Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday March 26 Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  Information just keeps flowing so wanted to get right down to it!  Here goes:

Separate But Not Divided:

If you have wondered about what more you can do to support the community through these difficult times...have we got a plan for you!  Developed by our very own Neile Nelson and Sarah Drury (GHS Teachers)...check out the information to learn more about this new way to help Gorham show we are TOGETHER in all of this!

“Do what you can, with what you have, for who you can.” Pender Makin, Maine Education Commissioner
As our nation adjusts to a new reality, we are inspired to find ways to help those most severely impacted by COVID-19. In an effort to give back to our community and those who suffer from food insecurity we are partnering with 320ink and their TipJar Initiative.

Please consider purchasing a t-shirt (Pictured below) for $20. ALL proceeds will be donated to the Gorham Food Pantry and Gorham BackPack Program.

Pre-sale closes April 12 and shirts will be printed/mailed directly to you from 320ink
We are hoping to spread messages of positivity via the #separatedbutnotdivided through social media platforms. We are encouraging people to take a photo wearing their Separated But Not Divided t-shirt and share it on social media with a message of hope and positivity. Please include the #separatedbutnotdivided as part of your post.

Though we have responsibly separated, we are far from divided.


Sarah Drury & Neile Joler Nelson, Gorham High School Teachers
Logo design by Joanne McCool, K-3 art teacher at Mabel I. Wilson School
If you are interested in starting a fundraiser in your community using the t-shirt design and #separatedbutnotdivided, please contact: Lindsay Wilkinson @ 320ink:
OR for more information please contact:

Approved Gorham Distance Learning Plan & Beginning of "Companion Documents"

Just wanted to make sure folks knew that the Gorham School Committee approved of our Distance Learning Plan last night during their first zoom meeting.  Please feel free to review the document and let me know if you have any questions.  Also, please know that this document is INTENTIONALLY vague and broad in order to offer our schools and staff the most flexibility possible as we continue to learn how to navigate this brave new world together.  Each grade span, K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 will be completing what I call "companion documents" that align to this overarching plan and provide much more detailed expectations.  These documents will be shared with all of you by building principals moving forward.

School Committee Meeting Schedule & Recent Recording

The first zoom meeting of the Gorham School Committee was held last night.  The link below is to a recording of the video.  Please not I wasn't fully "on the ball" last night and didn't click "record' until after the Roll Call was taken - my apologies!  I will do better (everyone's mantra lately right)...but please know all SC members were present and accounted for!

The School Committee decided to keep moving forward with meeting on their regular schedule.  Regular meetings of the SC take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month beginning at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted on the agenda).  Workshop meetings occur on the 4th Wednesday of each month also at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).  All subcommittee meetings other than the Finance Committee have been suspended unless needed.  All agendas will be posted on the Gorham Website (  You can go to "About Us", then "School Committee" and then "School Committee Meeting Notes and Agendas".  At the top of each agenda will be the URL and/or phone  number for how to access each zoom meeting.  We will continue to post all meetings on the google calendar found on the main page of our website.  If anyone has ANY questions about how to access this information  - please reach out to me via email at

At last night's meeting there were some  really great questions asked of folks who participated.  I thought it might be helpful to share those question and answers here:

Question:  What do families do if they need assistance with internet connections?

Answer:  Our Technology team has put together  a great reference sheet for you to access that is being finalized now and can be sent  out early next week with some tips and ideas on how to help in this area, but if that still doesn't help - please reach out to your building principal and we will work  with each family to assist and/or to differentiate work to accommodate for needs.

Question:  What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous meetings/learning?

Answer:  Synchronous meetings or learning opportunities are those that are "live" and done in "real time"...for example, a zoom meeting where 15 folks are logged in all at once is "synchronous".  Asynchronous learning is learning that is done "on your own" other words a teacher might provide a specific writing prompt and ask that the student complete the prompt over the course of the next few days and turn it in via google classroom.  That is "asynchronous" as there is no "live" communication occurring.  The Gorham schools are trying very hard to use a "mixed" approach.  The great thing about synchronous learning opportunities is that they offer the social connections that are students are craving.  The bad thing is that not EVERYONE can participate in these due to their own individual constraints (child care, or lack of internet connection or device, etc.).  The great thing  about asynchronous learning is that everyone, at some point or another, can have access...the challenge is that there  is not someone there to help directly, or that the social interactions which are so important to learning are also not occurring.  Again, this is why we are trying to take a "mixed methods" approach so we can do our best to offer the best of both worlds!  The social interactions associated with Synchronous learning and the  flexibility associated with Asynchronous learning!

