Thursday, January 20, 2022


Good afternoon everyone.  Its been another full two weeks of school here in the Gorham Schools and I am happy to be back once again to share the important events and happenings from our schools with each of you!  

As usual, I will begin my blog with a picture collage from around our schools - proving each time that I publish one of these blogs that our students are indeed continuing to learn and grow safely in our schools.  Contrary to some of the opinions of teenagers perhaps, I might even dare say these pictures also show our students are HAVING FUN while doing these important things too…but shhhhh - let’s keep that quiet and just between us adults! :)

Now on to the other important information!


The Gorham School Committee was honored by the presence of several students from Narragansett Elementary School’s Civil Rights Team last week (and their incredible staff advisors) They presented to the School Committee about their important work as members of the Civil Rights Team.  They shared with the School Committee what their group does, its focus and priorities and then a few examples of their recent work.  These students spoke articulately and passionately, sharing the important message I know that we all value which is that EVERY STUDENT is welcome in our schools regardless of their disability, religion, sexual orientation, race or any other differing factor.  Their message is most certainly worth the watch!  You can check it out by viewing the link below of our School Committee meeting.  If you want to skip the boring stuff and get right to the student presentation, just go to minute 14 and enjoy!


Black History Month is a month set aside each year across the United States (and many other countries) to celebrate the achievements made by African Americans in our country's history.  It is a time to recognize their central role in making Americans who we are today, all of us.  Black history month has been celebrated officially by our country's presidents since 1976 (Gerald Ford was the first) but its origins date back well before then.  

The story of black history month actually begins in 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).  This group sponsored the very first black history month in 1926.  From the very beginning, the focus of Black History Month has been at the community level, encouraging schools and communities nationwide to organize lectures, history clubs, performances and more - all focused on celebrating these essential contributions of African Americans.

There is no question that black history is American history, but Black History Month offers us all an opportunity to dig a little deeper.  Our schools teach our student's American history in developmentally appropriate ways from grades K all the way through 12th grade.  Teaching the standards and skills associated with understanding our country's history is something we do every month, but the month of February helps us draw a more focused lens.  For example, our students may:

- Watch documentaries and films

-  Review primary source materials

-  Connect art and music to African American History

-  Discuss applicable current events

-  Read books about the African American Experience

-  Learn about prominent African American figures

These things can be done across our schools in big ways like projects or papers, or in little ways like a story read aloud.  The bottom line is that Black History Month allows us all to take a little step deeper.  To talk about history.  As teachers and as parents this is important.  So I thought I'd share a few high quality resources with families who might also want to use this coming month to engage children in these important conversations.  Here's a few resources that you might find helpful:

*. The History Channel - Black History Month

*. Teaching Your Child About Black History - PBS

PBS Kids - Black History Month

How to Celebrate Black History Month With Kids

Additionally I was made aware of what looks like an excellent online event sponsored by the Lewiston Public Library:  "Black History of Maine with Bob Greene".  This event will be held on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.  You can check out more information by CLICKING HERE.  

Please know that the Gorham schools will indeed be digging a little deeper on this important topic over the course of the next month in various ways.  Hopefully, through some of the resources provided above, and others that are most definitely out there, families can be our partners in these important conversations as well.  


I had hoped we would go more than 1 week before any further adjustments were made by the state on the SOP, but alas, that is not the case.  We have one more adjustment based on a notification sent earlier this week.  You can view the full notification by CLICKING HERE...but the biggest adjustment families should be aware of is quoted from the notice below:

What does this mean?  This means that students who have tested positive, and are returning to school after five days of isolation under the revised SOP must now wear masks for days 6-10 outside on the playground in order to be able to return to school.  This is significant shift in practice from our previous procedures, but the MCDC sets the min. standards for how we deal with positive cases and this is now part of the new SOP.  We can put additional procedures in place that are more restrictive, but we cannot elect not to follow minimum standards of practice.  We will begin enforcement of this new standard on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022.



