Friday, May 27, 2022

May 27 Blog

There is lots to talk about this I'm going to start with my usual "snapshot" of the great things happening in our schools since my last blog and then get right to it.  There are several IMPORTANT updates in this blog so I encourage you to breeze through the headlines and read in more detail those items that jump out to you!  By the way, I didn't have enough space to put all the awesome pictures from our schools these past two weeks, so you should definitely check out our social media sites for more!

Now on to the informational pieces...


It is difficult for me to put into words the range of emotions I feel after what occurred earlier this week in Texas when an 18 year old male walked into an elementary school and shot and killed 21 people which included 2 teachers and 19 students.  My hands shake as I type those words.  I know all of you as parents and school staff feel the same range of emotions.  For me, anger and outrage are at the top of the list.  This is followed very quickly by sadness and extreme empathy for what the families and community impacted by this latest shooting are going through right now as everyone tries to make sense of this senseless act of violence. 

I want you to know that I am confident in saying that our schools are as safe as they can be right now.  I also want you to know that none of us are taking for granted or minimizing the seriousness of these recent events and the need to deeply review our safety protocols.  The safety of our school is a constant conversation.

Here's what we currently have in place to keep our children safe while at school:

*. Strong Crisis response plans.  We have a district wide plan, and then each school has what we refer to as their individual "Gold Plans" that are reviewed annually, practiced and shared with all first responding organizations in Gorham.   These plans are reviewed annually by our School Committee as required by law.

*. Strong safety frameworks through use of our A.L.I.C.E protocols that are action oriented and flexible to meet the needs of each unique crisis situation where an active shooter may be involved.  All school staff are trained on the use of these protocols in collaboration with the Gorham Police Department.  Students across grades K-12 also receive specific training in how to follow A.L.I.C.E. protocols in these situations.  

*. Locked doors - ALL of our exterior doors to all of our schools are locked at all times during the school day.  Individuals who wish to enter our schools must enter through a specific designated entrance.  Entrance systems involve two doors.  Visitors are "buzzed" into the building only after they have checked in with front office staff, stated their name and purpose for being in the school.  Individuals who enter our school must then check in with office personnel before being let into the school itself.  Individuals either have their own badges, or are provided a visitor badge so that staff know they are ok to be in the building.  Staff are trained to ask anyone not having an identification badge to stop them and ask why they are there.

*. Security Cameras - We have many security cameras across our schools.  All of these cameras are linked to monitoring systems at each main office so that personnel can continually monitor individuals inside of our schools, as well as key areas outside of our schools.  In the event of an emergency, the Gorham Police Department can access our cameras to see live feeds to help them inform their response.

*. SRO's - We have one SRO assigned full time to Gorham Middle School and another assigned full time to Gorham High School.  Additionally, we have one SRO assigned to the three Elementary Schools.  Because of this level of staffing and our incredible partners at the Gorham PD, we know that our response time to any emergent situation is under 2 minutes.  All SRO's are specifically trained in our ALICE protocols.  Our SRO's form a strong link between the safety of our community and the safety of our schools.  Communication is strong.

*. Strong Training and Collaboration - Over the course of the past several years we have conducted many trainings in collaboration with our local and county wide first responders that range from table top exercises to full scale active shooter trainings located at our schools and conducted with live actors.  These trainings help us to smooth out communication protocols, command structure protocols and the enormous responses that would occur with hundreds of personnel in the event of an actual active shooter event.

*. Strong Communications Plan - All of our school admin. and other designated staff have radios that are equipped to communicate directly with each other and with local first responders in the event of any crisis situation.  Admin. are trained in how to utilize the radios and we do a radio check weekly to ensure radios remain fully functional.  We have specific plans to communicate with each other and with families in the event of a crisis.  We practice these plans often and each time we have to utilize them (recent examples include the natural gas leak at Narr. or the need to evacuate the school due to a threat of violence at GHS earlier this year) we review practices to tweak and tighten them up for the next potential need to utilize them.  We have a strong team of school leaders and community leaders (GPD and GFD) who are in constant contact monitoring the safety of our schools and community.

