Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thursday, May 28 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone.  Can't believe May is already gone! Busy let's get to it!  Here's my update for Thursday, May 28!   Onward and upward my friends!

CORRECTION  From Previous Post

I just wanted to acknowledge a necessary correction from my post on Tuesday.  In that blog post I included the following image along with an outline of why we will likely need to be considering wearing face coverings when school re-opens in the fall.

It has come to my attention, and I have since verified that the percentages that are listed on this image are NOT ACCURATE and cannot be verified.  For this I apologize.  However, the statement this image is making - the fact that wearing face masks/coverings decreases the potential of an infected person spreading  the virus is actually well documented and supported by the CDC (see this link  to learn more).

So I do apologize for sharing information that was not verified in the form of the percentages...however I still think  it is important to note that the message is still very much a verified fact and again - I only share any of this for the sole purpose of asking parents and others to think about this topic and be prepared to make decisions later this fall as to whether or not you are going to be willing to wear face coverings if the school is required to mandate that folks do.  I am not saying yet that we will be requiring this...just that I believe that there is a strong likelihood that we may be forced to do so by the you will want to have thought about in advance.

Update on Proposed FY 21 School Budget

First, if you missed the meeting last night and would like to watch it, feel free to catch the conversation using THIS LINK (Password: 3p%#P2VY ) for the recorded meeting.

To make a 1.5 hour meeting "short"...after discussion and debate, the Gorham School Committee voted 5-2 to approve of a newly proposed FY 21 school budget that brings the mil impact to taxpayers down to 0% for FY  21.  The newly approved FY 21 proposed budget would make the following changes from the originally proposed FY 21 budget:

1.  It Reduces the following general fund expenditures:

  • Reduce amount paid to Town of Gorham to only include anticipated increases in summer insurance accrual amounts.  Those amounts are estimated to be $70,000.00 for FY  21.  Therefore we would reduce $80,000.00 from this originally proposed expenditure.
  • Reduce 1 Ed. Tech. III from Special Education - $35,000.00
  • Reduce Technology Maintenance Lines by $20,000.00

2. It Reduces the proposed CIPS (Capital Improvement Plan) budget by $252,000.00

3. It Adds to the designated fund balance revenue by $310,000.00

These three items combined would reduce the originally proposed FY 21 School budget impact by a total of $697,150.00 which would bring the new projected FY 21 mil impact to 0%.

I will be writing a letter to the Town Council on behalf of the School Committee to make them aware of the newly proposed FY 21 budget figures in time for their consideration when they vote to approve of the Town's full municipal budget on June 16, 2020.  Please stay tuned and feel  free to reach  out with any questions!

Continued Work on Re-Opening Plan Development - UPDATE

The work to develop a comprehensive plan to re-open the Gorham Schools continues.  Right now, I am working closely with District Leadership Team members, and their school level leadership teams to try and narrow in on the top 3-4 Level II scenarios that we want to consider moving forward with.  If you recall, the Level I plan involves a continuation of distance learning and the Level III plan involves a fairly "traditional" operation of our schools.  It is the Level II plan, which is a hybrid model, that is creating the most work for us at this point in time.  Within this Level II plan we will have face to face instruction occurring with some students while other students are continuing distance learning because we may be placed in a situation whereby we are able to operate our schools, but not at full capacity in order to maintain stricter social distancing and sanitization protocols.

I will be sending out a survey to all staff members today that asks them to weigh in on the options we've identified thus far  in an attempt to identify the top 3 scenarios we may want to dive more deeply into for our planning.  Once those top 3 scenarios are identified, I will then be sending out a survey to  all parents/guardians late next week (probably Thursday) to ask your opinions on these top scenarios in order to help us nail down the ONE we will move forward with for planning purposes.  This isn't to say that this one scenario may not change as this constantly moving pandemic seems to change all the time...but it is to say this would be the scenario we focus our future planning on.  In this same survey I will likely be asking some other questions of parents that will assist  me in continuing to mold a plan that will work for the Gorham community moving forward.

