Wednesday, December 22, 2021

December 22 Blog Post

Do you know what I find AMAZING?  THIS COMMUNITY.  With all that continues to go on in this world, the community of Gorham sticks together.  We remain focused on our children.  Supporting them, teaching them, and most of all loving them.  

I know many of you are concerned about your children and what this Pandemic is doing to them.  You are asking questions like:  

-  Will my child be prepared for Middle School, High School, College or beyond?

-  Is my child getting what they need?  Not just academically but socially and emotionally as well?

-  Are they happy?  Will they be happy?

-  Am I doing enough as a parent/teacher/leader/caregiver to support them?

I want you to know that when I walk around our schools, what I see represents all that is RIGHT in this world.  I can not answer the questions above 100% accurately for each and every student, but what I can say is that for the vast majority of the students the answer is YES down the line!  

What I see in our schools, classrooms, playgrounds and cafeterias are smiling students (yes - even behind those masks).  I hear laughter.  I hear joy.  I hear curiosity.  I hear friendship.  I see our code of conduct values come to life (Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, Responsibility) and I hear the "buzz" that can only be created in classrooms full of engaged and curious minds.

I hear and see some struggles too.  Learning does not come without struggle.  But I see patience, compassion, and learning driving all that we do.  Focused not on punishment, but on restoration and repair.  

I see what the pictures below show.  That for all the negatives this pandemic world is throwing at us - our children are safe, they are supported, and they continue to remain curious and learn.  I hope you can see that in the pictures too and know that each of YOU as parents contribute to these things as much, if not more, than we do.  

When I say I am amazed at this community...I am telling the truth.  It takes a true "village" to raise a child and that old saying is all that more important as we continue to navigate our way TOGETHER through our pandemic challenges.   

Enjoy the pictures and check out more on our social media sites (you know - the positive ones - NOT Tik Tok! ☺👀).  

Now onto the information!


As I have said many times now, the events of Friday, Dec. 17 are not ones any of us wish to repeat anytime soon.  However, these events also remind us that our schools are fully prepared to meet the varying challenges that come to us in today's complex world.  Whether it be Tik Tok threats, or gas leaks, or bomb threats, and most anything in between - it is important to know that our schools "have a plan for that" because we do.

Our public facing Crisis Plan can be found on our website for review by parents and community members.  I've also LINKED IT HERE for your convenience.  Please know, however that there is A LOT more that goes into our plans than what is seen here.  We keep this more detailed information confidential purposefully for reasons I hope you can understand.  

Additionally, I want folks to be aware that we update all of our full school plans annually and we provide a report to the Gorham School Committee in executive session each year to ensure our plans are kept up to date and maintain all needed information.  These plans are also shared with key town entities such as the Gorham PD and Gorham Fire Department.

After each planned, or unplanned practice of these procedures we also meet to debrief what worked well, what didn't and how we can "tweak" our plans to ensure they remain strong.  Folks that sent feedback over the past several days, please know that each has been read and will be used in our debrief process to improve our overall practices moving forward.


As we continue to debrief the experiences of the past week regarding the role that social media may have played in intensifying fears of violence in our schools, I thought it might be helpful to share some resources with families to talk about social media and its role in our lives.  Please know we continue to provide strong instruction on this topic with students while at school...but with this one, "tag-teaming" is likely the best approach!  If we're all sending the same messages, it is definitely harder for students to ignore us! ☺

As we all know, social media can have many positive benefits.  It can keep us connected and help us to celebrate each other and the great things that we do.  Unfortunately, it can also be a place where hateful messages and words can be shared, and fear induced.  Social media is, in itself, a very human creation and with it comes the reflection of all humans.  Good and bad.  It is important that we constantly talk with our children and remind them about how these incredibly powerful communication tools can be used for "good" and "pure" purposes or also used for more nefarious reasons and how to ensure they themselves are using this digital medium in alignment with our code of conduct.

First, and foremost - in particular reference to threats of violence towards our schools or anyone/thing in our community it is important for children to know that the very first thing they should do if/when they come across this is to take a screen shot of the image or post.  Then, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, as tempting as it may be to forward it on to a friend to make sure they know about it or have seen it please DO NOT do that.  It only adds to the spread of fear.  Instead, what students should do is take that screen shot and send that along to a trusted adult immediately.  That could be their parents, trusted adult family members, a teacher, school admin. or even a trusted law enforcement officer.  Bottom line, it's important to let an adult know what the threat may be so that we can appropriately respond, but it is equally important not to accidentally create additional fear by spreading it around.

