Friday, January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021 Update

Good afternoon everyone!  Finishing up week #20 of face to face instruction via our hybrid model here in the Gorham Schools!  At this point, I don't know about you but I am treating each week as a victory and celebrating the time we are able to safely have with our students to learn and grow together!  

As we begin the 2nd half of our pandemic school year here in Gorham, I wanted to take a moment to re-focus and re-encourage folks a bit.  I realize that as we inch closer and closer to having to work within our hybrid model of instruction for a full school year that parents are likely nervous and anxious about where their children are in their learning.  You are asking questions like:  Is my child falling behind in their learning?  Will they be prepared to go on to the next grade?  If they aren't prepared will they feel like a failure?  Am I pushing them too hard?  Not enough?  

My advice to parents right now is the same/similar advice I gave to families all through last spring when we were struggling through our fully remote learning options:  If you can, try to press STOP/PAUSE.  Take a deep breath, and remember there is much, much more to learning than making sure my1st grader can spell or that my 3rd grader can multiply or that my 8th grader understands the pythagorean theory, etc.  Now, don't get me wrong...those things are important but there is something that is even more important and that "trumps" all that academic learning.  That "something" is making sure that we are meeting the social and emotional needs of our children as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.  

I've included a few article links below which I think do a great job of summarizing the importance of a continued focus on SEL during the pandemic.

*  "The Power of Social and Emotional Learning:  Why SEL Is More Important Than Ever

*. "Why Social and Emotional Learning Is So Important To Our Kids Right Now."

Across all our schools, we have been looking at data incrementally as we have moved through the first half of the school year.  Now that we have gone through a full 1/2 year with our existing hybrid model, the school department is launching a "deeper dive" into our data to determine how our students are doing academically.  We are working to answer the question of how effective our hybrid model of learning has been?  Are students performing as well as they have in previous years?  Are they learning the essential skills they will need in the next year?  What areas of challenge are identified and where can we best provide additional supports to improve?  Do we need to change our model significantly to address these needs?  This summary data will be shared with the School Committee at their workshop meeting on Feb. 24 at 7:00 p.m. (more information on that below) and then I'll likely share that summary information with all of you via this blog.

Bottom line is this:  We're working hard to make sure your children are learning what they need to learn to be successful in the coming year and in the years after that.  If we need to add supports, we'll do our best to add supports.  If we need to adjust programming, we'll do our best to adjust programming.  If we need to provide additional tools to families, we'll do our best to provide additional tools to families.  

Right now, what your children need most from you as parents is your support.  As parents you know best when to "nudge" your child to do a little more...and when maybe that isn't a good idea.  As parents you know best when your child is feeling good about themselves and when they are struggling.  Our children need to know right now that they are safe, that they are supported and that they are right where they need to be.  The difficulties this pandemic has created will be with us for a while and the problems created will not be "quick fix" types of problems to solve.  However, together, they WILL be addressed and our schools WILL meet our mission to ensure that every child is "Prepared and Inspired" to succeed in the life they choose as they leave our schools.  

For now, keep communicating, keep encouraging, and keep supporting and we will endeavor to do the same.  It is through this positive partnership between home and school that we will ensure the best possible outcomes for our children.  

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO AS PARENTS.  It has never been easy to question it is by far much harder during a pandemic!  Keep up the incredible work folks!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel - PROMISE!  

Caption for images above:  Pictured Below are Great Falls Elementary Teachers working to support 5th grade students in small groups on Fridays.  Just one example of some of the additional supports we are working to offer across our schools as we continue to work to improve our hybrid model of learning.

Now on to the nuts-n-bolts...


I wanted to reach out to families and let them know that the Maine CDC has recently updated its rules regarding Antigen testing, testing in general, and quarantines.  A link to that document is below but the biggest change that may impact you is this:

"Individuals who have previously had a documented positive case of COVID 19 infection or a positive COVID 19 antigen test who are exposed to an individual with COVID 19 now DO NOT need to quarantine so long as the exposure to the positive case occurred within 90 days of the date of the positive COVID 19 test."

Again, you can CLICK HERE to review the full document sent by the Maine CDC.  I would encourage any parents/staff with questions to please reach out to your school's nurse for clarification.