My goal will be to present a STILL DRAFT plan to  the School Committee that will be shared with staff and parent/guardians more fully prior to the end of the school year so that folks can begin to wrap their heads around what things MAY look like when school opens this fall.  This plan will  clearly still be DRAFT as it is my hope to take this initial plan and to share it with a community stakeholder advisory group/task force to really dig deeply into over the summer in order to finalize details before the beginning of the upcoming school year.

I just wanted to give you an update to let you know the work continues and to let you know to be looking for an IMPORTANT SURVEY to come out on Thursday next week that I would strongly urge folks to participate in to help inform our ongoing planning processes.

I will continue to keep you informed as this work progresses...but also wanted to share something with all of you that I have shared with the DLT as we have struggled so far through our planning, especially for the level II option.  That  is this...

The decisions we have had to make, and the decisions we will have to make are not optimal.  Optimal education is daily face to face instruction with highly qualified teachers who care tremendously for their children.  As we look at development of our re-opening plans we continue to try to do the best we can for ALL students making sure everyone (staff, students, parents, and community members) are safe and healthy, which may mean we will continue to operate in "less than optimal" conditions from time to time.

And one more that I thought I should share as a continued "guidepost"  as we work our way through these unprecedented times together...that is this:

As Schools Prepare for the coming year, remember ...

A "Dunk and Discuss" Reminder

As I mention that we are working to create an initial draft of our re-opening plan...I thought it would be prudent to remind parents that I have an open meeting planned for tonight with no agenda, but ample opportunity for parents to log on and ask questions!  I will host a "Dunk and Discuss" meeting later this evening at 6:30 p.m.  Login information is below...

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 828 3623 2033
Password: 919679

Incredible Transition Activities - K-5 Examples

Last week I shared some of the incredible transition activities that are going on at Gorham Middle School.  This week, I wanted to share some incredible examples of what is happening at our K-5 schools.  If you are a K-5 parent, you probably already know that our teachers across all three schools got together and created slide show presentations for each grade level team.  These slide shows were aimed at helping students and parents get to know their new teachers for the coming year and to understand what the expectations for their new grade level might be.  At this time, specific classroom placements have not been made (those will be announced later on June 12 for the virtual step up day) so grade level teachers got together to introduce themselves and  share this important information.   These slide presentations were followed up with open Q&A sessions via zoom with any parent/guardian that wished to attend.   I have to be honest...I am a little worried that this new way of helping students to transition from one grade to another may be so good - expectations may be to do this every year regardless of a pandemic or not!☺

Here  are examples from Village Elementary School.  Again, each school did them - but I didn't want to take up too much  space!

7th Graders share their "Self-Talk Mantras"... AWESOME!

Our teachers and students continue to amaze me in the ways in which they are learning during our little  distance learning journey together!  I wanted to share this particular example of learning with all of you because I thought - we could all use a little "self talk mantra" right now in these trying times.  What's that saying - "from the mouths of babes..."?  Check out these important messages from our young learners!

GHS Yearbook Dedications Held Today!

Now before anyone asks...seniors will be getting their yearbooks next week when they pick up their caps and gowns...Mr. Jandreau is currently working to develop a plan for other students to get their yearbooks soon and he'll put that information out there to families asap.

I just wanted to send along a congratulations to our two GHS retirees who were honored today by yearbook staff and to the GHS staff member who the yearbook was dedicated to this year.  First the retirees...

And now a huge congratulations to Sarah Drury.  The 2020 GHS yearbook is dedicated to her! 

Resources for Parents on Gardening - A Great Way to Learn and Grow (pun intended) For the Whole Family!

I found these great resources from the Maine Department of Education and thought I'd share:

Gardening has multiple benefits that reflect the dimensions of health such as physical activity, stress reduction, nurturing feelings, social connections and economic benefits. There has been a positive uptick in people’s interest in gardening during COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders. If you are a gardener you know what we are talking about! If you are a novice and have already planted your garden, awesome and good luck! If this sounds interesting, but you are thinking you are too late; don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to start your garden and enjoy it all summer long!

