Friday, March 26, 2021

Week #27 is in the books and what a great week it was!  The first full week of spring and Maine's weather did not disappoint!  It was great to see students and teachers out and about this past week beginning to take advantage of those outdoor learning spaces once again!  I have just a few pictures I wanted to share...spring is definitely here and with it a sense of renewal, optimism and hope on so many levels!

Lots to talk about, so let's get to it!


On Wednesday evening the Gorham School Committee met to listen to a presentation of three scenarios that could increase face to face instruction time for students across the district.  It was a very informative meeting attended by well over 200 members of the public.  You can view the meeting in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. I'm not going to go over all the complex information shared at this meeting, but I did want to provide some highlights and access to some of the specific materials shared at the meeting.  

First and foremost, I want to acknowledge the passionate feelings that are out there in the community on this topic.  There are folks that are passionate about returning to more face to face time for our students to help address social/emotional and academic needs of children. There are also folks that are passionate about not rushing for the safety of our students, and folks who are passionate about those very same social/emotional and academic needs, but see a return to more face to face instruction this spring as potentially causing more issues than they would resolve.   Then there are passionate folks every place in between on this complex issue.  

One of the many things I LOVE ABOUT GORHAM is that folks can be passionate, they can share their thoughts and opinions, but do so in a respectful way...always focused on what is best for students.  I hope our discourse continues to represents these important community values as we move forward in continued navigation of this world wide pandemic together.  

This conversation is a complex one, made even more complex by the fact that what one individual interprets as being "best for children" another individual may just as passionately interpret as not. On top of this complexity, layer on the exhaustion and frustration many are feeling as we stretch beyond the full year mark of this pandemic and it becomes even more important for us to do our best to practice civil discourse.   Gorham has navigated this pandemic TOGETHER since the beginning, and we must continue to do so.  We can't let this conversation pull our community apart.  Our children are indeed watching.

Ultimately it will be the responsibility of the Gorham School Committee members to make the final difficult determination as to what is in the overall best interest of our students.  I wish to commend them for taking the time to gather information, to ask questions, to understand the perspectives of their constituents (staff, students and parents) and to then balance all of that information in their final decisions.  In my opinion, one can ask nothing less of their public servants and I believe that our School Committee members are doing these very things as best as they can.

The information that was presented on Wednesday night was significant.  We presented three scenarios, each with a complete list of unintended consequences and potential positive outcomes for students.  Those are linked below:

Scenario #1 - Return K-12 to school 4 days per week beginning April 29, 2021.
Scenario #2 - Return K-8 to school 4 days per week and use 1/2 days on Friday mornings for GHS students to rotate A and B groups for additional face to face time.
Scenario #3 - Return K-5 to school 4 days per week and return Gr. 6-12 to school 5 days per week with 1:00 p.m. dismissals daily.

Also presented was information from the Medical Advisory Committee who reviewed each scenario with a specific focus on COVID 19 safety.  That feedback is LINKED HERE.  

Finally, summary information was shared from a K-12 staff survey on each of the three scenarios.  That information is LINKED HERE.  

After information was shared, questions were asked by School Committee members, and provided by myself or other members of the district leadership team.  Lots of great questions were asked either by SC members directly or by members of the audience via direct chat to me.  You can watch the video to hear the SC questions so I wanted to review some key Q&A from the public chat that might help answer questions I know continue to "swirl" in social media land:

Question:  Why can other school systems move to move face to face time while Gorham struggles to find a way to do it?

Answer:  It is often the case that we try to compare ourselves to other neighboring school systems, or even neighboring states.  What is important to understand here is that in the case of COVID and trying to find ways to operate our schools safely within this Pandemic each school system is working with a very different set of tools.  For example:  In some neighboring districts, student enrollments have been steadily declining over the past few years and as a result, they have facilities that when you create a student per square foot ratio it allows them to maneuver within safety rules far better than others.  In Gorham, we have not had this experience and in fact have the opposite situation.  For years we have struggled with increasing enrollments and the capacities of our schools to handle this issue under "normal" circumstances.  Throw a Pandemic into the mix and, things become even more difficult.  This is not an excuse...just a reality and one we must face while other systems may not.  Other systems may have access to more buses and bus drivers, while some systems have access to more funding, and some have more technology, etc. etc.  The point is that each system works with its own unique tools as creatively as they can to maximize the safe operations of their schools during this pandemic for their students.  Gorham is not alone in this struggle.  Other systems such as RSU 51, RSU 14, Westbrook, Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and Yarmouth all continue in their hybrid models.  Each is unique so to compare across is like comparing "apples to oranges" as my father used to say.

Question:  If we can't open schools this spring, how will we do it this fall?

