Week of September 5th

topperMiddle

GSD Logo

Upcoming Important Dates

Sep 6 – Laptop Orientation during Tutorials
Sep 8 – Picture Day
Sep 8 – Vision & Hearing Screening
Sep 11 – 15th Anniversary of The Attacks on 9/11
Sep 12 & 13 – MLTI Parent Orientation Night 6:00 pm
Sep 12 thru Sep 23 – Star 360 Testing Window
Sep 16 – School Dance 6:00 pm GMS Gymnasium
Sep 17 – U.S. Constitution Day
Sep 21 – Early Release Day Students dismissed at 11:10

MLTI Laptops

I mentioned, at the close of last year, that GMS was going to be receiving new Apple MacBook Air laptops for all of our 7th and 8th grade students. Well, they have arrived and we gave them out to the students on Thursday. We will be working with the students to get them all configured when they return to school on Tuesday. We will do this laptop activation during the period we call Tutorial, so there will be no loss of class time.

Most of the 6th grade students received the whole MacBooks that we have used for the past 7 years. However, the students on the Moosehead Team will be participating in a Pilot program and will be using ChromeBooks. Every 6th grade students will have a device assigned to them for their use.

We will hold the annual MLTI Parent Orientation Nights on Monday and Tuesday, September 12 & 13 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. Attendance at this event is required of all parents in order for their child to be able to bring their device home from school.

Please make every attempt to attend one of these evening events. I know these are a real pain, but we are required to do these and parents are required to attend annually. We will do our best to be quick and be informative.

Picture Day

Picture day is on Thursday, September 8 for all students. Students did receive an order form on the first day of school. Please use this form to complete your order.

If your child lost the form, please don’t worry, you can order pictures online by going to the LifeTouch web page. Just follow the directions on the page, it really is easy!

Portland Tutors

Portland TutorsOccasionally, I get asked if I know of a tutor who can help a child through some difficulties in math. Recently, a friend of mine actually began such a service and, I am happy to pass along his information. His name is Alexander Decal, a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and an accomplished engineer. He can be reached via email at Alexander@portlandtutors.org, or via his website at portlandtutors.org.

Annual Vision and Hearing Screening

Nurse Cathy Loiselle will be conducting the annual Vision & Hearing screenings for all 7th grade students, and some Eye examselected 8th grade students. If your 8th grade child is one of the selected students, you will have been notified in advance.

These screenings are designed to uncover any issues with our students and to report anything we find to the parents. We have been conducting these screenings since I was in school, with chalkboards and paper bag book covers!

STAR 360 Assessments

For more than 10 years, we have use the NWEA Assessments in an effort to help us understand what we need to do next to help our students learn better. This should be the goal of any assessment, help us learn how we can help our students learn better.

This year, we will be making a switch to an assessment called STAR 360. This assessment is similar to the NWEA in that it will be administered via the computer and that it is also an adaptive assessment. The part I like best is that it will provide our teachers will a complete set of information on our students by class or by grade, and the information will be norm referenced, meaning a view of how our students fare against the nation as well as criterion referenced information, meaning how are our students doing toward the learning targets.

Parents will receive similar information on their child’s results and you will see a clear picture of their progress.

We plan to begin the administration of the assessments during the second week of September. When we have completed all of the administration, I will let you know overall results and when you will receive your child’s results.

Education for the Future

Over the past few years in this space, I have included articles, blog posts from others and videos that challenge our ideas about what education should be. I think I even offered the observation that if Horace Mann, who died in 1859, were to return to Earth today, the only thing he would recognize is the education system!

In Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith book Most Likely to Succeed, they speak in great detail about the shaping of the American Public School at the turn of the 19th Century. How the “movers and shakers” of the day recognized that America was moving from an agrarian society to one that required skills in manufacturing. They also realized that an educational system needed to be instituted to address this change and to train the American worker to move from the fields of the farm to the floors of the assembly lines.

In a way, these men, called the Gang of Ten (yes, they were all men!), recognized that the technology of the late 19th and early 20th Century was changing the way of life for our country, and the country needed to respond to these changes.

In a way, we are at a similar crossroads again. Technology has again changed the course of human events.

Schools need to be responsive to this shift, the shift in skills that the kids in our schools today will need for their future.

We have a lot of work to do in the coming years to re-tool what we do, and how we do it, in our schools to make sure our students are ready for the world ahead of them.

