Message August 26, 2016

We are excited about the approaching school year.  Students begin classes in grades 1-12 on Wednesday, August 31.  Kindergarten's first day is Tuesday, September 6.

A reminder that school start times have changed:

2016-17 School Day
2016-17 Wed. Early Release
Greely High School
8:00 AM-2:30 PM
8:00 AM-1:30 PM
Greely Middle School 6-8
8:00 AM-2:33 PM
8:00 AM-1:33 PM
Greely Middle School 4-5
8:45 AM-3:15 PM
8:45 AM-12:30 PM
Mabel I. Wilson School
8:45 AM-3:15 PM
8:45 AM-12:30 PM

First up on our list is school buses.  They carry our community's most precious commodity - our children!  Please slow down, be patient and allow the bus drivers the space and time they need to successfully transport our students from home to school and back. Remember, too, that passing a stopped school bus is a criminal act, and it is also extremely dangerous.  If you have new or inexperienced drivers in your home please take a moment to speak with them about the dangers of passing a stopped school bus.

Secondly, we need to be concerned about crosswalks.  They are important all the time, but especially during the school year and near our school campus.  Students may dart out between cars and they may not be as tall as the vehicles they are moving between, so extra vigilance is critical.

Lastly, we absolutely must watch our speed in and near the school zones. These zones of slower speed exist to allow for more reaction time and shorter stopping distances in the event a child runs out into the road and to accommodate for all the cars turning into and out of our school lots.  I realize 15mph might seem slow, but the zones are short and in reality the few extra seconds it takes to traverse our school zones at lower speed is a small price to pay when compared to the potential heartache and pain of an accident.

Your Police Department will be deploying signs, cruisers and officers to the area of our schools in an effort to help promote safe driving and safe pedestrian habits when school gets back underway on the 31st.  We hope to see you out there setting a good example!
Volunteer Crossing Guards Needed!

The Town of Cumberland is seeking safety-minded volunteers to assist our community's children crossing to and from school in the Tuttle Road and Main Street areas.  Volunteers would be asked to serve mornings and/or afternoons for approximately one hour on school days.  A background check is required.  If interested, please contact Chief Charles Rumsey at the Cumberland Police Department at 207-829-2210 or

Good news at GHS with regards to student course failures in 2015-16.  The number of course failures dropped 35% last year and 50% over the last two years, thanks in part to the continued emphasis on RTI interventions and the removal of CP2 level courses.

Spanish teacher Margaret Corral returned with a group of students from a trip to Guatemala over the summer.  She writes, ¨The Guatemalan people showed us the true beauty of the human spirit in their amazing resilience in the face of suffering. They were so kind, genuinely grateful and joyful.¨
Greely students were able to help with the following while on the trip:

1) completed a home for a 10 person family, which included plastering the concrete block walls inside and out and pouring the cement flooring, 
2) began and almost completed entirely the foundation of a home for another couple and their 6 daughters which included much digging and moving hundreds of large rocks, concrete bricks and buckets of liquid cement 
3) installed 9 efficient and safe stoves in different homes 
4) worked with 45 children each afternoon teaching them English, doing crafts and playing games.
5) put together and distributed 10 water filtration systems.

Once again we have great reason to be proud and know that our students are developing into model global citizens and ambassadors.   

The students are: Lucy Corral '21, Maria Campbell '19, Andrew Graham '17, Will Hall '17, Henry Campbell '17, Shannon Flaherty '17, Katie Bacall '16, Wyatt Kilburn '16.

Thank you to all of our MIW volunteers: 130 volunteers donated 2,714 hours, saving the district $62,600 in 2015-16.

The state DOE informed us today that our evaluation system plan that was submitted in the spring was approved.  Many thanks to the initial stakeholder group and subsequent steering committee, both led by curriculum director Sally Loughlin, for the exhaustive work completed to bring our district into compliance on this law and provide a solid evaluation system for our teachers and administrators.  

In July, I had the opportunity to join fellow Maine superintendents Dominic DePatsy (Saco) and Betsy Webb (Bangor) in Washington, D.C. at the Legislative Advocacy conference, sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators.  We met with our congressional delegation and had face-to-face meetings with U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poloquin.  Major national educational issues focused on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation, reducing paperwork for special education, greater access for early childhood education, eliminating burdensome nutrition requirements, and reducing unnecessary and unfunded mandates from the federal government. 

