Friday, December 18, 2020

December 18 Update

We have made it through week #15 of in person instruction via our hybrid model in Gorham!   Two days next week and then a well-deserved break for everyone! I continue to  be so impressed with how well our students, staff, and  parents have met the challenges COVID 19 has placed upon us all - head on, with a strong sense of resilience and Gorham Pride!  I  encourage everyone to take some time during the coming Holiday break to"turn  off" and "recharge"...we'll need that continued energy when we return to school on Jan. 4, 2021.  Hopefully  2021 will treat us better  than 2020 has!

This  will be my last blog post until after the break (Jan. 8, 2020).  Let's get to it!


We just received word earlier this afternoon that Cumberland County will be, for the first time, moving to a yellow designation as a county  beginning today, December 18, 2020.  This is due to the fact that Cumberland County experienced an  increase in its new case rate and positivity rate, and 11 new outbreaks were opened in the county in the last week.  Although our schools remain safe places to be (still  0 transmissions  in our schools),  it is increasingly clear that COVID is very much present in our communities. 

So what does this change in county level designation mean for our schools?  Academically, not much.  We will  continue to operate our schools  under our hybrid model of learning as we  have been for the past  15 weeks.  The bigger impact is not on our regular school learning activities, the bigger impact is on  our student athletes.  Our Athletic Director Tim  Spear has either already sent a message out to families, or he  will  be later today but the bottom line is that if the county is in yellow - all practices cease.  This is truly unfortunate for our students who so very much look forward to the limited activities we have been able to offer them so far this winter.  It is my hope that everyone in Cumberland County can band together for our students and double and triple down on following all safety protocols so we can deliver a good old fashioned  kick in the pants to this virus and get our student athletes back in the gyms doing the things they love, where they belong!

The county level designations can  be viewed by CLICKING HERE.  They will  be updated again on Dec. 31.  If you have any questions, please reach out to or myself at


As we get ready to launch into another Holiday break within a Pandemic, I thought it would be important to once again remind folks of some of the rules and expectations for travel over the Holidays as well as what to do if your  child experiences symptoms or tests positive for COVID over the break.  Our School nurses have put together a  quick reference guide to answer these questions, so please CLICK HERE to view. 

As I stated before and will say again, it is not up to me or anyone else to judge a family for how they choose to celebrate the holidays together.   Each family must balance its own needs and unique  circumstances to make decisions based upon what they know to be right for them.  What I can do is encourage folks to please celebrate the Holidays as safely as possible.  I  do this for the most selfish of reasons - I want to see everyone able to return back to school on Monday Jan. 4, 2021!  Below I have included some links to resources I hope you find helpful to inform your decision making.

Information from the Mayo Clinic

Information from CDC

21 Festive Quarantine Ideas For the Holidays

Tips from the Associated Press

* Tips from  the Today  Show

Once again, I would be remiss if I didn't say  it...please continue to follow the 3 top safety measures that work anywhere you are!  (1) Wear your  face coverings, (2)wash/sanitize those hands frequently and (3) Keep your six! The Gorham Schools wish you all the happiest and safest of Holidays!


This  question, along with other lots of other awesome questions, was asked of me during the most recent K-12 parent open forum.  The question is this:  How can you have a positive case of  COVID 19 associated  with our schools and NOT have close contacts?

Great question!  The answer is there are actually lots of different ways this can happen...but for the sake of brevity, I'll describe the top two ways we are seeing this occur. The most frequent way we see this in our schools is when a family member that is not a student or staff member tests positive and the other family  members are deemed close contacts.  Later as those individuals are going through their quarantine period, they develop symptoms themselves and then test positive.  The student or staff member would have been in quarantine for several days before experiencing symptoms or testing positive so when we do our typical contact tracing that requires us to look back 2 days prior to symptoms  or 2 days prior to the test, they weren't in school - so no close contacts.   Here's a specific example:

Father of a child in  Gorham Schools tests positive, likely contracting it from work.  Children stay home to quarantine as close contacts.   7 days into the quarantine the child tests positive and the school  is notified.  We go back 2 days prior to the test being  taken and determine that the child was at home under quarantine, therefore there are no close contacts.  The school still has to report the associated case, because the child is a student at one of our schools, but there are no close contacts.

The second way this occurs is similar in nature.   Let's say  we have a student who begins feeling  symptoms on a Tuesday morning.  Let's say the student is a B day student so this would have been their first day back at school that week...but because they were experiencing symptoms they stayed home.  The student later  gets  tested and on  Friday finds out they are positive.  We would then do our contact tracing 2 days prior to the this case that would fall on a Sunday.  No school in session so there would be no close contacts.

There were LOTS  of great questions asked  during the most recent parent forum so I thought folks  might want to listen in.  I recorded the session which can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.  It is worth the watch!


The Gorham Schools have provided 1:1 devices for all our students in grades K-12.  These devices have been incredible learning tools, no  doubt. But like any other piece of equipment, sometimes they don't work exactly the way you think they should!  As a parent or caregiver, I'm sure you have asked:  How do I get my tech questions answered?

Many of you have been asking your child's classroom teachers to help in these areas, which they have done a wonderful job at doing.  However, some of your questions can't really wait until the end of the day or when a teacher gets a chance to check their email.  In those circumstances, please know there is help.  Our Gorham School Department has an incredibly talented technology team who stand ready to assist while doing lots of other technology tasks as well.  If  you have these kinds of questions, I'd encourage you to reach out to this talented team. Here's how:

*  High School & Middle School:

You may reach out to the technology staff assigned to your school (listed above), or email Tech Support <> or call the tech support line: 207-222-1188

*  Elementary School, ​

please email your teacher, and:

Joanne Gauley <​> or email Tech Support <> or call the tech support line: 207-222-1188

And if that doesn't work, and you  are still  unable to resolve your issue or get an answer to your question, please contact the technology director, Dennis Crowe <> 


Hi Gorham students, staff, and parents/guardians,

We hope you and your family are doing well. We are now in our 15th week of having students back in our schoolsWe are thankful for the efforts of everyone in making this happen. Now more than ever, it takes a village to collaborate in order to teach and support our children/students. With that in mind, after three months or so of participating in the Gorham hybrid model of teaching and learning, we would like to hear your thoughts on what is going well and what you have for questions or concerns. We want to continue to do what is working well and make adjustments, if possible, to what is not working so well. Please participate in this Thought Exchange. It will remain open until 12/21/20. Please continue to participate throughout the next two weeks.