Answer:  First, let's be clear.  No decisions have been made by the School Committee that says we can't...or that we can.  This is the purpose of our current conversations - to determine what is or is not possible and with what repercussions.  Second, almost all of the "unintended consequences" associated with each of the scenarios linked above can be eliminated or at least mitigated with a summer's worth of planning and an ability to build schedules, etc. around different conditions that we now know far more about than we did even last fall.  Bottom line - unless some new variant pops up and completely changes things once again, we believe we absolutely CAN open our schools to five days per week instruction this coming fall even though doing that same task this spring may prove difficult.  The work required to reopen this spring and in the fall are really very different tasks.

Question:  Why do we have to buy new desks and chairs?  Why can't we just use the ones we have?

Answer:  In the fall of 2019 before the Pandemic, our classrooms were set up to operate in a "normal" environment.  At the elementary levels we had large tables with chairs so students could do center work.  At the middle School we had lab tables for science and large tables for collaboration.  Across all our classrooms we had some traditional desks/chairs set up - but not necessarily one for every student.  In working to set up classrooms with 6 ft of physical distance, we had to remove these large tables because we couldn't fit enough students around them with 6 ft of distance.  Instead it was much more efficient to move the large tables out and move in individual desks/chairs to get the most students in each classroom.  When we move to 3ft of physical distance the same issues apply.  The large tables simply don't work.  What is most efficient to get all students to fit safely into a classroom is individual desks/chairs.  We never had these for each student, hence we need to purchase or find a way to borrow them.

Question:  If pick up and drop off at each school has to increase significantly, causing traffic flow problems...can't you just stagger the times each cohort drops off and picks up?

Answer:  We certainly can, and in fact that is what we would need to do.  The problem is that when you do this, you need to dismiss earlier in the afternoon so now rather than instruction ending at say 2:45 for may have to end instruction at 2:20 for dismissal.  Now, think along those same lines for when you begin instruction each day and that is 40 minutes of lost instructional time per day to make that move.  Now layer on the possibility of having to deal with double bus runs for parents who cannot transport their children, and you can see a significant amount of instructional time can be "eaten" because of transportation concerns.  Again, as stated in the meeting...these issues are not insurmountable...but they do carry unintended consequences that add to the complex discussions regarding the cost/benefit analysis for movement this spring.

Question:  Why can't we just extend the school day to accommodate for these time change needs?

Answer:  Our teachers work under an association contract which defines the expectations for a regular work day.  Our teachers are AWESOME, and would gladly give of their own time for our students (and routinely do by the way), but to ask them to give an additional 1 hour each day when they already give so much would be a very difficult ask indeed.  

The ultimate outcome of the meeting on Wednesday was a straw poll vote 4-3 to be willing to look at the reduction of the current 6 ft physical distancing requirement that is part of our Pandemic Operations Plan and to align this rule with the Maine Department of Education's health and safety requirements.  The MDOE requirements allow for a minimum of 3ft of physical distance between students in classroom settings.  What this straw poll does is allow myself (in collaboration with the District's Leadership Team) to dig another level down in our planning for potentially increasing face to face instruction for our students this spring.  The "homework" that was given to me by the School Committee as a result of this vote was to "sharpen" a plan to increase face to face instruction for students and to present that plan to the School Committee at a special meeting on April 1 at 7:00 p.m.  I was also assigned the task of surveying our 6-12 students to ask their opinions and the task of surveying our K-12 parents to ask their opinions of how folks would like us to move forward.  This data will be brought back to the School Committee at their upcoming meeting on April 1, 2021 for a decision regarding whether or not to change schedules for this spring.

SO AS PARENTS - HOW CAN YOU VOICE YOUR OPINIONS?  You can participate in the K-12 parent survey!  That survey is LINKED HERE and the scenario it is focused on (Scenario #2) is linked above for your review.  Please participate in this survey by Tuesday, March 30, 2021.  Summary results will be shared with the School Committee to help inform their decision making process.  If you have already participated and information in this blog has adjusted your worries...log back in and you can edit your original responses.

HOW DO I STAY INFORMED OF THESE DISCUSSIONS?  You can watch the video of the meeting held on Wednesday night linked above and you can plan on attending the zoom meeting on April 1.  That meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. and the link is below.  

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 899 6919 5599 Passcode: 184894

As we continue to learn more and work to inform our opinions regarding what may or may not be best for this spring...I would urge parents to remain informed and to reach out with specific questions. As is so often the case in these difficult and complex discussions...the place to seek answers is likely NOT on social media platforms. The best factual information can be gleaned by watching the School Committee meetings and by reaching out to folks like myself ( or Assistant Superintendent Record ( or School Committee Chair Darryl Wright ( to ask specific questions to which we will do our best to provide specific answers. We have navigated this whole year together, let's continue through the remaining 3 months of this school year for the sake of our students and the fabric of our unique and wonderful community. We can be passionate. We can disagree with one another...but at the end of the day - WE ARE ALL GORHAM RAMS!



Just a quick reminder of the importance of completing those daily health screening surveys sent to you via email each school day.

