Good afternoon everyone! Best wishes on this sunny, yet chilly spring day! Here is my update for today!
Absentee Voting Reminder
Just a reminder that the Town of Gorham is STRONGLY ENCOURAGING folks to vote via absentee ballot on July 14th (new date for referendum postponed in June). Absentee ballot applications are now available for the primary election and annual school budget election. During the current health pandemic in the US and in Maine, the Town of Gorham highly recommends voting by Absentee Ballot. You may vote absentee by requesting a ballot and one will be mailed to you when they become available. Absentee ballots must be returned by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.
WE ARE GOING TO NEED YOU TO VOTE ON OUR SCHOOL BUDGET THIS YEAR SO PLEASE DO WHAT YOU CAN TO ENSURE YOU ARE ABLE TO VOTE ON JULY 14. THANK YOU!
You may request a ballot online by clicking here:
You may also request a ballot by calling the Town Clerk's office at 222-1670, 222-1674 or 222-1676. Thank you!
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
A joint meeting with the Town Council will be held TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. during which the Gorham School Committee will present our proposed FY 21 budget. To join the meeting, follow this link on your computer or mobile device: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84481325878, or join by phone by calling 1-929-205-6099 and entering Webinar ID: 844 8132 5878.
You can also watch live via GoCAT TV on channel 3 or you can watch live from the Town of Gorham Facebook Page.
The Gorham School Committee will also have its regular meeting for May TOMORROW NIGHT at 7:00 p.m. To view the agenda and get the link to the meeting you can CLICK HERE.
I will also be hosting a "Dunk and Discuss" event Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. that is open to all parents and community members in Gorham. There is no formal agenda...just an opportunity to chat, ask questions, share thoughts and ideas, etc. You can access the meeting by CLICKING HERE and using the following password (138161). You can also call into the meeting at: 1-646-876-9923
Sharing a Message of Thanks from A Local Business Owner
I just wanted to take minute and share this message of Thanks posted on FB from one of our local business owners who recently re-opened...its amazing what we can do TOGETHER when we support our local businesses!
If you want to do more to support our local businesses...check out the link below from the Gorham Business Exchange to learn how!
Updated Information on GHS Graduation Plans
Looks like we have found a way to be "creative" in allowing 2 Parents ONLY per graduate into the series of small graduation ceremonies we are planning for June 6 and 7th for our seniors. Mr. Jandreau sent out information to families in his last update. If you have questions, please reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a reminder for planning purposes, we will be holding small individual ceremonies of 50 total people or less over the course of June 6 and 7 for students to be able to march in with friends, and receive their diplomas. We will also be having a parade to honor our graduates! Parade is planned for the evening of June 7...so make sure to pencil that into your calendars as more details come out! Stay Tuned!
Update on 8th Grade Recognition Plans
Details will be presented to the School Committee on Wednesday night, but generally speaking it looks like a parade is also being planned for our 8th graders! No date set YET...but we're on it and things are coming together...so stay tuned and Mr. Donahue will get details out to parents/families, students and staff asap.
5th Grade Recognition Plans
In my recent blogs I have focused a lot of attention on GHS graduation and planning for 8th grade recognition and hadn't mentioned that we will absolutely be looking to do some smaller things for our 5th graders at each of our three elementary schools to honor them as they move to GMS for the coming year. Again, details of plans will be shared with the Gorham School Committee Wednesday night and then shared with the public - so more to come on Thursday's blog post! Stay tuned!