Thought Exchange Link:

Or, by Smartphone:
Text the 9-digit code 470-136-252 to the phone number 728-55 to get a link to participate in this exchange


CTE or Career and  Technical Education is an  important part of our educational systems across Cumberland County and specifically in Gorham.  We currently have 74  Gorham Rams attending either Westbrook Regional Vocational Center (WRVC) or Portland Arts and Technology  High School  (PATHS).  These two fine institutions have embarked upon a visioning process to set a new vision for  the future of CTE education in our county and they are seeking your voice as  parents.  All parents of any age level are invited to attend  public forum on this  topic via Portland Schools' "Parent University" on Monday,  Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m.  Zoom  link is below.  

Here is the link to the ParentU event on December 21st about CTE:

Passcode: 335502


At its meeting held on Wednesday, the Aspire Gorham Steering Committee spent some time learning from the Department of Labor regarding  projected trends in Maine's labor markets over the next ten years.  It was a fascinating presentation that just touches  the "tip of the iceberg" of incredible data that can be found on the  Department  of Labor's site for those interested in looking further.  Of particular interest were conversations around where jobs will be in Maine in the next 10 years, and what kinds of skills are required to land these jobs.  As I said, it was a fascinating discussion that I just happened to record for your  benefit! ☺  Below, please find  the recording link for this  presentation as  well as the link to the Maine Department  of  Labor site where you can discover even more!

* Presentation Recording

Maine Department of Labor Site.


I just wanted to end this week's blog post before the Holiday break sharing some images of what I am most grateful for this Holiday season - OUR INCREDIBLE STUDENTS AND STAFF! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! GO RAMS!

Have a  great weekend...and  best wishes for  a SAFE and HAPPY Holiday Season from our Gorham family to yours!  PROUD TO BE A RAM!

Friday, December 11, 2020

December 11 Update

Week #14 in the books!  A few more COVID related "hiccups" for sure - but we're still here - supporting our students and families!  We aren't going anywhere! GO RAMS!

Lots to talk about this I'll get right to it!


First, I want to be clear that we care deeply about our students, staff, and families and take every single case of COVID 19 in our schools seriously.  It is important to know that overall, being placed on "outbreak" status by the Maine CDC isn't necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, there are a lot of good things that come along with it.  A school in the state  of Maine is given "outbreak" status if 3 or more cases are identified over a 14 day period that are epidemiologically linked.  This link can occur inside the school or outside the school.  In the case of Gorham High School's recent "outbreak" designation - the epidemiological link is outside of the school.  

When outbreak status is given, schools are assigned a case management team from the Maine CDC.  This team is an independent group  that reviews all of the cases that have  happened to date  within a school.  This independent group pays particular attention to whether or not there are any connections between cases within the school or in the community.  They provide another set of "expert eyes" to help us monitor our data and ensure our schools remain the safe places they are even as  cases may continue to increase in our  community.  

The group helps provide epidemiological resources to the school we otherwise would not have.  They can recommend a school or segment of  the school move to remote learning for a period of  deeper cleaning.  They can provide assistance in monitoring data for trends we may not be as well trained to see.   They can also recommend additional COVID testing for students and/or staff, although at this time the CDC recognizes the abundance of testing sites available in our community and the fact that our families are already doing a great job of testing when it is suggested by our school nurses.  Therefore the CDC is not recommending additional testing at this time.   In addition to this kind of case review, the management team also works with  schools to determine whether or not any additional services are needed.  Outbreak investigations are closed after a school goes through a period of 28 days without logging a new case.  

Just yesterday Principal  Jandreau, our GHS school nurses, Assistant Superintendent Record and myself met with our case management team from Maine CDC for the first time to review all of the cases that have happened to date.  At  this  time, our plan to re-open GHS to in person learning within our hybrid model on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 stand with the  full support of our team.  As we work to re-open the school on Monday, our team will  continue to monitor data and if any concerns arise,  we will  take the necessary steps to address those concerns and inform the community.

It is also important to note that schools who are designated as being in outbreak status are reported on the MDOE site which is updated each Thursday.  Beginning this  coming Thursday Gorham High School will be publicly listed on this site.  You can view the site  by CLICKING HERE.  Additionally, Dr. Shah is known to report new outbreaks during his weekly Friday public addresses.  He may very well mention Gorham High School in his address today.  Folks should not feel a sense of shame from this designation, and instead treat this as the "gift" that it is in terms of additional resources being provided to our community.   The  CDC's goal,  the Maine Department of Education's goal, and the goal of the Gorham  School Department are all the same - do whatever it takes to keep our children safe, our staff safe, our communities safe, and our schools safely open.


Over the past 14 weeks, we have had 21 cases of COVID 19 associated with our schools.    This  means  we  have  seen  21 opportunities for  COVID 19 to spread in our schools and it has NOT.  This data tells me that our schools are safe places.  But in order to keep these safe places open to face to face learning in  our hybrid model, we  really need your help in areas outside of the school.  When I say  "your" I mean, students, staff, parents and community members.  Schools have demonstrated they are safe places with our safety protocols in  place, however we cannot remain open unless our community is also a safe place.  As we have seen, just one case from the community that requires us to designate staff members as close contacts can close a school for at least a period of 10 days and force a school to go to remote learning.  A positive case that requires us to designate bus drivers as close contacts required to quarantine for 10 days can shut the entire district down.  None of us wants this.  The next question is - what can we do that isn't already being done to  help?  Luckily, there are answers to that question!  