That advice, and more can be found in some of the incredible resources below for families.  Please check these resources out and talk with your child about their use of social media often.

*. Common Sense Media

*. A Social Media Guide for Parents

*. Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media

*. A Parents Guide To Social Media

*. Social Media, What Parents Should Know


Similar to what we did over the Thanksgiving Break, we will NOT be conducting contact tracing protocols over the Holiday break.  We will conduct contact tracing through the end of the day on Thursday, December 23 but between Dec. 24 - Jan. 1 we will not be conducting contact tracing protocols as a school system.

If you become aware of a positive case of COVID 19 between Dec. 24 - Jan. 2 that impacts our schools, we would ask you to please email the building principal and cc the school nurse with all pertinent information such as name and grade of child, test date, symptoms date, etc. School admin. and nurses will review this information and then follow up as needed on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022 when we return to school.  Contact information for emails is below:

Great Falls:

-  Becky Fortier, Principal -

-  Melissa Tringali, Nurse -


-  Cynthia Remick, Principal -

-  Collette Andreasen, Nurse -


-  Jodi Mezzanotte, Principal -

-  Carrie Chasse, Nurse -


-  Quinton Donahue, Principal -

-  Alicia Murry, Nurse -


-  Brian Jandreau, Principal -

-  Joyce LaRou, Nurse -


After conducting research regarding contact tracing protocols in other Regional Cumberland County Schools, we are making adjustments to our contact tracing protocols in an effort to make the long term viability of conducting these protocols more sustainable for our staff.  Particularly our nurses and administrative teams.  These changes are geared towards continuing to provide for the major purpose of contact tracing (which is to keep positive, symptomatic students out of school in order to prevent/mitigate the spread of COVID 19 within our schools) while balancing the need for our staff not to have to work 24/7.  

Therefore, beginning on Monday, January 3, 2021 the Gorham Schools will utilize these new Contact Tracing timelines and communication protocols.  

These changes DO NOT impact how close contacts are identified.  The Gorham Schools continue to follow the Maine CDC and DHHS Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the identification of close contacts.  These changes only impact the timeline for contact tracing protocols and changes in communication of close contacts.  

If you have any questions, please contact your school’s principal or school nurse.  THANK YOU.


Purpose of Contact Tracing:

The role of contact tracing in the Gorham schools is to keep positive, symptomatic students out of school in order to mitigate/prevent the spread of COVID 19 in our schools.

  • Contact tracing processes will only be conducted Monday through Friday during regular operating hours of our schools.  There will be no contact tracing over the weekends or during school holidays.  If you become aware of a positive case of COVID 19 during a weekend, or over a school Holiday, please email your school’s principal and school nurse (list above) but know that contact tracing will not occur until the next regular school day.

  • Identified close contacts who remain asymptomatic may remain in school to complete their school day.  If close contacts CAN go home, they will go home.  Parents will be afforded the opportunity to make that decision.

  • Identified close contacts who become symptomatic during the school day will be sent home.  BinaxNOW testing will be provided if approved by the parent/guardian.  Symptomatic students will remain in the isolation room until parents are able to pick up.

  • Communications of close contact by the schools will change.  Schools will now follow the protocols below to notify parents that their children are close contacts:

  1. An Email (template linked here) will be sent to the parent/guardians of each identified close contact.  This email will include all important information such as the date of exposure, dates of quarantine (if needed) and clear guidelines for how to return to school and contact information for who to contact with any questions parents may have.

  2. A text message will be sent to the parent/guardians of each identified close contact as well to ask them to check their email for more information.

  3. The school will follow up with parents via phone to ensure students who need to be picked up are picked up as needed.

We realize many folks may be thinking...hang on - with the state's numbers where they are, with the new Omicron Variant, and with all the frenzy that still seems to exist out there regarding COVID 19, is now really the time to be making these changes?  Valid question for sure.  In our thorough review, and when weighing all factors the answer for us is a resounding YES.  Below is an outline of the key rationale:

1.  First and foremost, without being able to sustain our school admin. teams and school nursing staff we can't operate our schools safely - PERIOD.  We need to make their jobs and associated responsibilities sustainable over the longer term.  Its one thing to ask additional responsibilities of staff in an emergency, but 2+ years is a very long emergency.  Our staff have been doing a tremendous job, and they have not asked for anything in return, but the bottom line - contact tracing 24/7 is not sustainable for our people, nor should it have to be in order to maintain safety for our students.