K-3 Chromebook Information for Parents
Just in case you may have lost that paper version that was tucked into your child's new chromebook...here are the digital versions of the letters sent home to parents of K-3 students receiving new chromebooks this past week and this coming week. Note at the bottom is a place you can go to get technical assistance if you need it!
document/d/1fMHL0xl20BtICr- f0AiDPBAoU3Kd5UIhteG815RuqMk/ edit?usp=sharing
Great Falls: https://docs.google.com/
document/d/ 1a5EABWQaeJMidspkTh8MJoswPej1r 0ogyhfic6r-XTo/edit?usp= sharing
document/d/ 1Pwh4aBqO1a9sDpF2MiUnw- JBkaR5DdV_Ufd_rtJ7Qng/edit? usp=sharing
ESY Services and Summer Plans
At this point, we have decided that due to the continued uncertainty that exists in Cumberland County for re-opening, we are going to stick with the majority of our ESY programming to occur via distance this summer. Dates for ESY programming will begin July 6 and run in either a 4 or 6 week cycle depending upon needs. We are focusing this summer's programming on students who would have qualified for ESY services in March, 2020 rather than try to provide programming for all special education students who we have been unable to collect additional data on to assess specific need. We fully anticipate a much deeper and broader ESY program for the summer of 2021 after we have had a chance to collect significant data on students to be able to identify their specific needs.
As mentioned, ESY programming will mostly be done online. All mandatory components of the program will be conducted via distance. However, for some families - focusing on FLS students at this time - we are planning on trying to get them in for some minimal face to face programming this summer to assist them in learning how to function in what we know will be a very different opening of school this fall. Hand washing, face masks, and other sanitizing protocols will be used with students not only for their own safety but for instructional purposes as well so as to provide them with the skills they will need to be successful in the fall when we reopen our schools.
In terms of other larger scale summer programming - again because there is still so much uncertainty out there for how we MAY be able to offer summer programming to students we are taking more of a "wait and see" approach for students who may need additional instructional supports but who do not qualify for ESY. This could be special education or regular education students. At this point, we are trying to develop some "toolkits" that families can use over the summer for enrichment and support via distance and then focusing our attention on how we will open school differently and what our schedules will look like in the fall of 2020 in order to offer specific interventions for the large number of students we know will need them. This type of programming could mean offering before/after school programming, or maybe it is specific tier III interventions offered outside of the classroom setting but during the day. Or maybe it is starting everyone with a 4-6 week "intensive" programming geared at suring up skills from the previous grade or maybe it is a combination of all of these things?
One thing that we are definitely preparing for is to do some broad benchmark testing for all students in grades K-12 when we do open up school this fall. The likelihood is high that we will be spending the first 1-2 weeks collecting benchmark data using NWEA for grades 1-12 and DIAL for our new Kindergarteners. This data can then be used to specifically focus targeted interventions for students that need it throughout the fall and winter and we can then assess growth in the spring to help determine the possibility for broad based summer programming in summer 2021.
As you can see, we are still working out those details, but we believe that the key focus areas for helping our students will be in how we open up school this fall - so if you have any specific ideas - please don't be bashful! Share away!
"Gorham Reads" Partnership with Baxter Library
Thanks to a new partnership with Baxter Memorial Library right here in Gorham, we are going to be able to offer a special program to Operation Feed Gorham Families over the next few weeks. This program will allow us to distribute books to families participating in Operation Feed Gorham across grades K-12 for the week of May 18th. Right now the tentative distribution schedules looks like this:
* May 18th (Monday 10:45 - 1:15) - Great Falls site.
* May 20th (Wed. 10:45 - 1:15) - GMS site
* May 22nd (Friday 10:45 - 1:15) - Village and GHS site.
HUGE THANK YOU's GO out to Kim Fadrigon, and Luci Bowers from the Gorham Schools and Heidi Whelan from Baxter Memorial Library! NICE WORK to help keep our students reading and loving books!