Gardening can ground us when we are feeling unstable or life is uncertain. We encourage you to explore the wide variety of possibilities gardening has to offer. You can venture into creative flower gardens and landscaping enhancements around your home or plant a vegetable garden that will allow you to reap the benefits. Gardening can be a great family activity allowing members sharing in the process or use it as a quiet meditation spot. Following are websites to explore and support you in your gardening adventure.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday May 26 Blog Post Update

I hope you all had a great long weekend - the weather certainly cooperated! It  is now time for the "home stretch" of the school year!  I always find  it funny when folks talk  about the school  year "winding down" my experience, there  is nothing "slow" about the end of the school year! This time is filled with special activities, celebrations, interventions, enrichments, and transition activities.  Much to do and accomplish and with our little "distance adventure" still ongoing - we're doing all  of these things in a  new environment.  A challenge for sure-  but one I know Gorham is up to the challenge to meet!

Parents/Guardians should be sure to keep a close eye on these blogs, and on the weekly updates being sent out by building principals.  Also, for students in grades 6-12 you should be keeping a close eye on your  gorhamschools email accounts so you don't accidentally miss something that is important!

Here are my updates...

End of School Year Calendar Reminder

Just a quick reminder to students and parents that we are getting ready to enter "stage 2" of our end of the year "phasing down" process.  GHS seniors are currently in the middle of focusing on making sure they are all caught up and ready to graduate, or participating in virtual job shadowing or other enrichment experiences.  GHS seniors should also be preparing to trade in their laptops next week for their caps and gowns!  So exciting!  I am sure they are all very much looking forward to June 6th and 7th for their graduation ceremonies and for their "convoy" parade on the night of June 7th beginning at 7:45 p.m. I've got a section below with a reminder on this.

This week will be the last week for "formal" new instruction for students in grades 9-11 at GHS.  Beginning next week students in these grades will move to a focus on either enrichment activities (of which there are robust selections) and/or intervention activities to make sure all students will receive the credits they should receive this school year.  In addition, a focus will be placed on continuing transition activities for students, making sure students are signed up for the classes they need in the fall of 2020, and working on making sure everyone is clear on academic expectations for the coming year.

Students in grades K-8 will be continuing their "formal" new instruction through June 5, 2020 and then focusing their work between June 8- June 12 on enrichment and interventions as well as on continuing the transition activities which have already begun.  

Students receiving Special Education and/or other RTI supports will continue to receive direct instruction and learning support through June 12, 2020.  June 15 and 16 will be spent allowing teachers time to do  whatever last minute things they need to do to wrap up the school year effectively which means that students should make sure to be available to meet with teachers on these two days even though formal instruction will not be occurring.  The summer vacation will then begin at the end of the day on June 16, 2020.

If you have questions about the details of what to expect for your student, you should reach out to your child's building principal and they will be sure to answer any questions you may have!

GHS Graduation "Convoy" Parade Information Announced!
Gorham High School in collaboration with the Gorham Police Department, Gorham Fire Department, and Gorham Public Works is excited to announce that a Graduation Convoy to celebrate Gorham’s Class of 2020 will commence at 7:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 7th beginning at the Gorham Industrial Park and conclude at Gorham High School.

Graduates of the Class of 2020 will be joined by their families for the convoy in their cars. The convoy will follow Route 25 and Main Street from the Industrial Park through the Gorham Village.  The convoy will turn left onto South Street and enter the Gorham High School campus via Morrill Avenue.  Please see the map of the convoy route below.

We invite members of our Gorham community to line Route 25 and Main Street, South Street, and Morrill Avenue to cheer and wave signs that celebrate our seniors.  We do ask, however, that everyone maintain adequate six-foot physical-distancing during this event.  

We ask that participants and spectators follow these safety guidelines during the convoy:
  1. Maintain physical distancing; and
  2. Refrain from throwing candy or other items, either from vehicles in the convoy to spectators or from spectators toward the convoy.

Outdoor Facilities Will  be Re-Opened June 1 (WE HOPE)

As part of the Governor's "Phase II" of re-opening, the Gorham School Department has been working in conjunction with the Gorham Recreation  Department to allow for outdoor facilities to be re-opened for public use beginning June 1.  Of course, this re-opening could be delayed if the Governor steps back her phased in reopening plans, but so far so good on that front. 