The Gorham schools is continuing its work to focus on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in our schools, of which a core component is anti-racism.  Recently, the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee has met and is currently working through a process to increase the representation of people of color on this committee as it continues its important work.  Additionally, members of our district leadership team and members of our school committee continue to attend an 8 part training series hosted by Maine School Management Association entitled:  the Cultural Competency Institute (CCI).  The Maine Intercultural Communications Consultants (MICC) group continues to work with K-5 staff to provide what is known as the "Ripple Effects" training to staff as well as the completion and debrief of the Intercultural Diversity Inventory (IDI) survey in an effort to create a common language and understanding about diversity that can then be used as a launching point for further work.  Our Civil Rights Teams at each school are now fully up and operational meeting with students virtually to continue their good work.  The policy committee is continuing its policy review process with a lens towards anti-racism.  Our curriculum committees are using a newly developed curriculum auditing tool to review curriculum across grades K-12 to identify areas where our curriculum may need to be improved to address these important issues.  We continue to examine our district and school based data through the lens of anti racism, looking at things such as attendance data, behavioral data, achievement data and more and breaking that data out by subgroups to see how differing groups may be experiencing our schools differently.  We have completed a diversity hiring audit process, the results of which will be reported to the Gorham School Committee on Feb. 10 at their regular meeting.  Finally, I continue to work to finalize individual meetings with members of the Gorham staff, students, and parents to collect baseline information on their lived experiences in these areas within our schools and from their perspectives.  I am hoping to wrap that up soon and be ready to share collected themes via staff and parent forums coming up next month. 

As you can see, we remain intently focused in these important areas and are excited to begin to see the positive impacts of this work on our schools as these important conversations begin to take root and organically unfold.


At our last School Committee workshop, principals across all five schools presented information regarding our current hybrid learning model, expectations for learning, how "success" is being measured, and what supports are being offered for our families.  This was an engaging discussion that grew out of the great feedback collected from our most recent Thought Exchange Survey results.  If you'd like to view, you can CLICK HERE to watch a recording of the meeting, which also included conversations (in order) with our local legislative delegations, a report out on a new math curriculum we are looking at for grades K-8 and then a discussion regarding our current hybrid model.  

The district leadership team will be presenting a summary of data collected thus far regarding the efficacy of our K-12 hybrid learning model at the School Committee's next scheduled workshop meeting to be held on Feb. 24 beginning at 7:00 p.m.  

Also of interest to folks might be watching the Feb. 10 Regular School Committee meeting.  During this meeting, the result of our diversity hiring audit will be presented to the school committee for their consideration and future action.  That meeting is slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. via zoom.

Finally, I wanted to make sure folks were aware that the school committee will be officially launching their FY 22 budget development process with a full day meeting planned for Saturday, Feb. 27 beginning at 9:00 - 2:30 p.m.  This meeting will also be held via zoom and will be live streamed via GOCAT.

All meeting agendas with links will be posted on our district calendar and on our website under School Committee.  As always, if you have questions, please reach out!


Please CLICK HERE to view the flyer for more information, but bottom line is that beginning on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 we are bringing back some limited A La Carte items for purchase during lunch periods for students and staff!  

It is important to note that NO CASH WILL BE ACCEPTED at the register due to COVID 19 Safety protocols, however funds can be added to student accounts via pay pam, or cash/checks can be brought into school in sealed and labeled envelopes prior to lunch.  Students and staff must have their school issued ID's to make these purchases.  If you have questions, please reach out to your school's office and they can help answer them! 


The following email was sent to all GHS students from Mr. Watts outlining the potential program and asking students to participate in an interest survey.  Could be exciting.  If your HS student didn't participate in the survey but they are interested...make sure they reach out to Mr. Watts directly!  Stay tuned!

GHS students,

Mr. Spear is working with the MPA and PlayVs to offer competitive e-gaming at GHS.  If you know of any interested students, the link is below.  Should you be interested in coaching or being involved, see myself or Mr. Spear.

Gorham High School is actively pursuing the opportunity of E-sports as a Varsity/JV activity.  Esports are sponsored through the Maine Principal's Association, which means state championships!  Many factors go into providing this activity:  student interest, coaching interest, computer hardware, and funding to name a few.  Potentially, based on these factors we could be in a position to offer a competitive season later this spring.  