First, double down on the "big three":

1.  Wear face coverings.  

2.  Keep your six and not  just  indoors, outdoors too.

3.  Wash/Sanitize those hands frequently.  

Second, think about the following a little more closely:

1.  Is going to that in person gathering with friends really  necessary?

2.  Can you work to create other ways to "cohort" outside of school?  In other  words - limit interactions with others outside your immediate family as much as is possible, and if you feel you must visit others, make it with  a close circle of friends that doesn't change much (while wearing face coverings and physically distancing of course).  Use other digital  methods for gathering with larger groups that may be outside this tight knit group.

3.  If you don't have to travel please consider not.

4. If  you are sick - stay home.

Now, I know when I say this that folks are tired of this Pandemic.   We all want to get on with our lives and we grow impatient with restrictions and tired of constantly having to "be creative" to do the things we once did without much thought.  Man, do I know that feeling!  We can be angry, we can be sad, we can do our best to put smiles on and pretend this all isn't real - but the reality is, that it is real.  Even though a vaccine may be on the horizon, we are still several months away from it becoming widely available enough to put our schools out of danger of having to close.  If we want to keep our schools open, we need your help as we get closer to a vaccine.  As any good runner will  tell you, you have to push the hardest the closer you get to the finish line.  That's where we are folks...close but not there yet. 


A message from  Assistant Superintendent Chris Record below:

Dear Gorham students, staff, and parents/guardians,

We hope you and your family are doing well.  We are now in our 14th week or having students  back in our schools.  We are thankful for the efforts of everyone in making this happen.  Now more than ever, it takes a village to collaborate in order to teach  and support our children/students.  With that in mind, after three months or so  of participating in the Gorham hybrid model  of teaching and learning, we would  like to hear your thoughts on what is going well and what you have for questions or concerns.  We want to continue to do what is  working well and make adjustments, if possible, to what is not working  so well.  Please participate in  this Thought Exchange.  It will remain o pen until 12/21/20.  Please continue to participate throughout the  next two weeks...

Thought Exchange Link:


Just a reminder that for this year (and yes, I  really only see this for this year due to COVID) we will not be having our traditional snow days.   If inclement weather is predicted, I will still call school very similarly to how I've done it in the past.  Everyone will get their morning phone call, email and text...but now rather than there being no school, the expectation will be to still conduct learning on these days. 

For most of these new "not snow days" teachers  and students will be  able to login from home to access their work in a very similar manner to how it is done now on at home learning days.  See saw, and google classroom will be the  primary places that teachers will communicate their expectations on these days.  In some circumstances power outages may be an issue and in those cases teachers have developed contingency learning expectations that can be completed at home with no power.  

This week, snow day meal packs will be delivered to those families who are participating in our school lunch program.  These snow day meals should be stored at home and pulled out for use on snow days as we will not be able to deliver meals to homes when the roads are bad.  If you haven't indicated to our School Nutrition program that you want a snow day meal, its  not too late -  please reach out via email to

Still  have questions?  Please reach out to your building principals and they'd be  more than happy to answer!


I have two quick  resources to share.  The first is from Maine Health  and the 5-2-1-0 website.  Maine Health has developed a variety of resources to help your family live 5-2-1-0 every day! And for families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we have tailored tools specific to the challenges these children and their families face.

Check out their incredible  resources by CLICKING HERE.  

The second resource is for a short video series called the  Psychologists Guide to Winter Well-Being.  As the colder months are now with  us, I thought this one might be  a timely resource as well.  Right now there are two videos posted to the site, but it will grow to be an 8 video series.

Check out this resource by CLICKING HERE.


I had sent this out as an email  earlier this week, but wanted to remind folks of  the opportunity to join me for an evening of Q&A around COVID 19 and our schools, our  hybrid model, what we anticipate for the winter/spring and more.  The  forum will be held on  Tuesday, Dec. 15 starting at 6:00 p.m. via zoom.  You can find the zoom link on our  district webpage calendar  of events.  Just go to and click on the events calendar at the bottom right  of the main  page.


I have THREE things I want to share here.  First, if you didn't get a chance to watch the School Committee meeting from Wednesday night live on missed an awesome example of why we  do what we do here in the Gorham  Schools!  We had 40+ GHS students and their coaches/advisors at the meeting on Wednesday night to share their experiences and "lessons  learned" from the past fall in trying to play their respective sport or showcase the arts.  Our students ROCK!  They were articulate, they were passionate, and they shared  many a lesson us adults should  remember once in a while about  perseverance, collaboration, and striving towards a common goal.  If you want to watch - check out the meeting recording LINKED HERE.  Their presentation starts at about the 18 minute mark.  Worth the watch!  These students represent our community so well!

The second thing I wanted to share was actually two wordles.  The  other night, I  sent  out TWO quick  surveys.  The first was sent to K-12 parents asking them to help support our staff the last week before the holiday by helping me to give them  a little positive boost.  I asked parents to share one word that describes our incredible staff.  Within the first 3 hours, I have over 1,000 responses!  The second survey, I sent to K-12 staff, only this time, I said I wanted to do something  to support  our parents in helping me to give them a little positive boost since we all know parents are working hard to help support us too.  Once again, in the first few hours of  the survey, I received an awesome response with over 200 staff responses!  Here are the wordles  for each:

From PARENTS describing our incredible staff:

From STAFF, describing our incredible parents:

AWESOME!  And then these two images lead me to the third, and last piece I wanted to share to help encourage us all as we head towards the home stretch before the Holiday break. It's a poem.  The poem is about the importance of the intersection between these two groups:  Parents and Teachers.  It is called "Unity" and I think it describes all we need to know about the importance of both groups working together for the benefit of our children.  

That's it for this week!  ENJOY YOUR  WEEKENDS!

Friday, December 4, 2020

December 4 Update

Just  wrapping up lucky week #13 of in person learning here in Gorham!  I realize we've seen a lot of letters go out recently regarding positive cases associated with our schools, but let's take a minute to celebrate the positives!  In the past 13 weeks of our hybrid model, we have had a total now (as of today) 13 positive cases of COVID 19 associated with our schools.  Not one of these cases has originated in our schools (don't want to jinx myself here so "knock on wood") but seriously - NOT ONE.  This is as we continue to serve well over 2700 students.  This is as we continue to ask over 500 employees to  report to work each day.  The Maine DOE reported just last week that schools have only 40% the positivity rate that is seen across all other sectors in our state.  It seems what we are doing and how we are doing it is working so please keep wearing those masks, washing/sanitizing those hands and keeping your six!

