Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday May 19 Blog Update

Good afternoon/evening everyone!  What a beautiful weekend we just had and another one seemingly on the horizon...it does help us all to remember why we love to live in Maine!  Well, I have several things I want to share with you so let's get right to the update...here goes!

My Evaluation Survey  LAST REMINDER -  PROMISE!

Just  one last  reminder if you haven't already had a chance to complete my VERY BRIEF evaluation survey, please do!  I am absolutely looking for feedback from folks to help me better identify areas of strength in my leadership practices but also areas of challenge that I can continue to learn and grow and improve  upon.  The survey only has two questions and should take no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.   So far, I have 150 parents who have completed  it, would LOVE to have 200+ if possible.  The survey deadline is  FRIDAY, May 22, 2020.  THANK YOU!  Here's the link:


A  Quick Congratulations to the Newest Member of our District Leadership Team

I  just wanted to share a quick "shout out" of congratulations to the newest  member of our district  leadership team whose name will be brought to the Gorham School Committee at their May 27 meeting for final approval.  Congratulations to Erin Eppler (current 5th grade teacher at Village Elem.  School) who will become the new Assistant  Principal at Narragansett Elementary School to begin this coming school year.  Erin is an amazing educator (among many amazing educators here in Gorham) and I have no  doubt she will be an excellent addition to our leadership team.  If you see her online - be sure to congratulate her and wish her well in her new and exciting adventures here in Gorham!

Reminder - Monday is a Holiday!  Changes to Operation Feed  Gorham Schedule For Next Week ONLY...

Just a quick reminder that Monday is a holiday - Memorial Day!  This means no online courses or  expectations on this day and the  weather is looking awesome so be sure to get out and enjoy it!  

Additionally, because of the Monday Holiday, our "Operation Feed Gorham" serving schedule will be a little different with distributions  occurring on Tuesday and Thursday next week rather than our usual MWF.  We will return to our usual schedule for the week of June 1st.  If you have any questions regarding Operation Feed Gorham, please reach out to michael.sanborn@gorhamschools.org.

Also as a reminder, beginning next week  we will have some "goodies" to add to our  lunch  distributions.  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 beginning for the week of May 18th.  The 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!

Transition Work Continues - Examples

I just have to share how impressed  I am with all our staff here in Gorham who are working so hard to make sure that our students get to experience a positive end to this school year even under these very difficult conditions!  We have  specific transition activities going on for students who are transitioning to Narragansett  due to the attendance zone shifts, we have activities for students going from 5th grade into 6th grade at GMS and we have specific activities for students going  from 8th grade at  GMS to 9th grade at GHS.  If you have a child in one of these key transition categories and you haven't heard about how to connect to these great activities - please reach out immediately to your child's principal to ask about how to  "hook up" with this awesome work!  I can't possibly list all that is happening, although if you go back to my Thursday Blog from May  14 you can see links from each school outlining these plans...but I did want to share just a few examples.  It just so happens that Mr. Donahue, Principal at GMS just released some awesome videos for incoming 6th graders that I think represent well what we are doing for all those students who are transitioning...check it out and  again - if you have questions about these activities, please reach out to your child's building principal!

Again, I am sharing this as just ONE EXAMPLE of many... Here is the information Mr. Donahue sent out to all 5th grade parents...check it out!

Slideshow with Narration from Mr. Donahue and Mr. Smith: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MkY5GDqSRB5gZKl1rulkKsueNx0LOehC/view?usp=sharing

Finally, here is the current step-up schedule with some important dates. Please note that Mr. Smith and I will be offering two virtual Q&A sessions for parents if you would like to attend. I have linked the zoom info with the dates below.

5th to 6th Grade Transition Schedule

Parent Slide Show and Virtual Building Tour: On May 18th, GMS will be sending information to 5th grade parents through the use of a presentation that will include grade level staff introductions using a Flipgrid video that Terri D. and 6th grade staff created (thank you!!) and details on academic and social experiences. Additionally, a virtual GMS building tour will be shared with students and parents.

Teacher Team Video and/or Slideshow: By May 29 teams will provide a short slideshow or video or BOTH with introductions of each staff member that will be shared by the student’s advisor. Presentation will include information that would normally be shared during step up day such as materials lists, links to webpages or any other information you’d like to pass on. 

Virtual Q & A for Parents: On May 26 at 3:00 pm (Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/96975487629?pwd=SHVpUGcrVjlqQm5zdVVQc0pxY01MUT09 Meeting ID: 969 7548 7629 Password: 2tTffz) and May 28 at 6:00 pm (Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/99104506729?pwd=ZjZDYURaRmpiY215dHlDR0d0Sk96dz09 Meeting ID: 991 0450 6729 Password: 1TLCBt) Mr. Donahue and Mr. Smith will offer two Q&A sessions for 5th grade parents.