When these outdoor facilities reopen, there will still be some restrictions for use of fields and equipment, most of which deal with the NEED TO MAINTAIN  6 FOOT SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCOLS AT  ALL  TIMES.  Signs will be posted up on the facilities with clear instructions.  Playground equipment will also be open as long as individuals maintain 6 foot social distancing  and understand that the Town of Gorham and/or the Gorham School  Department WILL NOT be sanitizing the equipment after each use.  Parents/guardians should be prepared to bring their own sanitization materials if using this equipment and understand that you do so at your own risk.

Other outdoor facilities that will reopen will be the tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, outdoor basketball courts and batting cages -  again, all with strict protocols regarding maintaining 6 foot social distancing (can I say that enough times???).  Please keep in mind that the Gorham School Department and the Gorham Recreation Department want the public to be able to use these facilities safely.  Please maintain six foot social distancing, and follow any rules/directions posted on signage outside of the fields.   We will only be able to keep these facilities open if folks make sure to follow the rules so that everyone can be safe!  If you have questions about Gorham School fields, please reach out to  Tim Spear (  If you have questions about Gorham Recreation fields, please reach out to the Gorham Recreation Department, their website is LINKED HERE.

Upcoming  Meetings

Just wanted to make sure folks were aware of upcoming meetings this week.  We have a Special  School Committee meeting coming up on May 27 (tomorrow night) at 7:00 p.m.  The major piece on the agenda will be voting on an adjustment to  the proposed FY 21 School Budget to attempt to hit the "target" (or come as  close as we can) of a 0% impact to the mil for Gorham taxpayers  in FY 21.  We have lots of ideas that the School Committee will need to consider so it should be a  lively discussion!   You can find the agenda (which  has zoom link information on the top) and meeting materials by CLICKING HERE

There will also be a "Dunk  and Discuss" meeting for any K-12 parent or community member who would like to join me to discuss current themes and topics  related  to our  schools.  I'm sure some folks might have some questions about what re-opening might look like this fall.  I  likely won't have detailed answers, but  I can answer questions about what our current thinking  is.  Feel free to join me for this informal meeting via zoom.  You can get the zoom contact information by going to our district website and on the home page, just view the calendar and click on the "Dunk and  Discuss"  calendar item listed.  Zoom link information is shared right there! 

The Importance of Wearing Face Masks

I know there is a lot of debate out there regarding the wearing of face masks or face coverings.   Its a personal choice that folks need to make, each for their own reasons.  I've noticed in the social media world recently that there seems to be a lot of "shaming" going on for those that either choose to wear masks or do not choose to wear masks.  

Personally, I put a great deal of faith into my "neighbors" and understand that folks elect to wear them or not for their own good reasons.  Take my father for example.  He's 72 years old but is still a very active soul.  Several times now he has gone out to Hannaford to pick up something for the house and people have definitely treated him differently for not wearing a face mask.  But what you wouldn't know about my father (if you didn't know him personally) is that he doesn't need to wear a face mask as it would do him no good!  Five years ago now he had a total laryngectomy and he actually breaths through his neck and wears a "mask" at all simply can't see it as he has it covered by the high neck shirts he always wears.

There is no doubt and science has clearly shown that when you can't maintain six foot social distancing - face coverings are essential, not so much to protect you as an individual, but to protect  others from you because you might unwittingly have been exposed to the virus and are carrying it around with you and spreading it even though you may feel fine.  They call this  being "asymptomatic" and it seems to be a very real thing with this virus.  Here's an image I found that I think does a great job at explaining...

I am sharing all of this with you because there is a distinct possibility that when we get ready to open school back up in  the fall that there may be a need then, or maybe a little later in the year if another outbreak occurs that I will need to ask folks in schools to wear face coverings.  If this occurs it won't be because I wish to tread on anyone's civil rights.  It will be  because they are proven to be an effective means of preventing the spread of this virus.  And just like my father's situation...if there are necessary exceptions to the  need to wear a mask, we'll address them together then...but in the meantime, I just wanted to get people thinking about this so that they can mentally be prepared for what MAY be a very real possibility this coming fall.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out!  My email is  THANKS!

