Ahhhh, Spring!

Wait, didn’t we just survive a record snow fall on March 1st? And, have a second storm drop another couple of inches of snow and lots more slush on March 3rd?

Why, yes we did!

Jet Blue Park at Fenway South

But, there are certain things that absolutely mean that spring is just around the corner.

For example, seeing the “Boys of Summer” trot out onto the field of lush, green grass preparing for a brand new season filled with great hope is a sure sign that the warm weather is coming. As much as I loved the old City of Palms Park, where the Sox played their spring training games for the last 20 years, and it truly was a great place to watch a game. I am really impressed with Jet Blue Park at Fenway South. I have only seen the new park on TV, but from the looks of it, they built a close replica of Fenway in Lee County. Visiting it is going to be placed very high on the “bucket list” list!

Another sure sign of the coming equinox is the buckets attached to the maple trees collecting that liquid that will, after applying an appropriate amount of heat, become that sweet nectar that makes breakfast that special meal.

Over the past ten years, or so, I have had a very personal reminder of the coming of spring, almost in my backyard! I live next to a horse breeding farm, and I wait with great anticipation each year for the new arrivals. This Sunday morning I noticed the first two, brand new, foals out playing in the pasture with their mothers keeping a very watchful eye on their play. Maybe its the Middle School educator in me, but, I can’t help but watch these very new inhabitants of the planet run around and cavort with such excitement and energy. It sort of reminds me of our student heading out to recess after lunch!

Career Day 2012

Liz Riley of the Portland Sea Dogs (yep, I'm a proud Dad!)

I hope that your children came home on Friday with lots of great stories about the different speakers they heard talk about their jobs. This was, by far, our very best Career Day at GMS thanks to the hard work and dedication of Lona Tassey, Kelly Winslow and Susie Hanley. These three folks planned this day so our kids could get choices about which speaker they would see, and they had planned for a wide variety of choices. We have sports talk radio hosts, lawyers, authors, farriers and cosmetologists. We were even able to tap into our faculty who talked about their “away from school” passions like the Littlefields who talked about their Gallery and how they got started and Adam Parvanta who brought in folks he plays with in a band, away from school.

Movie Directors Dana Packard and Jennifer Porter

For me, the coup de grace was the movie director who convinced Wayne Newton ( yup, that’s right “Danke Schoen!) to come to Buxton, Maine for 3 days to film a movie.

I read recently that middle school students need to be motivated by goals that are real to them. Hopefully, the few hours they spent listening to all of these different people will help them form those goals and give them of the “where-with-all” to follow through.

Read Across America

Read Across America

In my last post I mentioned that we would celebrate the anniversary of Dr. Suess’ birthday on Monday, but I have been corrected, we will celebrate on Wednesday, March 7th. All across the country, schools and communities are celebrating by having teachers, parents and, in some cases, local celebrities read aloud the classrooms full of students. Our Student Council has raised lots of money to purchase books for the elementary schools. The student Council will also travel to Village School to actually read aloud to the kindergarten students.

Spread the Word to End the Word

Wednesday, March 7 is our third annual of Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.  This day is devoted to educating and raising awareness of the positive impact individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have in our communities and why the use of the R-word is hurtful, even in a casual conversation.  You can make your pledge to never using the R-word at: http://www.r-word.org/r-word-pledge.aspx.

PIE Meeting

Our next PIE meeting is Thursday, March 15th beginning at 6:30 in the GMS Library. Our agenda for the evening is open, so, please come on in and we’ll have a conversation about our school.

The Transition to High School

March is the month when we begin the transition of our current 8th grade students to the High School. On Tuesday, March 20th, from 6:30 pm until 7:30 pm, Principal Chris Record will meet with interested parents of current 8th graders to talk about the process of registration for classes at the High School. Chris will be joined by several representatives from the Freshman Academies to answer any and all of your questions.

Mr. Record and representatives from the Guidance Department and Department Heads will meet with the students on Monday, March 26th at the Middle School.

Save the Date

This might fall under the category of “Obsessive Compulsive Planning Department”, but we are asking you to circle the date of April 27th for Gorham Middle School Night at the Sea Dogs. We have lots of activities planned for this night, thanks to the great folks at the Sea Dogs. We’ll begin the night by having several of our teachers being honored by the Sea Dogs and NextGen College Investing for their contributions to our school and community, then, our Chorus, under the direction Of Tracy Wheeler, singing the National Anthem, finally, we will have one of our great teachers throw out the first pitch to start a great night of minor league baseball with the Sea Dogs taking on the Reading Phillies. We have General Admission tickets available in the office for $5.00 a piece. Call Kristen or Laurie for information on getting tickets.

Fund Raising Opportunities at the Gorham Founders Festival

I am passing this along at the request of Daryl Wright and the organizers of the Gorham Founders Festival.

This year the Gorham Founders Festival will be held on Friday night and all day Saturday, May 25th and 26th at the Chick Property.  This event could be a great fundraising opportunity for your group.  The Committee is trying to get the word out and get more organizations to be involved this year.  If you are interested in having your group participate with a booth at the event please go online to www.gorhamfoundersfestival.com or inquire via email to Darryl Wright at vendor@gorhamfoundersfestival.com.

Gorham Founders Festival Committee

Thoughts from an Old Codger, or Rant on Riley!

Last week I “ranted on” about how our politicians and policy makers were trying to “fix” our education system in America and try to get us to rate as high on the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA Assessments) as several of our international competitors, most notably, the students of the schools in Shanghai, China. These experts in making policy and running elections think that they can legislate the necessary corrections, I beg to differ.

My Twitter feed has been filled with some very incredible stories of the ideas these experts have come up with to correct our problems. For example, in the state of Florida a series of legislative actions are attempting to privatize the public schools, sounds like an oxymoron to me. America’s Public Schools are just that, public, open for all of us, the great equalizer for all Americans to get ahead. Yes, we have problems in America’s schools, but in each and every school across this great country, the good ones and the “bad” ones, there are success stories of students who strive to meet the American Dream of success. The idea that we can fix our problems through legislative remedy is just wrong, do we really need to rehash the gridlock of this past summer and fall?

We have some great challenges ahead of us. What our kids need to be prepared for a future in the 21st Century may not reside between the covers of a text book, at least not a text book that has been published yet, What skills we do know they will absolutely need for success in the 21st Century is the ability to learn, to know what you know and what you don’t know, and then knowing where to find the information so you do know!

I know that our teachers work hard at making this happen in every classroom at Gorham Middle School.

At each faculty meeting our staff engages in the professional learning that leads to better practice in the classroom and more learning for each student. We are currently focusing our attentions on improving how well we use formative assessments. Formative assessments are those minute-to-minute check-ins with students to see where they are in their learning and help the teacher determine what actions they need to take next to help students “get it”.

Formative assessment is difficult for many long time educators that have come accustomed to putting lots of grades in their grade book and then averaging the grades to arrive at a picture of the student’s performance. Albert Einstein is credited with the quote “…not everything that counts, is counted and not everything that is counted, counts…”, meaning that students averaged grades may not accurately reflect the student’s understanding of the content being taught.

This would be a great topic of conversation for our next PIE meeting… did I mention that our next PIE meeting is Thursday, march 15th at 6:30 pm in the GMS Library.

Until next time…

One thought on “Spring

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