Message October 17, 2016


A very exciting weekend celebrating the Anniversary of the SAD!  So many great activities to commemorate 50 years included a homecoming football game celebrating the Class of 1966, pancake breakfast, concert with Rick Charette, alumni class meetings, face painting, history walks, facility tours, a birthday bash complete with cake, burrito lunch, and time capsule.  

Many thanks to the 50th celebration committee for their months-long planning of this event: Ashley Caswell (chair), Karen Campbell, Donna Damon, Stephanie Desmond, Don Foster, Dixie Hayes, Carla O’Sullivan, Eliza Porter, Scott Poulin, Rosemary Roy, David Shapiro, Paula Slipp, and Carolyn Small. Many thanks to sponsors Greely PTO, Tender Years Learning Center, The Richter Group, and Riley Woodworks. Special thanks to GHS Madrigals, GMS Sounds of Silence, GHS Jazz Band, GHS Video Production Class, and Joanna Foster.
Birthday cake for the SAD, thanks Joanna Foster!

20 exchange students and their teachers from Barr, France arrived last week at GHS and were welcomed at a reception before their tours with GHS students.  Students are being hosted by families in the community.  Many thanks Madame Pat Thibeault & Madame Kim MacDonald for coordinating this exchange.
Exchange students from Barr, France at GHS
Students and teachers from France present provincial flag to GHS
Our October 7 professional learning day was very productive.  Activities and training for staff included strategies for meeting the learning needs of students in a new 80-minute block schedule; best practices for teaching reading; RTI assessments and interventions; restorative practices as an alternative to traditional discipline; reviewing the new medication policy, among many others.

Strategic Plan Update
The district's Strategic Plan is in full swing as Year #2 of the plan starts to be implemented.  Here are some highlights so far:
  • Performing Arts Center building committee, headed by Gigi Sanchez, completed work and sent recommendation to Board.  Board approved ballot language and called the election for November 8. Several informational meetings were held this fall. 

Proposed PAC renderings
  • Pre-K committee has met six times since spring, identified key topics that have preliminary resolution, and is on track to make a formal recommendation this fall or winter 2017 to Board.
  • Leadership Team inventoried areas where student voice currently happening as springboard for developing other areas for involving students.
  • Late start times have been implemented K-12 and continue to be adjusted and reviewed as needed.
  • In order to build district-wide capacity for increasing STEM education, team of teachers and curriculum director will be attending training this fall to help develop this action step.
  • Stakeholder surveys for students, staff, and parents completed in the spring for Year 1 and results will be shared as part of the upcoming Annual Report.
  • New instructional support model began at MIW, focused on student needs and interventions. New RTI behavioral model also adopted at MIW to help students in need of intervention in this area.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has begun at GHS to help close the gap between students who bring learning devices to school and those who do not bring them.  Implementation nearly complete of 1:1 device disbursement in grades K-8.
  • Weighted grades took effect at GHS and student GPA and transcripts will now reflect this change.
  • Composting plan will be phased in starting in November at MIW and GMS in conjunction with the Garbage to Garden organization, and will be completed at GHS in winter 2017.  One of the components of this plan is a zero-waste goal.
  • IMG_3962.jpg
    Garbage to Garden composting
  • Homework policy continues to be developed by a committee that will work on soliciting stakeholder input this year.
  • Proficiency continues on many fronts, through grading and reporting, standards alignment, conducting a K-12 assessment audit, and planning for the Class of 2021.  
  • In Year 2 of offering Pathways services to students and currently planning for long-term direction and sustainability of this position.
  • New K-12 RTI form will provide consistency with how students are referred and assessed for possible interventions, including using curriculum-based measures and research-based strategies.  To assist teachers in identifying appropriate interventions for students who require them, a new K-12 intervention guide was developed.
  • Teacher and principal evaluation systems are in Year 1 for full implementation beginning this year.
  • New teacher certification team has been developed to assist teachers in being re-certified, providing more assistance on an individual basis.
  • Alumni outreach continues and was an integral part of the district's 50th anniversary celebration, which included Class Coffee chats.
  • A planned giving program is being introduced this fall to help support MSAD #51 schools.
  • NOTE:  The Wellness committee will begin its work in the winter of 2017.  
Do you know a student who may be homeless?  Believe it or not, there are more homeless children and teenagers in Maine than you may think.  If you know of someone who may be homeless, please click here for more information.  The district contact is Peter Scott @ 829-4805.

It's bus driver appreciation week.  Please take a moment to thank a bus driver for all they do!

Message October 3, 2016

Congrats!!  Greely Middle School 6-8 wins top award by MSN, named #1 middle school in Maine. Click here for more information.  We are very proud of our students, staff, and parents!
Greely Middle School is #1 in Maine
The criteria used to assess middle schools for this award is below:
Exam Passing Rates: This includes math proficiency rates and reading and language arts proficiency rates over the last three years.
School Environment: The school environment score consists of factors such as the student-teacher ratio, teacher experience and teacher absence rate.
Disciplinary Actions: This takes into account the school's retention rate, in-school suspension rate and out-of-school suspension rate.

