and state law requires every school to administer annual tests in reading and mathematics to students in grades 3-8 and 10.  In addition to meeting state and federal accountability needs, we use assessment data to identify areas of strength and areas for growth within our school communities so that we can make adjustments in curriculum and instruction, as well as in supports that will benefit our students.

The Maine Department of Education has partnered with NWEA (Northwest Educational Association) to provide students in grades 3-8 and 2nd year of high school an assessment for mathematics and reading. The NWEA Through Test offers a variety of embedded questions directly related to grade level standards, thus allowing full compliance with federal guidelines. The NWEA Through Test will serve as the official MEA (Maine Education Assessment) state level test.

The assessment is computer-based and adaptive, adjusting the difficulty level of the questions presented to the student based upon student response. Student achievement is measured both according to grade-level Common Core State Standards as well as according to a RIT score which allows for comparisons of academic growth across students and time.  

Because NWEA also acts as our universal screener, we will continue to administer the NWEA-MAP Tests (Northwest Educational Association - Measures of Academic Progress) to students in grades K-2 and 9.  These assessments are also computer-based and adaptive.

Students in grades 1-5 participate in fall, winter and spring testing (K winter and spring only).

Students in grades 6-10 participate in fall and spring testing. Individual schools will communicate testing dates. 

While we encourage students to do their best, we also recognize that this assessment is an in-the-moment snapshot and not the final word on a student’s understanding or skill. That being said, a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast will go a long way toward ensuring a positive experience and outcome, and we appreciate your support in this regard.

If you have any questions about these assessments, please reach out to your school's principal to learn more.


As the Gorham Schools continue to focus on supporting the mental health of our staff, students and families we have some exciting events coming up and some strong resources for our families that we would like to announce!

Throughout the months of September, October and November (and beyond) we will be focusing on Mental Health across all our schools.  Here's an overview of what to expect for students at each grade level:

Pre K - Gr. 5 - 30 day challenge, Second Step Curriculum, implementation of U-time from BARR grant (Building Assets, Reducing Risks), kindness sidewalk chalk activities, and kindness rock painting activities.
Gr. 6-8 30 day challenge, hope bulletin boards by advisory, Second Step curriculum implementation, kindness sidewalk chalk activities, and kindness rock painting activities.
-  Gr. 9-12 - Development of a mental health page on GHS website, Staff training on resilience, kindness sidewalk chalk activities, 30 day challenge, Specific mental health focused advisory activities, use of lessons (2 in advisories), and kindness rock painting activities.

In addition to these activities, we have some special events prepared that we ALSO WANT PARENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN!  Here's what is coming up:

1.  FREE VIDEO LESSON SERIES (OPEN NOW) found on  These are FREE videos specifically geared towards parents and teenagers that help provide common language and real experiences for families to talk about.  Topics ranging from suicide prevention to de-cycling cycles of conflict with your child, to how to help instill confidence in children and lots in between.  

2.  FREE Virtual Family Mental Health Night – Talk to a Therapist - Gorham School District is partnering with The Cook Center for Human Connection to host a free virtual Family Mental Health night on October 11, 2023 from 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Participants will hear from a leading clinical psychologist, be able to ask questions, and learn about free resources available.

Register now by going to : 

If you miss this event or can’t make it live, check out where you can
access on-demand virtual courses, professional support, and a safe community for parents to
learn how to support their children and get answers to mental health questions. There are
courses on anxiety, depression, self-worth, grief and loss, suicidal ideation and other mental
health concerns. All courses are created by therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other
certified mental health practitioners. There is even a portal where you can “Ask a Therapist”
your tough questions, as well as see questions and answers from other parents.

3.  Student, Staff, and Community SPECIAL EVENT - Guest Speaker & Performer - Alex Boye - The Gorham Schools have partnered with the Biddeford School Department to bring world renowned performer Alex Boye to MAINE on October 24 & 25 to visit our two communities to deliver his inspirational message of hope and confidence.  Alex will be working with GHS students in the afternoon of Oct. 24 and then he will provide our GMS and GHS staff with a training before coming out to hang out with our community for a FREE workshop and performance at GHS in the MPAC at 6:30 p.m. on the night of Oct. 24.  More details will be coming on this - but in the meantime - Mark your calendars for an important evening event on Oct. 24 at 6:30!   

4.   Parent Mental Health Series - Your Child's Anxiety - November 6, 6:00 p.m. - More details to come, but mark your calendars!

5.  Parent Mental Health Series - Social Media - Protecting Your Child - January 22 at 6:00 p.m. - Again, more details to come but mark your calendars!

The Gorham Schools, in collaboration with the Cook Center for Human Connection has made these resources available to help increase hope in a time of continuing uncertainty and growing mental health concern. There are good people in your community working to provide solutions and help for those who are struggling. If you or anyone you know is in a mental health emergency, reach out immediately to the suicide prevention lifeline here: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741.


The safety of your children is our priority. We take safety procedures and protocols very seriously in the Gorham Schools and work diligently to ensure that our staff and students are well prepared in case of an emergency. We hold regularly scheduled safety drills, including fire drills, playground drills, and emergency drills. Following each practice drill, building staff members evaluate the effectiveness of the drill to determine if any adjustments need to be made to ensure our overall preparedness.

In 2019, we adopted some changes to the District’s Emergency Management Plan, specifically implementing a safety framework called A.L.I.C.E. ALICE is a research-based, proactive, options-based, empowering program for responding to a dangerous incident. ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.  