As Commissioner Makin stated in an article in the Portland Herald Press just this morning, according to the data our schools are some of the safest places to be right now and shutting down schools, unless we shut down all other activities in a community, wouldn't make conditions any safer.  As Commissioner Makin states:  "It would take a full community wide shutdown of all the other activities of daily life if we were to shut down schools and say that would be a step that would make people safer."  I couldn't agree more and want to be clear that in Gorham my goal is to continue to prioritize in person learning because we know it is what is best for our students.  As long as we can continue to operate our schools safely, maintaining our hybrid model of learning will continue to be our priority moving forward.  

Now, it is important to note that not all parents may share this same sentiment and there is no shame in that.  As parents you need to do what is right for your family in your unique circumstances.  For those parents who would like to consider remote learning, moving students from our hybrid model of learning to a fully remote program continues to be an option at any time.  However, as was the case in the fall once students are in the remote learning program they do need to stay there for the trimester/semester.  I would urge parents who may be considering this to please reach out to your building principals to discuss the potential "pros" and "cons" so that you may best weigh that important decision.  


With the increasing number of cases in our community, I wanted to share this information - not to increase anxiety - but hopefully to do the opposite because you know we have plans in place for just about any contingency.

An outbreak of COVID 19 in schools is defined as having 3 or more positive confirmed cases associated with the school within a single 14 day period.  These outbreaks may be handled very differently depending upon several different circumstances the largest of which being if the cases are related, or if they originated within the school itself or not.  

In all circumstances where a school has reported 3 positive cases within the 14 day window described above, the first thing the school does is reach out to the Maine Department of Education to report the positive cases and alert them to the fact that an outbreak may be occurring.  The MDOE then refers the information shared to the Maine CDC.  If the Maine CDC determines the situation to indeed be an outbreak, a Maine CDC outbreak investigator would then be assigned to investigate and coordinate any response with the school.  Things get pretty individualized from here depending on the specific circumstances of the case, but generally what would occur if an outbreak were indeed declared is the following:

1.  A specific notification would be sent to all individuals associated with the school to make them aware of the outbreak,

2.  If all three cases were in a single classroom, the entire classroom would be considered close contacts for the purposes of quarantining and testing and would be moved to a red status.  If the cases were spread across multiple classrooms the entire school would move to a period of remote learning whereby all in person learning would be suspended for a period not less than 14 days.  

3.  Either the classroom impacted or the school impacted would be required to be deeply cleaned, disinfected and sanitized.

4.  Identified individuals (either classroom or school wide) would be encouraged to be tested for COVID 19.  If individuals were determined to be a close contact, they would be required to remain quarantined for no less than 14 days regardless of test result.  Individuals who were not close contacts, but were still sent home as a result of the outbreak would have the option of returning after a negative COVID test as long as building cleaning had been completed by that time.  If these individuals (non close contacts) elect not to be tested, they would need to remain quarantined for the full 14 day time frame.

4.  The classroom/school would continue to be closely monitored by CDC outbreak investigators until the outbreak is "closed".  This would occur 28 days after the last positive test or symptom onset associated with the outbreak is reported, whichever is later.

Whew - that's a lot of information in there...and it is certainly NOT INTENDED TO HEIGHTEN ANYONE'S ANXIETY! The intent of sharing this information is to make parents, students, staff, and community members aware that these protocols exist and that these contingencies have been planned for with the continued focus on ensuring the safety of our school family.  

It is important to note that the first "straw" to be pulled to implement these protocols would involve first having to get to 3 cases within a 14 day period and second, that those cases would be determined by the CDC to be related and therefore constitute an outbreak.  So far, this has not occurred for our schools.  But given the increasing numbers in our community right now, there is a growing chance this could occur, so I wanted you all to be prepared and to understand roughly what to expect and more importantly WHY these protocols exist to ensure the safety of our students and staff.  


Now, after reading all this COVID information...I'm sure some anxiety has been heightened.  If this is the case, I encourage you to take a step back, take a few deep breaths and know that if an outbreak occurs, myself, our school leaders, our school nurses and our entire school staff will be standing right by your side to help lead us safely through such an occurrence with the ultimate goal of returning everyone to school as quickly as possible. 

Our district has clear plans for how to operate in a red environment, for a short term or longer term need.  You can view the details of those plans by reading our "Pandemic Operations Plan".  Our teachers know how to deal with whole classes being moved to red, groups of students being quarantined, and everything in between.  Our school nutrition and transportation folks know how to deliver meals, and our support staff know how to support.  We are prepared, we care deeply about each and every student in our care and their families and we share the common goal of ensuring students are in face to face instruction environments as much as is safely possible.  Know we will get through whatever COVID 19 has to throw at us this winter TOGETHER! ☺


I had shared this resource back a month or so ago, but given some increasing uneasiness across our community, I wanted to make sure that families and staff had access to this important resource developed by the Maine Department of Education.  

SEL4ME is a FREE Social/Emotional Learning resource for all educators, parents, students and community members.  It covers materials from Pre kindergarten all the way through 12th grade and is an excellent resource!  I've taken a screen shot of the opening pages for preK, grade 6 and grade 10 so you can see some of the topics.  These are just a few of the many topics that can be explored...I encourage you to dig more deeply!  

Pre K:

Gr. 6:

Gr. 10:

Some timely topics for sure, especially now with what we are all going through with COVID 19.  

Here is the link - IT IS FREE!  CHECK IT OUT!