Currently as we see a little "uptick" in the number of positive cases of COVID 19 in the Cumberland County area, one thing to note is that the increases seem to be among our youngest populations (under 20). This makes it even more important that we pay attention to completing these screeners and making sure that if your student feels sick and is experiencing one of the "common symptoms" or two of the "less common symptoms" that they remain home.

By making sure to take the time to complete these screeners each day, and keeping students home who are experiencing symptoms, it helps us all to monitor student symptoms and hopefully "catch" students from coming into school with positive cases of COVID 19. This limits the numbers of positive cases, and it also limits the number of students who may need to quarantine as a result.

As of March 25, 2021 we've had a total of 72 positive cases associated with our schools since opening in September. My goal...let's try to make sure we DO NOT go above 85 before the end of the school year! WE CAN DO IT!


We've actually been thinking about this for a while now, but I wanted to start sharing with parents some of what we are thinking regarding this important topic of how it is we will once again focus on ending the school year on a positive note and ensuring that our students and families feel secure in transitioning from one year to the next.

Each week of my blog posts for the next few weeks I'll focus on one school's end of year transition plans and share them with all of you. First up - Village Elementary School! Here's what Village has planned for their end of the year transitions.

Next week I'll focus on Narragansett Elem. School! 


Gorham Middle School will present it's first ever virtual Play on March 28th.

Once Upon a Zoom focuses in on a group of students trying to complete a school project during modern-day quarantine times. Sounds boring, right? It seems that way until their Zoom meetings get bombarded by a steady parade of fairy tale characters!

The show will PREMIERE on Sunday, March 28th at 6pm.

Click here to watch it!

It will be available to view FOR FREE on our website until April 11th.


That's plenty for this week folks...but in the spirit of offering up some positive encouragement as we continue to navigate this pandemic together...I wanted to share a quote I find encouraging. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Friday, March 19, 2021

March 19 Blog Post

We are finishing up our 26th week of face to face instruction under our hybrid model of learning in Gorham!  I emphasize this as the opening of this blog post for two reasons:  (1) We should celebrate each week of face to face learning with our students in the continued midst of this Pandemic as I know there aren't many back in September that thought we'd make it this far without "boomeranging back" into the fully remote model.  Each day with our students is indeed a gift!  (2) To emphasize that we can make that statement and we can celebrate this fact while many others across the country are just now considering re-opening their schools under similar models...we have already been safely "at it" for 7 months now!  

The picture below was shared with me the other day.  I am sharing it with you now as just one example of how high quality learning is occurring in our classrooms and at home for students on their remote days.  I mean seriously - when you were a kid, how many times did you ask your parents to bring your dog to school?  As parents - on remote days - you can now say YES!  What is that old saying about making "lemonade" from "lemons"?  These two certainly seem to be!  GO RAMS!

With that fun picture to open on to the information sharing!


I realize I spent some time updating folks on this topic in my last blog, but I think the information I share bears include some updates.

At the School Committee's workshop back on Feb. 24, 2021 the School Committee heard compelling data that demonstrates that our current hybrid model is performing the tasks we need it to for our children.  Of course, as is always the case in Gorham, our District Leadership Team and our School Committee aren't simply satisfied with "good"...we constantly strive to do better than good.   We constantly strive to excel. As a result, the School Committee assigned the district leadership team the task of developing 3 scenarios for the Gorham Schools that would increase face to face time for students this spring as a possible way of safely improving our services to children in the midst of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic.  Since that time the district leadership team has been working diligently to develop these three scenarios and to outline both the potential positive outcomes of each scenario as well as the unintended consequences of implementation of each later this spring.  

I realize that some folks think that it should be easy to simply open the schools back up to 5 days per week instruction.  Sounds simple doesn't it?  Heck, we've been doing it for 200 years prior to the Pandemic, what could be so difficult?  The reality is that the task is far more difficult with far more potential for "unintended consequences" than the average person may think.  The biggest difference between operating schools in a Pandemic and operating schools in a traditional world is that we have specific SAFETY requirements that we MUST FOLLOW in order to have our schools open to in person learning.  These safety requirements are the same ones that were in existence in the fall. You can find the Framework for Reopening Schools on the Maine Department of Education website LINKED HERE.   You can also dig a little deeper to read about the "Six Safety Requirements" by CLICKING HERE for an overview or by CLICKING HERE for the full detailed document.  We must follow these safety requirements.  There is no "wiggle room" in that regard.  Additionally, although I know educators will have had access to become vaccinated (hopefully by the April break) the fact remains that our students will not, nor will a large part of our community.  Finally, although I know the vaccinations bring optimism for a return to normalcy...our positive case rates in Cumberland County are beginning to climb and they are beginning to climb among our youngest populations (20 years of age and younger).  