The games being offered this spring at the Varsity level are Rocket League and League of Legends.  J/V offerings include Rocket League, League of Legend, FIFA, Madden and Smite.

Just like our other sports programs, students must meet all eligibility requirements.  Students must be taking 5 classes and passing all of them.  Students will be expected to commit to regular practice and competition times similar to other sports program schedules.

To get this going we need to know if there is adequate interest.  E-Sports is open to all, and we would love to see great representation of our students.  Please fill this survey out if you are interested in participating in the GHS E-Sport Program.  

The Athletic Director and GHS Administration see this as a great opportunity to add what might be the fastest growing area of competition.  Certainly more information will be forthcoming based on the interest of our students.  


The Maine Broadband Coalition has launched a statewide internet speed test mapping initiative. The goal of the Get Up To Speed initiative is to gather data from across the state to generate the most comprehensive map of both the presence and quality of internet in Maine to date. 
Residents are being asked to help the initiative by taking this less-than-a-minute test to map their own speed through the Maine Broadband Coalition’s website. We strongly encourage you to share this link with your community, so that we can get the most accurate map possible.
The Maine Broadband Coalition will aggregate, document, and visualize the speed testing information to provide users and state officials with up-to-date service maps. Participants can view their results (while personal information remains confidential) and watch the public map of Maine grow in real time.

A crucial next step

The new speed testing initiative is the crucial next step in ensuring the delivery of broadband throughout the state and will help local, regional, and state leaders develop projects and steer investments to the places that need it most. This map, along with other data collected, will help inform where the bond funding, approved by Maine voters in July, can have the most impact.

Click here to read the Maine Broadband Coalition Press Release.


Just sharing another great resource for parents to continue to learn and grow in supporting our youth during these difficult times.  CLICK HERE to learn more about how you can join the conversation!


Parents - Have you heard of Maine WAVES?  If not, you should check out the LINK HERE to learn more!.  

Staff - Are. you interested in helping out to support this initiative?  CLICK HERE!


In many ways this goes back to my opening piece and the importance of focusing on the assets we currently have rather than the challenges we are facing or the gaps in learning that may exist or whatever else it is that we have little to no control over right now!  

I received the email below from a parent the other night.  I felt it was so worth sharing because it demonstrates to me just how important relationships and personal connections are to uplift children, and support them during these difficult times so that they can get excited about learning - so they can show that SPARK!  I know that as parents and as educators...the smile you see below...THAT IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!  Enjoy the parent's message and the images below and let's make sure we all remain focused on the right things as we continue to navigate these difficult times together! 


Good evening,

Our son Max was taught how to finger knit yesterday in Mrs. Chiasson’s Art class. 
He got home last night and was so proud and he made a scarf. Today he asked around for yarn, one of our neighbors had some! He’s on his second scarf snd is loving it!! Thanks so much Mrs. Chiasson!! 
Also, thank you for all you do for our kids!! We are very happy to be a part of the Gorham School Dept. 
Have a great evening! 
-Amy Castonguay 

Friday, January 22, 2021

January 22, 2021 Update

Happy Friday to all!  It is the end of our 19th week of face to face instruction in our hybrid learning model here in Gorham...and yes, we have officially made it through a full half of the school year (knock on wood)!  Hard to believe for sure...but definitely worth the time to pause and reflect and give ourselves (parents, students and staff) a big pat on the back for a pandemic job well done so far!  

Once again, I've got lots to share - so let's get right to it!


Please help me to spread the word around Gorham that our three elementary schools have scheduled their new Kindergarten parent information nights for March 2nd, 2021 via zoom.  At these meetings, parents will meet school staff, learn about a day in the life of a Kindergarten student, and receive information about the enrollment process.  Details about how to pick up enrollment packets and schedule students for a Kindergarten screening will also be shared.  

Parents of incoming 2021-22 Kindergarten students should please visit the district's website ( and click on your neighborhood school and pre-register using the kindergarten registration link.  If you are unsure of your neighborhood school, or have ANY questions we can help you with, please call any of the elementary schools directly for this information.  Phone numbers for each of the schools and links to each parent information night zoom meetings are listed below.  