Our three elementary schools will be holding Kindergarten Registration informational meetings at each school on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. As the date gets closer schools will determine if meetings can be held in person or must be held virtually so please stay tuned on that piece.  In the meantime, you can get links to each schools survey form by  CLICKING HERE. .  There is also a link on that form for pre-registration information.  If you have questions, there is also contact information for each school on the flyer - please don't be bashful about reaching out with any questions you may have.  We look forward to welcoming our new "little rams" this coming fall!


Gratitude and congratulations to ninth grader Amelia Olaru, who has earned a $1000 grant from The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts to support GHS Theater!  The NYCDA "Your Start in the Arts" grants are awarded to high school programs based on student proposals.  Amelia took the initiative to apply, knowing that her director Josie Tierney-Fife was investigating ways to upgrade our MPAC theater lighting.  Amelia pursued the process independently, demonstrating impressive dedication to our theater program, and she succeeded!  Congratulations and a huge thank you to Amelia -- her work will benefit GHS Theater for years to come! GO RAMS!


Speaking of GHS theater - this is a DO NOT MISS program with at least one very special singing guest!  Check out the flyer below for details...but definitely make a plan to go see this show!  Feb. 4, 5, 11, & 12 at 7:30 and Feb. 6 & 13 at 2:30 p.m. at MPAC!



Gorham Adult Education, in conjunction with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Community College System is offering free college level courses to Gorham Adult Ed. students that might be interested.  You can learn more about the program by CLICKING HERE.  If you are interested, or have questions, you can reach out to Lori Frederick at 222-1095 or email her at


Build a better winter with a family membership to the WinterKids App!


The WinterKids App is filled with dozens of free and discounted opportunities for kids and families to try various winter activities around Maine--with free skiing, Nordic skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing and much more! They also host Family Days at participating locations where the whole family can get a deal to try skiing or Nordic skiing!


A family membership covers a family of 5 for just $40! Families can learn more and sign-up at


Gorham Schools families can save $15 on their family membership by entering GORHAM22 at checkout!  

The Ap membership is for children ages 4-17.  Its a great way to keep kids active during the winter months without pulling too much out of the wallet! 


Looking for some fun winter activities for the young girls in the household?  This is an annual event sponsored by USM athletics and Gorham Recreation.  It runs Jan. 31 - Feb. 4, 2022.  CLICK HERE for the flyer with links on more information.  

Well that is it for information for this blog.  My next blog will be posted on Feb. 4, 2022.  THANK YOU!

Friday, January 7, 2022

January 7 Blog Post

Good afternoon to everyone.  I hope you are each well and enjoying this beautiful snow day.  I have to say I am not a huge fan of Maine winters, but there is just something about a snow day in Maine that is peaceful and up lifting.  Being able to sit and type by a window, watching the snow fall just makes me feel like a kid again, and that was many moons ago!  Of course, for those of you that have to get out there, drive in this, clear the snow, salt/sand, etc. you may not share those same feelings, so I'll stop here with my metaphors! ☺

This past week returning from break has been both exciting and challenging.  It was great to see our children back in our schools.  Their smiles, laughter and joy were once again contagious as they shared their holiday experiences with their friends and teachers.   It also was very challenging being the first week back with new SOP's for dealing with positive cases of COVID 19, and with dealing with impacts of the current surge in COVID 19 cases.  I suspect the current surge may get just a little worse before it gets better over the next week or two.  

I realize that makes people a little nervous, and I can understand why - however I want to remind you that we already have the appropriate "tools in the toolbox" to make sure everyone remains safe while at school.  Our data continues to demonstrate that our schools are very safe places for students to be even amidst yet another wave of COVID 19 cases in our community.  This is the case because we continue to concentrate on following our core safety guidelines.

Many folks ask however, What can you do to ensure everyone's safety?  My response:  You can continue to use these tried and true tools.  Those are:

-  Get vaccinated (or boosted if eligible)

-  Stay home if sick (remember to use that daily health screener found in our handbook)

-  PROPERLY wear those masks when indoors around people (and if you can double up or use a surgical mask or N95 mask, even better)

-  Wash and sanitize those hands frequently 

-  Keep that physical distance if possible

When things seem out of control, remember, you have these tools to help make sure you are doing what you can to stay healthy and mitigate the spread of COVID 19.  You are not powerless.  