Great Job - Gorham Reads!

I just wanted to share a quick  message from Heidi Whelan, the Youth Services Librarian  at Baxter Memorial  Library.  

Hi Heather,
Deb Tanguay sent me the total book distribution numbers.  We gave away 179 BML books total during our 3 day distribution at your 4 Operation Feed Gorham locations.  Kim and Luci were great to work with. I heard there were many positive comments from people receiving the books. Deb spent hours sorting the books for this event and we may plan another distribution in the future since we have a supply of books leftover that are sorted and labeled already.  I'm attaching a picture of the event for you.  It's of Kim Fadrigan and Deb Tanguay giving out books at Great Falls Elementary.  Danielle Grady and Jeffrey Knox (2 BML Youth Services Assistants) helped with the distribution at Village and the High School.  Truly a team effort.  Thank you for allowing us to be part of this project.

Heidi Whelan
Youth Services Librarian
Baxter Memorial Library
71 South St
Gorham, ME 04038

Check Out This Week's Career Exploration Options for GHS students!

Again, just have to share that our talented crew at GHS is not letting our students get away with not thinking about their aspirations and careers while we are on this distance learning journey!  They've moved this exploration to a virtual setting!  GHS students can join Eliza (our Career and Community Coordinator) for small group zoom meetings with professionals in fields ranging from theater to healthcare.  They can ask questions and connect with peers who have shared interests and gain an insight on their own future path. New conversations are  scheduled every week! Here's this week's selection:

Helpful Tool for Parent/Teachers

As many parents are still working very hard in their roles as Parent/Teacher, I thought I might offer up a quick little chart that I think helps folks (parents or teachers) to better determine what to do with students as they continue to struggle through these difficult times.  As  I've said before every student and every family is experiencing  this distance learning  journey differently  and sometimes as a parent/teacher I am sure it is difficult to try and determine whether a child/student is simply just not wanting to work on school work,  or for whatever reason they can't work on school work.  As a teacher and as an educational leader, I have always found the chart below to be very a very helpful guide in how to approach these sometimes tenuous I thought I'd share it with you.  It's called the "Willing and Able Grid"  and is used frequently by professionals to help determine how to engage with students who may, for whatever reason be having a difficult time.  

Class of  2022 Face Coverings
I wanted to share this announcement for folks that may be interested in purchasing face coverings to support the GHS class of 2022 as well as the Gorham Food Pantry.  The following message is from Neile Nelson, a teacher at GHS and class advisor to the class of 2022...

Good morning everyone,
Please consider supporting the Class of 2022 by purchasing a Gorham themed facemask. Some of the proceeds will also benefit the Gorham BackPack Program. Now you can represent your community in style, while still following the Maine CDC's guidelines. Each mask is $15. You can purchase them through the link below. Help stop the spread and do your part to make sure we can be together again as soon as possible. The sale will run up to June 13th. Thanks for your support.

A Concerned  Student Has His  Fears Allayed

In closing, I wanted to share this funny, yet very real story with all of you.  A student in Gorham had a huge concern about Santa Claus catching COVID-19 and about Christmas being canceled as a result.  Their loving  parent did what any other loving parent would do and reached  out to DHHS constituent services to ask if there was a way that this child's concerned could be deferred.  Here's the email that was sent by the parent:

Question: My son is very worried about Santa catching Covid-19!  I wondered if there's any way Dr. Shah can reassure children in some way that Santa and the elves are safe and quarantining at the North Pole?  He is very worried Santa will not be able to come at Christmas.  I know this is petty compared to deaths and suffering from it, but his mental health is suffering, too.  I'm sure he's not the only kid who is worried.  Thank you for all your hard work--stay safe! 
Now, as busy as DHHS is right now, one would think that they wouldn't have responded.  I mean seriously...this likely isn't at the top of their priority list right now with all that is going on...but a kind soul from DHHS did indeed respond!  Here's their "official" response to the concerned parent and child...