Great Falls Elementary School - Tuesday, March 2nd
Parent Information Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Zoom Link: 

Narragansett Elementary School - Tuesday, March 2nd
Parent Information Meeting at 6:00 p.m.

Village Elementary School - Tuesday, March 2nd
Parent Information Meeting at 6:00 p.m.

Hope to see you there!


A little over a week ago now Gorham's Action Team for Youth (GATY) sponsored an incredibly informative parent information night via zoom on the trials and tribulations of parenting teens in a pandemic.  As if parenting teens weren't hard enough - right?  The presentation was well attended, however I know for a fact, not all our parents of all our teens attended and therefore I know some of our parents missed out on some great information shared that evening.  We couldn't record the meeting due to HIPPA policies for Opportunity Alliance staff who were the key speakers, they were kind enough to share with us the slides used during the presentation.  Although this won't provide the full experience...these slides do contain some incredible resources for our parents of teens that we thought was extremely valuable to share.  Please CLICK HERE to view the slides from that presentation and feel free to reach out to your school's counselors if you have follow up questions we can help you with!


As I say every week now - it is still very important to keep COVID at the forefront of our thinking as we continue to strive to keep our schools open for our children.  That being said, I promise to keep it brief with just two key points for reminders:

1.  A reminder to all families that if you are traveling out of state, you need to keep travel guidelines in mind.  Currently there are only TWO states on Maine's "Happy List" which allows folks to travel without need of testing or quarantine.  Those two states are New Hampshire and Vermont.  This means that if you have traveled or plan to travel to any other state, you need to follow Maine's rules for return.  You can find those rules by CLICKING HERE but the cliff notes version is really this:  If you travel to states not on the approved list, you need to EITHER (A) quarantine for 10 days upon return to the state OR (B) produce documentation of a negative COVID test.  We all realize this may be a pain, but these rules are for our safety and they are state rules, which schools are bound to follow and enforce.  Please reach out to your building principal or school nurse if you have questions as we are always here to support.  

2.  A reminder that if you elect to get your child tested for COVID 19 you should still involve your PCP in reviewing results.  This isn't to say you have to go to your PCP to be tested.  You do not.  You can access several different types of tests and testing sites without PCP approval.  However, what I am encouraging is that if you elect to use a site like Walgreens to get a COVID 19 test and you get your results should keep your family's PCP in the loop.  This is best practice and allows an opportunity for your PCP to seek clarification if any is needed.

That's it - promised to keep it short on this front this time!  Of course, I wouldn't be doing my job if I also didn't remind you again to (1) Wear your face coverings, (2) wash/sanitize those hands and (3) keep your six!  Those three safety protocols are truly "rocking it" be sure to continue to follow them!  THANK YOU!


The following is from the Federal CDC Q&A page:

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

There are several different types of vaccines in development. All of them teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.


Its been a while since we got some good wanted to be sure to share!  The Maine Principals' Association, in collaboration with the Maine School Superintendent's Association, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently got together to review a previous ruling regarding practicing and competitions in conjunction with the county color coding system.  That previous ruling stated that for the purposes of interscholastic sports and competitions, a yellow county designation actually meant "red" and practices could not occur.  After reviewing the clear data that demonstrates schools are doing an excellent job of following safety protocols and are indeed some of the safest places to be in our communities right now, the MPA has reversed this original decision and has now stated that these decisions may be made at the local levels.

As a result of this policy change, Tim Spear, Gorham's athletic director, sent out THIS LETTER to families yesterday.  Bottom line, in person practices in Gorham will resume starting on Monday, Jan. 25.  Again, please read the letter for more details and reach out to Mr. Spear with any questions you may have, but definitely good news for our students!  Now, it's up to us to show folks that we can do this safely and I have no doubt that our responsible student athletes and talented coaches can do just that!  GO RAMS!


I'm sure many of you have recently heard about a new set of stimulus funds coming from the federal government to support public education called ESSER funds.  I wanted to use this opportunity to share information with you about these new funds and to share with you an overview of what federal funds we have received since the beginning of the pandemic.  This will provide for you an overall sense of how much we've received, and how we've used these funds to support our schools and your children.  As always when it comes to school funding, there are a lot of moving parts behind the scenes, but hopefully this summary will give you a baseline of information that we can then continue to build on over the course of the spring as we work to develop our proposed School Budget for FY 22.