With regard to classroom messaging to students, as with years past we continue to keep this information developmentally appropriate and low-key.  Students know that we regularly conduct emergency lessons for everyone’s safety; including evacuations during a Fire Alarm and locking down in the event of an active threat emergency.  Using ALICE protocols is an integral part of this practice.

For our students and staff members, the biggest shift over the last 5 years has been that there is no longer only one response during a Lockdown (moving to a predetermined safe spot in the classroom and staying there).  Instead, they now focus on the teacher for specific directions that may include a ‘shelter in place’ option, locking down and barricading a room, evacuating a space when safe to do so, or any number of other responses depending on the situation.  Our staff are all trained to respond in a variety of ways, making a decision that will best ensure the safety of the students in their care.  

In order for these actions to be met with success, our students at the Elementary Level are being coached to stop, look, listen and follow directions without questions in these variable situations.

At the Secondary Levels, students take a more active role in mitigating their safety during an active threat situation.  As noted below, students at both Gorham Middle School and Gorham High School all participate in informational sessions around school safety and preparedness, including active safety drills. 

Additionally, all staff members are trained annually in Emergency Preparedness Response situations, including using the ALICE Framework to make safety response decisions as needed in the moment, to reduce any risk to our students.  During this year, all staff members in the Gorham Schools also participated in ALICE Scenario Trainings, as a refresher to reinforce their previous knowledge. 

ALICE has been instrumental in changing the way we react in the case of emergency situations, with the greatest factor being that of empowering staff and students to make decisions in real time that make sense to ensure their safety and well-being.


If you were reading my previous blog post, you probably noticed that one of my goals for this coming year is to help the School Committee work through a process to determine how to most efficiently maneuver our schools through continued growth while acknowledging our current facilities and financial limitations.

In November of 2017 A report was presented to the Gorham School Committee that studied the potential +/- of moving away from our existing K-5 “Neighborhood Schools” configuration and back to the “Grade Level Schools” configurations that had previously been in place.  At the time, and after having reviewed the report in its entirety, the School Committee voted to remain with the “Neighborhood Schools” configurations.  

Since then, much has changed.  We have gone through a Global Pandemic, our enrollments have stabilized, we have added two phases of modular expansions at Narragansett Elementary School (22 additional classroom spaes), and our special education costs (specifically for our specialized programs in the area of Autism) have increased significantly to name just a few.

During the FY 24 budget development process the School Committee requested to re-look at the “Grade Level Schools” configurations study purely from a financial lens to determine if this direction may allow us to identify significant savings vs. the “Neighborhood Schools” configuration.  The School Committee tasked the Superintendent to:

Re-look at the grade level school configuration from a financial perspective to determine if significant savings would be possible to the district if we moved in this direction.

Then based on that determination:


- Move to transition to a different grade level configuration for Fall of 2024 (if significant cost savings were possible)...


- As originally planned to address future growth in the district, move to adjust PK-5 attendance zones for Fall of 2024 implementation.

At this time, we are beginning the process of studying possible configuration options within the district at a high level to determine potential cost/benefit analysis of these options.  These will be presented to the Gorham School Committee during their October workshop meeting near the end of the month.  The School Committee will then be asked to determine what direction they would like to take from there at their November meeting.  While we are looking at several configuration options, the choice the school committee will need to make in November will be to EITHER...(1) pursue one of these configuration changes or (2) not consider configuration changes and instead look to re-zone our 3 neighborhood elementary schools to maximize future growth potential.

As this work goes forward, I will include information in my blog posts to keep parents, students, staff and community updated.  Please know if you are hearing "rumors" around the community about what is definitely happening - NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE.  I'd strongly encourage folks with questions to reach out to me directly so that we don't allow the rumor mill to swirl too much!  My email is  


Check out the flyer below if you want to come out and help us celebrate GMS's 20th birthday!  There will be live music, a brief commemorative ceremony and then lots of games and family fun!

First off, I want to give families an early "heads up" that we may be moving schools to remote learning on March 5, 2024.  This is because the Town of Gorham has asked to use our schools for the upcoming "Super Tuesday" March primary due to the anticipated high volume of voters.  GMS and Great Falls Elementary School will be utilized as polling locations on this date.

Due to the fact that we anticipate a large number of voters to turn out, and due to the fact that we cannot safely hold elections at Great Falls School while students are on campus, we may have to move schools to remote learning on this day.  We will be discussing this more as a district leadership team and with the School Committee before a final decision is made but I wanted to give families as much warning as possible to help plan.

On a related calendar note - just wanted to make sure families know that there will be NO SCHOOL on Oct. 20 due to fall parent/teacher conferences.  Schools should be sending out information shortly (if not already) to have parents sign up for conference times.  

Finally, just a reminder you can view our school calendar on our website at


Please help us celebrate our AWESOME bus drivers during the week of Oct. 16!  They love cards, or other little "thank you's"...or you can put signs out on your lawns, or perhaps say something nice on a social media post!  We have INCREDIBLE BUS DRIVERS IN GORHAM!  They are often the first "smiles" your children see each day and the last "laughs" they hear each afternoon!  Let's make sure to give them all some Gorham Love! 

That's it for this post!  Catch you next time on October 6!  

