Sunday, October 7, 2018

October Update With a Focus on Bullying Prevention

Hard to believe we have already gone through more than a month of school in the 2018-19 school year!  I wanted to take a moment and share just a few of the images I have collected from this past month showing what great learning is occurring in our buildings - and outside of them for that matter!

    


    

We have such incredible staff and students, which I hope is clear when you view these images.  Our students learn in the classrooms, but they also learn on our playgrounds, our cafeterias, and out in the community! 

One of the things that make our schools great is our focus on our Code of Conduct.  Our Code of Conduct is a set of values and beliefs that staff models for students and that is used as the foundation for all our school culture/climate work across all our schools and classrooms K-12.  The Code of Conduct consists of five key areas:  Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, and Responsibility.  We talk with students about what each one of these traits looks like when they are being done well, and sometimes not so well:

 
As you may or may not know, October is Bullying Prevention Month across our great nation.  This is a time when communities across the country work together to inspire everyone to unite for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.  The Gorham Schools has participated in this initiative for several years now during the month of October and this year is no different.  All of our schools have been sponsoring various activities and other learning opportunities focused on Kindness.  I could share lots of stories to provide an example around this, but the one I'd like to share is one that came from our very own students at GHS.  Our football team came up with an idea of their very own, without prompting by teachers or any other adults to honor the kindness of their teachers over the years.  Each member of the football team selected a teacher at GHS to honor by giving them their own (clean) football Jersey for a day.  Each student had to go to a teacher who they thought inspired them to be a great student.  They had to ask the teacher if they would wear the jersey on game day and they had to invite the teacher to come to the game and cheer them on.  I heard stories of football players talking about which teachers they wanted to invite, practicing what they would say with one another, and then drawing the courage to go up to the teacher to ask.  It was a huge success and shows just how much our students care about their school, their teachers, and each other as a team.  The teachers, as you might image were thrilled...and rightly so.  Below is a picture that was taken after the game showing the football players and their teachers together.



What a great night, and a great example of the incredible students, staff, and community we have here in Gorham. 

Are our schools without bullying?  No.  No school, no community, is without bullying...but we work hard to instill within our students a sense of community, a sense of what it means to put our five characters of Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, and Responsibility together and to act on those understandings in the best interest of ourselves and of others we interact with.  We work with young children who are still learning what it means to be any of these five things...and sometimes there are times when we need to reinforce those values...but ultimately, through our system, I am very proud of the students we graduate from Gorham High School.  I am proud of their sense of community.  Their sense of themselves and the types of people they want to be, and their understanding of our Code of Conduct and how exhibiting those character traits will help them after their time here with us.  I am so very proud to be a Gorham Ram!


Here are some additional resources for parents who wish to talk with their children about bullying prevention and the importance of being kind to one another:

National Bullying Prevention Center
Not In Our Town - Building Inclusive Communities for All
US Department of Education Site:  Stop Bullying.gov
Stomp Out Bullying - Parent Page

I do have a couple of small items that I wanted to communicate to parents in addition to our focus on Bullying Prevention month.  I know it is hard to believe but it is getting closer and closer to having that white stuff we all love begin falling from the sky.  Because of this, I wanted to remind parents about how we communicate school cancellations, early dismissals, or late starts.  Communication regarding snow cancellations is always sent via our school messenger system.  We typically send an automated phone call, email, and text to parents on these days.  My typical routine is to make the call in the mornings by a little after 5:00 a.m.  I usually will send the automated message out by approximately 5:30 a.m. as to whether the school is canceled, or if we are going to have a 1 hour or 2-hour delay.  I sometimes run a little later than this on particularly difficult to judge days...but that is the usual routine.  If we are considering an early dismissal of students, we usually will make that call by 10:00 a.m.  In addition to the automated message, we post this information on our district Facebook page, twitter, and on our web page.  Finally, we also will make announcements over the local tv news and radio stations.  I will send a letter home to parents within the next few weeks to reiterate these points.

The final thing I wanted to mention in this blog is just a reminder to all parents regarding the importance of stopping for buses with their red lights flashing.  I am sharing this with all of you in hopes you might also share with other community members to help remind everyone of the importance of stopping for school buses who have their red lights flashing.  I was at the transportation garage the other day with all bus drivers and I asked them a question thinking I'd have just a few respond.  My question was this:  Since the beginning of school, how many of you have had cars pass you while you had your red lights flashing?  Every single one of the bus drivers in the room (which was all but a couple) raised their hands, shaking their heads as they did so.  We live in a busy world, where everyone is under a lot of pressure to get to where they need to be and to do about 10 things while they are getting there, but it is important to step back...plan that extra 5-10 minutes in the morning for those buses and make sure that we stop for school buses.  I have also shared this information with our local PD who will be making a special effort in communicating the importance of stopping for school buses as well over the next several weeks.  Whatever any of you can do to help in spreading this message - that would also be greatly appreciated.

Well, that's it for this month!  Next month I'll be sharing information on our GHS building project work among other topics!  As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!  my email is heather.perry@gorhamschools.org. 

THANK YOU!

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