Let's start with a summary list of the now six different federal funding streams we are using to support COVID 19 related school costs:

Although that last fund called "ESSER II" funds doesn't really give an indication of how we will spend those funds - I can share with you that the focus for the Gorham School's use of these funds will be on supporting struggling learners and addressing potential learning gaps created by the COVID 19 Pandemic.

As with all Federal funds, there are many, many, many strings attached, but for the most part - all of these funds must be utilized to support COVID 19 related costs to our schools.  These funds have been used to help support the operation of Gorham Recreation's child care programs for parents and students on remote learning days.  These funds have been utilized to support the purchase of PPE that was required to get a school system of 2,000+ and 500 employees safely "geared up" to operate in a Pandemic.  They've been used to support additional cleaning and sanitization supplies, transportation costs, additional staffing costs to strengthen our nurses clinics, costs to provide 1:1 devices to students across grades K-12, costs to strengthen our network and internet connections, costs to improve radio and phone communications, costs to allow our school nutrition program to provide home deliveries, instructional supplies for teachers and families, and so much more.  

It has been an extremely "heavy lift" to first open our schools and to then keep them open over the course of this pandemic.  That is likely the understatement of the year.  Operating our schools within a Pandemic has forced us to make changes that ripple across our entire district, impacting almost every aspect of our entire organization.  These adjustments come at a cost.  Thankfully these funds have been here to support our work, to help keep our schools open, stay open and to therefore support our entire community. 

As we prepare to discuss our first initial proposed FY 22 school budget with the School Committee coming up later in February, I wanted to make sure folks were aware these funds exist.  I also wanted to make sure folks knew we were being good stewards of federal funds and doing our best to utilize these funds (within the rules required by the feds) to maximize positive impacts to our children and to our community.  Although these funds can't be used to directly reduce taxes for our community - these funds have helped us to prevent going back to taxpayers to place additional burden on our local community to keep our schools operational this year.  As we do more public presentations on our proposed FY 22 budget, I will be sure to update folks on these funds and how they may, or may not be impacting our budget requests moving forward.

As always, if you have questions, please reach out to me directly at and I'd be happy to answer any questions folks have.


No matter what political slant you might have, when you view the inauguration through the lens of the arts - you can't help but understand how the arts brings people together through expression.  One of our teachers put together this slide show of Wednesday's Presidential Inauguration using the lens of "the arts" to share powerful messages about all that makes the United States an amazing country regardless of perspective.  Worth the watch.  CLICK HERE to view if interested.   


I saw the quote below while surfing the internet the other day...I thought it was a good reminder to share, first with myself and then with all of you.  I hope to hear the "giggles" from my office - especially from my Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers! ☺   Have a Great Weekend!

Friday, January 15, 2021

January 15, 2021 Update

Before I jump into the information sharing...just wanted to share three pictures that demonstrate to me why it is so important for us to keep our schools open for face to face instruction in Gorham!  I realize students pictured below are wearing masks...but I think we all know what is underneath those masks!  GREAT BIG SMILES!

Ok, now onto the information part!


As of the writing of this update, the Gorham Schools have had a total of 37 positive cases of COVID 19 associated with our schools since the opening of School in September of 2020.  This is on par or even a little lower than many of our neighboring school districts.  All 37 of these cases have originated from outside of our schools.  This means that since September of 2020 we have had 37 different opportunities for COVID 19 to spread in our schools and it has not.  As I've said before and I will say again - this data indicates to me that our schools are some of the safest places in our community to be right now, even as cases continue to rise in a post holiday surge.  

A significant problem, however continues to be that as cases rise in our community, the number of cases associated with our schools (albeit from outside origins) also increases. With that comes more close contacts, more quarantines, and a larger likelihood of having classrooms, grade levels or even entire schools have to move to "red" largely due to staffing capacity if they themselves are forced to quarantine.  