Friday, September 8, 2023

September 8, 2023 Blog Post

WOW!  What a summer!  What an awesome community! And what an incredible start to the 2023-24 School Year!  Lots to let me first share some opening of school pictures and then get right to the information part!  We've been having so much fun opening schools - I had to make TWO sets of pictures and spotlight just a few with our new Pre K students!

And here are just a couple Pre K photos as well.  Welcome to our youngest RAMS!  
We are so Happy to have you join our family!
OK, so now on to the information!


Just wanted to start off with a quick reminder to please take a moment to complete free/reduced lunch forms.  I realize this seems ridiculous because LUNCH IS FREE...but hear me out for a minute!  There is a reason!  The reason is that other funding streams that the school operates from depend upon these forms!  

Did you know that our district lost just 1% of eligibility last year and that resulted in a loss of over $200,000.00 in state subsidy towards public education in Gorham?  

So this information is used to help schools in ways that far exceed the free lunch program we currently have...

So when you get a minute, complete the form that was sent home with students in opening packets OR go ahead and just complete it online - even if you don't think you will qualify!  It is 100% confidential!  Link is below...THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

Online Application Link:

Each year I work with the Gorham School Committee to develop 5-6 goals for the year.  These goals are based upon our Strategic Plan and many conversations with the Gorham School Committee that help me to identify the top priorities for work in the coming year.  

Since these goals drive the work that I do, and since these goals then trickle down to become focus points for the whole district, I wanted to take some time to share them with you.  They aren't anything horribly fancy, but they are definitely important and I think help provide to you a sense of what to expect for the coming year.  

You can CLICK HERE to view the full set of goals with narrative, action steps, timelines and measurements.  


As you can see, one of the goals listed above that is part of our district's strategic plan is to revitalize the Gorham Code of Conduct (goal #1 above).  Now I want to be clear and up front that we have no intentions of "scrapping" the current code of conduct in favor of some new flashy language.  Please know that is not the case.  Our current code of conduct has been with us and a core part of our work here in Gorham for almost 20 years now!  Can you believe it?  Twenty years!  Our schools use this code (often referred to by students and staff as "the code") each and every day.  It is a powerful document and one we do not wish to lose or diminish in any way.

The goal of this work is to look at the code through a fresh set of eyes and to see if there are ways that we can make sure that this document lives on for another 20 years in our schools!  Can we/should we update the language to reflect 2023 conditions in our schools and in our community?  Can we/should we update what our code looks like in today's contexts?  Can we/should we better define what each standard means?  These are all questions we hope to answer through this process and we are going to need everyone's input to make sure that our code remains strong.

If anyone was around back when the code of conduct was first created, you know that it was created through a year long process that involved the entire community.  This process was led by our Superintendent of Schools and our School Committee.  A key person that led this work 20 years ago was a person you might all know, Jon Smith From Great Falls Construction.  THANK YOU Jon, and let's keep thanking him because Jon has agreed to chair this new committee to work on refreshing our code!  I will be meeting with Jon and our facilitator coming up next week to put the finishing touches on the plan for how we are going to do this work.  Once this is complete we will be reaching out to involve community members in various ways, so please stay tuned...and if you see Jon, be sure to THANK him for being willing to help lead this important work once again for our schools!


With our schools being back in session, I wanted to take a moment to review with families overall expectations regarding communications.  Whether you have been with us for many years or whether this is your first year, there is a lot of communication that is required to run a school system.  So an overview never hurts!  I thought I'd share a bit about what you should expect for communications coming from the schools and also what we can expect for communications coming from you.  

We have an incredible school system here in Gorham and a large portion of what makes us such a strong school system is our strong partnerships with our families.  We care about this partnership and a core part of that partnership is excellent communication!

How WE Share Information With You:

As a school system, we have "regular" communication systems we use to get information out to families.  Those are:

Website (
Superintendent's Blog Post (shared every other Friday with a few exceptions due to Holidays or breaks)
Social Media Sites (district has FB, Twitter and Instagram, each school has at least one as well, sometimes more than one).
Weekly Updates (K-5 uses Thursday folders, GMS posts daily announcements online, GHS sends out weekly email).
School Messenger (this is used for general communications via email and/or text across the district and by each school.  This system is also for emergency communications with phone, email, and text...more on that shortly).
Individual emails and phone calls (if we need to touch base with you as a family, we know how to get you ☺!  We will call if it is important, and if it is something that can wait we may email you as well).
Regular mail (there are still some times when we may drop you a letter in the mail too, but that is less often in today's digital world.  This is mostly used in special education).  
Student messenger (this is really just used PK-5, but parents at this age level should be sure to check those backpacks when students come home!  That is often a method through which classroom teachers share information with you!

As a school system, we may also have times when we need to communicate with families in an emergency type of situation.  First, it is important for you to know that if there is an emergency we will absolutely communicate with you about it in a timely manner.  It is important to know this because if you ever hear rumors about something happening, and you haven't heard from the school directly it is probably good form to be a little suspicious and perhaps reach out with questions before assuming something is going on.

In a true emergency situation involving a single student, or small number of students we will communicate directly via phone and/or text with the families impacted.  If we can't get ahold of the primary caregiver, we will move on down the list of emergency contacts until we can get in touch with someone you have listed.  So please make sure to pay attention to those emergency contact forms when you fill them out to make sure they are accurate!  Examples of these smaller emergencies would include a fall on the playground that may have resulted in injury or perhaps a student with an allergic reaction, or even a bus/van that has gone off the road.  Bottom line - please know if there is an emergency involving your child you will know about it, because we will reach out to you (or someone on your emergency contact list) directly.