Good morning,

Thank you for reaching out with this important and very heartwarming concern. Please reassure your son that Santa and all of his helpers (reindeer included) are faring very well. The workshop is set to reopen in June, albeit with the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of Santa's elves. "Social Distancing" has presented quite a challenge for all of them; as you probably know, they are by nature quite an affectionate and rambunctious bunch. Christmas is still scheduled to take place as it always has and we (Santa and the MECDC) remain hopeful that all of our efforts now, will result in a healthier and happier future.


Scott A. Perkins (on behalf of Santa)

Scott Perkins, Constituent Services Coordinator
Department of Health and Human Services
109 Capitol Street
#11 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0011
Tel:  (207) 287-5846
Fax:  (207) 287-3005

Now I don't know about you...but Mr. Perkins here (the gentleman from DHHS who responded) deserves a huge thank you for taking the time to respond to this email and assure this child that Santa is doing well, following  social distancing  protocols, and working to make sure that Christmas is "still on" as scheduled!  I know I am going to send  him a  "Thank you" note...and would encourage others who feel like he deserves it to do the same!  

I hope you enjoyed that little note as much as I did!  Sometimes as much as we think the world is  teetering on the edge of destruction and that the human condition has somehow gone south...we see little things like this and we know the good in people still exists and faith is returned!  AWESOME!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thursday May 21 Blog Update

Wow!  Been a busy week for sure - nice to know we have a long weekend coming up to rest up and prepare for the "sprint to the finish line".  As my coaches always told me growing is very important to "finish strong" and I have no doubt the Gorham Schools, our students and our parents will do that very thing!  Lots to  we go!


As I continue to mention our planning processes for what school may look like this fall as we work to re-open, I continue to get questions from parents.  I wish I had more answers right now, as we are still working on the plans, but keep sending those questions along because  it helps us to know what parents are concerned about and  what you are again  -  don't be bashful! 

A big question that keeps popping up that I AM able to answer has to do with the "what if" scenario of "what if schools open (either partially or fully) but I am still concerned for my child's health and don't want  to send them to school?"  A great question...and one that is pretty easy to answer because we care so much about our students, and for that matter our staff!  We are not interested in putting anyone's health at risk when we work to re-open our schools.  The fact of the matter is that in whatever scenario we think about we know that there will be some students and some staff that will be unable to return to face to face instruction because of health concerns.  Until there is a widely available vaccine or until there is a widely available method of testing students and staff for COVID-19, I believe that statement will continue to be true and therefore, we must plan to provide educational programming for students and families in this situation.  So to make a long story short (sorry, I know already too late) we think about how schools may re-open in the fall, we are planning to make sure we can continue to provide educational programming for those students who need to remain home to get that programming virtually.  Now, I don't yet know exactly what they may look like or who your  child's  virtual "teacher" may be in that scenario, but we  will endeavor to find a way to support ALL our learners - whether they can come back in the fall face to face, or if they have to remain in a virtual mode.  I do hope this helps to let parents know that we will provide some choice in this area - as long as parents also know that we feel strongly that the best educational programming is delivered  face to face.

Please keep reaching out with your questions!  Again, I may not have answers - YET - but they do inform the process!


As you may recall, Aspire Gorham is a early childhood - adult learning initiative here in  Gorham aimed at helping to get our students to think about their career aspirations from a very early age  and  to understand that "Everyone has a story  - What is yours?".  In other words, everyone has  had to work to get to where they are in their career paths, but no story is the same...we each write our own and that story can change from chapter to chapter - and sometimes even from paragraph to paragraph!

I wanted to highlight some "accomplishments" from our work this year and to let parents know that work is still  ongoing, especially at GMS and GHS as we work to close out another incredible year of school here in Gorham.  Here is an overview of some of our accomplishments:

*  Littlest Learners Program - is a collaboration between Baxter Memorial Library, the Gorham Schools and early care providers in the community of Gorham.  Through this program many different literacy initiatives have been able to occur either through family participation on site at Baxter  or with our folks actually going out and visiting early care providers and bringing programming to them!  We had over 1,000 "youngsters" involved in this program this year...AWESOME!