Dominic DePatsy, Sen. King, Betsy Webb, and myself at the Senator's office, Washington, DC

Renovations at MIW have been completed. The school will have new space for a kindergarten classroom, GT classroom, social worker's office, assistant principal's office, learning support center, special education rooms, two small group pull-out rooms, and storage re-configuration. These new areas will substantially improve the available learning space in the school to meet the needs of increasing enrollment.  We have also been able to solve some of the security issues at the school by installing a window between the office and front foyer so that there can be visibility for the office staff when visitors are entering.

The Performing Arts Center building committee, chaired by Board member Gigi Sanchezhas met weekly since June to develop a concept design with architect Steve Blatt. The committee has made several substantial decisions that is moving the concept design forward.  A recommendation will be forwarded to the Board for consideration in early September.  The Board will then consider whether to place the PAC on the ballot for a November referendum.

GHS is implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in 2016-17. This will help us get much closer to 1:1 throughout the district, as we have budgeted lease purchases that will significantly increase devices available to students in grades K-6 (grades 7 and 8 already have 1:1 through the state's MLTI program).  Many school districts nationally and in Maine have adopted similar policies (or will be) in order to encourage students to bring their own devices for learning.  For those GHS students who do not have access to a personal device for school use, the school will provide one for them.  Currently, about 70% of all GHS students bring a device to school.

Did You Know?  If students are absent just 2 to 3 times a month, they can fall behind in reading and math, even starting  in kindergarten.  Missing school regularly can mean missed opportunities to build confidence, skills, and a habit of good attendance.  These are the same skills that will help each child succeed in college and their careers.

Message June 20, 2016

1.  The school year ended on a great note.  Here's a few of the highlights:
  • MIW staff dance the kids away...for the summer, that is.  On the last day, all students were invited to an assembly where they watched a video of their teachers and staff dancing the school year away in a funny video on YouTube titled "Can't Stop This feeling, Wilson."  The kids were laughing and obviously very impressed that their teachers and principal could actually dance.  Oh, yea, and the superintendent had a good move or two, too!
          The video is linked here: Can't Stop the Feeling Wilson, Starring MIW Staff.  Check it out!
  • GMS 4-5 students showed off their talent at their annual talent show.  Lots of laughter, jokes, musical numbers, skits, and fun accompanied this final assembly.
  • GMS 8th graders presented their science projects, including topics such as Orbital Maneuvers, Compression Forces, Lightning, Concussions, Dry Ice, and Potato Batter, among many other topics.
  • GMS 6-8 also sent off their 8th graders in a big way.  All of the 6th and 7th graders lined the walkway behind the school and high-fived and fist-bumped all the 8th graders on their grand finale exit from GMS.
2.  Many thanks to the Board of Directors, the Finance Committee, and Leadership Team for all their work to successfully pass the district budget.  A great turnout this year and a strongly supported budget with 69% voter approval.  

3.  Work on minor renovations and space reconfigurations to MIW began today and will last about 6 weeks.  We have moved all summer programs to GMS so that the work can be completed on time.  Dotens Construction was awarded the bid and will follow a time-and-materials protocol that most likely will save the district money on this project.

4.  The district leadership team finished a two-day retreat June 20-21.  Even though the school year is over for students and staff, our administrators are busy planning for the upcoming year, which takes much of the summer.  The DLT also has several subcommittees scheduled over the summer months to continue work aligned to the Strategic Plan.

5.  I wish to thank the Policy committee for their hard work this year.  They reviewed 22 policies and made a number of changes to most of them in order to keep all of our policies current.  

2015-16 Policy Update Summary

6.   The state has released an anticipated timeline for communicating out the results of the ELA and math portions of the state assessment (otherwise known as the Maine Educational Assessment or MEA).  Unfortunately, as this is a new test, many steps must be put into place such as benchmarks and quality control.  We will not receive results until October at this point.  This should improve a year from now as the state assessment will be the same in 16-17.  

7. Thanks Greely PTO for generously giving $15,997 to the schools for field trips K-8, playground equipment, the GMS 4-5 bike program, and the ACES program. Many thanks departing chair Stephanie Desmond and continuing chair Ingrid Vanni and the PTO Board for their leadership of our very active PTO.