Question:  What is the success rate with laptop and packet pickup? 

Answer:  At this point 100% of devices have been picked up by families/students for grades  4-12.  Packet pickup is likely closer to 90% with some families still being contacted.  Our goal is that by end of this week 100% of families will have made contacts with either a teacher, social worker/guidance counselor, or school administrator.  Overall, we feel like the vast  majority of students/families are engaging and are now cycling back to work specifically to differentiate for families who are having difficulties for whatever very valid reasons they may be. 

Question:  What is happening with CTE?

Answer:  WRVC and PATHS have instructed teachers to send  home materials to students.  Hard part here is trying to figure out what to do to offset the loss of the hands on components of instruction.  Additionally, fears around students being able to qualify for and finish any certifications they may have been working on.  Superintendent Perry is reaching out to the directors of both institutions to see what we can do to support/assist.

Question:   Is allied arts instruction still going on along with classroom stuff?

Answer:  YES - all allied arts folks are sending out information for how to access their programming.  This is either being done directly,  or through classroom teachers.  Also please note that a decision was made NOT TO MOVE grades 6-8  students into their NEW allied arts rotations at this time.  We felt the familiar face was more important that is on hold for now.

Question:  If a parent has a question about instruction, who should they reach out to?

Answer:  As always, we want parents to definitely reach out with their questions.  Please start with the classroom teacher, and then if needed feel free to reach out to your building principal and go from there.  No questions are "bad" questions at this time as we all continue to learn and grow together in this new system.  Teachers are very much open and accepting of feedback on how they can best differentiate for the needs of each please do not be bashful!

Question:  Students left  behind  because of factors they can't control...what are we planning to do to help?

Answer:  First, it is important to know that our supporting services (Learning Labs,  Special Education, etc. ) are all just  now planning on getting their supporting services up and running to begin next week.  That will be the first "wave" of assistance.  After that, we encourage families to continually reach out with their needs so we can do our best to differentiate and provide what is needed.  Ultimately, will some students be  more successful than others in attempting to engage in this new method of learning - YES.  But please know we are working on providing "safety nets" for those students and families as well.  We are working on plans to beef up our Extended  School Year services for special education families this summer as well as to offer actual summer programming for regular education students in grades K-11 who either we feel need that additional support, or who families feel may need that additional support.  Those plans will be coming as we continue to work.  Ultimately - just know that we will find a way to bring everyone back up to for now, just do the best you can with what you have and communicate your needs.  We will work to figure out the rest!

Upcoming Budget Workshop Meeting

The school committee will meet again on Monday, March 30 to continue its discussions regarding FY 21 budget.  The link to this zoom meeting is below.

Special Education & Other Support Programs

Will be starting their actual instructional programming next week Monday.  Similar to our regular education classroom "roll out" the first few weeks of programming will  be focused first on establishing communication with families and methods that work for each family to provide the much needed supports that we know exist. 

Kathy Hamblen will be sending out a letter to all special education families tomorrow with more information and case managers will be working  to get ahold of each family to begin programming during the course of the week next  week.  If you are a special education parent or a parent of a child receiving other supports (such as RTI, 504, ELL, G&T) and you have not had direct contact from a teacher or case manager by end of next week, please reach out to your building principal to let them know.

In Closing...

That is it for tonight...I did want to mention that you will NOT see a blog post from me tomorrow (Friday).  I have been basically working "non-stop" for the past two weeks (including weekends) and am in need of a "shut down day"...or at least this is what my colleagues and my husband are telling me!  So I am going to heed their advice (at least a little as I can't imagine not working at all for a whole day).  Updates will continue on Monday, and likely move to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule in order to ease the "information overload" I know is occurring.  But one way for all of us to stay  in touch is to share the great things happening via social media!  Please keep those photos and quick video clips coming!  Use the #Gorhamlearningtogether hashtag (and others that you'd like to add too) and  loop me in if you'd like using my twitter handle of @hperrysup. 

I continue to be thoroughly impressed with our staff and our community.  GORHAM IS THE BEST DARN COMMUNITY!  Keep up the great work, and as Dory said in Finding Nemo..."Just keep swimming...!"  IN closing...enjoy a few great pictures and a nice reminder!


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