We held our first-ever K-12 all-campus reading event  "Drop Everything & Read!"  This was a fun hour-hour event where students and staff literally dropped what they were doing and picked up a book.  There were many guest readers in classes, cross-school partnerships between classes, and a general enthusiasm for the joy of reading.

K-12 students and staff Drop Everything And Read (DEAR)!
On October 3, the Board of Directors voted 7-2 to send the Performing Arts Center ballot question to voters on the November 8 election referendum.  An informational session on the proposed Performing Arts Center was held on September 26 in North Yarmouth, with about 40 people attending.  The next session will be held this Thursday, October 6 @ 6:30pm at the Cumberland Town Office.
Proposed Performing Arts Center
We received our new bond ratings from Moody's Investors Service.  The district received the high rating of Aa3, which is considered to be "healthy credit position".  The factors most indicated include a solid tax base, small debt burden, low pension liability, and sound financial management.  The district's debt burden has been dropping steadily since 2012.

The annual Post-Secondary Fair was held at GHS last week and was organized by Melissa Fowler, guidance director.  A great turnout of over 400 students and parents from six area high schools. Many thanks to the participating organizations and to the many GHS staff members who helped make the event a big success.  There were 94 colleges, 4 military branches, and a gap year program represented.
GHS Staff members proudly display college alumni gear
MIW students had a chance to enjoy a locally-grown Harvest lunch last week.  Corn, potatoes, and apples were some of the fresh agriculture items on the menu.  Our second graders also went to the annual "Ag" Day at the Cumberland Fair to learn more about Maine agriculture last week.

MIW students enjoy a locally-grown Harvest lunch
The district's 10-year enrollment study, prepared by Planning Decisions, is now completed after a few more questions were answered.  This report reviewed demographics, migration patterns, new housing models, and a housing market analysis, among other data. The major summary of the report indicates a flat enrollment for the next several years, followed by a steady increase after this. The Board will be sent an electronic copy on Tuesday of the entire report.  We will work on a workshop date where a rep. from Planning Decisions will present the report to the Board and answer questions.

Message September 19, 2016

Upcoming informational sessions that are open to the public to learn more about the Performing Arts Center project are as follows:

Monday, September 26 @ 6:30 pm: Public Presentation (NYMS gymnasium)
Thursday, October 6 @ 6:30 pm: Public Presentation (Cumberland Town Office)
Monday, October 17 @ 7pm; Public Hearing, Board meeting (GHS library)

Below is an architectural rendering of the proposed Performing Arts Center addition at GHS.  For more information on the PAC, please click here.

Greely Girls Volleyball team won the Bruce Churchill Classic for ALS tournament, congrats girls & Coach Don Legere.

The district office received a first draft and presentation of the long-term enrollment projections report that we commissioned through Planning Decisions.  We had additional questions and areas for further study that we have asked Planning Decisions to continue researching.  After we receive more information, a representative from Planning Decisions will present the enrollment study to the Board in a workshop later this fall.

Congrats 2017 GHS National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists: Samuel Bonnevie, Sarah Johnson, Patrick Lyden, Maggie Nolan & John Saffian.

66% of our juniors and seniors are currently taking at least one IB or AP course this year. About one-third of our juniors and seniors are taking 3 or more IB or AP courses.

This Friday, we are holding a K-12 campus-wide event where everyone will "Drop Everything and Read".  All students and staff will stop what they are doing at the same time for 30 minutes and read to themselves, to a buddy, with their class, with other classes, etc.  The district is trying to promote more campus-wide connections now that everyone is on the same parcel of land.

The new Bring Your Own Learning Device is moving along.  Our technology dept. is working to solidify plans for the 70 or so GHS students who are using school-issued laptops.  These plans will include a permanent sign out to these students for the year.

We have two full-time students involved in our regional STRIVE program.  This program is shared by 6 districts as part of our Instructional Support offerings.  Students may attend STRIVE post-graduate until age 20.  Last year, the first year, we had a student attend half-time.  The goal is to grow this program for students who qualify and could benefit.

Passed in 2012, Maine law now requires school districts to adjust systems of instruction, assessment, and reporting to reflect the knowledge and skills that students have learned, learning standards. Our plan to transition to a proficiency based system (learning standards) was approved by the state; our first class to graduate with a proficiency based diploma is in 2021 (current 8th grade class). We have been working on this transition for the past two years and this year we will be piloting proficiency based grading practices (in addition to our traditional grades).

Starting this fall, teachers in grades 6-12 will be assessing student progress by assessing the learning standards in each course. Teachers will share feedback on the learning standards and habits of work directly with students through conferencing. Parents and students will have continued access to the traditional grade reporting through the Powerschool portal.

The proficiency-based approach is relatively new to all Maine schools and districts. MSAD #51 will continue to maintain our current systems as we study and refine practices to align with a proficiency-based system.

Click here for more information about our district's move towards proficiency.