Now, I'm a realist so I'm going to state the obvious.  Even after vaccinating and following all these rules, you may still contract COVID 19.  This is true.  However, it is important to remember that the goal of these mitigation strategies is to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and death as a result of contracting COVID 19. We know from the past two years worth of data that using these techniques does indeed accomplish that task.  So if you have been using them - keep it up.  If you have maybe gotten a little more relaxed about using these tools, perhaps now is the time to recommit.  Keeping our children and families from getting seriously ill, keeping our neighbors from getting seriously ill, and keeping our schools open continues to be the primary goal I am sure we all share and we need everyone as a community to continue to do what they can towards this common goal.

Now on to other important information...


I realize I have already shared a quick overview of the recent changes made by the MDOE and MCDC to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for how we deal with positive cases of COVID 19 in our schools.  I also realize that when implementing quick changes of this magnitude it is important to repeat clearly and often the key aspects of these changes to help curb confusion.  Over the past two years as we have had to move and adjust and be flexible with our rules, we have certainly learned the importance of repetition.  So here goes:

On December 30, 2021 the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) and the Maine Centers for Disease Control (MCDC) in conjunction with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released a new set of rules for how we deal with positive cases of COVID 19 in our schools.  You can access the full document by CLICKING HERE but below is a bulleted highlight of significant changes in the order they appear in the revised SOP:

*. Schools may elect to accept results of home COVID 19 tests (which we are now doing), although these results are NOT formally reported to the state CDC and they will not count towards the 90 day exemption.

*. The isolation period for individuals testing positive for COVID 19 has moved from 10 days to 5 days.  After day 5 individuals may come out of isolation so long as their symptoms are resolving and they remain masked for an additional 5 days.

*  We are no longer contact tracing for exposures that occur outside on playgrounds.

*. We are no longer contact tracing for exposures that occur while on school buses, although masks are still required to be worn on school buses at all times.

*. Although the definition for what constitutes a close contact HAS NOT CHANGED, how we treat individuals who have been designated as close contacts has changed.  Individuals designated as close contacts must now quarantine 5 days from exposure from school and school based activities and wear a mask for an additional five days UNLESS one of the following exemptions/conditions apply (see chart below):

*. There is no distinction any longer between where the exposure took place and the school's response to it.  Therefore, for example, if an exposure takes place in the household to a positive case (let's say a parent tests positive) but the children are not symptomatic and do not test positive, they may still come to school.  

*  The definition of "School Outbreak" has changed.  The process now requires that 15% or more of a school's population (including staff) be absent due to illness.  When that target is hit, CDC is notified and they open an investigation to determine outbreak status.  From there the process works very similarly to how it has worked the past few years.

All of these changes have been updated in our COVID 19 handbook.  I would encourage you to go there to learn more and to of course reach out to your school's nurse with specific questions you may have.  

We realize these changes have come fast and furious and in the midst of a spike in cases but we have always followed the state's SOP and we will continue to follow them.  Together we will work through the nuances and we will continue to ensure the safety of our children and staff while at school.  That remains our top priority.


With all that is happening in our lives right now, I'm sure it has become more and more difficult to try and follow what is happening at the School Committee level right now.  What are the issues they are focused on?  What are we thinking about for the future, both short and longer term.  Sometimes when we get so busy, and we don't know what is going on, we might assume nothing is.  Well, I wanted to take a moment to assure you that our School Committee continues to work hard to lead our community's schools through our current challenges, while maintaining an "eye on the horizon" so that our schools are able to maintain the strong and positive learning environments our community has come to expect.  Here are just a few things they are working on broken out between "Current/Short Term" and "Longer Term" items (Note:  This is NOT a comprehensive list):

Current/Short Term Items (in no particular order):

Longer Term Items (in no particular order):

Again, these lists are by no means comprehensive in nature, but they provide for you an insight into the ongoing work of the School Committee.  