These challenges do not mean we can't do more to increase face to face instruction for our students, but the key question is - what do we gain for students if we make such a change, and what do we lose?  The District Leadership Team and our School Committee first needs to uncover the answers to this question before considering whether or not we want to make a decision to increase face to face instruction time for our students this spring.  That will be the purpose of March 24's meeting.

Here's basically how I see the process for decision making playing out over the next few weeks:

1.  March 24 School Committee Meeting - Presentation of 3 scenarios to increase face to face instruction, feedback from medical advisory team, and feedback from K-12 staff.  

2.  On March 24, the School Committee indicates via a straw poll if they are willing to move from the current 6 ft physical distance approved in our Pandemic Re-Opening Plan to the MDOE minimum threshold of 3 ft of physical distance in classrooms with 6 ft. when students are eating.

IF the School Committee's straw poll indicates a willingness to move to under 6ft, we would then do the following (If the straw poll doesn't indicate that willingness, then we will plan to remain in the hybrid model of learning):  

3.  Between March 25 - March 30 surveys will be sent out to Grades 6-12 students and K-12 parents to gather data regarding their thoughts on each scenario and whether or not there is support to make a significant change this spring.

4.  On April 1, the School Committee would hold a special meeting to review the additional survey data and more detailed planning data provided by the DLT and make a decision regarding whether or not they wish to move forward with any of the scenarios presented.

IF the School Committee decides to move forward with one of the scenarios, we would then do the following (If the vote indicates they are not willing to make a move, then we will plan to remain in the hybrid model of learning):

5.  Between April 5 - 9 a survey will be sent to all parents gathering feedback in two key areas: (1) asking if parents can provide transportation to and from school as we will need more parents to transport their children to make any of the three scenarios work.  (2). asking parents if they want to continue with face to face learning or if they want to move to remote instruction for the remainder of the school year.

From there we would work intensely to "operationalize" whichever scenario is selected in order to implement as soon after the April vacation as possible.  

I share this with parents now so you can get a sense of the timelines involved, and also understand that while we are thoroughly exploring these possibilities, there are also no guarantees that any changes will be made this spring.  Remaining "status quo" in our existing hybrid model is still very much a possibility, especially when we know that it is working.  

These are complex decisions, with complex implications, no question.  However, I have full faith that after a thorough process and a deep dive into understanding the possible adjustments that can be made and their implications the right decision for our schools, our students, our parents, and our community will be made.  Whatever those decisions are, know that we will square our shoulders and make whatever the outcome is work, and work well.  We have worked so hard to support one another and meet every challenge head on that this pandemic has thrown at us thus far TOGETHER.  This will be no different!  GO RAMS!

P.S. - The link for the School Committee meeting on March 24 is below...feel free to tune in and listen to remain informed!

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 879 0099 5525 Passcode: 391686 One tap mobile. +1-312-626-6799


Just a reminder for all K-12 parents who are interested that I will be hosting a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion parent forum on Thursday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. via zoom.  The link is below.  

I have spent several months now conducting a "listening tour" to listen to the stories of our students, our staff and our parents.  At this event, I will share the results of this important work as well as provide an overview of our journey thus far, and where we are headed.  I will also engage parents in a structured discussion regarding this important topic and what it means to our schools here in Gorham.  

Given the recent headlines around anti-Asian racism recently seen in the Portland Herald Press and other anti-Asian racism occurrences across the country, we clearly need to continue these conversations - more now than ever.  Please join me in condemning racism in all its forms.  I look forward to the discussion!

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 834 8910 7323 Passcode: 266328 One tap mobile +1-301-715-8592


Gorham High School Principal Brian Jandreau has created a Thought Exchange survey for parents to help provide insights into our continued work to strengthen our Career and Technical Education Program experiences for our students.  I'd encourage you to please only takes a few minutes to share your thoughts and then rate the thoughts of others to help us move this important conversation forward!


The GHS Interact Club is putting on a fundraiser to benefit the Animal Refuge League THIS WEEKEND!

Watch this "teaser video" to learn more:

And check out the flyer for more details!


Our students are incredible!  They truly care about our community and want to do what they can to return the help that they get from Gorham back to Gorham!  And they are so creative in how they do it!  Here's a "blurb" from our National Honors Society Students explaining the Virtual Fun Project!

The National Honor Society at Gorham High School presents NHS Virtual Fun to the community. This is a space where NHS members will post instructional or interactive zoom links and videos on crafts, skills, or passions of theirs that they want to share. Our mission is to provide a safe and convenient space for our community to spend time together. We will be posting what the topics are, materials that are needed for the activity, and the age ranges best suitable ahead of time. Currently, most of our ideas are geared toward elementary-aged children: fun science projects, paint follow-along activities, beginner origami, dance classes, and a variety of sports skills. There is something for everyone!


The Gorham Outdoors Club recently released a cool flyer outlining events for this coming spring.  Check it out below, mark your calendars, and make sure you help put the "GO" in "Gorham"!