2.  Our schools have very high vaccination rates (approx. 90% for 12+ students and 97% for all staff), and parents of 5-11 year olds who want their children vaccinated will have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated by the time students return to school on Jan. 3.  The best way to make sure we stay safe has been and continues to be vaccination!  

3.  Our schools will maintain all existing safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID 19 which data has strongly demonstrated over time work to mitigate the transmission of COVID 19 within our schools.  Masking will still be with us, physical distancing when possible, and frequent hand washing/sanitization practices.  These three core safety practices have shown their worth and will continue to be the focal point of our prevention strategies while students are at school.  

4.  Last, but certainly not least - contact tracing WILL STILL OCCUR in a very timely and effective manner in order to perform its purpose.  It just won't be 24/7 as it has been for almost two years now.

We hope that these changes allow us to remain responsive to the very real pandemic conditions we find ourselves continuing to operate within while also working towards sustainability of these important services.

Once again, I would be remiss if I didn't also take the opportunity at the end of this COVID information to encourage folks to first:  Get vaccinated (or boosted if you are already vaccinated) and then to wear your masks while indoors, encourage social distancing when possible, and wash/sanitize those hands frequently.  I know, been saying that for two years...but important information should be repeated often!


We've been talking about this for a while now, but just had too many other "irons in the fire" to move forward until now.  Beginning after the holidays, we will be offering BINAX NOW testing for students who become symptomatic during the course of the school day.  Here's what to expect:

Step 1:  A broad parent permission letter will go home to all students K-12.  Parents that wish for their children to participate will complete the form and return it to their child's school office.

Step 2:  IF the general form is completed, a specific consent form will be sent home for parent to complete and return to the child's school office to be filed.

Step 3:  Student who becomes symptomatic while at school is identified.

Step 4:  Nurse will verify via files that there is parent permission to provide BINAX NOW test.  If time allows, parent permission will also be verified via phone.

Step 5:  Student is tested using BINAX NOW test.

Step 6:  Results of test are communicated to parent.  A Dismissal Form will be completed and shared with parent at pick up.

You can view an overall "flow chart" by CLICKING HERE.

If you are a parent who is interested in having their child be able to utilize this new tool, please keep your eyes open for these important forms to be sent home when we return from the break.  

It is important to emphasize one more time, this testing is NOT FOR BROAD USE.  It is only for use with students who become symptomatic during the school day.  We still need families to complete their daily health screener (see handbook) and keep students home if they present with symptoms.


I sent a video message out on this last week explaining the rationale for these additional days.  If you didn't get the chance to watch it then, you can CLICK HERE to view.  Basically, I just wanted to make sure folks had these dates in their calendars for planning purposes.  Below is a list of all Early Release days for the remainder of the school year.  I have marked the "new" ones vs. the "old" ones so you know which ones were recently approved by the School Committee.  

*. January 12 (new)

*. January 19 (already existing)

*. January 26 (new)

*. February 2 (new)

*. February 16 (already existing)

The School Committee will be reviewing substitute fill rate data at their January workshop and will then discuss the possibility of whether or not additional ER days will be added to the March/April/May calendar.  The additional days they will be considering (so not yet approved) are:

*. March 9

*. March 23

*. April 13

*. April 27

*. May 11

*. May 18.

Again, these decisions will be based primarily on how we are doing with substitute coverages for our classrooms.  If we have increased our substitute fill rates to 80% or more, we likely will not consider additional ER dates.  If we remain below that rate, we may need to consider these additional days.  You can see a historical analysis of fill rates by CLICKING HERE.



The December Aspire Gorham Newsletter is available to view by CLICKING HERE.  A great spotlight on GHS class of 2022's Sydney Haskell!  Definitely worth the read!


We have been working hard to maintain our focus on supporting students and staff during this challenging year with mental health and social/emotional needs.  The Holidays, while a joyful time of year for many, can also be some of the most challenging times of the year for many too.  