The Gorham School Committee will be voting on the new Anti-Racism Policy for a 2nd and final reading at its next meeting scheduled for Dec. 9, 2020 beginning at 7:00 p.m.  The meeting will be open to the public via a zoom link that can be located at the top of the agenda, or by going to our district home webpage and clicking on our calendar of events.  If folks wish to share public comment, they are welcome to do so using the public comment section of the agenda.  This meeting will be live streamed on the Town of Gorham's facebook page, and recorded and posted on the Town's website as well as the School District's website.  You can find a copy of the revised Anti-Racism Draft policy by CLICKING HERE.  You can view the agenda and public school committee meeting packet by CLICKING HERE.  If you have any questions, please reach out to me via email at  


Just wanted to update you that at some point next week, families who have signed up for snow day lunches should be getting a special delivery.  You will be receiving a special snow day lunch pack to keep stored in your home for use when schools have to be closed to in person instruction due to inclement weather.  The plan is to have drivers deliver these snow storm meals when delivering the regular bag meals for at home learning days.  If you have signed up for these meals and do not receive them by the end of next week, please reach out directly to School Nutrition Director Michael Sanborn at  Also, if you did not sign up but are now interested in receiving one of these snow day meals, please go to the School Nutrition website LINKED HERE and complete the snow day survey, or you may reach out directly via email to SNP director Michael Sanborn at the email listed.  


Our most recent Aspire Gorham newsletter is ready for viewing.  I've included a quick "snapshot" from a highlight section on one of our students will have to click the link to learn more about Gracie and Devyn's experiences!  

CLICK HERE to view the full newsletter.  HAPPY READING!


These are certainly not all of the programs going on in our schools to raise funds for different student groups, but here are a couple I thought folks might be most interested in - especially with the Holidays coming right up...

Class of 2023 Online Auction:  

CLICK HERE for the introductory Video with information on how to participate.

CLICK HERE for the auction items Video.

Gorham High School Football Apparel:

CLICK HERE for the site to order your football "swag"!


Westbrook Regional Vocational Center (WRVC) and the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) invite you to a community forum on the future direction of programming and their vision for a career in technical education in our region.  Gorham High School sends 73 students to these two schools each year and we'd like to see that number increase!  Please see the flyer below for more details, and just in case the link from the flyer doesn't work - here's the zoom link to join.

Passcode: 335502

Or iPhone one-tap : 1-312-626-6799 

Well, that's enough information for this week's Blog.  See you again next week!

Friday, November 20, 2020

November 20 Blog Update

Good afternoon and HAPPY FRIDAY to everyone!  Week #11 is "In the books"!  

Hard  to believe we are coming up on the Thanksgiving break and (knock on wood) are still rolling with our hybrid  learning model.  Of  course, that could change at any moment, but dog gone it...I think it  is worth celebrating for now!  Many of us (myself included) thought we'd only get 2-3 weeks of face to face learning in before having to close down due to COVID 19!  It just goes to show the importance of following those safety protocols!  As I said even before school began -  it is going to  be UP TO US as a GORHAM COMMUNITY to choose to follow our safety guidelines and thereby strengthen the probability that our schools could remain open - and look where we are now 11 weeks in!

Of course as I've also said before, although we can (and should) take a  moment to  pat ourselves on the back, we also can't let our  guards down now!  We need to keep:

* Staying home when sick, even when it is inconvenient (which it  always is).

*  Completing our daily symptoms checker to help our nurses monitor trends.

*  Wearing our face coverings.

*  Keep that 6 ft. of physical distance going.

*  Keep washing/sanitizing those hands frequently


A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone for following these rules thus far...let's keep it rolling Gorham!  GO  RAMS!


 As the virus ramps up for the cold winter months, as folks are getting tested in preparation for traveling for the Holidays and as more and more people people experience symptoms that may also be cold or flu related, getting access to tests is becoming a little more difficult.  This isn't because there are a lack of testing kits across the state mind you, but its because of a lack of testing site capacity.  In order to try and help address this need, Governor Mills announced recently that Additional Wallgreens locations will be added as testing sites across the state.  The list of those sites is below:

Walgreens BinaxNOW COVID-19 Testing Locations in Maine:

Auburn: 61 Union St.
Auburn: 698 Minot Ave.
Augusta: 403 Water Street
Augusta: 2007 N. Belfast Ave.
Bangor: 566 Union St.
Bangor: 706 Broadway
Bath: 11 State Rd.
Belfast: 268 Main St.
Bethel: 28 Mayville Rd.
Biddeford: 335 Alfred St.
Blue Hill: 17 South St.
Boothbay Harbor: 223 Townsend Ave.
Brewer: 437 Wilson St.
Buxton: 226 Parker Farm Rd.
Calais: 223 North St.
Caribou: 112 Bennett Dr.
Cornish: 151 Maple St.
Damariscotta: 365 Main St.
Dover Foxcroft: 151 E. Main St.
Ellsworth: 226 High St.
Falmouth: 33 Depot Road (opens next week)
Farmington: 317 Main St.
Ft. Fairfield: 355 Main St.
Ft. Kent: 84 E. Main St.
Gardiner: 9 Spring St.
Gorham: 120 Main St.
Gray: 62 West Gray Road
Guilford: 3 Hudson Ave., #147
Hampden: 65 Western Ave.
Houlton: 137 North St.
Kennebunk: 37 Portland Rd.
Kittery: 15 Shapleigh Rd.
Lewiston: 430 Sabattus St.
Lincoln: 2 W. Broadway
Lisbon Falls: 575 Lisbon St.
Livermore Falls: 81 Main St.
Machias: 144 Dublin St.
Madawaska: 429 Main St.
Manchester: 943 Western Ave.
Milo: 35 Park St.
Naples: 665 Roosevelt Trl.
Newport: 36 Moosehead Trl.
Norway: 53 Paris St.
Oakland: 19 Main St.
Old Orchard Beach: 15 Saco Ave.
Pittsfield: 506 Somerset Ave.
Portland: 616 Forest Avenue (opens next week)
Presque Isle: 320 Main St.
Rockland: 28 Park St.
Rumford: 7 Portland St.
Saco: 461 Main St.
Sanford: 868 Main Street
Scarborough: 233 US Route 1
Scarborough: 600 U.S. Route 1
Skowhegan: 225 Madison Ave.
South Portland: 279 Main Street (opens next week)
Topsham: 77 Mallett Dr.
Waterville: 210 Main St.
Wells: 1036 Post Rd.
Westbrook: 465 Main St.
Windham: 741 Roosevelt Trl.
Winslow: 36 China Road
Winthrop: 16 Peck Farm Rd.
Yarmouth: 478 US Route 1
York: 400 U.S. Route 1

While the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test is best used for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, other types of testing is available in Maine to people who think they need a test, regardless of symptoms and without the need for a referral from a health provider. This testing is available at more than two dozen "swab and send" testing locations that offer molecular testing at no charge under separate agreements with DHHS. Results from swab and send locations are provided by the State Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory within 48 hours of receipt at the lab (the time from the sample collection to the delivery of the result to the patient may take longer). For more information, visit the Keep Maine Healthy website.