In a true emergency situation involving a larger number of students we will also communicate directly via our school messenger system using email and text if it is precautionary in measure.  Or we might also communicate via email, text, and phone if it is a significant large scale emergency.  An example of a precautionary measure might be that we place a school in lockout because a questionable person was spotted outside of a school or perhaps we have received a threat to a school and are working to determine its validity but we want families to know about it.  Again, in those precautionary situations, we'll use just email and text.  If a significant large scale emergency occurs, we would also use the phone in addition to the email and text.  

The only circumstance where all three (phone, email, and text) are used to communicate that is not an immediate emergency is to call snow days.  You can review snow day protocols by CLICKING HERE, but generally speaking, a phone call, email and text will be sent by 5:30 in the morning for a full day cancellation or a late start.  If we are looking to perhaps release students early due to inclement weather you will be notified via phone, email and text typically by 10:00 a.m.

How You Share Information With Us:

Your first and primary contact for all things related to your child is your school's office.  We have folks manning the phones every school day who are happy to take your call, answer your questions, and provide you with the information you need as a parent/guardian.  If you have an urgent need, this is the best place to start and our talented staff can direct you from there. You can find school phone numbers on our website linked above.

We also encourage families to reach out directly to your child's teachers if you have questions about what students are learning, how your student is performing or if you wish to share information related to your child's learning with them.  Email is a convenient method for communication as is a phone call.  Just keep in mind that teachers are with students all day long so they may not get a chance to respond during the day.  Our goal is to try and respond to communications within 24 hours.  This is a goal.  There may be times when responses could take longer depending upon what teachers are juggling at any given time.   

If you have any concerns or complaints, we do strongly encourage families to share these concerns or complaints at the lowest possible levels first and to then move up from there if needed.  We know from years and years of experience that it is at these lowest levels that the best solutions to any problems are found.  For example, if you have a concern regarding your child's math class we would encourage you to share that concern with your child's math teacher first to see what can be done at that level to alleviate your concern.  If you have communicated with the math teacher and do not feel as though your concerns were addressed, you would then bring your concern to the assistant principal.  Similarly if you have communicated your concerns with the assistant principal and still feel as though your concerns were not addressed, you would then bring your concern to the building principal, then to me as Superintendent and on to the School Committee if needed.  Very rarely do concerns not get satisfactorily addressed at the lowest levels, but as a parent/guardian it is important to know that you have all these other people to go to if needed!  We are here to support you.  Bottom line, we all want the same thing - success for your child(ren) - and with that common goal and partnership we can work through most things TOGETHER to that ultimate end.


First of all, I want to take a moment to thank all of our families and community members for taking the time to volunteer to assist our schools!  Your time means so much to our staff and students!  We LOVE our volunteers!  Here's the good news...there are lots of different ways to volunteer in our schools!  Folks can sign up to volunteer to work directly with students under the supervision of the classroom teacher, or folks can volunteer to help teachers with classroom preparations or bulletin boards, or volunteers can chaperone field experiences, or a host of other possibilities!  We can work with folks that want to volunteer daily or 2-3 times a week, or with those that just want to volunteer once in a while for specific things.  

Interested?  Well here's how to go about getting signed up...

First, go to our website at and then click on "Human Resources".  Once there you should see a tab that says "Volunteer Program".  Click on that and it will bring you to our volunteer home page.  Once there, just follow the prompts.  The forms and everything are all linked.  If you have questions, Kelly Reed is the coordinator and her email address is listed right there on that page as well.  Generally speaking, once you fill out the form you will need to complete a quick training.  Once that is done you will be placed on the approved volunteer list for that school.  Teachers can then see your name and contact information and your area of interest in volunteering and reach out to you directly to set up opportunities.  Its really that simple, so if you are interested and have a little time to spend - please feel free to sign up!  Our schools are far better places because of our volunteers! 


As a means to help parents better understand what our curriculum is (and just as importantly sometimes, what it isn't) for all of our students across grades Pre K - 12, we have added a new section to our website that allows us to post what we call "curriculum guides".  These guides are shared by grade level at the Pre K - 5 level and then by content area at the grades 6-12 levels.  In the guides you will find useful information about our instructional philosophy, the specific standards and learning performance indicators used as the basis of our curriculum.  In addition you can see core learning curriculum information, an overview of the units of study, information on assessments, and resources to help parents reinforce learning at home.  

Please check out this incredible resource BY CLICKING HERE and feel free to reach out with questions!


Well if this past week has shown us nothing more, it has reminded us that the possibility always exists that we may have to consider changes to our school scheduled days based on whatever Maine's weather and other things may have in store for us!  We wound up sticking it through this tough week with the heat (Thank you to all of our staff, students, and families for your parts in making that happen by the way), but at times we did strongly consider the possibilities of things like early release days or fully remote learning days.  So I thought it might be a good idea to remind everyone of what tools we have at our disposal to deal with these types of unplanned schedule changes and what you can expect as parents/guardians in the event that we have to make some of these adjustments as we go throughout the year.

At this point, we have the following "tools" in our toolbox to address these kinds of issues:

-  Late start days
-  Early dismissal days
-  School Cancelations (traditional)
-  Remote Learning days

For each of these we would use the same procedures we use for "storm days" that are OUTLINED HERE.  