Opening of School Framework - INITIAL THOUGHTS ONLY
I just wanted to give folks a sense of our initial thinking for what the opening of school MAY look like this fall. What I am going to share with you is the initial FRAMEWORK of thinking only - no details as we are still working those out! But basically the framework we are working with has us set up into three "levels" of operations that will be based on the specific conditions we may face as the school year opens and as we continue to move through it. For now, let's just describe them as levels 1-3. Level 1 would be continuing distance learning much like we are doing now, only the likelihood is high that the "stakes" would be a little higher and although we'd still focus on the S/E needs of our students...academics will also likely play a larger role now that we have devices for all students, an ability to solve connectivity issues, and a better understanding of pedagogy required. Level 3 would be operating our schools under very similar to "traditional" environments. There may be a few restrictions, but not many. This level would be as close to "normal" as we will likely get prior to a vaccine being widely available. Level 2 as you might imagine, is in between 1 and 2...in other words, we may be able to do some face to face instruction, but we'd have to find a way to limit the numbers of students and staff in our buildings at any given time to maintain social distancing. There would also be significant protocols in place for sanitization and the mandatory wearing of face masks, and other safety measures.
The goal in creating these "levels" is to be able to create an operational plan for the coming year that allows us to fluidly move between these types of conditions while maintaining our focus on educational programming. As you can imagine, the logistics for these levels, especially level 2 offer some significant challenges which is what we are working on figuring out now. I have full faith that we will have a very solid and detailed operational plan outlined before the end of this school year that can be shared with everyone so you all can have the summers to plan appropriately.
That being said, I wanted to share the initial framework (levels) with you so you can be thinking about them. My plan is to complete a 3rd draft of the operations plan this week to share with our medical advisory group this weekend, and to then re-draft based off their feedback. That next draft will then be shared with DLT again for more feedback and revisions. The next revised draft will then go to teacher leader groups from around the district for one more round of feedback and adjustments before being brought to the School Committee for a final presentation and possible suggestions for revision. I would like the SC to approve of the operations plan by their last meeting in June. Once finalized, I'll share BROADLY with all stakeholders.
Just so you know one of the "tricky" parts (of many tricky parts) of this work is that while we are making our plans, so too are other districts and so too is the state of Maine Department of Education. My hope is that the MDOE has their "checklist" for opening of school complete in early June so that while we are working to put finishing touches on our plan, we can incorporate their requirements in there to "tweak" and then align with their work. Timing is of course an issue. Worst case scenario is that we develop our plan and then the MDOE's plan does something that is directly "misaligned" with our thinking. I DO NOT anticipate that to occur since we will be working with our medical advisory group and other "experts" to develop our plan...but if it is, we'd have to "scrap" that work and go with MDOE's. Best case scenario is that we develop our plan, it looks good and then MDOE releases their plan and it all aligns and we are good to go with no changes! That's my hope! What we can't do right now - because of the sheet MOUNTAIN OF TASKS to complete in preparation for the opening of school is to just sit back and wait...so forward we will march! I have full faith, however that our plan will align nicely with whatever the MDOE puts out there and that we will be well on our way to making sure we are ready for our opening even before this school year officially closes.
As always, if you have specific ideas or thoughts - please share!
Just wanted to send out a reminder to folks to complete my evaluation survey PLEASE! It is due May 22. Here are the link:
So far I only have 41 parents that have participated out of 4,000+. I would really like to make sure and have a good response rate and would very much appreciate your honest and thoughtful feedback! I promise - results are anonymous! THANK YOU in advance!
Updated Schedule for Maine's Learning Space on MPBN
Just wanted to share the updated schedule for learning offerings on MPBN... a great way to provide some quick and "easy" enrichment learning for students - taught by Maine Teachers!
Village Elementary Teachers "Rock" their Village Strong T-shirts!
Just wanted to share this awesome picture of just one of our school's incredible staff! The theme: Stronger Together Even When We Are Apart!
In closing just wanted to share an uplifting little peanuts comic with you and some poetry from Narr. 3rd graders I thought might give you a laugh! I absolutely love our little writers!
Here's the 3rd grade poetry:
I also wanted to share this timely article about Keeping stress in check as we enter week #8 of our distance learning journey together! Check out the link below! Worth the Read!