We are working hard to increase our partnerships with local community based providers such as the Opportunity Alliance.  Just this past week, we worked together to create a poster (seen below, but also LINKED HERE) to remind folks that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.  Just reach out and there is someone to help provide caring and loving support.  

Please share as broadly as you can.  

I also thought some families might like a resource to better understand how to cope with feelings of anxiety, especially during this continued Pandemic.  I've included an article that I think is particularly helpful as a resource to those that might be interested.  I hope you find it helpful.

Also, as a reminder to families, the Maine Department of Education has created an incredible resource on the topic of Social Emotional Learning that is free and open to all parents.  CLICK HERE to register and check out the great resources!


The Gorham Schools, in partnership with Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) is announcing a new and exciting program for folks that may have always been interested in working in schools, but perhaps felt they weren't qualified.  

Our new "Learning Facilitator" to Educational Technician Training program will begin January 19 and run through June 8, 2022.  You can check out the flyer here (and please spread broadly).

Generally speaking, this program will allow individuals who meet min. requirements outlined on the flyer to work full time with benefits as a learning facilitator in the Gorham Schools.  This pilot program will be broadened to partner with other area school systems hopefully this fall.  Individuals who sign up will be employed by the Gorham Schools Monday - Friday 7 hours each day at a rate of $17.25/hour with full benefits.  This apprenticeship like program will allow individuals to work in our schools and then be "released" each M,W,F to attend specific courses offered by SMCC from 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. onsite at the Gorham Schools.  These courses will total 9 credits of college level coursework - FOR FREE.  That's right, no cost to participants!  So you will be able to work, get paid to go to school and get free tuition for 9 college credits - all while making a positive difference for the children you serve each day in our schools!  AWESOME!

Once the course is completed, individuals receive an emergency certificate from Maine Department of Education to work as educational technicians in our schools in a broad range of programs.

Interested?  Well, here's what you need to do to take the next step:

1.  Use contact information on the flyer above to reach out to SMCC and apply.

2.  Once SMCC has helped you through their process, you then need to apply to be a learning facilitator on our website. CLICK HERE for that link.  If you have any questions, please call Rhonda Warren at 222-1012.

3.  Once you have applied, we will conduct interviews during the week of January 3 and Jan. 10.  You will then be "onboarded" to work in the Gorham Schools by participating in required trainings - all in time to officially begin work Jan. 19, 2022.  

In this initial pilot program we are seeking 6-8 individuals to participate so space is limited.  If you have questions, please reach out today!  My email address is

Please note:  this is a pilot program with a pretty aggressive timeline to begin.  We may need to push back start dates to a little later in January, but the process outlined above will be the same.  So please - reach out today if interested!☺


Just a quick reminder we will be holding another round of FREE professional development for substitutes.  This time, the class will be taught by me so it ought to be interesting for sure!  Check out the flyer below for more details!  Would love to see folks there!


Just wanted to make sure folks were aware of these incredible activities sponsored by New Year's Gorham Committee!  Looks like great, safe fun for the whole family!  Check out the schedule below (and linked here) and let's celebrate the new year as only the community of Gorham can!  GO RAMS!


It's been a long stretch of time for everyone since March, 2020.  Parents, educators, students.  We're all still getting used to this new pandemic world.  Many of us (myself included) do NOT want to "get used to" our new reality and still long for Pre-COVID days.  The reality is, however, that those days are gone and we need to face it.  We are creating our new normal every day in how we interact with one another, how we support one another, how we keep each other safe, and how we be kind to one another.  Of course, we can also choose to create a new normal that isn't as "nice" as what I just described.  I suppose the bottom line is that we all have the power to define this new normal.  It will become what we, collectively, make it.  

The image below is of me laying on the floor at Great Falls with their giant air snowman seemingly having just attacked me and in my exhaustion having given up.  It was a staged photo of course.  I had recently been asked for the 100th time whether or not we were going to cancel school the next day (which we wound up doing)...and a staff member suggested we have a little fun.  I very willingly obliged. ☺

I share this image in jest...but in reality...with a very real purpose.  My point is, that even when we are tired and exhausted and when the pressures of whatever job we have is getting to us (Superintendent, teacher, ed. tech, support staff, student, parent, etc. etc.) we create our own realities.  We do so through our actions, sometimes big and sometimes small.  More often than not, it is our small actions that matter most.  We build these new realities through our willingness to still have fun and "play" with each other or through our choices to always assume the best in one another or through our willingness to support a peer or friend when they are having a bad day so that you can in turn have their support when you need it.  