When I first came to Gorham six years ago, I remember people telling me how lucky I was to be moving over to lead such a great community.  I remember thinking to myself that was nice, but really just sort of thinking that every community I had ever been in before was pretty darn good.  Six years later, having dealt with tragedy, having dealt with triumph and now having dealt with a year long Pandemic...I am much more clear on the difference between Gorham and other "nice" communities in Maine.  I am so impressed and appreciative of how hard our staff works to meet the needs of all children during the most challenging times.  I am equally impressed and appreciative of how much our parents and community support our work and one another.  As just one example...just the other day a parent randomly decided she wanted to show her appreciation to our staff at Great Falls.  What you see in the picture below is that family and their gift to the Great Falls staff.  You see them smiling in appreciation.  What you don't see is the whole Great Falls staff smiling right back in appreciation...and what you really don't see is the whole Gorham Schools staff smiling right back too!  



Friday, March 12, 2021

March 12 Blog Update

So very much to get to for information...but just needed to take a moment to show some photos of our incredible students in their "natural" school "habitats" this year!  We have such incredible students doing such incredible things!  GO RAMS!

Oh, and if you haven't already seen this incredible video from Mr. Parvanta and Team entitled:  "We Got This Gorham"...CHECK IT OUT BY CLICKING HERE!  I have heard that the young star of the film is now signing autographs by the way!

Now on to the "less fun"...Informational "stuff"!


I thought that headline might grab some attention!  This is a question that Gorham, as well as many other school systems in our region are struggling with right now.  For "good" or for "bad" there is no question that there is mounting pressure to re-open schools right now even though our staff are not yet fully vaccinated and the CDC safety guidelines for schools to remain open have not changed.  

Our school system, however is embarking on an in depth study of how we might still be able to overcome these odds and potentially look to increase face to face instructional time for our students.  On Feb. 24 the School Committee gave me a homework assignment to come up with three scenarios that might allow us to increase face to face instruction time for students THIS SPRING.  Right now, we are looking at three scenarios. . . 

1.  Bringing students back for 1/2 days on Fridays rotating A and B groups.
2.  Bringing students K-2 back to 4 days per week
3.  Bringing students K-12 back to 4 days per week

I have been working with District Leadership Team members and with other committees that involve teachers, nurses, social workers, and others from across the district on this homework assignment.  Our building leaders are even working to "stage" some classrooms to see how many students can safely fit in classrooms using different configurations and what traffic flow might look like in various areas.  

Many folks may ask, why are we even looking at these options right now?  Isn't our current programming doing a darn good job given the circumstances?  Why would we want to potentially disrupt the "learning flow" we have worked so hard to create?  These are valid questions.  My initial responses are below:

1.  The first response is to be clear that just because we are investigating these potential changes, that does not mean we will actually implement any changes this spring.  The School Committee is going to have to weigh many different factors in order to ultimately determine what is the appropriate direction for us to take in the best interest of the district.

2.  Although what we have been doing has been AWESOME (no question there and thank you for all your hard work thus far)...I think it is safe to say that we are all getting tired and frustrated and are feeling as though children simply need to be back in school more.  When we constantly ask ourselves the question:  "What is best for children"...and we broaden that view to include what is best for their families and our community right now...if we can increase face to face time, we probably ought to look at how we can do so safely.  So look we will.

3.  The reality is that we are going to have to find a way to open our schools for 5 days per week next fall and if we know we are going to have to do that, shouldn't we try to figure out how now, and "practice" this spring while we have strong relationships built with existing students and families that will allow us to work through the "kinks" of what we all know will be a difficult task?

These are just a few key reasons we need to look closely at these ideas in order to be best prepared to meet the needs of our students in this Pandemic World.  

I want you all to know that as we look at these ideas, I will keep you informed.  We will seek to engage parents, staff, students, and our medical advisors in these important discussions and ultimately we will advocate for what we all collectively feel is best for the students and staff of Gorham.  As we work our way through this process and continue to work together to navigate COVID 19...I want you to know that our values and goals are the same.  As we talk about ways to increase face to face instruction time for our students this spring, we are constantly asking the question - what do we need to focus on?  What are the things we must pay attention to as we continue forward?  

I recently asked these questions of our District Leadership Team the other day and then I also asked these questions of members of the Pandemic Advisory Committee.  Their responses are below in the form of word clouds.  TWO THINGS before I share the results:  1) I couldn't say it any better than they did, and 2) I am constantly amazed and how we all share the same core values in Gorham - these two word clouds are pretty similar...which means our beliefs are very much in alignment.  

District Leadership Team:

Pandemic Advisory Committee:

So What Should YOU (as a parent) Take Away from These Discussions?

1.  Please know these are thorough discussions and important explorations of the possibilities, however NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE regarding making any changes to the hybrid learning model at this time.  

