Happy New Year!

 

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Upcoming Important Dates

Monday, January 5 – Students return from Christmas Break
Thursday, January 8 – School Geography Bee 6:30 pm GMS Auditorium
Friday, January 9 – School Dance GMS Gym 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, January 14 – Early Release Day for students
Wednesday, January 15 – GMS Talent Show GMS Auditorium 6:00 pm
Thursday, January 15 – PIE Meeting with School Committee Members
Monday, January 19 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday – No School

A Time for Resolutions

With each New Year, we all tend to take stock and make promises to ourself about what we are going to change for the better in the coming year. Alas, I am no different, so hear are a couple of things that I hope to change for the better:

  • A far better way to report out on all of the great things that happen at our school. Far too often our kids and teachers accomplish remarkable feats in academics as well as in the community. I only occasionally remember to report these great works to our greater community. This needs to be better.
  • With all of the shifts that education is experiencing, and will experience in the coming years, I resolve to help inform our community, keeping you up-to-date with all of the current ideas that are coming our way.
  • To go along with the above, I promise not to pontificate (too much!) about the shifts. I will try to put out for you all sides of the question and let you decide who and whether these ideas will work for your kids.
  • These are your children, your most precious gifts, keeping them safe has been, and will remain, our first and highest priority. I resolve to keep you informed on what the experts say about how you, we, can keep our kids safe in all environments, real and virtual.

I really hope that I can keep each of the resolutions, they aren’t that difficult and we strive to accomplish these each and everyday. Let’s see what the new year brings.

School Geography Bee

Jeff Carpenter, and all of our Social Studies Teachers have been “whittling” down to a precious few students to complete in our School -wide Geography Bee sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Our School winner will then take the test to determine if they qualify for the state Geography Bee, that will be held later in March. Come and join all of our school finalists on January 8th beginning at 6:30 pm in the GMS Auditorium. Bring you Atlas!

School Dance

Our first school dance of the new year will be on Friday, January 9th beginning at 6:00 pm and ending at 8:00 pm. We respectfully ask that parents please be prepared to pick up your children at 8:00 pm. I realize that the pick up time can be quite crazy with about 400 parents picking up more than 400 kids, but the past few dances we have had several students who haven;t been picked up until 8:45, after several frantic phone calls by the students.

On a very positive note, with so many of our students attending our dances, they must be very popular.

Early Release Day

We will have another early release day on Wednesday, January 14. Students will be dismissed at 11:10 am. During the morning, the students will have the opportunity to see their peers put their talents on display in our annual Talent Show sponsored by our Student Council. There will be two shows during the morning, when students are not viewing the show, students will be engaged in advisory and team activities.

Please circle on your calendar the date of January 15th to attend our Annual Talent Show at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium.

January PIE Meeting

On Thursday, January 15 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library, we will be joined in our regular monthly PIE Meeting with selected members of our Gorham School Committee as well as two wonderful people from the Confucius Institute at the University of Southern Maine.

You can bring your questions and concerns for your children’s education to the members of the school committee and also hear a short presentation on how GMS will be offering, on a very limited basis, a Chinese Language and Culture class to some of our 7th and 8th grade students.

This should be a very informative evening, so bring your questions!

James Madison Excellence in Writing Results

On the Friday before we broke for the Christmas Holiday Break, we awarded the prizes for the second Annual Madison Excellence in Writing awards to three 7th grade students. Over the course of the next few weeks I will include the essays here so you can all enjoy the wonderful abilities of these three students.

In the coming days, I will get each of the winning essays posted to the Middle School web page for your enjoyment. I would like to congratulate 7th grade students Haley Caron, Runner-up, Lydia Drew, Runner-up and Samuel Orlando, Grand Prize Winner.

Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard

Over the Christmas break I have been reading and very interesting book by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin called Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. This is their second edition, but a comletely updated version that includes all of the most current research and legal rulings.

I have been using the work of Hinduja and Patchin for a couple of years now, and I have always found them to be the most well researched and practical information that can be found in helping to support our kids who are being victimized and who are victimizing.

One of the most difficult parts in dealing with bullying behaviors is gaining an understanding of what bullying is and, more importantly what it isn’t. To be truthful, there are quite a few definitions of bullying, in fact, most states have their own definitions of bullying that they have made part of their anti-bullying laws and that helps to make the understanding of bullying very difficult. Hinduja and Patchin identify the definition used by the Centers for Disease Control as “as good as any”.

Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple time or is likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social or educational harm.

By far, Cyberbullying is becoming the most prevalent behavior we deal with when it comes to bullying behaviors. We have to walk very difficult tightrope when we try to deal with this because of the legal questions that arise when we try to intervene or discipline.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will share, or try to, some of what I have learned from my reading of the book.

To begin, I am including a short video from Dr. Justin W. Patchin, one of the authors of the book, as he talks about cyberbullying and what they have uncovered in their research.

I think the moist important thing I took away from this idea about what bullying is are that it really should include four basic components in order to be considered bullying: Intentional Behavior; Repetition; Violence or aggression, and, in my mind most importantly, a power differential. However, if we decide that these components are not present and that the behaviors do not fit under the definition of bullying, that does not mean we do not deal with the inappropriate behaviors. Our Code of Conduct should, and does, permeate everything we do when it comes to how we treat each other and how we deal with those who choose not to abide by our Code.

 

 

 

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