If you wish to better follow along, you can CLICK HERE to see agendas and meeting minutes and you can view our regular monthly meeting by CLICKING HERE to view via GoCaT.  You can also always reach out to our School Committee members to share your thoughts/opinions and ask questions. CLICK HERE to get a list of their email addresses.  Typically, you would email the chair (Anne Schools) directly and then cc others in an email correspondence.  You can also reach out to me anytime with your questions and comments at and I can be sure to share with the School Committee.  

Their regular meeting is always held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise notified) and their workshop meetings are held on the 4th Wednesday of each month at the same time.  Regular meetings are broadcast live.  All meetings are open to the public.


As mentioned above, one of our major areas of work this year is in the area of creating a new 3-5 year strategic plan for the Gorham School Department.  Thus far, we have created a steering committee with broad stakeholder representation, we have conducted a Thought Exchange Survey (CLICK HERE to review a summary of results) and we have met with District Leadership Team members and members of the Gorham School Committee to begin to develop key themes for focus points moving forward.  

Our next step is to more directly engage parents and community members in this important conversation.  As a means to this end, we have develop a series of virtual and/or in person meetings that will be open to parents and community members to participate in.  In my next blog I will provide more specific details with zoom links and meeting location, but for now, I thought you all might like to mark your calendars if you are interested.  Here's the list below:

*. K-5 Parents and community VIRTUAL meeting - February 7, 2022 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
*. 6-12 Parents and community VIRTUAL meeting - Feb. 8, 2022 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
*. K-12 IN PERSON meeting - Feb. 10, 2022 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Again, I'll get more details out in my next blog as we get a little closer, but we'd really love to have some solid parent/community participation in these.  They won't take long (just one hour) and the conversation will be thoroughly engaging and focused on something other than COVID for a change...refreshing indeed!  Hope to see you there!


These newsletters are always awesome, but this one in particular is definitely worth the read as we have several students sharing their new year's aspirations related resolutions.  I am always so impressed with our students...seeing/reading this does nothing but strengthen that!  Check it out using the link below:


Just a quick reminder about where to go to access more information about our schools, ongoing activities and the like.  The first place I would suggest anyone go is to our website:  There is A LOT of information there.  On the front page there is a direct link to COVID 19 data.  Also there is a calendar showing all district wide important events.  Then you can click on each school to view updated calendars for their events as well.  You can also link to our district wide social media pages.  Each of our schools also have social media pages as well that can be found readily with a quick search of their school names.

There is always way too much going on in our schools to include in this little blog, so I strongly encourage you to like and follow our schools activities via our website or their individual social media sites.


I just want to once again be clear with families that I believe strongly our schools remain some of the safest places for our students and staff to be right now, even amidst the current surge in cases happening in our community.  With all that continues to be plastered on the front page of our newspapers, and in the news and on social media sites right now, I know it is easy to believe otherwise.  But let's take a quick look at the facts.

The fact is that we have had a total of 302 positive cases of COVID 19 associated with our schools since the beginning of this school year.  Yes that is higher than last year, but this year we've had all students in our schools, 5 days per week for in person instruction.  That is 302 different and unique opportunities for COVID 19 to have spread in our schools with less physical distancing available.  Thus far we have had some school based transmission, yes, but only 13 reasonably identified such cases.  That is just 4% of the "opportunities" for COVID 19 to spread in our schools that have actually come to fruition.  

Now, to be clear, this isn't exact math because it is VERY HARD to determine if in school transmission is occurring due to the close nature of our community.  However, I do think that at the macro level, these numbers very clearly tell the tale.  With how easily COVID 19 spreads (either Delta or Omicron), it is NOT spreading that easily in our schools.  Our mitigation strategies work to prevent spread.  Our schools remain safe places for our students and staff.  And unless this data changes significantly, we will work diligently to keep our schools open for in person instruction now and in the future.

I truly appreciate the continued flexibility and support of each of you as parents and as staff.  This pandemic continues to challenge us all, but it also strengthens us in ways that will endure far beyond this pandemic.  For this blog post I am choosing to end the post with those pictures I usually share - showing exactly what I mean!  Our students, our staff, our families remain strong and we are slowly learning how to continue to positively live and learn together in this new pandemic world.  Enjoy!