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!


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