The overview of our crisis response plan framework can be found on our website, and I have linked it HERE for your reference.  Please know that the current plan is being fully reviewed and prepared for a full update for the coming year.  There is MUCH MORE under that framework document, but we do not communicate that information publicly because we want to ensure those that may be thinking of violent acts towards our schools do not have too much information.  These more detailed plans are confidential for that purpose.

This is a nice segue into what we need to continue to do moving forward to ensure our schools remain as safe as they can be for our students.  Please know what I share below is not an all inclusive list.  As we constantly review information and understand existing conditions, we continue to constantly work to improve our planning.  In other words - this work is never "done" and if done constantly evolving and adjusting.  

Immediate next steps to continue to focus on school safety in Gorham include:

1.  Continued focus on improving our mental health and SEL support services across our schools.  Our current proposed FY 23 budget increases these services across grades K-12.  We will do well to continue to prioritize in these areas as there is no doubt that there is a direct link between school shootings and the mental health needs of those perpetrators of these acts of violence.

2.  Finalizing our review and revisions to the current comprehensive crisis plans.  Much of this work has already been done behind the scenes, but we need to put it all on paper and get the formal revisions out to the public for the summary information that you all need to know our plans are current and up to date.

3.  Continued Professional Development and training.  Ensuring all new staff and auxiliary staff (such as substitutes) remain up to date on our trainings.  Making sure we keep the conversation at the forefront of thinking for all staff,  so we are constantly thinking through the lens of safety.

4.  A focus on improved reporting mechanisms - We've done well to communicate with our staff, students and families the rule of "see something - say something".  This is often how we are made aware of potential threats that we then follow up with swiftly.  However, more could be done in this area to ensure everyone feels comfortable reporting things to either our schools or to the Gorham PD even if they think it may be minor.  It is these early notifications systems that can be very effective in preventing tragedy.

5.  Work with Local and state leaders - to better understand what schools actually NEED to be safe.  Simply throwing more money at the purchase of "things" like bullet proof glass or kevlar vests isn't really the answer.  Unfortunately, for the sake of taking action, this is often what is done.  When one looks historically at school shootings, at the core are often mental health issues and/or human error in not following existing safety protocols.  More often solutions lie in the more complex areas such as increased mental health services or in funding to provide more frequent and deeper prevention and response training.

I know this was a lot of information.  I am sure many of you may be overwhelmed.  I apologize.  It is an overwhelming topic.

In closing I just want to say that first and foremost - if you have any questions about safety protocols and what the schools have in place or do not have in place, I encourage you to reach out to your school's principal or to myself to get those answers.  As parent/guardians you need to know your children are as safe as they can be when they come to our schools.  If you have additional ideas, I also encourage you to reach out to these same folks to share.  It is only as a COMMUNITY working together that we can prevent this kind of violence in our schools.  Finally, I want to leave you with the knowledge that our school leaders and staff care tremendously about keeping our students safe.  We do not take these things lightly and have not been "desensitized" to these tragic events over time.  Safety remains at the forefront of our thoughts.

We LOVE and care for the children of this community.  The images of those 19 young faces haunts us all.  We are constantly and actively continuing to seek ways in which we can improve our safety practices.  We remain committed to continuing to do so.  


I have been thinking a lot recently about this issue and I want to make sure that families know that we want you to understand what is, and sometimes just as important, what is not being taught in our schools.

Public schools have always been placed in a tenuous position when it comes to times in our history of political strife and division.  What is or is not taught in our schools can become a lightening rod with families feeling very strongly on opposing sides of complex societal issues.  Public schools serve all students with all kinds of different backgrounds, viewpoints and perspectives and it is this diversity of thought that is often such a vibrant and exciting part of our learning each day.  While public schools honor and care for each individual child in our care, it is our responsibility to teach all children.  This means that the needs of the "whole" at times, can outweigh the needs of the "few".  A dichotomy indeed, but one I believe public school systems (at least in Maine where I've been for 26 years now) do a masterful job of balancing.

Citing directly from our district's policy IJJ (Instructional and Library Materials Selection Policy) it states that:

        "the School Committee recognizes that the final authority as to what materials an individual student             will be exposed to rests with that student’s parents or guardians. However, at no time will the wishes         of one child’s parents to restrict his/her reading or viewing of a particular item infringe on other                 parents’ rights to permit their children to read or view the same material." 