We create our own realities.  It is our choice.  Those realities can be negative and heavy or those can be positive and up-lifting.  I have made a promise to myself and to those I work with that I will bring my best self to all that I do each day and in turn, assume that each person is doing the same.  With that attitude, we won't let the "snowmen" of this world get us down for long!

I encourage each of us to use the time provided to us through this break to reflect on that.  Ask yourselves, what "little actions" are you taking to build a more positive reality for yourself and others you care about?  We really do create our own realities.  I believe that very strongly.  Having worked in the community of Gorham now for 7+ years...I remain thoroughly optimistic about our future!

On behalf of the Gorham Schools, I wish you each the absolute best as you embark upon the Holiday season.  Rest, Relax, Recharge.  I look forward to seeing everyone back again after the new year as we collectively continue to build our new reality in 2022 positively TOGETHER!  


Note  - no snowmen or superintendents were injured in the creation of this image.  ☺

Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 3, 2021 Blog Update

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break last week.  I know I thoroughly enjoyed the additional time spent with my granddaughter Emelin.  I can't believe she is already four years old...oh how the time speeds by!  I'm sure many of you as parents/guardians are thinking that same thought often as your children also grow up somehow faster than they seemingly should!  ☺

We've had a great run this past two weeks in the Gorham's a few photos of our incredible students in action!

And now on to the informational part of the blog!


Before I go too far in sharing this specific story, I want to be clear that this is just two examples (of many) within our schools of how our students are modeling for all of us how to be kind to one another.  I don't have space enough to share all the I thought just a few examples might do the trick!

At Village Elementary School, Mrs. Hurd's third grade class has created a "Kindness Garden" (seen below).  Students "planted" this garden as part of their learning on the topic of empathy.  Students wrote phrases and words of kindness for anyone experiencing a difficult emotion.  In addition to the garden, there is an envelope of flowers that students (or staff) may "pick" and take with them to brighten their day!  The student's hope in creating this garden is that the walk to pick their flowers and the positive messages contained in the garden will help a student (or staff) turn around their day if they need it!  The students will periodically be replenishing the flowers as needed.  What a cool idea!  

Another great example of our students modeling kindness (and again, one of many around this district) is the recent sock drive led by Narragansett students to benefit the Maine Homeless Veteran's Alliance.  You can see the fruits of their labor in the image below...but bottom line...these students have collected, and are now ready to donate 547 pairs of socks, 28 hats, and 16 pairs of gloves to this awesome cause helping our Veterans in need across the state.  

As I walk around the district and see our K-12 students focused on kindness and empathy and the other important aspects of our District Code of Conduct (Respect, Honesty, Courage, Compassion, and Responsibility), it is hard not to follow their lead!  I know I for one will keep trying!  I encourage us all to do the same!


Gorham High School and Middle School will be holding all winter athletic events this year.  Please CLICK HERE to view the "rules of the road" and associated COVID 19 safety guidelines that must be adhered to.  

We are so excited to have our GHS and GMS athletic programs back up and fully operational.  Let's all be sure to follow the safety guidelines outlined...and we can be sure to have a full and exciting season! GO RAMS!



The Gorham School Committee has several active district wide ad hoc committees.  What is an "ad hoc" committee one might ask?  Well, it is a committee specifically created by the Gorham School Committee for a specific purpose and/or task.  These committees are often made up of community stakeholder representation that is broader than School Committee members only.  They work on their specific task until completed, at which point they are dissolved and new committees with new tasks are formed.  Long story short, ad hoc committees are temporary and not permanent like their other standing committees (such as policy or finance).  Currently there are several active district wide ad hoc committees at work.  In this blog, I wanted to update you on the work of three: Anti-Racism & Equity Committee, Strategic Design Committee, and the Little Rams Early Childhood Project Committee.