For typical school cancelations we would notify parents by 5:30 a.m. in the morning using our school messenger system's phone message, email and text notifications.  For a late start day we would use the same timing and notifications.  For an early release or dismissal day we would typically notify families by 10:00 a.m. and dismissals would follow the same time lines as outlined for storm days.  

Remote learning days could be called by individual schools based upon conditions in those schools, or we can also call a fully remote learning day for the whole district.  If a remote learning day is being called for something OTHER THAN a snow day (get to that in a minute) we would try to give families as much forward notice as possible and at the very least let families know the night before a remote learning day is called.

In regards to remote learning days vs. traditional snow days, our philosphy is that we would use the five scheduled snow days we build into our school calendar each year first as traditional snow days, and not ask students to be online learning during those days.  Once those five days are used, however, if we have to call school for inclement weather purposes we would move to utilization of a remote learning day so that we do not have to extend the school year into the summer.  This allows us to be clear about our last day of school each year and make sure we don't have to move things like graduation due to a large number of snow days.

If we do have to move to remote learning for whatever reason (inclement weather or other), we would follow the same protocols we have regarding learning expectations for our students.  Those are outlined below by grade level.  We will of course share this information again if we have to use remote learning as a tool moving forward.  I just want folks to know what to expect early I'm sure you are like me and hate "surprises"! ☺

*. GHS Remote Learning Overview

*. GMS Remote Learning Overview

*. K-5 Remote Learning Overview

*. School Nutrition Expectations for Remote Learning Days


As part of our Strategic Plan, the Gorham School Committee has been focused on doing more to recruit new, and retain our already existing, excellent employees.  One of the tools that we are using to do this is by participating in the Best Places to Work In Maine process.  This process does require some money, but this expense is what pays for a comprehensive perceptions survey to be delivered to staff.  This survey allows us to harness from their perspectives the things that are working well in our system and the areas where challenges may exist.  The survey also has reports and recommendations for moving forward.  

We entered into this process this year thinking that we would be very happy to just get the survey results.  Well, after a comprehensive study of our policies, handbooks, and this survey we found out that we were designated as one of the actual best places to work in Maine.  We are among 26 large employers designated by this process along side of incredible businesses like Bangor Savings Bank, Hussey Seating, and many more.  As far as I can tell we are the first public school to receive such a designation.  

This designation will now help us to recruit new high quality staff to join our teams.  This in conjunction with the report will also allow us to work on retaining our already existing incredible staff.  All around a great honor and a great investment in our school's future!  We will find out in mid October how we faired against those 26 others when they announce the actual BEST place to work in Maine at that time.  We are honored to just be on the list - but who knows what will happen then!  Will keep you informed!  While we wait - can I just say how proud I am to be a Gorham Ram!  GO RAMS! 


Just wanted to share this great video of some of our GHS students learning about math incorporating outdoor experiences and mentorships with our younger learners.  This was filmed last spring, but the work continues!  Check it out as a great example of what learning in our schools looks like!


I hope you've had the chance to check out this fun food truck experience right here in our back yard!  If you haven't - there's still time!  Check out the flyer for details!


With the recent heat wave, I just wanted to take a moment to THANK our municipal partners!  It was warm this past week in our schools without cooling systems (understatement I know).  It was particularly warm for our GHS students who had classes on the 2nd floor of the building.  When Principal Jandreau and I were brainstorming how to help improve learning conditions for our students during this time, our partners in the Town of Gorham stepped up immediately!  Students went to the Municipal building for classes in the council chambers, they used conference room spaces at the municipal building, and they used classroom spaces.  Then on top of that Baxter Library stepped up to assist as well by opening up some of their spaces to our students to go and cool down.  This really meant a lot to our schools and especially to our students and families and it just points out what an incredible community we have here in Gorham!  THANK YOU!


I know some of you may have already seen this video on our social media links, but I thought it was an awesome welcome back video that is worth sharing again.  In closing this first blog, I just want people to know how very happy we all are to have our students back in our schools and to have our schools vibrant again with laughter, fun, and learning!  We've certainly got a lot to accomplish this year - but we are up for the challenge and look forward to working TOGETHER as a full community to continue to support our students and to ensure that ALL students are "Prepared and Inspired" for their future success as they graduate from our schools!

Video Link:

See you for my next blog scheduled for Sept. 22!  GO RAMS!

Friday, June 16, 2023

June 16 Blog Post

WOW!  Final blog post for the 2022-23 School Year!  That went by crazy-fast!  Here's a "sneak peak" into the last few weeks...


First of all, THANK YOU to those of you who got out to vote at the first referendum.  Regardless of what that vote was, we are all thankful that you participated in this important process!

While the results of the first referendum were not what we had hoped for as a school, we trust our budget approval process and we trust the voters of our community to direct us as to what they need.  We understand that this vote is not an "ending" to the conversation but an all important continuation.  This vote continues very important conversations that our community needs to have as we seek to find balance between costs associated with meeting the needs of our students while also balancing those costs with the needs of our community's taxpayers that must pay for them.  

We have full faith that these conversations will continue via respectful and civil discourse and that ultimately this appropriate balance will be found.  Gorham is too strong of a community to allow anything else to occur! ☺

The School Committee has already worked with the Town Council to draft a schedule for next steps in the process.  Please be clear that I say "draft" because the Town Council must approve of the revised timeline at their meeting on Tuesday 6/20 in order to finalize the referendum date.