By reading that I hope you can understand the complexity of our public schools trying to navigate student learning.  Particularly in our current society where so many things are divisive.  As public schools we try to remain balanced and open to constructive thought and discourse.  Always with an eye on teaching students how to critically think, ask questions, find facts to inform their thoughts and then learn to think for themselves.  This is our ultimate goal, to "Prepare and Inspire" our children to be thoughtful, informed citizens who determine their own path and continue to learn, question and grow to lead the next generation in our communities.

All this being said - although individual parents may not be able to determine exactly what is or is not taught (as that is ultimately the role of the state and local school committee) that is not to say that parents/guardians should not be well informed of what is being taught.  Families may agree or disagree, but access to this information is important.  Our schools share this information in lots of ways.

First and foremost, I want to make sure that families know you can access ALL of our specific content area and grade level learning standards on our website.  This document is there for all to see and I have LINKED IT HERE for your review.  Now, to be clear, this document is a listing of the outcomes for learning (i.e. skills) we wish to see our student's demonstrate across all grades and subject areas.  How our teachers work with students to demonstrate that learning may vary significantly, especially at the older grade levels where we have fewer core curriculum series.

When you click on that document - you may likely be overwhelmed.  It is a lot of information.  But I encourage parents to do so, and to read through the various standards and performance indicators that are there.  It really does give you a strong sense of the topics and content that is covered across each grade.

Another great resource to know what is being taught in our schools is your own children.  I used to love watching "Leave it to Beaver" growing up (I know that dates me a bit).  But there is something to be said for that nightly dinner table conversation that asks your child:  So what did you learn about today?  Now granted, for some students that may result in an immediate response and for others you may have to "dig" a little more but what a great conversation to have daily with your children and what a great way to hear "from the source" what is happening in our schools.  

I also encourage families to reach out directly to teachers.  Teachers often share information proactively, but if specific questions come up they are there to ask.  Our teachers are incredible professionals who love to talk about what our children are learning.

Then if you have further questions, our building leaders are there to ask as well.  Our Assistant Principals and Principals are also here to help families navigate getting these important questions answered.  

Ultimately, if parents have specific concerns and have very strong feelings about materials being taught there are several processes outlined in our policies that you can follow. These policies have very specific steps and we take each one seriously to ensure that ultimately the right outcomes are reached in that delicate balancing act I described above.  Here are those core policies for your review:

Policy IJJ - Instructional and Library Materials Selection Policy

Policy IJJ-R - Procedures Selection of Curriculum Materials

Policy IJJ-RR - Challenged Materials Procedure

Policy IJJ-E - Citizen's Challenge Of Educational Material Form

Policy IMBB - Accommodations for Sincere Beliefs In Required Instruction

I would also mention that parents/guardians have the right to utilize the Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) to make specific requests for information of our public schools.  These rules are governed at the state and national level and you can learn more about them by CLICKING HERE.  In the Gorham School's, our FOAA "officer" is Rhonda Warren, located in my office.  She is a great person to direct questions to if you have them about what FOAA is or how to utilize it.  Her email address is  We will be placing more information on this important Act and sharing the information requested from folks for all to see as a means of additional transparency later this summer.

One of my recent "lessons learned" (of many) is that it is important for our schools to do a better job of making sure parents know how to ask these important questions and get this important information so that you don't feel "un-welcomed" in doing so.  It is often when people are unsure of how to ask these important questions that they feel perhaps barriers exist in them doing so.  I am committed to improving our services in this area moving forward.  You will see this reflected in my upcoming goals for the 2022-23 School year and in my current and future communications to families.   If you have specific ideas on how you think we can do a better job at strengthening our transparency in this area, please feel free to email me at  THANK YOU1


There are TWO key steps that remain in the approval of our proposed FY 23 budget:

1.  Town Council Vote on June 7 (meeting will be held in council chambers starting at 6:30 p.m.).

2.  Public Budget Validation Referendum Vote on June 14 (this will be a vote to either approve of the budget passed by Town Council on June 7 or to not approve the budget passed by Town Council on June 7).