2.  The District Leadership team will work closely with staff, students and parents to engage people in these important discussions before any final decisions are made.

3.  Ultimately, whatever decisions are made will be made with TWO KEY FOCUS POINTS at the forefront of all that we do.  The FIRST is that we will continue to ensure the safety of our staff and students.  SECOND is to make sure whatever is done, special focus will remain on meeting the social/emotional needs of our children, staff and families over other needs.

If you want to follow along in the conversation - remember our SC meetings are online and open to the public.  Just go to our district website and click on the calendar link for zoom information.  As we get closer to the meeting you can also CLICK HERE to view the full School Committee Packets for their meetings.  I will also continue to keep you informed via this weekly blog post, and as always, if you have questions or wish to share information please email me directly at


As we gain. more and more staff that have become fully vaccinated, we started to get more and more questions about what being vaccinated meant in terms of following safety protocols, quarantines, close contacts, and all the other wonderful new vocabulary we have learned over the past year.  I shared the information below with staff and I thought, this is likely also very good information for all of you as you or your family members also slowly but steadily become vaccinated against COVID 19.  
  • All staff who experience Covid like symptoms will continue to follow the protocol in the handbook, regardless of vaccination status. (Please link to the protocol and chart here)
  • All staff, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear face coverings in all public places, as per Gov. Janet Mills' order.
  • All staff, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to practice social distancing and hand hygiene in the school setting.
  • Staff who are asymptomatic, have been fully vaccinated, and are >14 days out from last vaccine will not be required to quarantine in the event that they are a close contact of someone with Covid 19.  
  • Staff who are fully vaccinated and are > 14 days out from last vaccine and who travel within the US will not be required to test or quarantine when they return home.
The largest benefit to being vaccinated at this time is that after it has become fully effective (14 days after you are fully vaccinated) you no longer have to quarantine if you are exposed to COVID 19 as a close contact.  Additionally, if traveling within the US, you would no longer be required to quarantine or test upon return home.  Check out some of the following resources to learn more about the benefits of vaccination!


*. “BenefitsofGettingCovid-19Vaccine”: benef its.html? ncov%2Fvaccines%2Fabout-vaccines%2Fvaccine-benefits.html

*. “Be Safe After You Vaccinate: disease/immunization/documents/Be%20Safe%20After%20You%20Vaccinate.pdf

*. What to Expect after Getting a Vaccine: A_FS_What_Expect_COVID-19_V ax_Final_12.13.20.pdf

*. Pfizer Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet:

*. Moderna Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet:

*. Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet: 

Video Resources:

*. The mRNA Vaccine is like a Cookie Recipe | Northern Light Health
*. Webinar: COVID-19 Vaccine: Helping to Educate: Covid 19 Vaccine: Helping to Educate Maine 


I will be hosting one K-12 staff open forum on the topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and one one K-12 parent open forum on the same topic.  For each meeting, the agenda will look roughly like this:

- Welcome & Introductions

- Overview of the "Why"

- Overview of Work done thus far.

- Sharing of stories collected through listening tour

- Structured conversations - "What is on your hearts and minds after you have heard the stories shared?"

-  Wrap up and next steps

Links for these meetings is below...please mark your calendars and reach out if you have any questions!  I look forward to seeing folks online for these important conversations!

K-12 Staff Open Forum - Wednesday March 17 at 3:30 p.m. via zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 829 4231 3276 

Passcode: 067129 

K-12 Parent Open Forum - Thursday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. via zoom.

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 834 8910 7323 Passcode: 266328


Just wanted to make parents (especially those of incoming K students), that we made a small adjustment to our 2021-22 calendar.  We have moved the first day of Kindergarten to Sept. 2, 2021.  Originally the first day of K had been placed on Sept. 7, 2021 which is the first day of Rosh Hashanah.  We felt it was important not to force parents to have to choose between their child's first day of Kindergarten and one of the most important Jewish holidays on the calendar so we made the slight change to accommodate.  This change doesn't impact anything else on the calendar for 2021-22.  You can view the revised calendar by CLICKING HERE.  It is also posted on our website.


The Gorham Outdoors Club has collaborated with the Gorham Fire Department and "Survivor Bob" to put together a cool fire safety and story time event scheduled for Sunday, March 14 behind the Narragansett School.  You can watch a quick promo video linked below and get more details from the flyer!


The Gorham Police Department is putting together a fundraiser in memory of Pooch that involves purchasing "Pooch Stickers".  Below is a message from the GPD and a link to get involved and donate to a great cause to support his legacy through the "Wayne POOCH Drown Memorial Scholarship".  

We sure still miss you Pooch!


GHS Theater students are putting on a production of Vintage Hitchcock:  A Live Radio Play THIS WEEKEND!  Friday, March 12 and Saturday March 13 at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday March 14 at 2:00 p.m.!  This regular length play is filled with spies, murder, love and suspense!  Only $5.00 to view!  Links are below!