8. Thanks also to Foundation 51 for their spring grants donations totaling $6,670 for robotics, anthology, STEM, Screenagers movie showing, and Parent University. Many thanks departing president Ann Robbins and the Foundation Board for their leadership.

9. On June 20, the Board of directors approved a long-range Facilities Framework, or plan, that will guide the district for the next several years:

Introduction to Framework

Facilities Framework (Plan)

9. I am pleased to announce the new assistant principal of Mabel I. Wilson School. Mr. Cory Munsey was one of five candidates interviewed for the position and comes to MSAD #51 with experience as the assistant principal at Lisbon Community School. I am confident that Mr. Munsey will be a great addition to the school and district.

Message June 6, 2016

Graduation week came and went.  What an exciting week of senior projects, Class day, Candlelight Service, Graduation, and Project Graduation.

Photo courtesy WGME

One event that was added this year was the 1st Annual Senior Walk.  Most of the seniors participated, marching through Greely Middle School and Mabel I. Wilson School with their caps and gowns, being cheered by all of the students in the district as they waited in the halls for the seniors. Lots of high-fives, fist bumps, hugs, and tears accompanied this wonderful event, as the seniors re-connected with former teachers, saw their siblings, and enjoyed the magical moment.

Below are two media stories covered on the Senior Walk:

WGME Channel 13
WCSH Channel 6

The Class of 2016 is accomplished in so many areas and has a huge list of awards to showcase.  But I would be remiss if I did not mention that a member of this class, Matt Pisini, was awarded the highest academic honor this country has to offer, the U. SPresidential Scholar award.  Only 160 students in the nation received this honor this year out of a possible 3.3 million students, and he was one of only two students in Maine.  Congrats, Matt!

I also wish to congratulate the students who placed in the Top 10%:

Katherine Bacall (salutatorian), Charlotte Benoit, Andrea Bryant, Josh Coyle, Madelyn Day, Elizabeth George, Abigail Israel, Wyatt Kilburn, Caroline Maker, Rylee Michaud, Claire Nicholson, Harrison Pershing, Matt Pisini, Connor Rog, Jacob Small (valedictorian), Calvin Soule, and Brad Spoerri.

Congratulations to all of our 174 graduating seniors!  We will miss you and wish you a lifetime of happiness and good fortune.

Congrats Class of 2016!

Listening to Speakers


Senior Parade

A subcommittee of the facilities committee, including Gigi Sanchez, Martha Leggat, Vickie Bell, John Simpson, Mike Brown, Scott Poulin, and Don Foster have completed interviews with selected architectural firms in preparation for the Performing Arts Center.  This committee hopes to make a final selection within the next week or so.

Meanwhile, determining the membership of an 18-member building committee for the PAC is nearing completion, with stakeholder voices being represented from the Board of Directors, administration, faculty, parents, students, performing arts community, and theater community. The building committee will begin its work by the end of the school year and will meet several times over the summer months to begin planning for a concept design for the PAC in conjunction with the selected architect.

The FY 17 Budget is set to go to the voters on Tuesday, June 14.  Polling places are North Yarmouth Memorial School and Cumberland Town Office.  Both polling places are open from 7am-8 pm. Contact your town office for information on absentee ballots.  This year, voters will also be asked if they wish to continue the validation referendum process.
  • Total Budget: $34,959,382
  • Increase: Up 1,182,543 over the current budget, or 3.5% 
  • Tax Impact: 1.1% in both towns
  • On $350,000 home, $70 more a year in Cumberland and $66.50 more a year in North Yarmouth
  • 5th lowest budget increase since 1993
  • For more information, visit School Budget 16-17
The spring athletic post-season is upon us.
  • Baseball and Softball teams start playoffs on Thursday.
  • Girls lacrosse has playoff game Wednesday.
  • Girls Track Team finished 3rd in state track meet.
  • Erin Holmes will be playing in New England High School championship golf tournament.

The Board of Directors approved the Teacher and Administrator evaluation system.  Many thanks to all participants who served on the Initial Stakeholder group and the Steering Committee in developing these new systems.  Also thanks to the 40 or so teachers who agreed to pilot the teacher evaluation system this year. Special thanks to Curriculum Director Sally Loughlin for her skillful leadership of both groups.  Our evaluation system is now ready for full implementation.