*  Early Care Providers Group - This group now meets monthly with our very own Nicole Poole joining and helping to facilitate.  There are over 38 early care providers in Gorham and surrounding communities that support Gorham children and this  group has been formed to help them collaborate and share best practices and to build positive relationships with our schools.  Already we've done three shared professional development events together with more to come!

*  Adopt a Classroom - This is a program where GHS students visit elementary school classrooms and work with younger students to talk about aspirations.  Two visits were done at Great Falls before our little distance learning journey began and one visit was completed at both Narragansett and Village.  We will  pick this awesome work up in the fall.

*  GMS Try It Series - 6th and 7th graders got to participate in hands on activities exploring various careers with local "guests of honor" helping to present.  An 8th grade even was also planned but COVID-19 moved that to a virtual experience for our 8th graders.  Many 8th graders have participated, but these events have been optional so we hope to bring them back into the schools again next year to build on our early success!

*  GHS Career talks - Our Community and Careers Coordinator has worked diligently to connect our GHS students to local "guests" who are business owners or recent graduates or folks that work in fields of particular interest to our students.  These have been wildly popular and have actually gotten MORE popular with our distance  learning programming!  Here's just an example of this past week's offerings (GHS students can find these and how to sign up on their daily announcements)!

*  CTE - we've  begun a  revisioning process with WRVC and PATHS that will strive to open up more programming for more students and for younger students to be able to participate in these high quality programs.  We have the highest number of GHS students participating in CTE programs this year (with 72) and we'd like to see more!

*  Senior Internships - we've had to move these online due to COVID, but we already have over 70 GHS seniors participating in virtual internship experiences spread out over 18 different sessions!  Awesome!

*  USM partnership - Through the creation of three pathways (STEM, Nursing, Legal/Liberal Arts) we have strengthened our partnership with USM to allow our GHS students to accumulate up to 30 credits before they graduate from GHS beginning with the incoming 9th grade class this  fall!  WOW!

And as just one more great example of Aspire Gorham work, check out this STUDENT created slide show showing students at GHS how they can still work on their aspirations!

These are just some examples  of the awesome work  going on through Aspire Gorham.  The focus for next year,  in addition to keeping these incredible programs moving forward, will be to more effectively communicate with parents and students about the importance of Aspirations and the various strong opportunities our students have to "dig in" to those aspirations while right here in our schools.  Programs such  as WRVC and  PATHS are just two examples with many more!  Stay tuned for this important work to continue whether it be "in person" or virtually next year!


I just wanted to make sure folks are clear on our plans for Summer 2020 programming.  Our special education department will be operating an  extended school year program for qualifying students this summer via distance  learning.  This program will begin July 6 for those students who are eligible.  In addition, we will be providing a very small and very controlled OPTIONAL program for students in the Functional Life Skills Programs across grades K-12 to work in a face to face setting for short periods of time over the summer.  This optional instruction will be focused on helping these students learn about proper sanitization and hygiene techniques that will be needed when school re-opens (in whatever form) this fall.  Other than this very small and controlled face to face program, all  other programs will be offered virtually.

GHS will offer a two week "credit recovery" program at the end of June for qualifying students.  This program will also be "virtual" in nature.  GHS will be notifying students if they qualify for this program by the end  of the school year.  If you have questions as to whether or not your child qualifies for this program, please reach out to Mr. Jandreau and he can help you to answer those questions.

Finally, we are going to be allowing all students to keep their current devices this summer.  We're doing this for two major reasons (1) because we are unsure of how the school year will open and we want these devices to be in the hands of the majority of our students in case  we need them to begin the year and (2) we will be sharing online resources for families to continue to use over the course of the summer  if they so choose. These resources will be free and will be intended to be parent/student led.  Finally, we will be operating a small pilot of a program called "Exact Path" for a very small number of Title I students as we seek to see how well the program may work for students when school opens this fall.  The program is aligned to NWEA assessments and would allow us to use assessment results to develop individualized online programs for student interventions as a means to assist students in recovering some of the learning that may have been lost this spring.  This is just one of many different things we are looking at...this pilot will help us to determine if this is the right direction for more students.