Anti-Racism & Equity Committee

The purpose of this committee is outlined by the School Committee as follows:

The Gorham School Committee and the Gorham School Department reject all forms of racism as (it is) destructive to the district’s mission, vision, values, and goals. This Committee is established in an effort to eliminate all forms of racism, intolerance, inequity, and disparity in our school system. We aim to ensure that each school creates a welcoming equitable culture and inclusive environment that reflects and celebrates the diversity of the district’s student population, their families, the community, and an environment that reflects our Code of Conduct.

The duties of this committee are outlined by the School Committee as follows:

The committee has met three times so far this year, September 29, October 20 and November 17th and is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 15.  The committee meets as a large group each month to learn together and to share subcommittee work and then meets once each month in smaller subcommittees focused on (1) Policy, (2) Curriculum and (3) Training.  These subcommittees report their work out at each large group meeting.  You can follow meetings and agenda notes by CLICKING HERE.   

There is some great work going on behind the scenes on this important topic!  At the October meeting of this group, we reviewed all that has been accomplished to date in our work here in Gorham.  You can view that document and its associated links by CLICKING HERE.

In the area of policy, the group's next steps include diving more deeply into selected policies to provide feedback to the policy committee on potential adjustments and changes.  In the area of curriculum, the group's next steps include working with school administration to ensure student voice is a core component of the Phase II curriculum work that is going on focused on the content area of social studies.  In the area of training, the group's next steps include identifying gaps in training that may exist and brainstorming ways to fill those gaps.

Strategic Design Committee

The purpose of this committee is outlined by the School Committee below:

This committee has met three times so far this year on Sept. 20, Oct. 18, and Nov. 29, 2021.  During these meetings the committee has worked to understand our mission/vision and. most recent strategic plan.  The committee has discussed strengths associated with this work and has identified challenges and barriers in meeting the lofty goals laid out in our mission/vision.  The group has researched future focused trends in education to gain a clearer understanding of the future of public education and the group has facilitated an initial Thought Exchange Survey to develop themes from key stakeholder groups when addressing the overall question posed, which was:

We had over 1,000 individuals participate in this initial thought exchange, sharing over 900 thoughts and rating those thoughts over 20,000 times!  Our two largest participant groups were GHS students (over 600) and parents/guardians and community members (over 475).  Initial themes seen in this data indicate a desired focus in the following areas moving forward:

1.  Maintaining and continuing to strengthen opportunities for students to experience real-world, meaningful learning opportunities focused on aspirations.  (Internships, CTE opportunities, Dual Enrollments, Job Shadows, ASPIRE Gorham work, etc.)

2.  Maintaining and strengthening our focus on meeting the social/emotional needs of our students to include supporting mental and physical health.  (SEL programs, guidance/social worker support, focus on relationships, equity and inclusion, co & extra curricular activities, etc.)

We still have to tease out this information more specifically to develop final themes from the data.  The next steps will then be to take those themes and share them with focus groups to gather additional data to ensure we are creating goals in the right areas.  Once done, we would then use these themes to develop action steps which become the foundation for our new Strategic Plan moving forward.  This work will take the remainder of this year to complete and there will be many more opportunities for parents and community members to share their please stay tuned!  You can follow the work of this committee by CLICKING HERE.  

Little Rams Early Childhood Project

The purpose of this committee has been outlined by the School Committee as follows:

The group has met three times thus far this year and is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 16, 2021.  We have reviewed our purpose together and worked to identify initial barriers and strengths in our early childhood programming across Gorham.  We have conducted a broad scale data walk, which included initial data collected via a survey of Gorham families.  The results of that survey can be seen by CLICKING HERE.  Additionally, the group has most recently spent time trying to better understand current rules for licensing of child cares in Maine as well as rules for state approved 4 year old programs.  At our next meeting we will be learning from our Kindergarten teachers regarding what overall expectations exist for students entering our public schools.  After this information is shared, we will then begin to work to better understand our specific local needs by conducting additional surveys, and focus group meetings.  From there we will use the data collected to develop themes, goals and brainstorm potential action steps that will be compiled to create an overall vision for early childhood programs in Gorham.  This report will ultimately be presented to the Town Council and School Committee and will then be used as a tool to help guide decision making in areas associated with early learning in Gorham.

You can follow the continued work of this group by CLICKING HERE.  