I've recently had several folks as me to remind them about what our protocols are for cleaning of facilities after a positive case has been identified so I thought maybe more folks were wondering and it might be worth a quick refresher.

When a positive case associated with the Gorham Schools has been identified, the first thing we do is identify close contacts and work diligently to make those notifications as quickly as possible.  The second thing (which really happens simultaneously to the contact tracing work) we do is to identify all the spaces  in a building, or bus, or playground, etc. that the positive case spent time in.  This could be a classroom, or it could be multiple classrooms.  It could be the cafeteria, or the nurses clinic.  Whatever those areas are, they are identified and communicated immediately to our facilities director.  Our facilities director then works  with our contracted service provider to thoroughly sanitize those spaces before we allow students or staff back into those spaces.  In Gorham we utilize an electrostatic spray system that allows us to complete a thorough sanitizing process of an entire room in just minutes.  This, in combination with the  fact that we wipe down common touch  surfaces in our buildings at least 2 times per day and continue to sanitize the  whole building each night allows us to feel confident that students and staff can return to a safe and sanitized learning environment even after the identification of a positive case associated with our schools.

Bottom line...we make sure our building spaces are thoroughly sanitized after the identification of a positive case before allowing students or staff back into those spaces.  I hope that helps to answer questions folks may have, but if you have more, please keep asking! ☺


First of all, thank you to the 30 + parents and 20+ staff who shared their "stories" with me via my most recent  survey.  I am currently going through the results and  am compiling the themes from those stories.  Once compiled, I will share back out with families so  you can see the results.  Additionally, if you indicated that you wanted to meet with me one on one from that survey I will be reaching out after the Thanksgiving break to set  up those meetings using the email provided.  Please stay tuned.

I have also been working to meet with students across the district to hear their stories.  Just today I met with a wonderful group of students from Village Elementary School's Civil Rights Team.  They had just gotten done conducting a  survey of all Village School students asking students to share what is going well at Village and to share their experiences and the challenges they have identified in the areas of  diversity, equity and inclusion.  A clear message I heard from the students at Village Elementary School is that they feel as though these conversations are important, that they are needed and that they want teachers and other adults to help them have these kinds of conversations in meaningful and safe ways.  The students went so far as to say that one big thing that would help them would be to work with all students to help provide a language/vocabulary that kids could  use to talk to other kids on these important topics.  They expressed  that they want to have these conversations, but sometimes don't know how and need us to help them strengthen that language of respect.  

Every time I speak with our students I am so refreshed by their honesty, their compassion and their willingness to  understand.  I have meetings scheduled across all schools coming up over the next few months and will definitely work to share themes from these important conversations too.  

I also wanted to update folks who have reached out to express interest in serving on the new Gorham School Committee's Anti-Racism Subcommittee.  First, I am still accepting names for folks that may be interested in volunteering.  We need 1 parent per grade span (K-5, 6-8 and 9-12) and two community members.  It's not too late.  If you are interested, just email me at  I will be meeting with the chair  of the newly formed committee in early December.  At that time we will review the names and make selections to ensure the broadest and most diverse membership possible and will notify folks during that second week regarding  final membership.  The hope is to have the committee's first meeting before the December Holiday break.

Finally, a reminder that the Gorham School Committee is still working on its DRAFT Anti-Racism Policy.  It was approved for first reading in October and is scheduled to come back to the  School Committee on December 9 for a second and final reading.   Folks who want to  send any feedback directly to the policy committee (which is the group working on revisions at this point) should email any direct feedback to School Committee member Anne Schools ( or you can send feedback to Assistant Superintendent Chris Record who facilitates this committee.   His email address is  So far we've had lots of great feedback that the policy committee will be meeting to discuss and do its best to incorporate into this important process.  


Dear Gorham Community,

As you are well aware, the Class of 2021 seniors are not getting the year we all planned. It's likely that our entire senior year will be different, including graduation and end-of-the-year events. In order to make those events as special as they can be during these difficult times, we need to fundraise. 

Luckily, we have a very fun and easy fundraiser: a Pampered Chef online fundraiser! 

All you have to do is click on the ordering link and it will bring you straight to the Pampered Chef website where part of all the proceeds will go towards our class fundraiser. Your purchases will be shipped directly to you.


This link can be shared with ANYONE, so please spread it by email, text, or a different platform to your extended family, friends, and anyone else you can think of! 

This fundraiser will end on Wednesday, December 2nd. Thank you so much for your support.

From the Senior Class Officers, 

Emily Paruk, Alie Peterson, Sophie Kaufman, and Sierra Cummings


Looking  to get that Christmas tree up and decorated early?  Our GHS swim team students can help this year even with COVID 19!  Check out the  flyer below for details!


Looking for cross generational  conversations to engage  students at the Thanksgiving meal?  Need conversation starters for that virtual  family Thanksgiving gathering?  ASPIRE GORHAM is here to help!  Why not talk about aspirations and careers?  This conversation can be had at the dinner table with children of  all ages!  Here's a few ideas - one focused on grades K-5 and the other  for grades 6-12.