End of Year Celebrations: During the first 2 weeks of June, elementary schools will provide 5th graders a virtual end of year celebration.  

Student Schedules: Advisors will have student schedules by June 8th. This will give them time to input emails and create Google Classrooms.

Placement Email to Parents: On June 11th, a placement email will be sent home to the parents notifying them of their child’s classroom placement for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Advisory Google Classroom: Advisors will create a Google Classroom, with codes to join, to be shared with students and parents on June 11th when notifying parents of placement and advisory. 

Virtual Step Up with Advisor: On Friday, June 12th, a virtual step up experience will take place with advisors who will share materials for the team around new classrooms and teachers. This presentation should include the video and slideshow created by the 29th. 

Just incredible the work that has gone into this for our students and families!  

Upcoming  Meetings

Just wanted to share  some  upcoming meeting dates for folks...

The Gorham School Committee will be meeting next  Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:00p.m.  in a special meeting.  The big topic for this meeting will be to decide upon adjustments to the proposed FY 21 budget and vote on a new proposed  budget to send back to the Town Council for consideration.  The agenda  isn't out YET...but it will be POSTED HERE when it is, along with all zoom link information.

Thursday, May 28 will be the next "Dunk and Discuss" meeting  via zoom.  Here's the connection information for that meeting below...again, no formal agenda to these meetings, just an opportunity to touch base, ask questions,  share comments, etc. Feel free to pop in starting at 6:30 p.m.!

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 828 3623 2033
Password: 919679

One tap mobile - 1-646-876-9923

Overall Budget Update

Currently, the proposed FY 21 School Budget would see an increase of .41 cents to the mil for taxpayers in Gorham.  After our  presentation  to the Town Council last week, the Town Council  has asked us to see if we can find a way to bring that impact down to 0% for FY 21.  The School Committee is  working feverishly to see if we can do that very thing.  The School Committee will meet on May 27th to discuss options and to make final  revisions to the proposed budget that will be voted on by the School committee and then  sent back to the Town Council.  The Town Council is set to vote on the overall municipal  budget (which includes the school) on June 16th at a special meeting.  The School's budget that is approved that night would then be brought to the budget validation referendum on July 14th for voter approval.

If you are interested in viewing the budget presentation to the Town Council you can CLICK HERE to view.  Again, I have full faith we will be able to make adjustments to the proposed school budget to reduce impacts to taxpayers for FY 21.  Please stay tuned and I will provide a more detailed update after the  May 27th School Committee meeting.

8th Grade Recognition Night Information

The following information was shared with GMS parents today.  Similar information will be  coming out regarding our GHS senior parade route within the next week or so - so please stay tuned!  That route is a little more complicated...so taking a little more time to develop!

We have scheduled our GMS 8th Grade Recognition for Thursday, June 11 from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm. (Our rain date is June 15) 

Our route will begin on Quincy Dr, then to Caitlin Dr, to Weeks Rd. The plan is for cars to be able to loop around and pass the cars driving in. That way students can see each other and cheer their friends on. Here is a map of the route.

We plan on having music, the GPD, the GFD, and all of our teachers spaced out cheering the cars on as they approach. Mr. Smith and I will read off students names over a speaker system and hand out certificates and 8th grade bags that will include t-shirts, books, and copies of the slide show on thumb drive.
Please place student names on a clearly marked sign on the passenger side of your car. This will allow us to prepare for each arriving student and get their materials ready.

Also, please respond to this survey to let us know if your family will be participating. This will help us with projecting numbers: https://forms.gle/4NhwpavGg5F9PLjQ6

Sharing A Parent's Message 

As you might imagine, I hear from lots of parents over the course of any given week.   All of what I hear is supportive of the schools and is focused on the  wellbeing of our students.  Lots of different stories are shared.  I wanted to share one message I got last week as a means to help other parents and staff members know they are NOT ALONE in their struggles.  What we are going through right now is challenging to  everyone.  The specific challenges that we face may each be different, but they are no less challenging.  This parent's  words are honest and tell the story of what I believe many of our parents are facing as we continue our distance learning journey together.  Here's the message:

I wanted to reach out to you about our homeschool experience. I will start by saying that I greatly appreciate both the time you take to create your blog posts as well as the content within them. This is, as many have agreed, an unprecedented time. While we don’t have all the answers, I think it’s important that we know all the problems. So here we go...