As we begin to feel the full brunt of a post holiday surge, the reality is that we are all working our tails off to keep schools open, but without everyone's continued focus and vigilance we may not be able to.  I know we are all tired.  We are all exhausted.  We are sick of having to sacrifice this or that.  We all just want to go outside, rip off our masks, scream at the top of our lungs and randomly hug any person in our site!  We want our social gatherings back.  We want our sporting events back.  We want our sleep-overs and pizza parties, and study groups back.  Even students who likely would have said they don't like school before this Pandemic would agree - they want their schools back!  I GET IT.  I want them back!  But right now, we still can't have them back.  Right now, we need to remain vigilant.  Right now we have to focus on remaining strong just so that we can keep the small bastions of hope we have created open and operational in our community. 

I met with our school nurses the other day and I met with our District Leaders just before that and one theme that came out in the feedback I collected is that they can feel the extreme fatigue beginning to creep in.  They can see people beginning to let their guards down because they are tired.  

I remember a classic quote from Thomas Fuller that states:  "It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn."  Folks...the "dawn" is there, just over the horizon.  I encourage you all to remain strong, to remain vigilant and continue to practice the safety protocols we all know work - because we have seen them work in our schools!  

* Wear your face coverings 
* Wash/Sanitize your hands frequently
* Keep your six!

And along with "keep your six"...comes the recommendation to limit connections to larger groups.  If you must have your "circles" to maintain your sanity or to care for family members, etc. - keep your face to face interactions with others as small as you can.  Don't think you can tell if someone has COVID or not just by looking at them.  You can't.  Some experience symptoms, some don't.  We have to assume other folks have the potential to spread this disease.  We have to assume we have the potential to spread this disease and then make decisions accordingly.  If we can begin to slow down what is happening for spread in our community, we can lesson the negative impacts it is having and will have on our schools and the children we serve.  Then in turn, we can lessen the negative impacts the pandemic will have on our families and our community as a whole.  

If 2020 has taught us nothing else, in so many different it or not, we are all connected to one another.  What we as individuals do does indeed have an impact on others.  The good news is that as individuals and together as a community we can determine whether those impacts are positive or negative.  The Gorham way is to help one another.  The Gorham way is to make sure those impacts are positive.  Let's keep this train safely rolling for as long we need to folks!  WE CAN DO IT!  GO RAMS!


Just wanted to take a quick moment to make sure folks were aware of some recent changes to CDC frameworks for planned vaccination processes.  Earlier this week the CDC announced that it is altering its priority process for vaccinations.  It has now categorized vaccinations into the following phases:

Phase IA
*. Health care workers
*. Long term care facility residents and staff
*. Police, firefighters, emergency workers.
*. Those who manufacture, distribute, process or report COVID-19 tests.

Phase IB
*. Residents age 70 and older
*. Those with high risk medical conditions
*. Some front-line workers at high risk exposure to COVID-19, including teachers and grocery store workers
*. Once a significant number of people 70 and older have been vaccinated, or if the supply increases, Maine will move to vaccinate those between the ages of 65-69

Phase IC
*. Other critical workers not already identified in Phase 1B

Phase 2
*. People ages 16 to 64 who are not otherwise eligible during a previous phase.

This new outline of phases moves away from a previous emphasis on job alike categories and towards an emphasis on vaccinating Maine's older and more medical high risk residents as a priority point.  If you are looking to try and better understand an approximate timeline of how this might all play out, the Maine CDC has a nice summary that can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.  

Once again, this is an ever evolving process as we are all doing things we've never had to do before and depending on lots of other folks doing these same very new things.  I continue to urge patience and vigilance as we continue to work our way through these processes.  Rest assured I will do my best to keep everyone informed as we go.  

In my upcoming blogs I am going to start a little "did you know" section about the COVID 19 vaccination in an attempt to VERY VERY STRONGLY ENCOURAGE FOLKS TO GET VACCINATED whenever their "turn" comes up.  Here's my first one:

DID YOU KNOW:  Epidemiologists conclude that we would need to vaccinate between 80-90% of the population in order to gain what is known as "herd immunity".  What does this mean for schools?  Approximately 80-90% of our populations (staff and students) would need to be vaccinated in order to bring back some version of "normal" for the fall of 2021.