I thought it might be good to end this week's blog with some inspirational quotes from women in honor of national women's history month...some sage words of advice indeed!  ENJOY YOUR WEEKENDS!

Friday, March 5, 2021

March 5 Blog Post

We are through the first week in March!  Couple of cold days this week, but you can still feel the edge of spring approaching!  I don't know about you - but I can't wait to get outside more and feel the WARM sunshine again...Maine winters are beautiful and there are so many great things to do, but nothing beats spring and I am looking forward to it this year for sure!  As we finish up our 24th week of face to face instruction in our hybrid model of learning here in Gorham...I have several things to share, so I'll get right to it!


On Wednesday, March 3, 2021 Governor Mills announced an adjustment in the state's eligibility for COVID 19 vaccinations.  On this day we became aware that educators will be eligible to become vaccinated at the same time as those who are 60+.  We in public schools are all very, very excited about this and are looking forward to vaccinations, but please know it is still going to take some time for school employees to actually get their shots.  At the same time Gov. Mills announced this change, expanding the number of folks eligible to be vaccinated significantly across the state, there was no significant increase in the supply of vaccinations.  Bottom line, although we are pleased with this recent announcement, I want to be clear it will likely be sometime before all those school employees who wish to become vaccinated are actually vaccinated.  The good news is - this announcement has definitely sped up the overall process for educators who I believe should have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by the end of April.  Let's keep our fingers crossed this holds true.

While I'm updating folks on this new development I want to be clear about something that is very important because I know the next leap parents may make is that once school staff are vaccinated we can immediately return to "normal".  Unfortunately, this will not be the case.  I absolutely wish it could be...but it will not be.  Even after all staff are vaccinated, many other adults in our community will not be and our students also will not be.  COVID 19 is still very much "out there" and we all will need to remain vigilant as we wait for more and more adults to become vaccinated.  What this likely means is that the safety protocols we have in place are likely to remain in place through the end of the school year.  School staff being vaccinated is an important FIRST STEP to returning our schools to more "normal" operations, however it is not the only step that must be made before we can.  Current MDOE required safety guidelines for schools to remain open must continue to be followed which include:

1.  Wearing face coverings

2.  Washing/sanitizing hands frequently

3.  Maintaining physical distancing.

The one that most impacts our ability to move to more face to face time is the last one on that list.  It is the same item that required us to open up in the hybrid model this past fall.  Basically...with more students on site, you need more square footage in buildings to accommodate and unfortunately this is something we are short on here in Gorham.  Here's an example:  A classroom at GHS that normally holds 20 students may only be able to hold 16 with 3 ft. of physical distance...what do we do with the other 4 students that won't fit if we return to face to face instruction.  Take this issue and multiply times about 130 classrooms across the district and you can see where the problem is...and then tack on the issue of having to have a full 6 ft. of separation for students to eat (because they have to remove masks)...well that just makes things very very difficult indeed.

Last week I shared with you data that showed that our hybrid model is doing exactly what we need it to do.   I shared the really good news is that our students, although certainly learning in a less than ideal environment, are in fact learning what they need to learn to move forward in the coming year successfully.  Here's a few slides to demonstrate:

K-5 Highlight slides:

GMS Highlight Slides:

GHS Highlight Slides:

However just because this data is good, that doesn't mean we don't want to try and find ways to safely improve our practices and programs for students.

At their last meeting, the School Committee asked me to develop 3 scenarios that might allow us to increase face to face time for our students in Gorham later this spring while still following all required safety guidelines.  I will be working with our District Leadership team to develop these three scenarios at a high level and will present them to the School Committee at their meeting on March 24, 2021.  For each scenario we will clearly identify the +/- of each idea and what the unintended consequences of moving forward may be on our students, our families and/or our staff.  The School Committee will then give us direction as to whether or not they wish to pursue any (or none) of these ideas for the spring.  We will go forward from there.

I share this information with parents because although vaccinations are offering us all a great deal of hope and optimism, we must still maintain vigilance in ensuring our children are safe while attending our schools.  I want parents to know we are listening...we know you want more face to face time with students and their teachers.  We know you are worried about the wellbeing of your children as the pandemic continues to interrupt our lives.  We know you are tired of having to juggle child care with schooling with jobs and with your own personal sanity.  Please know we will continue to do all we can to support our students, our parents and our staff as we continue to navigate this Pandemic together.  We just need to make sure that whatever we do, we do it in a way that is safe and in a way that doesn't accidentally cause more "harm" than "good".  A delicate balance indeed - but one we will endeavor to undertake!  Please stay tuned after the March 24 School Committee meeting for more information and in the meantime...hang in there parents!  WE LOVE YOU and you are all doing an INCREDIBLE JOB!