With this understanding - the DRAFT schedule to move forward is outlined below and should be finalized by the Town Council early next week.  That is:

-  June 20 - Town Council meets to approve new referendum schedule.

-  June 20 - School Committee meetings in a budget workshop meeting to discuss priorities and next steps.

-  June 28 - School Committee approves of revised FY 24 proposed school budget.

-  July 11 - Town Council votes to approve of revised FY 24 proposed school budget.

-  July 25 - REFERENDUM #2 IS SCHEDULED - Regular polling locations and regular polling hours.

As explained earlier - any school budget must be approved following THREE crucial steps:

1.  Proposed budget must be approved by the School Committee.

2.  Proposed budget must be approved by the Town Council

3.  Proposed budget must be approved by the voters of the community via a budget validation referendum.

All three steps must meet with approval in order for a school's budget to finally be approved.  If all three steps are not met, the process must be repeated until all three steps are approved.  At each juncture the schools operate from the budget last approved by the Town Council until all three steps are fulfilled.

I'll continue to keep parents and staff updated via email on each step outlined above.  If you are wondering what YOU can do to HELP - I have a good answer - PLEASE BE SURE TO GET OUT AND VOTE ON JULY 25! 😎

Absentee ballots will be available, although due to the tight timeline mail in options may not be possible. Folks can pick up absentee ballots and drop them off rather than mail them after the Town Council vote on July 11.

Any questions - Please ask!  Thank you!


Given some recent events I thought it might be helpful to spend some time clarifying for families and community members the various policies, procedures and state and federal statutes that govern how we as a school must respond to any complaint made by students, staff, families or community members. 

It is important to be clear about what these processes and procedures are in order to help families and community members know (1) how to appropriately communicate complaints so that issues are dealt with early on before they can grow to potentially larger issues and (2) that even though schools can't make public information regarding students or employees while these complaint processes are ongoing, that does not mean that nothing is being done and in fact much more is going on behind the scenes than can be seen by the general public.

So how does one lodge complaints - either formally or informally?

We have a strong belief here in Gorham that the best solutions to any problems are often (but not always) found at the lowest possible levels, closest to where the conflict/complaint may be.  We believe this because these are the individuals who are most knowledgeable about the various conditions that may be at play.  So the first step in any general complaint is to communicate.  I will outline what to do for more significant complaints a little later - i.e. bullying, harassment, etc.

Our general complaints process is clearly outlined in our Policy KE - Public Concerns and Complaints.  In the policy, we encourage individuals to use what we call the appropriate chain of communication.  For example - in a situation where an employee has a conflict with another employee we ask that employee first to communicate directly with the other employee about the conflict if at all possible.  Then if that doesn't resolve whatever the conflict is, the employee is expected to go to their next immediate supervisor to share their concerns and to see if that next person can help resolve the conflict.  This continues up the "chain" all the way to the Superintendent and in some cases even to the School Committee if needed.  Example:  Ed. Tech concern about another Ed. Tech  - Talk with Ed. Tech - then talk with supervising teacher - then talk with building principal - then talk with Superintendent.

Rarely do issues involving general complaints come to the School Committee because they are more often than not resolved at the lower levels.  

For general complaints this same process is encouraged for students, parents and community members as well.  Start at the lowest level and then work up the chain.  

If these conflicts are more serious (rather than general), or are repeated then, the steps in the chain can and sometimes should be skipped depending upon the situation.  Our building level leaders are often the ones that help to navigate these decisions.  

General guidelines for expectations of student behaviors are outlined in each school's student handbook.  For those students who participate in extra and co-curricular activities there may be additional expectations such as those outlined in our athletic handbook.   Our district also makes clear overall expectations via our Code of Conduct Policy and we work diligently to uphold these ideals each and every day in our schools.

There are also conflicts/complaints which can arise that are more serious in nature.  Many of these are serious enough to have their own policies associated with them.  For example, we have a specific policy and clear set of procedures to communicate complaints about bullying.  We also have specific policies and procedures about how to make complaints about harassment and sexual harassment.  For ease of reference, I've linked those below:

Policy JICK - which includes associated procedures of JICK -R,  JICK-E (reporting form), JICK-E2 (Response form), and JICK-E3 (Summary of disciplinary action) - all of these can be found by CLICKING HERE

Policy ACAA - Student discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment - which includes procedures ACAA-R

Note:  All of our district's policies can be found on our website by CLICKING HERE.

By sharing this information, please know we do not expect students, parents, or staff members to navigate these processes on their own.  Teachers, coaches, support staff, guidance counselors, social workers, building leaders and program leaders are all trained in these policies and practices and can help individuals with complaints navigate the various policies that may be at play.  The first step is always to communicate the complaint and be prepared to go to the next level on the chain if the complaint is not adequately addressed. 

For each complaint that is launched, and depending upon the specific type of complaint we respond in accordance with the policies and procedures shared above.  Some are more prescriptive than others.  Some require that full "investigations" occur with written outcomes and filing of those outcomes with my office and even reporting to the state in some cases.  Others do not.  Complaints regarding bullying and harassment/sexual harassment are handled in a much more regimented manner for example than complaints made about buses being late picking up students.

