Snow Day Musings….

Now that we have collectively been successful in bringing about this snow day by wearing our PJ’s inside out and backward or flushing six ice cubes down the toilet and slipped our spoons under our pillows, it is nice to sit in my living room reading the morning papers, watching the morning TV shows (occasionally, yelling at the commentators for their inane comments!) and enjoying that second cup of coffee… and think! (This could be dangerous!)

Even before I put my PJ’s on backward and slipped the spoon under my pillow, I was pretty sure that I would receive that call from Superintendent Sharp with the info about school closing. I was up thinking about what a great day Lona Tassey, Kelly Winslow and Susie Hanley had planned for our students. Hopefully, you all remember that Friday is an early release day with our students being dismissed at 11:10.

As we do with all of our early release days, we plan special activities for our students. This Friday we are holding our 3rd annual career day by inviting almost 30 people from the greater Portland community to talk about their jobs and answer questions from our students. In the past couple of years this has become a highlight day for our students as they learn about all of the different possibilities there are for their future. Please be sure to ask your kids about the presenters they saw on Friday. It should make for some great dinner table conversations.

8th Grade Graduation Fund Raising and “Stuff”

Beginning on Monday, March 5th and running through March 15th, we will be running our Little Caesar’s Pizza Fund Raiser. The students will be given sales packs for personal sized pizzas that can be placed in your freezer for a that special time when you’d like a little snack. Please be sure to watch for these in you child’s backpack, this is a huge help in raising funds for the celebration night activities.

Also, we are still accepting well wishes, to be included in the program for the night as well as taking orders for a slide show of the celebration. The cost of the well wishes is $5.oo and the price on the DVD is $10.oo. You may make your orders for each of these at the Main office of the Middle School, see Laurie or Kristen.

March Madness

As I have said in the past couple of entries, we have some very busy days ahead of us at GMS. On Thursday, March 8th, the 8th grade teachers will be meeting with their counterparts from the High School to begin to process of transitioning our current 8th graders. They will be discussing the Program of Studies and any changes that will happen at the High School for next year so they can accurately recommend students to certain classes. This is the first sign that spring is just around the corner, in spite of today’s record snow storm.

Friday night we have our school dance for all of our students. The month the dance is sponsored by the Civil Rights Team and Odyssey of the Mind and Lego Robotics. The dances are a fun evening for the kids and, believe it or not, they really do dance!

We have our monthly PIE meeting on Thursday evening, March 15th beginning at 6:30 in the GMS Library. As always you are invited to attend these meetings and bring any questions or concerns you have about the Middle School or the Gorham School Department. (On that last note, I can listen to your concerns about other schools, but I will pass anything along to the appropriate administrator.)

March 22 & 24 is the presentation of the annual GMS Musical. This year the students are presenting Into the Woods. 8th grade student Rebecca Cupps is directing her classmates in what we expect will be an evening filled with music, dance and lots of high jinks and laughter. Break a leg, kids!

Our spring parent/teacher conferences will be held on Thursday and Friday, March 29 & 30. Teachers will be available beginning on Thursday afternoon at 2:00pm until 8:00 pm and then again on Friday from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm. You should be receiving letters from your child’s teachers to arrange the date an time of your meeting.

The State of Education

One of the bad things about a snow day, and a snow storm like today (that just keeps going on, and on, and on…) is that you watch a lot of TV (or at least I did!). I cannot believe all of the different news programs that are on during the day! What happened to soap operas and quiz shows? Each show offers these wonderful “experts” to talk on any subject. Today the “talking heads” were discussing the state of education in America.

Everyone of these “experts” felt it necessary to offer their opinions on how to turn around America’s failing schools so as to compete with our foreign competitors. The City of New York Public Schools have released Value Added Measurements VAM as a way to determine the effectiveness of individual teachers. I guess the thinking is that we can embarrass teachers into forcing reluctant learner to achieve. These VAM rankings are based upon a test given to all students at each grade level, much like our NECAP’s that we administer every fall. The Los Angeles Times, daily newspaper of the area, last year published rankings of each teacher, by name, but they based there ranking upon their own developed criteria, not just one test.

Back at the beginning of this I told you my sitting around on a snow day thinking could be dangerous! (especially in my PJ’s that are on inside out and backward!)

So after listening to these “experts” proclaim they have the answers to “fixing”our schools, I have decided that I have a much better answer. I think these experts should come to our town and see what we do! How we make sure that each of our students has an opportunity to achieve at high levels. The dedication of all of our teachers, developing engaging lessons for our students. Teachers being role models for learners, modeling learning for our students as they, too, learn of new ways to approach 21st Century learning.

I think they need to come to our town and see the dedication of our parents, working, hand-in-hand with school teachers and administrators to provide the best for theirs and every kid.  We are fortunate, and indeed, I am fortunate to live and work in a community like Gorham. Thank you for the privilege and for all you do make our schools so great!

Until the next time…

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