 

We’ll explore more in the coming weeks here. In the meantime, take a few minutes to view Ted Dintersmith giving a speech in Fargo, North Dakota on why he supported the making of the documentary Most Likely to Succeed.

 

Week of September 8th

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, September 8 – Late Buses start after school.
Tuesday, September 8 – Sign-ups for Chorus and Steel Band
Wednesday, September 9 – School Committee Meeting, Municipal Center 7:00 pm
Friday, September 11 – National Day of Service in remembrance of September 11th
Monday, September 14 – Laptop Devices deployed to students
Monday, September 14 – MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Friday, September 18 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gymnasium
Wednesday, September 23 – Early Release Day, students dismissed at 11:10 am

After School Activities

The Gorham Middle School has loads and loads of after school activities during the course of the school year to keep our kids engaged in school and activities. We also provide a late bus on Monday through Thursday that pick students up at the middle school at 4:00 pm and brings the students to areas close to their home.

Please check our daily announcements that Laurie DeLuca publishes each day and posts to the GMS Web Page. The “Daily Notices” is on the left side of the page.

 

 

Screenshot 2015-09-08 12.20.54

 

 

 

 

MLTI Parent Orientation Nights

These evening meetings are still a requirement for our students’ parents to attend, if they want their mlti-logochild to be able to bring the laptops home for school use. I recognize that this is a nuisance for many parents, and, especially those parents who have had several children come through the middle school during the MLTI Era. This is a requirement of the lease agreement that all school districts have with the state of Maine, and it is required by School Board Policy.

We will hold three meetings this year. Our first two will be on Monday and Tuesday evening at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. Recognizing that Monday and Tuesday are the days in which members of our school community may be celebrating the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah, we will hold a meeting will on Friday evening at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. This evening event coincides with our first dance of the year, so, if you’d like to bring your child to the dance and stop by the Auditorium for some new information, that would be great. Hopefully, we can get all of the parents to attend these meetings, as required.

We do have some new “wrinkles” this year to the laptop program, as well as bringing back some of the old “wrinkles” that we were unable to use last year. We will also address how parents can help their child become better digital citizens and how to productively and positively use technology.

Laptop Deployment

And, Speaking of laptop technology, we plan to get the devices into the hands of our students beginning on Monday, September 14th. We are developing a schedule, beginning with the 8th grade.

We have been delayed in deploying the devices this year because of an accident that occurred while we were getting the devices imaged over the summer. Unfortunately, the shelf un which we were storing the devices collapsed and caused quite a bit of damage to many of the laptops. We have been able to work with the good folks at MLTI and our intrepid Technology Crew have been working diligently to get the device repaired and ready. Thus our delay in getting the devices out to the students.

An Amazing Resource

BullyingLast year, I spoke about a book that I was reading by two dedicated researchers on the very timely topic of bullying called Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard:Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying by Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja. These two have dedicated much of their adult life to the study of bullying behaviors and how we can help young people deal with the bullying behaviors of others.

This last week, Sameer Hinduja used his Twitter account to share one incredible resource for families when they are faced with behaviors that can be considered harassing or threatening. This resource has the email address, web site URL or phone number of many of the social media outlets (some that I have never heard of!) when you or child becomes a victim of bullying of harassing behaviors online.

So, if you have ever wondered “who can I call to report that I am being harassed on (you pick the social media platform), check out this great resource, bookmark it to your computer and use any one of the available outlets if you feel you need to report appropriate behaviors on line.

Cyberbullying Resource

 

Day of Remembrance and Service

31965September 11, 2001 is seared into the memories of most of the parents and guardians of our kids, yet, as hard as this is to believe, the events of that day as but a passage on Wikipedia or a nuclei on Youtube for all of our kids. In our effort to continue to recognize the sacrifices made on that day, and the bravery demonstrated by Americans across the country, we will remember the events of that day with a short moment of remembrance at 8:46am, Friday morning.

Across the state and the country, there are opportunities for students and others to engage in service to others from donating blood to cleaning up a neighbor’s yard, or even, perhaps, bringing a plate of cookies to the fire station as a way of “Thanks for all you do”!

First School Dance of the Year

It is that time of year again when Mr. Parvanta breaks out the “old platters” and his trusty turntable and

Mr. P at the controls of happiness for GMS!