That's really it.  Our hope is that we will be able to provide excellent intervention services for all students who need it over the course of the coming school year and then in the summer of FY 21 be able to provide even stronger summer programs for students most in need - all  for the purpose of making sure that by the time we open up the 2021-22 school year, students are right where they need to be to be successful, both in the short and long term!


Check out the information below and learn more at: for this and other incredible programming being offered through our very own library!

Summer Reading and Discovery Program

Starting on June 15th you will be able to sign up for the Summer Reading and Discovery Program (SRDP). Check back here for a link to register and for a printable reading and activity tracker. You can use the tracker form we’ve provided or make your own!
The goal this summer is to complete 12 hours of reading and 4 discovery activities. Discovery activities can be experiences like: take a walk, try a new vegetable, plant a seed, pick up trash, write a letter to a friend, participate in a virtual library program, etc. Get creative!
The Friends of Baxter Memorial Library has made a pledge to donate $1 for every child who completes the Summer Reading and Discovery Program, up to $1,000! Wow! It’s up to you kids to try to raise as much money as possible for one of these great local charities and you get to choose which charity receives your donation. Choices are: the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP), Gorham Food Pantry or Gorham BackPack Program. At the end of the summer all SRDP finishers will also be entered into a raffle for one of ten $10 Gift Cards to our wonderful local bookstore, The Bookworm! Make sure you register on our website so we can put your name in for the raffle.


All of our schools are currently in the process of making sure that parents and students are able to get all their belongings from our schools before the school year ends.  We also have used this process to distribute K-3 chrome books to wouldn't think this would be such a monumental task...but let me just show you a picture of one school's organization for parent pick up...

That's a lot of stuff!  Its been going really well though because I think many schools have used this opportunity as a way to get to see their students again...with some teachers actually asking students to ride in the car to come  pick up their items so that they could plan to be there to distribute and say hi!  Our teachers most definitely miss our students greatly and our students miss our teachers too!    

Here's just a few examples! 

I also wanted to share one student's SMILE when he received his new Aspire Gorham T-Shirt that says:  "class of _____, my future is bright" and has a nice Gorham symbol on the front...Love it!


A few weeks ago now, I shared with all of you the plans for our schools to transition into the end of the year.  These plans had GHS students ending formal instruction on May 29 and K-8 students ending formal instruction on June 5.  Once formal instruction ended, the idea was to focus on enrichment and interventions as well as on transition activities for all students.  I just wanted to share one example of what those enrichment activities are looking like at GHS...again just one example, but I wanted folks to see that this is by no means "lost learning time"...Here is a message that went out to all GHS 9th-11th graders:

Starting June 1st, students who have passed all their classes will have an opportunity to engage in a real-world enrichment experience from June 1st through June 12th. You could choose to spend the time learning a new instrument or language. You could do a book group with friends, paint your room, learn to garden, or even take an online class. I've heard of a group of students already planning reading theater together. This enrichment is intended to be self-directed and independent. Linked are different groups of enrichment ideas that could be done remotely. You can choose one or multiple items from the list to pursue or create your own original idea. You will need to plan for 10-15 hours per week if you would like to earn credit for this work.  Keep this in mind when you are considering possible project(s). Students can earn up to .25 credits for this experience towards graduation.

Here is what happens next: Your advisor will meet with you to discuss your plans. This will happen next week. You will then meet with your advisor once a week over the two week period to tell them of your efforts. Have fun!

Click on any link below to explore ideas. If you have an original idea, feel free to share it with your advisor when you all meet. 
Note: These links may not be open to public, but you get the sense of options through the title...


In case you are is 30 minutes long...but if you have a student being honored...well worth it!  Feel free to re-post!


A wonderful performance from our GMS band students...check it out - only three minutes in length and worth the listen!

Awesome work!  Proud to be a Ram!


I just wanted to share a few images that I thought might help fortify folks "spirits" as we enter into the long Memorial Weekend and prepare for the last few weeks of school via distance.  I will see you right back here on Tuesday, May 26!  ENJOY YOUR MUCH DESERVED LONG WEEKENDS!