I wanted to be sure to share the results of our most recent Thought Exchange with parents.  Please note that we have already begun to dissect this feedback and make plans to address as many items as we can to continue to improve our existing systems.  THANK YOU to those who participated...we continue to greatly value your voices!

A message from Assistant Superintendent Chris Record below:

This exchange asked for student, parent, and staff feedback on the Hybrid Model. I have provided a link to the presentation above. Embedded in the presentation are links to a report on the themed student results, parent results, and staff results. I encourage you to look through them. 

The results from the October Thought Exchange and the December Thought Exchange do influence our decision-making. For instance, the District Leadership Team recently reviewed the December results (you can see highlights of that analysis in the presentation) and are already working on implementing some adjustments at each school.

Additionally, the School Committee will utilize the results as part of their discussion on the efficacy of the Hybrid  Model at an upcoming workshop to be held on Jan. 27, 2021.  CLICK HERE to access the agenda and zoom link information when it becomes available (as we get closer to this date).  

Link to both October & December Thought Exchange Results:

Please feel free to reach out to me, Heather, and/or your principal with any thoughts or questions. Your voice does matter.


The Gorham Anti-Racism Advisory Committee had its first meeting just before the holiday break and are scheduled to meet again on Jan. 25.  You can follow the work of this committee by CLICKING HERE.  

One of the pieces of information the committee will be reviewing is a live update from the administration on work that has been completed thus far.  I'd encourage you to check this list out as it is impressive.  Still much work to do - but clearly great progress is being made in meeting the action steps outlined in our school policy.  CLICK HERE to view the summary!

Additionally, I am working to finish up individual meetings with staff and parents as a follow up to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Story surveys that were sent out before the holidays.  I am also finishing up meeting with student groups over the course of this month and early next month.  What incredible themes and stories I have collected thus far!  My intention is that once I have completed this data collection I will compile the themes and use them as the foundation for open forums on this topic with staff and community.  During these forums, I will roll out the data and facilitate discussions and reflections on what we think this data tells us.  I can't wait to share...student stories especially have been so very powerful!  Please stay tuned!


I wanted to share some upcoming events of interest in the hopes of encouraging families to SAFELY remain active to help fight off those winter doldrums!  Here are a few highlights:

GHS Virtual Concert:

On Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, GHS is having a virtual concert called "Rhythm & Heart" on the 22nd.  All proceeds for the show are going to the Gorham Food Pantry, the Fuel Fund, and Furniture Friends.  For more details, check out the link below:

National Girls and Women In Sports Celebration

This multi day event has something for everyone!  It is being put on by Gorham Recreation and USM Athletics.  Check out the flyer below and CLICK HERE for more a form to sign up!

Gorham Outdoor Club:

The Gorham Outdoor Club is hosting an outdoor movie night coming up on Jan. 23.  Check out the flyer below for details and go to to register!

That's it for this week!  Enjoy your long weekend and see you next week for our 19th week of face to face instruction!  GO RAMS!

Friday, January 8, 2021

January 8 Blog Update

We hope you all had a great holiday break!  Week #17 of face to face instruction is now in the books!  We were so glad to see our students back to school this week after the break!  Their laughter, their questions, their energy is what feeds our souls as educators!  Here's a few pictures showcasing some of that passion and energy for learning in our schools this past week!

Now, on to the informational part of this update!  


We are back into the swing of things across our schools this week, and with that comes the need for a gentle reminder for parents across all grades to continue to communicate with our schools regarding any issues that may be associated with COVID 19.  This means, continuing to please do the following:

1.  Complete the daily symptoms checker so that our nurses and aids aren't having to spent too much time tracking down potential missing information to ensure we've heard from everyone, every day.
2.  If your child is experiencing symptoms (1 common or 2 less common), please keep them home and be sure to call the school nurse to let them know what is going on.
3.  If your child is having to stay home to quarantine due to close contacts or travel, please make sure the nurse is aware.
4.  If your child has tested positive for COVID 19, please make sure the nurse is aware.

Our system of safety protocols, their ability to continue to operate effectively, and in essence our abilities to KEEP OUR SCHOOLS OPEN depend heavily upon this important communication between home and school.  We take this information seriously, we keep it confidential, and we use it to support our families and ensure all of our students and staff remain safe.  We appreciate your continued attention to communication as we all patiently await the possibilities of vaccination, hopefully later this spring.