Mr. P at the controls of happiness for GMS!

“spins” some great tunes for the kids to dance to! And, if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d love to sell you.

Mr. P, as he is know here, might not even know what a turntable looks like, but he does have his trusty computer that has a complete playlist of the most recent artists 9you know, the ones we don’t know and the kids do!). He has his light show ready and his confetti cannons (not really cannons, just tubes of confetti), now all we need are the kids

The dance begins at 6:00 pm and runs until 8:00, don’t listen to your kids when they tell you it’s later! We do ask that parents be here to pick the kids up at 8:00, and plan on a traffic jam both coming and going. The cost of the dance is $5.00 and the Student Council will be selling treats and refreshments during the dance.

Our dress code is the same as it is for school and, we frown on students thinking that they “have to have a date”, they don’t!

We are also looking for parents who would like to chaperone the dance. We promise that you only need to be in the Gym for a short period of time (not sure if the music and lights constitute cruel and unusual punishment!) and your kids don’t ever have to see you! If you are interested in chaperoning the dance (a once in a lifetime opportunity), please call 222-01220 and let Kristen or Laurie know you’ll be here.

Lost and Found

Less than one week in and we have all of this in the Lost & Found!

Less than one week in and we have all of this in the Lost & Found!

I am always amazed at the amount of “stuff” that gets left lying around the building with no one making a claim of ownership. Everyday, after lunch, there has to be 3 or 4 lunch bags left outside the building by kids who forget about them when they return from recess.

Mrs. Hanley dutifully picks them up and brings them to the Lost and Found located just outside the cafeteria, thinking that kids will see them when the return to lunch the next day. It’s amazing that these lunch bags, some that are LL Bean quality, just continue to sit in the Lost & Found day-after-day.

If you some one that belongs to you, please give us a call, or better yet, let your child know that you expect them to bring it home the next day.

And, Speaking of Lunch…

I have mentioned here for the past couple of weeks the book I am reading from Jessica Lahey called The Gift of Failure. This is a book for parents and for educators. Ms. Lahey, a mother of 2 children (actually

Just a small sample of "stuff" brought for students who forgot it at home!

Just a small sample of “stuff” brought for students who forgot it at home!

one is a Middle Schooler!) and a teacher at the middle level, so she is twice blessed!

One particular passage in her book, Ms. Lahey talks about the day she sent her son off to school and then noticed that he had left his homework on the kitchen table. Ms.Lahey agonized, as only a mother can, about should she bring his homework to school and leave it at the office so he wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences with his teacher, of let nature take its course.

I think we are all faced with this dilemma from time-to-time during the upbringing of our children. I know I was when my kids were in school and I always thought what was the big deal, I could just drop it off at the office on my way to wherever. However, I did resist most of the time, and, my kids had to either learn how to remember their stuff or face the consequences.

gift of failureSo, each day, we have some of the greatest parents in the world who look after their kids with incredible kindness and love, and work to make sure that soccer shoes are at school when they have been left behind at home. Lunch boxes, some of which end up in the aforementioned Lost & Found, being brought to school after the student “forgot” them at home. If we apply Ms. Lahey’s reasoning, and I think we should, what are we teaching our kids if they never get to feel the consequences of their inattentiveness!

I will make a promise to you all, any child who forget his lunch, will be fed! I will make sure of that. As for forgotten homework or sports equipment, we will support the child as they work through the consequences and hopefully, help them to devise some strategies to be less forgetful.

Ms. Lahey’s book is filled with some great ideas and techniques and support for parents who think that if they don’t come to their child’s rescue in these situations, they are lousy parents. I think we will all feel fortified as parents by what she writes.

Again, I am willing to coordinate a book group, here at GMS fro any parent that would like to participate in a discussion. Please just let me know.

Off to a Great Start

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, September 3 – Sign-ups for Cross Country 7:45 am in the Ping Pong Room
Friday, September 4 – No School
Monday, September 7 – Labor Day Holiday, No School
Tuesday, September 8 – Late Buses start after school.
Tuesday, September 8 – Sign-ups for Chorus and Steel Band
Monday, September 14 – MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Orientation Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Friday, September 18 – School Dance 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gymnasium

A Huge “Thank You” to all Coming to Our Open House

In speaking with the staff this morning, the overwhelming adjective they used to describe last night’s Open House was, well, “overwhelmed”! Each and every faculty member commented on the amazing turnout of so many of our parents coming by to have the children introduce their advisors and the new teachers. Thank you to every one who came out!