In all circumstances, any information collected as part of dealing with complaints or conflicts that relates to students or to employees directly is confidential information and therefore cannot be shared publicly by the school department.  This is in alignment with Maine Labor relation laws and in alignment with student privacy laws such as FERPA.  Because of this, the reality is that in many cases, information that is being shared by private citizens in social media land or via the general media is not representative of all information that may be available at any given time.  What the school can say in these public forums is limited.  

At the end of the day, I hope people walk away from this portion of my blog post with the knowledge that as a school system we want to engage with students, families and community members about any complaint/conflict our important stakeholders may have.  Ultimately we all want the same thing - for those complaints/conflicts to be resolved.  Communicating complaints/conflicts then is something we wish to encourage from all stakeholders because it is only then that we can work together in partnership to seek resolution that allows all partners to move forward in a positive manner.  


Note: This Media release will go out on Tuesday to all local press! You all get a "sneak peek"! ☺

More than 130 Gorham High School seniors participate in workforce experiences to earn the Maine Career Exploration Badge

GORHAM, Maine - Aspire Gorham, a partnership with MELMAC Education Foundation, the Gorham School District, and JMG, proudly announces that 136 seniors have completed workplace learning experiences to earn the Maine Career Exploration Badge.

JMG’s Maine Career Exploration Badge for Maine high school juniors and seniors is an opportunity to participate in 40 hours of meaningful work experiences facilitated through an intentionally designed exploration and reflection process. Students receive an academic award of $500 upon completion.

Aspire Gorham, with the support of JMG, collaborated with more than 100 local businesses, organizations, and professionals to provide students with authentic work experiences aligned with their career interests. Experiences included traditional internships, job shadows, volunteer projects, and approved extended learning opportunities. These partnerships allowed students to gain invaluable exposure and fostered connections within their community.

"We are proud that so many of our Gorham High School seniors were able to earn the Maine Career Exploration Badge this spring through their internship experiences. This $500 scholarship validates these important learning experiences for our students and demonstrates how a strong organization like JMG can work hand in hand with business owners and public schools to develop and strengthen our future workforce in Maine,” said Gorham School District Superintendent Heather Perry. “Our Gorham High School students had learning experiences that will last a lifetime and built skills that will serve them well in their future success as a result. Thank you to JMG for sponsoring such an incredible opportunity for our students."

These dedicated students have demonstrated exceptional commitment and enthusiasm in pursuing diverse career paths, showcasing their preparedness for future success.

We congratulate our Maine Career Exploration Badge recipients on their remarkable accomplishments. Their career exploration journeys have laid a strong foundation for lifelong learning and personal growth, instilling a sense of purpose and direction in their chosen paths.

About JMG

JMG partners with public education and private businesses to offer results-driven solutions to ensure all Maine students graduate, attain post-secondary credentials, and pursue meaningful careers. JMG is the largest statewide education nonprofit in Maine and is the only educational organization that provides a continuum of support to students from middle school, throughout high school, and onto post-secondary education and career pathways.

About Aspire Gorham

Aspire Gorham represents a partnership among Gorham School District, the MELMAC Education Foundation, and JMG, to continue to advance how Gorham prepares students for life after high school.



At our last regular school committee meeting of the 2022-23 school year (held June 14th) the Anti-Racism & Equity Committee delivered a comprehensive report to the School Committee on its work for the year.

You can view the written report by CLICKING HERE.

You can view the video of the report (minute 2:45) provided by CLICKING HERE.

We remain excited about these important conversations continuing across our schools and community.  The committee's work will continue after the summer break.  If there are members of the public who are interested in joining the work, please email me at  We are always seeking additional participation from our community!  



Each year as part of my annual evaluation process, the School Committee conducts a 360 survey process that engages staff, parents and the School Committee members in the provision of the essential feedback that helps to guide my annual goal setting and the direction and focus of our work moving forward.  

Each year, I try to share the summary information gathered from that process.  Please know that we had over 150 staff participants, over 200 parent/family participants, and of course full participation from the 7 members of the school committee.  That is A LOT of great data, but likely a little too much to share in this blog post.  

Please know that the School Committee thoroughly reviews each and every comment made by participants in these surveys so even though I am not sharing them all here below - they are so very valuable.  Instead, I wanted to share the overall results of each group's summary question which is this:  

Overall, I support our Superintendent strongly disagree/disagree/agree/strongly agree.   

Here are the summary charts for each stakeholder group:



School Committee:

Again - so much more valuable data in there! It has already been used to provide incredibly strong feedback to me to help me to continuously improve my practices as a leader.  I hope you will see a considerable amount of that reflected in my upcoming goals for the 2023-24 School Year!  Thank you to everyone that participated!


Please CLICK HERE to view the final Aspire Gorham Newsletter for June, 2023.  Some incredible activities and some great learning!  Definitely worth the read!



For the past month or more I've been sharing our student voices video series.  Well, the seventh and final video is linked below.  Please check out episode #7 and all previous episodes below to get a strong perspective from our students what it is like being a "Gorham Ram" across grades 6-12.  It is indeed their voices you hear!