As you can see...we have been very busy here in Gorham moving our schools forward and working to ensure that the high quality educational programs our community has come to expect remain strong and vibrant for the children and families we continue to serve.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at


There is no doubt that we STILL NEED SUBSTITUTES, but it has been wonderful to see the community's reaction to our cries for help thus far!  We just added five new subs to our list yesterday and we are holding our first (in what looks like will be a series) of substitute trainings this week with 25 people signed up to participate!  Granted, some of those 25 are already existing substitutes, but there's a good chunk of new folks in there too...and we are excited!  We also have a waiting list of 7 more folks signed up to take the sub class that will be offered again in January.  There is still time to sign up for January for those that are interested!  

We are definitely making progress...but as can be seen in the data below - we have a ways to go before we can consider ourselves back to "normal" or at least even "reasonable" levels.  

This data shows a historical look at what we call "fill rates".  This is the percent of classrooms that need substitutes each month vs. the percent that are actually filled with subs.  Those that are not filled with subs must be filled with other means by pulling ed. techs or asking teachers to double up or use planning periods, etc.  I think the historical look below tells the tale...check it out:

Where we like to have the fill rate is at 80% or above.  When it is between 60-70% we can manage, but when things drop below 60% things really get difficult.  As you can see in the data above, we've been below 60% A LOT this past year and so far this year.  This is the stress we describe that has been placed on staff due to lack of substitute teachers.  Our goal is to get these numbers back up to closer to 70-80%.  If we can do that...we will be in much better shape!  Again, we appreciate all the assistance from our families and community as we work together to address this problem.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF OUR SCHOOLS!


Each year our school administrative team works closely with the School Committee to develop our annual proposed budget, which is then brought to the Town Council and then eventually to the taxpayers of Gorham for approval.  I wanted to make sure folks had a sense of what to expect and what the timelines look like so you can follow along if you'd like:

  • Wednesday, December 1, 2021 – Draft of Capital Plan for 2022-23 by Facilities Director completed.  Principal requests to program directors due to program directors:

  • Technology requests to Technology Director

  •  Maintenance Projects/Transportation Requests to F&T Director

  • Curriculum & PD requests to Asst. Superintendent

  • SNP requests to School Nutrition Director

  • Meetings to occur between Program Directors and Building Principals for review of what will be placed in program directors budgets must take place during this week.


  • Tuesday, December 7, 2021 – ALL BUDGETS from ALL SCHOOLS AND PROGRAMS due to Business Manager.  Budgets will be submitted through ADS.  The following will also be submitted via a common template provided by Central Office:

  • Highlights of new proposals & funding recommendations


  • Monday, December 20, 2021 – Finance Committee meeting to review initial budget development parameters, focus points, and targets.


  • December 21 – January 21, 2022 – Individual budget meetings with DLT (Principals and Program Directors).  Meetings will be held with each Principal and Program Director with the Superintendent, Business Manager, and Assistant Superintendent to review each budget request line by line.  K-5 Principals will meet together as one group.


  • Wednesday, February 2, 2022 – Superintendent’s Proposed Budget Completed.


  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022 – Superintendent’s Proposed budget presented to School Committee at their regular meeting. Questions will be collected via google docs.


  • Monday, February 21, 2022 – Questions from School Committee members on Superintendent’s proposed budget are due to Central Office via google doc.


  • Saturday, March 5, 2022 – Full Day budget workshop meeting with School Committee and DLT.


  • Tuesday, March 8, 2022 – Budget Workshop Mtg. #2 (if needed).

  • Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - Budget Workshop Mtg. #3 (if needed).


  • Tuesday, March 22, 2022 – Budget Workshop Mtg. #4 (if needed).


  • Wednesday, April 13, 2022 – School Committee votes to approve FY 23 Budget.


  • April 13 – April 20, 2022 – Superintendent, Business Manager Finalizes FY 21 Proposed Budget and prepares to deliver to Town Manager. - TENTATIVE


  • Wednesday, April 20, 2022 – FY 23 Proposed School Budget Delivered to Town Manager (Note:  Town Charter requires budget to be submitted at least 70 days prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year). – TENTATIVE


  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022 – FY 23 Budget Workshop with Town Council. – TENTATIVE


  • Tuesday, June 7, 2022 – Public Hearing on FY 23 Municipal Budget (Including School Budget) and Town Council Vote. – TENTATIVE


  • Tuesday, June 14, 2022 – Public Referendum on FY 23 School Budget. - TENTATIVE

Once we get to the School Committee budget meetings, we will post draft budget materials on our website. As always, if you have questions, please reach out!