Sports Sign-ups

Boy’s and Girl’s Soccer for both 7th and 8th Grade are currently signing up players for the coming season. If a student is interested in trying out for any of these teams, they should sign up. The sign up sheets are posted on the glass windows just outside the cafeteria.

7th & 8th Grade Field Hockey are singing up as well and those sign up sheets are outside the cafeteria as well.

6th, 7th 7 8th grade coed Tennis will be starting next week as well.

Any student in grade 6, 7 or 8, interested in running Cross Country this season, should attend an organizational meeting Thursday Morning (tomorrow) in the Ping Pong Room in the corridor behind the Gym. The meeting begins at 7:45 am and will last only 10 minutes or so. If a student forgets, or misses the meeting, they should meet with Mr. McCarthy sometime during the day or early next week to sign up.

Late Bus Begins

We will begin the Late Bus Runs on Tuesday, September 8. The buses pick up students at GMS at 4:00 pm. This is perfect because it coincides with the end of practice and all activities at GMS. Students will get on one of three possible buses that head out in different directions across Gorham. We have a map available in the foyer of the Middle School so that students can find where the live and decide which bus will take them to their home.

The Late Buses run Mondays through Thursdays, with the exception of the early release days.

Band, Chorus and Steel Band

Any student interested in joining Chorus, band or the Steel Band are invited to sign up. There is no experience necessary for any of these activities and there is plenty of fun and enjoyment in each one. Please encourage your child to try something new this year that might extend them “just beyond their comfort zone”!

MLTI Parent Orientation Nights

As we have since the beginning of the MLTI program, we will be holding our mandatory parent orientation night on Monday and Tuesday evening, September 14 and 15. The evening will begin at 6:00 pm and we will try to keep the night’s work to an hour!

We do have a lot to offer all parents in assisting you in managing your kids and their use of technology at home. We are still working on a couple of items that will help us control how much the kids “abuse” the devices over the weekends and in the evenings.

We also need to have a conversation about the “gorhamschools.org Apple ID” accounts for our students who have not yet reached the age of 13, which is more than half of our student body!

For some of you, this might be the 8th or 9th time you have “had” to attend one of these events, so I promise you, we will make valuable to you and , perhaps, even surprise some of you with new information!

Please circle one of these two dates to join us in the Auditorium.

Let’s Start a Book Group

OK, I know that I am no Oprah! But, I have been reading a wonderful book about parenting and teaching adolescents in the modern era. I have written about this book in this space a couple of times, but I would really like to get a group of folks together so that we could explore all that Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure, offers to us as a way to help guide us toward making our kids more autonomous in their decision making and in their contributions to your family and to the education.

If you could email me indicating your interest in joining other parents and teachers in reading and discussing this great book, that would be great. I have heard from a couple of parents who are interested in starting a group and it would be great to get it going in October.

Sleep Deprivation and School Kids

It is that time again, when all of the demands of school, you know, homework, reading, socializing over social media, in no particular order of importance, start to compete with our kids sleep time. Not because the kids are going to sleep any earlier, but because the alarm clock goes off and that big yellow bus or the school bell ringing intrudes upon the morning of all of our kids.

The above mentioned Jessica Lahey offers some really good information from the American Academy of Pediatrics and how sleep deprivation impacts the lives of our kids and their families.

The article is from The Altantic and I hope you enjoy it!

Finally, An Interesting Video

John Green is an American author of a series of books written mostly for young adults, but I think that he appeals to many more than just the young adults. In this TEDx Indianapolis video he uses his skills as a writer to expose some very interesting and enlightening insights into his own learning and how he views learning could be.

The video is about 19 minutes long, but he is very engaging, entertaining and, at times, rather funny. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Until next time…

Enough Already!!! Please Stop the Snow!!!

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, February 10 – Southern Maine Honors Jazz Festival, York High School 4:00 pm
Thursday, February 12 – Digital Citizenship Assemblies for all grades
Friday, February 13 – A Dose of Reality Presentation, all students.
Friday, February 13 thru February 22 – Mid Winter Break, Enjoy the snow!!!
Friday, February 27 – Southern Maine Honors Chorus Festival, Westbrook Middle School
Saturday, February 28 – Southern Maine Honors Concert, Westbrook Middle School 3:30 pm

PIE Meeting Postponed

We had a PIE meeting scheduled for Thursday evening at 6:00 pm, but I am going to have to postpone this until later in February for personal reasons.