The School Committee had its first budget workshop meeting on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.  It is still VERY EARLY in the process, but I wanted to provide a relatively brief overview of where we are.   First it is important to know what our four major priorities were in the development of the initially proposed budget.  Those were:

1.  Ensuring we are PREPARED for the already identified, and possibly yet unknown impacts of COVID 19 upon our schools

To address these items we included:

*. An addition of 2 K-5 teachers to maintain optimal class sizes for K-5 classrooms.  This will allow class sizes to remain relatively small for the 2021-22 school year so that teachers may more readily differentiate instruction for all students.

*. Additional nurse supports for their continued increased responsibilities in our pandemic world across all schools.

*. An addition of 1 Remote teacher K-8 and one Remote teacher 9-12 to address continuing health concerns of some families for students to return to school in a face to face environment next year. 

2.  Maintaining and strengthening our Technology infrastructure and providing ongoing professional development for staff.

To address these items we included:

*. Funds to support upgrades to GMS and GHS wifi networks.

*. Funds to support the purchase of devices for GMS 6th grade students to align with the state's new MLTI 2.0 program.

3.  Maintaining and strengthening our CURRICULUM and SUPPORT programming for students across grades K-12

To address these items we included:

*. Funds to support the purchase of a new K-8 math curriculum.

*. Funds to support adding a school counselor at GMS.

4.  Addressing our overall Facilities needs.

To address these items we included:

*. Over $600,000.00 in needed Capital Improvement Items.

The School Committee requested that I provide a proposed budget to address these and all needs of our district, which I did. However, the School Committee also requested that if that proposed budget represented a greater than 3% increase in overall expenditures that I also provide for them a "road map" for prioritized reductions that would allow them to reach 3%.  Just so you are aware, if we did nothing new to address COVID 19 and other needs and just moved existing staff into the coming year the overall increase in expenditures would be a little over 2.5%.   The superintendent's initially proposed budget represented an 8.5% overall increase in expenditures over last year's budget.  Therefore, a reductions list was part of the proposed budget totaling just over $2.1 million dollars in possible reductions.

The School Committee is now taking the important time to understand the items included in the proposed budget and the implications of proposed increases and potential reductions to the overall ability of our district to meet the needs of our children.  This work began last weekend, and will continue over the course of the next full month.  Ultimately, the Superintendent's proposed budget will transition into the School Committee's proposed budget and will be voted on by the School Committee in early April.  Once the School Committee approves the proposed budget, it must then be brought to the Town Council for approval in early June and then to the voters of Gorham via referendum, also in June.  

As I mentioned earlier - there is still a LONG WAY TO GO in this process.  I'll do my best to keep you all informed along the way.

If you'd like to review the 250+ page Initial Proposed School can do so by CLICKING HERE.   Please reach out with any questions you. may have.


Our very own GHS theater students will be presenting a production of vintage Hitchcock:  A Live Radio Play NEXT WEEKEND, Friday 3/12, Saturday 3/13 and Sunday 3/14 at 7:30 p.m.  or Sunday 3/14 at 2:00 p.m.!  This regular length play filled with spies, murder, love and suspense is actually a set of three one acts, each one based on an early film of the famous Alfred Hitchcock.  You can guy a streaming link for the show you want to see using the links below!  Check it out!  Gonna be a great show!

*. March 12 Link

*. March 13 Link

*. March 14 Link


Aspire Gorham's March newsletter is ready for viewing! There is lots of great information in this month's favorite...a spotlight on our very own Noor Sager, an up and coming young writer who is a current sophomore at GHS!  CLICK HERE to read more!


Just sharing this video that I saw come across my email the other day...its a video geared towards teens, but when I watched it - I could definitely link it to my own mindfulness!  Take a few minutes to check it March rolls on and spring remains just out of reach a little while longer...we could probably all use a few more "tricks up our sleeves" to stay strong and healthy!  I particularly LOVED the quote at the very beginning!


Just a quick reminder that Friday, March 12, 2021 is a non-student day for all students across grades K-12 so that teachers can conduct conferences with parents.  If you haven't signed up and want to speak to your child's teacher(s) please reach out to your school's office and they can help you navigate how to participate.  This year more than any other year, we need to make sure we stay in close communication regarding how students are doing.  A strong partnership between school and home ensures success for our students!


This past week was Social Worker appreciation day and just today was Maintenance Worker appreciation day.  Very different jobs and responsibilities, but both are SO IMPORTANT to our schools!  One works to repair and renew/refresh and maintain our minds while the other works to repair and renew/refresh and maintain our physical spaces!  We couldn't do what we do without either of them!  If you see one of our social workers or maintenance workers around this sure to say THANK YOU.  The work they do often goes unnoticed...unless you are the object of their "renewal" efforts.  Then you know exactly their worth! 




I saw this quote from a 6th grade student (Not in Gorham, but could have been)...Just had to share...cause guess what - WE TRULY ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!  Teacher or parent...all of us.  Kudos to this 6th grader for seeing that and calling us all on it!