Message April 25, 2016

Congratulations to the five finalists for MSAD #51 Employee of the Year: 

Carrie Begley, Grade 4 Teacher, GMS 4-5
Leanne Brainard, Kitchen Manager, MIW
Sallie Hunter, Grade 4 Teacher, GMS 4-5
Peter Scott, Social Worker, GHS  
Daphne Sprague, Educational Technician, GMS 4-5  

There were 43 nominations for Employee of the Year, all of them written by staff members on behalf of other staff members.  One of the five finalists will become the 2016 MSAD #51 Employee of the Year and will be named at the annual Staff Recognition program at Val Halla on May 18.  

Many thanks to the nominating committee, led by Ashley Caswell, Director of Development and Community Resources; Board members Bethany Hanley and Mike Brown; Finance, Operations & HR Director Scott Poulin; and Chris Bolduc, Cumberland's Assistant Town Manager.

Here are some recent highlights of activities related to the Strategic Plan:
  • Held a final meeting with all 1st Year teachers to the district as part of the new staff orientation program that was newly implemented this year;
  • As part of our ongoing review of the Pathways Specialist position, we have recently completed a long-range vision plan for this position that will be shared with the Board in an upcoming meeting;
  • An RFP has gone out seeking vendors to help develop a composting program on campus, as part of the work of the Environmental Stewardship committee;
  • Continued with the use of "RTI Summits" to align all schools with best practice and consistent protocols for universal screening, progress monitoring, menu of interventions, and a systemic K-12 model;
  • Technology advisory committee helped to support the new implementation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Learning Device) at GHS next year;
  • Formation of a Pre-Kindergarten advisory committee which will begin its work shortly;
  • Parent survey going out this week to provide 360 degree feedback on the district and schools;
  • As part of the plan's commitment to student voice, several district and school leaders heard presentations from juniors around what could improve the district;
  • Martha Leggat and myself continue to meet with employee groups, most recently with all K-12 ed. techs. and next with operations employees;
  • Supported our students with STEM through our partnership with UNUM's Tech Day for middle schoolers;
  • The Strategic Planning committee is working on advocacy for budgetary items that align to the Strategic Plan;
  • Installing pole banners on the campus that help "speak, paint, splash, spray, banner, and live" the Strategic Plan's tag line.

Earlier today, I presented a daytime budget informational meeting at the Prince Memorial Library to any members of the public who wanted to learn more about the FY 17 budget.  This idea was generated at the Aging In Place forum back in October and I am pleased that we were able to provide this opportunity for those who attended.

Also on the topic of the budget, the inaugural Coffee Talk program featuring the budget was postponed to this Wednesday, April 27 @ 12:30pm.  To access this program, go to our website and click on "District Links".

On Tuesday, April 26, a group of students whose art work is on display at the Maine State Capitol building will travel to Augusta to talk with First Lady Ann LePage as part of the Celebration of Excellence in Maine Visual and Performing Arts.  Also on hand will be the GHS Madrigal Singers who will be performing in the Hall of Flags.

Message April 11, 2016

The MSAD #51 Board of Directors voted April 11 to begin the process for building a Performing Arts Center (PAC).  This first step allows the district to advertise for and hire an architect to work with a building committee to develop a concept design for the PAC. This concept design requires the approval of the Board, when completed, and the subsequent vote of the Board to move to a referendum if they choose to do so.  A possible referendum date would be November 2016, if approved.

The Board also voted to move forward with an energy project at Mabel I. Wilson School. This project will seek to mitigate heating and cooling issues at the 20-year-old school over the next year.  

Susie Robbins, currently Interim Principal at MIW and assistant principal before that, was approved as the permanent principal of the school Monday night.  The position of assistant principal will be advertised shortly and a process to fill the position will be developed.

Google Expeditions was "pioneered" at Greely Middle School recently by all 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Expeditions is a new product that allows teachers to take their classes on virtual field trips related to their curriculum. Thanks to Google for letting us pioneer this innovative program!  

Related to this, 20 middle school students attended a STEM Day a couple of weeks ago at UNUM.  This event introduced students to the creative and innovative designs in the business world.  One of the highlights was a "walking iPad" that ended up chasing some of the students around the room.

                                             UNUM STEM Day                                              "Google Expeditions" 

Congrats GHS Math Team for their 4th place finish @ Maine State Math Meet, going on to New England Invitational Meet.

                                                              GHS Math Team

Spanish teacher Margaret Corral has been selected as an Inspiring Educator to be featured on News Center, Channel 6. The Maine Education Association is working in partnership with News Center to feature educators who are doing something remarkable to benefit their students or students in their district.

Colleague Grace Leavitt nominated Margaret for the award saying:

Margaret goes above and beyond to connect students with the world--she has been a Fulbright Exchange Teacher, brought students from Mexico to our schools, has organized various trips, and is currently working on a trip with a group of students to go to Guatemala this summer with Partners in Development as well as establishing an exchange program with a school in Chile.  Her energy and enthusiasm are boundless, she is always smiling and upbeat, and she knows the importance of our students' learning about the world and others' cultural perspectives.

GHS student Matt Pisini receives MPA award for academic excellence & citizenship.

                                                             Matt Pisini with Principal Dan McKeone

Alyssa Coyne recognized as the 2016 Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrator's Scholarship recipient. Awarded at the 2016 Spring Athletics Administrator's Conference Banquet.

                                                               Alyssa Coyne with AD David Shapiro 

On Wednesday, April 27 @ 12:30 PM (tentative), I will be hosting the inaugural edition of MSAD #51 Virtual Coffee Talk.  This broadcast will focus on the proposed FY 17 budget.  I will be providing a brief background on the budget before I take questions live from the public.  To access this program, simply go to and click "District Links" then Virtual Coffee Talk.  You can submit online questions during the broadcast using the embedded form once you access the Coffee Talk page.  I am hoping to sample various types of coffee as part of this new program (kidding!)

Virtual Coffee Talk