While I am on the subject of PIE meetings, I do want to follow up on a couple of topics that we discussed at our PIE meeting in January.

One question that was asked was about the contract custodial workers that are part of the private company that provides our cleaning services. I have been assured that each of the workers who work in our schools have all had criminal records check performed by the state police. As we said at the meeting, we could;t imagine that they would not have had a criminals record check, but we could not answer for sure. Now we can!

Another idea that came out of the PIE meeting was how can parents keep up with the ever changing landscape of social media. In full disclosure, Terri Dawson, our Technology Integrator for the middle school, passed this on to me a while ago so this may already be out of date!

Our good friends at Common Sense Media have provided parents with 15 Apps and sites that kids are going to besides Facebook. I wish I could tell you that I am familiar with all of them, but I can’t. Many of the Apps and sites and I familiar, but not all. Anyway, checkout this resources from Common Sense Media. Maybe after you have had a chance to check each of these out, we can all sit down and teach each other.

Digital Citizenship Assemblies

On Thursday, February 12, we will hold grade level assemblies for the students to remind them about their responsibilities to follow our Code of Conduct when the are using technology. By technology I mean any device, whether it is the laptop we provide through MLTI, or their cellphones or even their iPods and gaming consoles. We have experienced a couple of episodes of students not exercising their best judgment when using these advices.

I don’t think for a minute that our kids are deliberately attempting to cause harm to their peers, but I do believe that they are not thinking about what they are doing or what the possible consequences are for being unkind. Quite often, when we confront students about their actions on line, they explain that they “didn’t mean to cause harm”,

We intend to include a very recent, student produced video to try to drive home our point that as easy as it is to not think about what they post, it is just as easy to help all of us remember to think before we post. This video plays on the parody of a virus that is priding and that “carrier” may not know that they are “infected”. It is a nice pay on words that makes a very serious point.

 Dose of Reality

We will try once again to have Linda Dutil come to GMS to speak to our kids about the realities of substance use and abuse. So far, this is our third attempt to Have Linda join us for this very important presentation for our kids. She will be here on Friday, February 13 and will present to our entire school.

Now, if we can only get the snow gods to cooperate, we may actually get to Friday without any more snow days…

MLTI Laptops over Vacation

We continue to work on upgrades to operating systems and add applications for our students to use in their learning every month. In order for us to complete these upgrade properly, we like to have the laptops here at GMS, on our network, so that we can test the systems and push out packages. (Boy, that is a lot of technical talk!) We also complete inventories and an audit of the devices for damages and defects.

So all of this says that the students will not be taking their laptops home over the February vacation.

Report Cards

As we have done for the past year and one half, report cards are available through the Infinite Campus Parent Portal. You can, if you would like, print out your child’s report card from the system quite easily. If you have any difficulties, just ask your kids, they do it all the time here.

If you would like us to send you a hard copy of your child’s report card, please contact Terry Lamontagne in the Guidance office. She will put one in the mail for you.

We Have Liftoff!

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, September 10,  11 & 12 – Laptops Deployed
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening
Friday, September 19 – 1st School Dance of the year 6:00 – 8:00 pm GMS Gym

No School on Friday August 29 or Monday September 1

Just a reminder that we will have no school for students and teachers on Friday and Monday to allow all families to enjoy one, final long weekend. I hope that the weather holds out for all of us to be able to enjoy all of the activities and family get togethers that are planned for the Labor Day weekend.

We will get back to business on Tuesday, September 2nd for the long haul to Thanksgiving (with a few breaks in between).

MLTI Laptop Deployment

mlti-logoMike Nash and our entire Tech Department have spent the entire summer getting all of the laptops ready for the new school year. There are some new features on theses devices, as there are every year and we will go over those changes during the MLTI Parent Nights on September 15 & 16.

We will deploy the laptops to each grade level beginning on Tuesday, September 10 to the 8th graders, and then we will get the 7th grade and 6th grade on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. The student will not be able to bring their devices home, if parent choose to allow that, until after the meetings and after all of the paperwork has been completed> I think we can expect to allow the devices to go home to those students whose parents chose to allow it, on Monday, September 22.