Gr. K-5:

Gr. 6-12:


Just this morning  I met with a group of elementary students who had asked  me in to share their thoughts on snow days.  Although I could share a whole story just about how articulate, thoughtful and passionate our students are  - that wasn't the point I wanted to share.  As they were talking about the fact that they feel like we should still have traditional snow days, they talked at length about how much they WANT TO BE IN SCHOOL.   They even went  so far as to say they would definitely prefer being in school later than June 10 just to have more days in school vs. at home learning.   As these 5th grade students shared with me, it just was so clear how much they truly do enjoy being in school.  They really do want to be with their friends, their teachers and to learn!   The reality is that our students really DO want to be in school right now and that is a testament to our school staff, to our parents and to our community that have all worked so hard together to create schools that students actually WANT TO BE IN.  I share this story mostly to give accolades to our students who are incredible, but also to say THANK YOU to our staff, parents  and community  for your hard  work and dedication in making our schools the incredible places of learning that they are.  Gorham is simply an incredible community.   I remain proud to serve all of you!

In closing...a  poem that I "stole" from one of my principals who used it in her recent message to staff.  It speaks to me about the strength that a community can provide - those "deep roots" that are mentioned, remind me of Gorham.  It also reminds me of another little saying I have up on my wall which says:  "The mighty oak tree was once just a little nut that stood its ground!"  Enjoy the poem, enjoy your weekends and please do whatever you can to SAFELY celebrate the Thanksgiving  holiday.  My next blog  post will be Dec. 4.  

And then just one more time before I go...remember:

1.  Wear those face coverings
2.  Keep your six
3.  Wash/Sanitize those  hands often!

BE SAFE!  I want to see YOU ALL back at school on Monday, after the Thanksgiving Break, and beyond!


Friday, November 13, 2020

November 13 Blog Upate

Happy Friday Everyone!  Before I get into the "meat" of this update, I wanted to take a minute to just share some recent and somewhat "random" images of the incredible learning that is going on in our schools.  I know that this hybrid schedule is not the optimal schedule for our students  and families...but there is some incredible learning going on and I think  it is important to remind ourselves of that every once in a while and as I've said before - pictures are worth 1,000 words!  Here you go!

OK, now  on to the updates...


First, let's address any questions families might have regarding travel considerations for the upcoming Thanksgiving Break.  It is important to understand that if your student(s) plans on traveling outside of the state of Maine for the holiday, you will need to do ONE of the following:

1.  Quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Maine, 


2.  Get tested for  COVID 19 upon returning to Maine and provide proof oof a negative result to your school nurse.  

NOTE #1:  Please remain quarantined until the test results are ready.
NOTE #2:  PLAN AHEAD!  Before leaving the  state, make your COVID-19  test appointment for when you return.  Appointments can be  made at your PCP's office or at any Maine testing site.  You can find a listing of all  testing sites in Maine by CLICKING HERE.  
NOTE #3:  Currently (and this is subject to change) - if you travel to one of the following three (3) states, you are  EXEMPT from the need to quarantine and/or test upon return to Maine.  Those three (3)states are:  Vermont,  New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

These travel restrictions follow the current state mandates which can be found by CLICKING HERE for more details.  If you have any questions, I would urge you to reach out to your school nurses' office and I am sure they will do their best to help answer any questions you may have!

As Dr. Fauci stated earlier this week, each of us is going to have to make our own choices and decisions regarding what we do to celebrate these upcoming holidays in as safe a manner as possible.  These choices and decisions should weigh several different factors, many of which are unique to each family unit.  Clearly the most safe manner to celebrate as a family would be via distance.  However, I am not going to stand here and state that families shouldn't gather for the holidays or that they should.  Each of us must make these decisions on our own weighing unique factors such as:

-  Current levels of community spread of COVID 19 in your area and the areas you may visit.
-  Health status of those who may or may not participate in such a gathering.
-  Ages of those who may or may not participate in such a gathering. 
-  What safety measures you can take for in person gatherings to mitigate risk. 
-  Can you still gather meaningfully as a family using technology as a resource?

As each of our families weigh these factors, I thought it might be helpful to share several resources I have found to help families think about these important decisions.  Here are a few that I found most helpful  (I'm sure more can be found):

Again, each family's choices will be unique.  It is not up to myself or anyone else to make these decisions other  than the families involved.   Therefore it is also not up to myself or anyone else to question the decisions made by other families.  I hope these resources assist you and your family in helping to make this Thanksgiving and upcoming holiday season the best and SAFEST it can be this year!  



Our apologies for it taking so long to compile this data from the early part of October, but  there was A LOT of awesome  information contained within these surveys that we wanted to make sure to capture accurately in order to continue to inform our processes.  As a reminder, the question we asked was:

To start,  below is an image of a word cloud created by the over 1,000 parent participants in the survey who shared and rated almost 30,000 thoughts.  Those words that are largest are  those that were most often repeated by parents in their response:

As you can see, safety was a huge piece along with the happiness of students, good communication and basically kudos  for a job well done.  Next is the word cloud from staff to that same prompt:

Great to see that "Happy" word front and center again in there right?  The other key words deal with appreciating smaller class sizes and appreciation for being able to get back to in-person learning with students.  Finally, the word cloud from students to that same prompt:

Here students appreciate their in person learning days, wish that their mask breaks were a little longer, and share how much they value their learning on Fridays as a day to "catch up" and get specific  help from teachers.

There is A LOT more information from each  of these surveys beyond these word clouds.  Below,  please find links to  a slide presentation for each survey (parent, student, and staff) that gives more  detail:

Additionally you can login to the reporting websites for each below:

This information was shared with District Leadership Team Members and members of the Gorham School Committee and is being used to continue to tighten up our practices to make our hybrid learning model as effective  as possible for our students, staff and families moving forward. 

Since schools reopened in September, the Gorham School Committee had moved its regular, workshop,  special, and subcommittee meetings back to in person meetings.  Given the increasing numbers of COVID 19 cases in our area, the School Committee decided last night that each month's regular business meeting will still be held in person at Gorham High School's MPAC, but that all other meetings (workshop, special, and committee meetings) will move back to online via zoom,  beginning next week.  Additionally, it was decided to move public comment for live meetings to an online format.  Because of this, I wanted to remind folks how to access these meetings and the materials from each meeting if you are interested.