Since it seems we are continuing to "live history" in so many ways as a community, a state, and a nation, I thought it might be beneficial to just share some resources for families that may help you to navigate difficult discussions with children of various ages.  You can review, use what you think is helpful, and "circular file" the rest...I hope folks can find some useful nuggets:

*. THIS ARTICLE was shared with me way back in 2018 (I know, seems like a lifetime ago) but the essence of it is still very much pertinent today...check it out - its called:  "Helping Kids Navigate Scary News Stories" by PBS. 

*. THIS ARTICLE is called "Caring for Students in the Wake of Traumatic News Events".   By Edutopia 

*. THIS ARTICLE is entitled:  How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War by Common Sense Media.  

*. THIS ARTICLE is entitled:  "How to Talk to Kids About What they See On The News" by Kurtz Pyschology

*. THIS ARTICLE is entitled:  "How to Talk to Your Child About The News" by Kids Health

Also, please know that our school resources are here to help!  If you have ANY CONCERNS for your child(ren) please do not hesitate to reach out to your child's teacher(s) or school Principals.  We stand ready to support our families in any way you may need. 


Just wanted to take a moment to let folks know of some upcoming School Committee meeting dates/times and ways to access information and follow along in their important work.  First, I wanted to make sure you knew that at their next meeting (coming up on Jan. 13 via zoom) we will be presenting the results of our most recent Thought Exchange Survey to the School Committee.  I'll share them directly in next week's blog post too...but if you want to hear the presentation to the School Committee - mark your calendars!  Here's a list of upcoming meetings and links to agendas (which also give you the zoom links):

*. January 13, 2021 - Regular School Committee Meeting, 7:00 p.m. start
*. January. 27, 2021 - Workshop Meeting with local legislative delegation, 6:00 p.m. start
*. February 10, 2021 - Regular School Committee Meeting, 7:00 start
*. February 24, 2021 - Workshop Meeting, 7:00 p.m. start
*. February 27, 2021 - Full Day Budget Workshop Meeting, 8:30 a.m. start.

You can find all agendas (with zoom links)  by CLICKING HERE.  On that same page, near the top of the page, you will find a link to access the full board packet materials for each meeting as well.

If you are interested in following the work of standing board subcommittees, you can do so by CLICKING HERE.

If you are interested in just viewing our overall meeting calendar to keep up with events you can go to our district's main website page ( and just scroll to the bottom right to click on our calendar of events.  

Since we have moved back to zoom meetings due to increasing COVID 19 numbers in our community, we have also been recording our meetings for later viewing.  You can access those recordings by CLICKING HERE and scrolling to the bottom of that page.  Our regular monthly meetings are also streamed live by GOCAT and on the Town's facebook page.

As always, if anyone has any questions about upcoming topics, policies, or where to find any information about our schools - please reach out to me directly and ask away!  My email address is:


This month's newsletter features some great from some of our talented GHS students who are working hard to write their own "Future Stories"...check it out!  CLICK HERE for the Newsletter!


As we all have found out over the course of the past several months, one of the most difficult things about working through a Pandemic is the sense of isolation that can develop if you don't force yourself to "get out there" and "get involved" in things that maybe aren't the same as they always were, but can be equally as gratifying.  Below I am sharing TWO opportunities for parents and families to do that very thing!  The first comes from a new organization forming in Gorham called the Gorham Outdoors Club.  You can read a little bit about them below:

This group will be putting on its first event this weekend - a trail walk and scavenger hunt!  Read more about that below:

For easier access to the "Letterbox Mystery Link" CLICK HERE.  

The SECOND event is geared more towards parents, but no less engaging!  This event is an evening of learning for parents entitled:  "Parenting Teens In a Pandemic" and is sponsored by GATY (Gorham Action Team for Youth).  Check out the flyer below for details.  I've also hyperlinked the zoom information from the image so it is easier for you to click on...

Here's the zoom link:

Meeting ID:  959 7132 2755

Phone access:  1-646-558-8656

I think that's enough for this week!  I hope you all enjoy your weekends...see you right back here for week #18! STAY SAFE!  GO RAMS!