The Maine Department of Education is hosting a webinar open to all Maine parents entitled:  COVID 19 Vaccines For School Aged Children:  What Every Parent Should Know.

This webinar will be held on Dec. 9 at 8:00 p.m.

CLICK HERE to read the details and to learn how to register if you are interested in attending!


This message was sent to students and staff at Great Falls Elementary School earlier this week, and I thought it was one that was valuable for us all to consider as we enter into the Holiday season here in Gorham.  And yes, this message was from our students...check it out:

It’s the civil rights team here with an important message as we enter the month of December, a time where many like to celebrate with Christmas traditions. 🎄

Teachers and students, as you plan your holiday celebrations this December, consider learning about some of the other winter celebrations around the world. ❄ Join us in representing different cultures, celebrations, traditions other than our own. 🤗 Let’s learn about new celebrations of light together and remember that Santa, elves, reindeer, and Christmas trees only show one winter holiday and there are so many different ones to explore. 😍 

Did you know that there are celebrations of light and winter all over the world? While Christmas is celebrated in over 150 countries around the world, did you know there are a number of different holidays in the winter months celebrating light and the sun? Let us tell you about some of them as you plan for the weeks ahead. 

  • Hanukkah, the festival of light lasts 8 days. Those who observe Hanukkah are Jewish, it is celebrated in over 20 countries around the world. Each day a candle is lit on the menorah. Hanukkah is November 28th - December 6th of this year.

  • Diwali is a five-day festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs across the world. It is known to be a festival of new beginnings, celebrating the triumph over darkness (the sun). For some this holiday coincides with harvest and the new year. It is celebrated in countries around the world. Diwali was on November 4th. 

  • Kwanzaa is a celebration of African culture and not a religious holiday. It is observed during the time of solstice and harvest. Those who celebrate Kwanzaa light candles on a Kinara, 7 candles for the 7 principles (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th - January 1st.

  • Yule is the Pagan celebration of solstice, one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world, and takes place from December 21st - January 1st. Similar to Christmas, Yule celebrations can include mistletoe, feasts, and gift-giving. Yule is most celebrated in the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark. 

  • Las Posadas is celebrated in Mexico and Latin America and has many rich traditions. It symbolizes the journey of Mary and Joseph as they searched for shelter to give birth to Jesus. It is celebrated each year between December 16th and December 24th for the last 400 years. 

We have such incredible students...GO RAMS!


I had a great time on Thursday, Dec. 2 spending the afternoon with a group of 20+ GMS 8th graders as they traveled to their "tech start" program at WRVC (Westbrook, Regional Vocational Center).  

These students have been participating in this new partnership between WRVC and GMS since school began back in September.  They have been rotating between all the programs offered at WRVC to learn about each one.  The group I was assigned to today was learning about the CDL program.  

The students were so excited to board the bus and head to WRVC.  Once there, there was no shortage of learning going on!  Wow, what can be packed into a short hour of hands on learning is pretty incredible!  Students cooperated to move equipment out into an open parking area.  They learned how to jump start a dead battery properly (remember, red first folks) and they learned how to drive the mini lawnmower tractors used for instruction.  Students learned about safety protocols and then were given the opportunity to jump behind the wheel and try it all out.  Reverse, forward, throttle, braking, safety, taking turns...all were practiced skills in real time.   When done, students helped put equipment away so that it was ready for the next day's learning.

This was just one quick example of the exciting learning at WRVC for these students.  I had a chance to speak to these students and to see them talk about their experiences...well you can clearly tell the learning that is happening and when you watch them at it, you can see the engagement as well.  

Thank you to Winni Moreland who was my designated "guide"...and to all the 8th graders that let me hang with them on the bus and in their classroom.  They even let me ride the tractor too!  A great program for our students and one that we hope sticks around for a while to come!



I sent this information out via social media, but wanted to make sure folks saw it...looks like some great family fun!  Check it out!

Well that's what I have for this update.  Next one will be on December 17!  GO RAMS!