First, it is important to note that each month's regular School Committee meeting will still be held  in person, although public comment at these meetings will now be done online  with  no  members of the public attending  in  person.  These meetings typically occur on the 2nd Wednesday of each month and begin at 7:00 p.m. These meetings are broadcast live via GOCAT and then recordings are archived on the Town's website.  You can find  agendas and minutes for all meetings by going to our website under "About Us" and then clicking  on "School Committee".  I've linked the specific page HERE for your convenience.  At the top  of that page you can click to view the actual detailed meeting packet information for each  meeting.

The best way to keep  track of these meetings is by following our district wide calendar from our website.  Go to  and then at the bottom right  of that main  page  you will  see our "Upcoming Events" calendar.  This calendar will list all meetings of the School Committee and its subcommittees.  If a meeting is being held via zoom you will also see the zoom  link for that event.  Just click on the event itself and the details will pop up.  If you don't see a zoom link that means the meeting will be held in person.  The  specific location will always be at the top of the agenda.  For specific agendas and minutes of  our subcommittee meetings, once again you can find all details on our website.  Just go to "About Us", then click on "School  Committee" and then once on that page, look to the bottom right and click on  "School Committee Subcommittees".  There you will see links to all information for our standing subcommittees and any active ad hoc committees as well.  Once again, for your  convenience I have linked the specific page HERE.  

As always,  if you ever have any questions about how to access information regarding the  Gorham  School Committee, please reach out directly.  Email is the  best:


Apologies  for once again having to make some adjustments to our school calendar, but remember  the  original calendar was created and approved before COVID (I  know, hard to believe such a time existed right) and so as we continue to move through  our calendar this pandemic year, adjustments are required.  Here is a list of the adjustments approved by the  Gorham School Committee last night and under that, a link to the updated 2020-21 School Calendar:

Change  #1:  December 23, 2020 moved from an ER day to a NO SCHOOL DAY. 
Because we will likely still be in our hybrid model of learning (we hope) by December 23, 2020 and because in our hybrid  model of learning we do not do half days, we had to address December 23 on the calendar.  Because of its proximity to the Christmas Holiday break,  we decided that rather than make it a full day of school, we would make it a NO SCHOOL DAY.   

Change #2:  Moving Jan. 8, 2021 from an "A" day to a fully remote Friday.  By moving this day back to the typical remote learning Friday schedule, we are able  to ensure an equal  number of face to face instructional days for students in both A  and B groups with 72 days each.  

Change #3:  Last Student Day for All Students Now June 10, 2020.
Because we  will no longer  have snow days this year, and because under the Governor's emergency orders  the required 175  student days is waived,  and  because we are still beholden to no more than 183 staff days, we have designated Thursday, June 10 as the  final student day of school across grades K-12.  This will end the school year  with 171 student days vs. our typical 175.

Change #4:  Last Staff Day Now June 11, 2020.
Because we are required to have no more than 183 staff days, we have designated June 11, 2020 as the last  in person staff day.  There is a "flex day" associated with Monday, June 14, 2020 but this day is a "give back" day as  provided by our negotiated contract due to the additional time we require our teachers to be "on duty" during the spring parent/teacher conference times.  All that being said, June 11 will be day 182 for staff and then  June 14th will be day 182  for staff.

CLICK HERE for the updated 2020-21 School  Calendar.  As always, if you have any questions please ask!


I am asking parents who are willing, to participate in an important google survey. The aim of the survey is to offer up an ability for parents to share their experiences within the Gorham Schools with the issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a safe and anonymous way.  The survey won't be your typical survey.  It won't ask your opinion.  Instead, it will ask you to share your experiences through the telling of stories.   At the end of the survey you will have the opportunity to share your name and email contact information if you'd like to set up a one on one meeting with me to more deeply share your stories and experience.  For those that wish to participate in this piece, I will then reach out to schedule a time to meet with you.  Once completed, I will compile the stories and corresponding themes that are collected and share them back to parents and discuss their implications at a forum to be scheduled later this winter  - likely via zoom.

To be clear, these surveys and potential follow up meetings will NOT be a time for me to lecture to you on this topic, and conversely, it is not intended to be a time whereby you lecture me on this topic.  Instead, the focus is on SHARING  REAL STORIES...SHARING OUR REAL EXPERIENCES...and on LISTENING to these shared experiences as they relate to our schools.  No judgement, no blame, no finger pointing.  Just respect, honesty, courage, compassion and responsibility - sound familiar? ☺

I would ask parents who are interested in participating to please complete the survey/story by November 20, 2020.  I look forward to hearing from you and as always, if you have questions, please feel free to email me at

Here is the link to the survey.  


In a previous blog post I let folks know that the Gorham School Committee recently approved the creation of an Ad Hoc "Anti-Racist Advisory Sub Committee".  You can view the purpose, roles and responsibilities of this Committee by CLICKING HERE.  Membership will be as follows:

  • Chair: S.C. Member

  • Members:  Students (2 GHS), Staff (1 from each school), Parents/Guardians (1 each grade span), Community Members (2), 1 Administrator from each grade span, and the Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent, and 3 School Committee Members (if possible)

  • Decision-Making: Consensus Model

  • Invite guests as needed

  • Facilitated by Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants (MICC)

At  this point, I am seeking parents and individuals from the community interested in filling the following slots.  If you are interested, please reach out via email directly to EITHER myself or Dr. Record via email: or

-  1 K-5 Parent/Guardian 
-  1 6-8 Parent/Guardian
-   1 9-12 Parent/Guardian
-  2 "at large" Community Members

I will collect names of those interested in serving on this committee between now and the end of November.  I will then bring names to the Policy Committee to review and assist in determining final membership.  I will then notify those who were selected.  This will likely be sometime in Mid December, after the anti-racist policy has been finally approved by the School Committee.  As  always, any questions, please ask.


First, you have to check out this awesome trailer: 

If you are interested in purchasing tickets, you purchase them through "Broadway  On Demand".  Click on the links below for the night you are interested in and go from there.  

Once you've purchased access to the performance you want to see, you can follow that same link at show time.  

That's enough for this week!   Enjoy your weekends!