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.
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    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.