Tooth Fairies coming to GMS

tooth fairyOK, not real fairies, but real “people doing good things” for our community.

The Tooth Fairies are a group of dental hygienists who travel around to school offering free, or low cost, dental health services. It is a wonderful service that allows parents to have their child’s teeth checked and cleaned for little or no cost, usually no cost!

If you want your child to have these services here at school, please complete the form that was sent home in the summer mailing and return it to the Main Office of GMS by Friday, September 5th. Those who have the forms completed will be contacted with the date and time of their child’s appointment. The Tooth Fairies will be at GMS on Wednesday,Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12. The appointment will happen during the school day, and may mean your child will miss a portion of one of their classes.

If you have any other questions about the Tooth Fairies or other health related issues, please contact Teresa Merrill, School Nurse.

MLTI Parent Nights

putthis_on_calendar_clip_artWe are required every year to present an evening of information and digital citizenship to the parents of middle school students who will be using the MLTI issued laptops. As I mentioned above, this evening information session is required for students and families that wish to have the laptops go home.

This year, we are planning a very vigorous session on Digital Citizenship and what parents can do to help their child become positive constructive users of technology. We will be introducing all parents to the CommonSenseMedia web site and the many tips and strategies they offer to help parents who may struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing world of technology.

Please plan to attend one of these informative evenings. The night will begin at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium.

Picture Day

The all important and much anticipated Picture Day will happen this year on Wednesday, September 16. We will have a schedule set up for the students by grade and by team. Again, our pictures will a=school pcbe done by LifeTouch Pictures.

Last year, I heard some concerns that the passages were too expensive and really didn’t offer the bare minimum. I have spoken to LifeTouch and they have assured me that they will address this issue, but I was told that if parents only want one picture, they can do that. They may need to call customer service or use the online shopping option, but any pictures that parents want of their child will be available, not just the packages.

Vision and Hearing Screening

School Nurse Teresa Merrill will also be doing vision and hearing screening for all 7th grade students, and a few selected other students,on the day of the school pictures. These screenings are required of the schools for all 7th graders, and doing them on the picture day makes for fewer interruptions in the school week.

One Last Thought on the Dress Code

First, we have NOT banned students from wearing yoga pants! We understand that yoga pants are comfortable for people wearing them and they are stylish as well. We do expect that all pants are worn at “the natural waist line”. We still are not interesting in seeing students’ undergarments, (this includes boxers, bras, including sports bras and bra straps) as well as bare bellies or the large cut T-Shirts that expose much of the side of male and female students.

We still don’t allow students to wear clothing that promote drugs, violence, sexual activity or hate speech. What we are trying to create is an environment that will allow for the larding process to maximized, free from disruptions or distractions.

The one test I use, and this may not be for everyone, but I asked my kids (when they were students), “would your grandmother approve of what you’re wearing?” Now, to be fair, their grandmother was born in 1915, so she had a very different view of how children should be dressed, but it worked for me… for a while!

 

Ready, Set…

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

GMS Open House

Our first big event of the school year will be on August 26 at 6:00 pm as all of our teachers will have their rooms ready for the annual open house. Teachers will welcome parents beginning at 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm in their classrooms. We will have lots of information available to parents on tables in the foyer of the school as well as our library and cafeteria. We hope to you all at GMS on Tuesday (holy smokes, that’s a week a way!)

Preparation for the New Year

We are all very busy getting the school ready for the arrival of almost 660 students on August 27 (first day for all the students). The floors have been waxed, the walls have been scrubbed and painted where needed. Each of the classrooms now has projectors mounted to the ceilings. This helps us keep the students safe from accidentally tripping on the many wires on the floor. It also makes our insurance carriers very happy! Our supplies are arriving daily, restocking our emptied store rooms with paper and pens, markers, rulers (do we still use those?), graphing paper and the all important erasers (‘cuz we do make mistakes).

We are also doing lots of work to comply with the newest laws regarding Common Core and Proficiency Based Learning. Over the summer, we have attended several workshops, listened to several videos and read lots of the newest articles to make sure that we are ready for the coming shift.

Now, all we need are the students! I can’t wait for them to arrive, even though that means the end of summer and the coming of what the Old Farmers Almanac calls “A Winter of Super Cold!”