There is always much fluidity in this process, especially at this time of the year.  The School Committee passed the proposed budget on April 13, but the Town Council can make changes to that proposed budget at their meeting on June 7.  It really is important to follow along to know what you will be voting on on June 14 because it can change significantly between those two meetings. 

In an effort to try and simplify the proposed FY 23 budget (as passed by the School Committee), I've created the "one pager" below.  This one pager takes what is a 350 page document for the School Committee, and a 200 page document for the Town Council and attempts to put all the highlights in one place.  Please review and know that if you want more details, you can find that and more on our website by CLICKING HERE to learn more.

If that image is too hard to read - CLICK HERE for the PDF version.


This is information taken from Principal Jandreau's newsletters to students and families.  Just wanted to make sure folks had all the details so you can join in to support our Seniors as they end one "chapter" in their future stories and begin to write the next!

Senior Walk:

GHS seniors will participate in our annual "Senior Walk" across all of our K-8 schools. This will take place on June 10, starting at around 9:00 a.m. I will "facebook live" the event from the district's facebook account if folks are interested in following live!

The Graduation Ceremony

  1. Each graduate will receive 8 tickets for family and friends.

  2. Seniors must be at the high school by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 12th.  They will meet in the gymnasium for last-minute preparations.  They should be wearing caps and gowns and all other regalia (e.g. stoles and cords).

  3. Parking along the GHS Stadium Field will not be permitted from Saturday, June 12th at 7:00 p.m. until Monday, June 14th at 7:00 a.m.  Any vehicle parked along the Stadium Field during this time frame will be towed at the expense of the vehicle’s owner.

  4. Access Road will be closed from the GHS Parking Lot to Narragansett Street (Route 202) beginning at 2:00 p.m. on June 12th and extending through Graduation.

  5. Parking will be extremely limited! There are only 240 parking spots on the GHS campus.  Anyone planning to attend Graduation should make arrangements to carpool, to park off campus and walk, or to park at Gorham Middle School and utilize a shuttle service that we will be running between GMS and GHS.  The shuttle service will begin at 2:30.  It will begin again following the ceremony to transport people back to GMS.

  6. The gates to enter the GHS Stadium will open at 2:30 p.m. for individuals with disabilities and 3:00 p.m. for everyone else. Only those with a ticket will be allowed to enter.  For security reasons, backpacks or other large bags will not be permitted; handheld, personal bags may be searched prior to entering.

  7. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.  There will be a section reserved for people with disabilities and a section reserved for staff.

  8. Sign language interpreters will be stationed to the side of the stage closest to GHS; if you require this service, please sit accordingly.

  9. Masks will not be required for graduation.

  10. Restrooms will be available at the snack shack.  Food will not be available.

  11. Graduation will be streamed live.  We will be sharing links for the live stream soon:

    1. Youtube: 

    2. Vimeo:

  12. Gorham High School, as are all school facilities, is a tobacco-free zone.  Please refrain from bringing any tobacco products, including cigars, on campus. Police will take notice.

Note:  There is a "rain date" for the same outline above on Monday, June 13 if the ceremony is rained out on Sunday, June 12. 

Graduation Convoy Information




The "Little Learners" Literacy Program is a collaboration between the Gorham School Department and Baxter Memorial Library, funded in part through our Aspire Gorham work! This program brings high quality literacy programs to our early childhood care providers (centers, family based, etc.) via outreach programs throughout the course of the year.  

So far this year, the program has served 954 local pre school aged children!  Report is outlined below and if you want to learn more, feel free to reach out to Heidi Whelan at Baxter Memorial Library!  We are so very proud of this partnership!  


Speaking of our incredible partnerships with Baxter Library...I wanted to make sure to share information on their summer reading program!  Please read below and check out their website to learn more!

I have so much more that I could share, but this is probably enough for now!  My next blog will be the last for the 2021-22 School Year.  Remember:

-  Last student day June 13, 2022 with students being dismissed at half day.

-  Check out our school websites and social media posts to keep up with end of year activities!

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!  In order to emphasize/remind folks why we celebrate...Here's a poem:

 From "On This Memorial Day..."

Remember those who served before.

Remember those who are no more.

Remember those who serve today.

Remember then all on Memorial Day.

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR GORHAM VETERANS, most especially to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms!

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