Episode 1 - 6th grade video (Gabe)

Episode 2 - 7th grade video (Sadie)

Episode 3 - 8th grade video (Alex)

Episode 4 - Class of 2023 Video (Klarha)

Episode 5 - Maddie - The Arts

Episode 6 - Gabe - Athletics

Episode 7 - Julia - Do Your Own Thing


Gorham Pride Celebration

Gorham Pride is hosting its first annual pride month celebration on June 24 at the gazebo outside of the municipal center.  All ages are invited to attend.  Events will begin with an opening at 11:00 a.m. followed by a Lavender choir performance, a drag storytime, a Maine Marimba Ensemble and then drag performances.  Activities are scheduled to end around 2:00 p.m.  There will also be face painting, food trucks and other vendors.  You can get more information by going to

Gorham Municipal Office Hours Changing

CLICK HERE to view the press release from the Town Manager.

Baxter Library Summer Reading Kick Off Events!

Presumpscot Summer Trail Challenge

Join Presumpscot Regional Land Trust for the first-ever summer trail challenge, which highlights local trail destinations.

The challenge is to visit and photograph six Land Trust Preserve destinations from June 15th – August 31st. At each location, you will be challenged to identify a landmark at the preserve.

The six trails of the challenge are each 1-2 miles long. Throughout the trails, there are scavenger hunts, fairy houses, and story walks, making this a family-friendly adventure. This challenge is free and intended for all ages and hiking experience levels.

You could find yourself discovering centuries-old trees in Windham, exploring the ruins of a 150-year-old mill along the Presumpscot River in Gorham, enjoying meandering meadows in Standish, and following a wild river in Westbrook.

The challenge is sponsored by REI Co-op of Westbrook, and the first 100 participants that complete the challenge will receive a co-branded custom REI Co-op and Land Trust water bottle. Every participant will be eligible to receive a co-branded REI Co-op and Land Trust sticker.

To learn more and register for this trail challenge click here.  


There is no question that the 2022-23 School Year has had its fair share of challenges, but we've also had ample success across all our schools!  

Our challenges are not news to anyone as we've talked about them at length.  The social/emotional and mental health of our students and staff remains a strong concern across all of our schools.  Screen time, bullying and cyberbullying, gaps in social skills, harassment, depression, anxiety are just a few of the issues our schools are challenged by each and every day.  On the staff side, long working hours, divisive political climates, and just the sheer weight of the work have been challenging.  These are mostly just the relational challenges we face, all of this on top of the challenges of teaching our students the strong academic skills they will need to be successful too!  Oh yeah - and did I mention funding and the increasing costs of "doing school"?  Nope, there is no shortage of challenges, but the good news is that we know where the solutions to these challenges can be found - and that is within us all - within our strong community! 

We know that the solutions to these problems are found within our incredibly talented, caring and passionate staff.  They can be found within our supportive and loving families.  They can be found within our community organizations, business owners and others who volunteer their time to help our schools and the children we serve.  Gorham is a strong community.  It is a family.  And although at times we may have our differences (as any good family does), at the end of the day we come together to support one another and to wrap our arms around one another to problem solve and lift one another up in support of our children.  

Don't think our students feel that support or know that it exists?  I go back to results of our most recent MIYHS survey where 92.5% of GMS students and 83.1% of GHS students said that their family loves and supports them (State average was 85% and 79% respectively).  In another question students were asked if they felt like they mattered to their community.  61% of GMS and 61% of GHS students said that they did while the state average was 54% for Middle School and 51% for High School students answering in the affirmative for this same question.  Bottom line - although they may not sometimes show it - they know we care!

So the good news is that although we have our fair share of challenges moving forward, we also have our fair share of answers for how we address them together!  We just need to continue to work together to uncover them!

In more good news - we also have much to celebrate together!  

It would be a very long reflection if we tried to share everything here but I think it is fair to say that what we are most proud of has been the work that we have done to fully re-open our schools to our families and to our community this past year!  From STEAM nights, to literacy nights, to community picnics, to the Amazing Race, to Aspire Gorham and open houses and everything in between I hope you have seen our concerted effort to engage our incredible community in our important work with students!  

All of you have responded by fully participating as well!  Our volunteer numbers are almost back up to pre-pandemic times, community events have been well attended, and whenever we as a school need something we know we can reach out to our families and to our community and support will be there!  THANK YOU!

Overall, when I think of what we do as a school community to support our school children, it isn't any one glamorous or flashy "big thing".  It is all of the "little things" that build up over time that we do to support our children that matter the most.  A smile on a bad day.  A pat on the back of encouragement when a small failure occurs, or simply saying:  I believe in you.  These are the little things that make a BIG difference over time.  

All of this is evidenced in our annual Senior Walk.  This is when our graduating seniors get a chance to go back and visit the "littles" and to celebrate their achievements.  This is when former elementary and middle school teachers get to see the "fruits of their labor" come into being in our graduates.  This is when we all get to see just how much our children grow and learn over their years with us!  Each ed. tech., each bus driver, each teacher, each secretary, each parent, each business partner - all of us - making small contributions along the way to help each individual child succeed.  We get to watch each student discover themselves and build pride and confidence in themselves and what they can do.  Each with their own special gifts to share with us all.  

I know - I know - I've gotten far too "mushy" here - but to me - our senior walk is a walk of pride.  It is a culmination of all their hard work, of our hard work as a school community.  It is our vision and mission in action!  Its the seniors themselves showing pride in who they are, who they have become and who they are yet to be - but also pride for all of us who helped them to get to this point in ways both "big" and "small".  

So I think it is only fitting to end my final blog post for this school year by sharing the link to the Class of 2023 Senior Walk Video.  When you watch it - check out that sense of pride in our greater Gorham family seen in the reflections of this experience.  It is most definitely there!