The First Days of School

As we have for the past couple of years, we will welcome the 6th Graders on Wednesday, August 27th, just the 6th graders! They will have the whole school to themselves to explore and get comfortable. The 6th graders will have a chance to get to meet all of their teachers, as well as the teachers at 7th grade and 8th grade, just so that they can put names to faces and feel comfortable and safe in our school.

We will also have plenty of time to take care of the two most dreaded items that brand new middle school students encounter, the combination lock for their locker and the lunch line in the cafeteria. If there are any areas that cause more consternation and angst among our new students, it is these two areas, initially. I promise that once they feel as though they have these conquered, they will turn their attention to items such as wearing the right kind of shoes, having the latest style of jeans and appropriately styled T-Shirts. But, first they must conquer the combination locks and the lunch line with a correct PIN.

The rest of the students will all arrive on Thursday, August 28th. The students will report to their Advisors first thing. While we will not have a typical day for all students, they will have time to attend all of their classes and meet all of their teachers.

Save the Date

We are required by our lease agreement with the state of Maine to hold an annual meeting to discuss the use of the MLTI provided devices (laptops) before we allow them to go home with the students. We have set aside two evenings, Monday, September 15 and Tuesday, September 16 at 6:00 pm for these meetings. You only need to attend one of these meetings and you must sign the appropriate permission sheets and acknowledgment forms to allow your child to use the laptops away from school.

I remind all parents that the final decision about whether a laptop goes home with the student rests with the parents. Part of the acknowledgment is that the parent accepts responsibility for the device in the event that it is damaged. We have, in the past, developed several methods to limit that liability for parents, and we will be discussing these methods at these meetings.

We will also use these meetings to help parents gain a greater understanding about how to keep your children safe while they are on line and other strategies to keep your child cyber-safe.

New Staff at GMS

There have been some changes at GMS since the students left last June. We have a bunch of new folks working with our students at different grade levels. One of our teams has changed their name to reflect the island off the Maine coast with the tallest lighthouse (recently sold at auction), The Boon Island Team at the 8th grade.

So over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to some of our new staff, beginning with our newest teaching staff:

Because of retirements, we have hired 2 new English/language arts teachers. The Boon Island Team will be joined  Mary Guimond. Mary is very familiar with Gorham and many of our students may have had Mary as a substitute teacher last year. Mary completed her training at the University of Southern Maine in the ETEP program. During her internship period, she was placed at Gorham High School as well as Biddeford Middle School. Mary also coaches the girls ice hockey team and girls lacrosse team at Gorham High School. We are very excited to have Mary join the GMS team.

Meghan Rounds will be joining the Sebago team at the 6th grade. Meghan comes to us with experience teaching in the Richmond, Me school district and with a couple of years as an educator with the Portland Water District. Meghan has actually taught several of our students over the years through they program. We are excited to welcome Meghan to our team.

I will work on getting pictures of everyone for the next edition.

Looking forward to the beginning…

Getting Ready for The New School Year

topperMiddle

Upcoming Important Dates

Tuesday, August 26 – GMS Open House 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 27 – 1st Day of school for 6th grade
Thursday, August 28 – 1st Day of school for grades 7 & 8
Friday, August 29 – No School
Monday, September 1 – Labor Day, No School
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 – Tooth Fairies
Monday, September 15 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – MLTI Parent Meeting 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Tuesday, September 16 – Picture Day, Vision & Hearing Screening

Not to be a “Debbie Downer!”

I know that summer is just beginning, and we are all still formulating plans for that fishing trip or family gathering. I, too, really don’t want to be thinking about this, but as the great philosopher Yoda says “think, we must”.

So, with that in mind, we have scheduled to GMS Open House for the evening of August 26th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. Teachers will be in their rooms to meet the parents and guardians of their new students. We all hope to see you all there. It will be a great time to meet our “old” staff and the new faces that will be joining the GMS Family for the coming year.

Student Handbook Revisions

As we do each summer, we examine our Student Handbook for areas where we need to make changes. We intend to publish the Student Handbook in Ibook Author which will allow everyone to see it, regardless of what computer platform you use. It should also be available on other devices as well, such as smart phone and tablets.

The area that seems to cause the most concern and consternation is our dress code! Given that styles are ever changing, and the retailers are marketing specifically to our aged kids with an eye toward making them seem older than the really are, becomes a problem for most middle schools.

We, meaning me, really struggle with writing a dress code that does not single out one gender over the other, and yet most dress codes seem to do exactly that.