As you stated in your last post, parents are finding that this journey isn’t always the same. There are good days and bad days. As others have also pointed out, we are NOT all in the same boat. Not all parents are struggling with their children. How do I know this? I have a child in 7th and one in 4th. Both children are struggling emotionally...but one you would never guess and the other, well, even the neighbors know how she’s doing😬. Some children, like my 7th grader, are doing all of their school work with ZERO nudging from parents. They are excelling and proving to be very resilient in a time of turmoil. I’m not naive though. I know this same child is barely coming out of her room and badly yearns to be with people. She is, after all, a social butterfly. Anyone that knows this child would agree...she beams with joy and loves all whom she meets. I worry about her. I worry that she is falling deeper into a depressed state by the day. I worry that she doesn’t have an end game...I, too, know how hard that is to grapple with. But mostly, I worry that I don’t have enough time to devote to her. I work full time, but the bigger hurdle is that her sister is NOT handling this transition well. Unlike her big sister, she hates doing schoolwork outside of the school setting. She hates, even more, being on the computer in order to do it. This kid loves school supplies and writing and sensory input that isn’t computerized. She’s getting very little of that. Some kids would just be sad about this I presume...not mine. Mine, she is a force. Day in and day out, we argue, we yell, we bargain, we threaten, we bribe, and, mostly, we cry. This is, by far and large, the scariest thing to navigate. How much do we push? Will she be lazy later if we decide to call it a day halfway through work? Will she be emotionally scarred if we continue to push through it all...at the price of turmoil? What will her teacher think regardless of the choice? Will our daughter be even harder on herself in the fall when, hopefully, classes resume and she needs more assistance? Will classes resume ? (oh my god, not a fiber of my being can withstand this much longer). Now, I have communicated these concerns with her teacher. I believe they are trying to help in whatever way they can, but I also see work returned or requests for things to be fixed or redone. I am like many parents and want my child to do the right thing, with quality, every time. However, this is different. This time around, I’m starting to feel like something is better than nothing. I’m beginning to hate when things are returned, because, damn, it was struggle bus the ENTIRE way the FIRST time. There is nothing like getting through the struggle to do it all over again. Every time my google classroom app sends a notification, I start having palpitations. I will clarify, this child is incredibly bright. This is purely and emotional issue. A yearning for normalcy that I have zero way of providing.

So, I guess, with my rambling, I just want to bring to your attention that even the most caring and involved parents are finding this situation to be excruciating. We are balancing our work while teaching children that believe us to be nothing short of caveman mentality and being completely invaded by zoom and FaceTime all day. The children that are struggling, are REALLY struggling. While I understand this may be our way of life for a bit, I flat out refuse to give in to “new normal.” Nothing about this is normal or, better yet, sustainable. My request is that we try to make school a little more aligned with what the kids experience outside of this disaster...more paper, more art, more go noodle, more movement, more pencils and markers, more GAMES!!!!, posters, journals, activities with parents (I would LOVE to be part of the learning), math that can be done hands on...baking, symmetry, riddles. I appreciate the teachers’ efforts...but a lot of what is happening is really just gluing our kids to computers. It works for some, but it’s VERY taxing mentally. Please encourage this expanded model...even if it’s presented as an optional alternative to computer-based learning. I believe we could get our happy kids back...to some degree...if this felt a little more like it was school.

Thank you for listening and supporting our school district. I hope this rambling mess isn’t judged to harshly. I’m normally a bit more organized in my thinking. But, if anything, that should
drive the point home. Thank you for all you do, Heather!

That sense of frustration as a parent...the wanting to provide something for your children  but not being able to - its one of the worst feelings on the face of the planet...all parents know that feeling, and all parents dread it!  

This message re-emphasizes for me the need to remain focused on "Balance" and the Social/Emotional Needs of our children and to make sure none of us does the one thing you shouldn't be  doing right now . . . compare yourselves to others!  After hearing these stories, after struggling through my own frustrations and after having attended 1,000's of zoom meetings over the past 8 weeks I can tell you that EVERYONE is struggling in different ways.  I share this because I know it is human nature to look down the road or to see that FB and to think...what I am doing is not enough, or its not as good as what someone else is doing.  Clearly this other person has this all under control and I don't and so I'm a "failure".  I have one word for that - GARBAGE!  If someone is telling you that or if you are perceiving that - it is simply inaccurate.  And with that in mind...I hope you give yourself a  little room to be what you are - HUMAN!  

Additionally, please don't  be bashful about reaching out to our teachers with your concerns, frustrations and yes - please - celebrations!  They are here  for your children...here to support them and here to support you as parents.  Know they too are "HUMAN" as well though...and so they too make mistakes, feel frustrated, and want to do things that they can't right now.  We truly are all in this together...and through  open and honest communication we will persevere and I think, even become a stronger community for our shared experiences!  

Parent Resources

Just sharing some interesting articles and other  information I've come across recently that you might find helpful and/or uplifting.  Be sure to at  least check out the last link...a great message from some famous Maine  folks to our graduating seniors!

Article:  Parenting During the Covorna Virus

Story telling with Words and  Pictures

A Maine "Shout out" to  Graduating Seniors

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