In our school, our male students have eschewed the baggy, low riders that displayed their boxers. A couple of years ago, the skinny jeans were in style for many of our male students, but that, too seems to have passed. We now have the yoga pants fad going through our school for our female students, and that seems to be causing quite a stir among our faculty as well as around the country.

I have done a little research on this in the past week and I have discovered that we definitely are not alone with this issue. Seems that schools all across the country are facing this new fad. How they are responding to their girls wearing yoga pants, which tend to be body conforming, is not unexpected, they are banning their students from wearing them.

I am not sure we are sending an appropriate message when we ban things like yoga pants from schools because it is, in fact, gender specific. In some manner, it may be perceived that the “good order of the school” relies on what the girls are wearing, this somehow feels unbalanced.

I have survived the middle school years, albeit 15 to 20 years ago. The schools my kids went to had dress codes that restricted what the students could wear. I didn’t find that I had to fight too much with my kids about what they wore, mostly because my and I bought their clothes, and we didn’t purchase the kinds of clothes that made my daughter look older than she was. Also, she was quite level headed and involved in other things to worry about what she wore.

It also helped that I was teaching at the school and she didn’t have the opportunity to leave the house wearing one set of clothes and then changing into other clothes when she got to school. This has happened with several of our students in the past year!

In any event, we will be making some adjustments to our dress code this summer. We will try mightily to make sure that we do not isolate on one gender with too many restrictions. And, we will be asking parents to be mindful as the  begin the process of “Back-To-School” shopping of succumbing to the wishes of “Madison Avenue” and the Disney Channel Kids shows, and looking for clothes that will be functional for school, easy on the pocket book and doesn’t make you child look 5 years older than they really are!

As an aside, I came across this article from an Evanston, Illinois newspaper about the dress code at one of their middle schools. I think you’ll find this interesting! Haven Middle School Dress Code Protest

Student Placement Issues

We have received a few calls and emails regarding the placement of kids on teams for next year. I appreciate all of you for understanding our process of placement and the lengths we go to to try and make teams that make sense for our entire school. We do try to make sure that each child has  friend with them on their team. In some cases, we have even been able to get friends in the same advisory, but not always!

Just a reminder about requesting changes of placement for your child. We have four possible conditions to which we can respond:

  • Negative prior experience with your child and a particular teacher;
  • Prior negative experience with an older sibling and a particular teacher;
  • Issue with another student that rises to the level of legal action between the families, and;
  • A neighbor, relative or close friend as the teacher that would create an uncomfortable situation for the child, teacher or family.

We will be back in the office during the second week of August, so if you have any questions regarding placement, you can call us then. You can also email us if you have a question that we can answer. We do monitor our emails often during the summer.

 Student Supply Lists

At the annual step up day this past June, your child should have received a supplies list from their next year team. The list usually includes items such as notebooks, 3-ringed binders, pencils, pens, index cards, markers, etc. I know these are all very important items for school. I also know that your child will want to feel prepared when they arrive at school on that first day. So, that means that you will begin hearing about all of the things that will be “necessary” on that first day of school.

I have cautioned the teachers to make sure that all requested supplies are “necessary” and just “what we have always done”. I can assure you that no child will be made to feel uncomfortable on those first days of school if they don’t have everything on their supply list!

I have always been shocked by the total  cost of all of the items on these lists. I must say, however, our teachers do a really good job of keeping the lists short, but, depending on grade level and team, the cost of all of the items on the list can exceed $100! And some of the items will not be needed until 2nd semester!

So, please use your best judgment, not about what is on the list, nut about what you can reasonably afford, when you head out for back to school shopping. (there, I said “Back to School”!)

Summer Reading Recommendations fro CommonSenseMedia.com

CommonSenseMedia Over the past several years, I have recommended CommonSenseMedia.com as a great resource for all things about your kids. Things like newly released movies and video games, ideas about how to help your child deal with issues about bullying, and so many more topics. Here is a review of some books for teens from 12 to 17 years old that might help both you and your child pick out some interesting summer reading books.

CommonSenseMedia not only makes a recommendation according to genre and style, they also give you a very nice synopsis of the book to help you decide if it is right for your child. Check them out at CommonSenseMedia. While you’re visiting the site, check out all of the other great features they offer to parents to help you deal with technology, video games and even friendships.