Bullying Behaviors and School Dances


GSD LogoUpcoming Important Dates

Sep 21 & 22 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 24 – 28 – Moving Naturally Week (see info below)
Sep 26 – Civil Rights Team Training – Portland
Sep 26 – Parent Summit on Bullying 6:00 pm GMS Auditorium
Sep 29 – End of STAR 360 testing
Sep 28 & 29 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls Healthy Women
Sep 29 – Announced Lockdown Drill 12:30 pm
Oct 5 – Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women
Oct 6 – Teacher Workshop Day – No School for Students
Oct 10 – Columbus Day Holiday, No School
Oct 13 – School Dance sponsored by the 7th Grade

Addressing Bullying Behaviors

We are taking several steps to address the behaviors of our students toward each other that has created issues within the school culture for the past few years.

We are engaged several organizations to help us address the manner in which our students deal effectively and positively with each other:

  • Rand Corporation –We are involved in a multi-school, multi year long study on the role of Restorative Practices in reducing the incidences of bullying behaviors. Our students have taken surveys, our faculty has been and will continue to be trained in the Restorative Practices.
  • Maine Boys to Men – Boys to Men is a non-profit organization in Maine. They have been operating for almost 20 years with middle and high schools across the state. The goal of the program is to help boys understand the stereotypical nature our culture can apply to the genders and help the students better understand their role.
  • Hardy Girls, Healthy Women – Another Maine non-profit that works with young women in middle and high schools to help them understand and come to grips with the cultural expectations of being a women today.
  • Opportunity Alliance – A Community Action Agency for Cumberland County serving more than 20,000 people. The have access to services and resources to aid in our goals to reduce the negative behaviors of our students.
  • Gorham Action Team for Youth (GATY) – GATY is a group organized within Gorham to work to provide positive alternative activities for our youth of Gorham.
  • Civil Rights Team – Team of GMS Students who are passionate about making GMS a safe and welcoming environment for all students at GMS.

To begin, we have Maine Boys to Men and Hardy Girls, Healthy Women meeting with our students for 4 sessions over the next four weeks. This will help give us a common language to use with our students. These meetings begin this week and run until the first week in October.

We have schedule a Parent Evening on Tuesday, September 26 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Auditorium. You will meet several of the people we will be working with over the course of the coming year. At this meeting, we will also begin to map out a community plan for addressing these behaviors as a community.

We will be holding several of the evening events throughout the school year to address these behaviors among our students. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Moving Naturally Week

Happy Heathy Gorham (HHG) is a group formed last year with the aim of making Gorham the “happiest and healthiest town in Maine. Over the course of the school year, HHG will be sponsoring four weeks of activities aimed to provide healthy and happy citizens of Gorham. The four themed weeks will be Moving Naturally Week in September, Kindling Kindness in November, Growing Gratitude in February, Eating Well in April.

The week of September 24 will be Moving Naturally week and Gorham Middle School will be joining in the activities. All week long students will count their steps for the day and we will record our progress each day. We are looking to track our progress toward one million steps for the week on our web page, so that the community can watch our progress.

We are also planning a “Walking School Bus” for Wednesday where students will get off the bus at the high school and we will have several teacher and parent volunteers along the path through the neighborhood as the students walk to the middle school.

Finally, during our advisory periods each day students will engage in activities organized by our Health and Physical Education Teachers to provide for movement during the day.

If you would like to volunteer with the walking school bus, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Heidi McGouldrick at GMS.

Lock Down Drill

We will conduct an announced Lock Down Drill on Friday, September 29. We announce this first drill so that we can make sure that all of our school community is ready to execute all of the protocols we have set up for the safety of the school. We will hold at least one more drill during the school year, which will be unannounced. We will send out a blackboard message at the beginning and at the end of the drill to let all families know of the drill.

School Dances

Each month, we hold school dances for the students of Gorham Middle School. Many of our students look forward to these dances as a great way to enjoy the company of their fellow students. Adam Parvanta, our resident (well now at GHS!) DJ keeps the music upbeat (and G Rated) and works the dance with precision and with engaging activities for all of the students.

These dances have also allowed the middle school to forgo many of the extra fundraising activities that we have done in the past. It is very rare when your child will come home from the middle school asking you to buy wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions. All of the money raised at the dances goes to each of the grade level teams to help pay for field trips and other activities.

One thing that I have noticed in the most recent dances, the end of last year and the beginning of the year, is the idea that the dance is somehow a place to dress up and to have a “date” for the dance. While I can’t tell anyone who they can come to the dance with, I do want to encourage all parents that “going with someone” or “dating” at the middle school level is strongly discouraged. This sort of behavior is not developmentally appropriate for students at middle school and, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia could lead to higher dropout rates.

Beside the longer term negative effects of “dating” in middle school, the shorter term impact is that our students are not ready for the responsibilities of “dating” and  it creates all sorts of drama in school, which creates conflict between and among student. I know that most parents may not even be aware that their child is “dating” in middle school, but I would ask that all parents have a conversation with their child about this. I would also suggest that reading this article first may help.

Circle These Dates

In an attempt to give you a “heads up” on important dates a little further out in the future:

October 25 & 26 – Parent Teacher Conferences
November 6 – Parent Night on “How to Read My Child’s Report Card 6:00 PM

I’ll Finish with a Short Video

This video is just a part of a longer TED talk by Sugata Mitra given in 2013 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. It truly will pique your interest and if you’d like to see the entire talk (23 minutes long) you can see it at TED.com

Here is just the first 5 minutes of the video from Youtube:

I Knew We were Busy,

topperMiddle 01

Important Upcoming Dates

  • May 16 – MLTI Student Conference in Orono
  • May 17 – Funtown Physics Day – 8th Grade
  • May 22 – Faculty Meeting in the Library 2:30 (Food provided by all females)
  • May 27 – Memorial Day – No School
  • May 28 – GMS Chorus performs at St Joseph Pavilion
  • May 30 – End of Year Band Concert in the Auditorium 6:30 pm
  • June 7 – Step Up Block Party in the Gym at 6:00 pm

TED on Education

ted_logoI usually put this section down a few more spaces in this weekly missive, but this week, I felt the need to put this higher up (actually first!).

Lat week, on PBS, the good folks at TED joined with PBS to produce an hour long show featuring some of the great promoters of American Public Education. The show was hosted by singer/songwriter/performer John Legend and he magnificently maneuvered all of the participants to a memorable and informative (I might even say, thought-provoking!) evening.

One individual with whom our faculty is very well acquainted is Sir Kenneth Robinson. Sir Ken delivered another gem of a talk that gets to the heart of our educational woes with his very dry wit and insightful comments of what we all know are the realities of our chosen profession. It is difficult to listen to Sir Ken and not understand that we can always do better and we always need to do better for our kids and our collective future. I hope you enjoy this, in fact I am sure you will:

Common Core PD Opportunity

The Maine Department of Education is inviting K-12 educators and higher educational professionals with experience in working with several different student populations to join the Maine State Network of Educators (SNE). The SNE will contribute to the Smarter Balanced Digital Library, an online, interactive clearing house for educators, students and families. The Digital Library will provide resources, tools and professional learning opportunities that can be tailored to the instructional need of students.

The selected educators will collaborate with the State Leadership Team (SLT) and they will participate in five (5) trainings between September 2013 and September 2014, submit and review resources for the Smarter Balanced Library and provide valuable feedback on the usability of the Digital Library application.

For this service, the selected educators will get early access to the digital Library resources and innovative collaborative tools and a stipend of $1500. The minimum criteria for the payment is:
Attend and complete each of the 5 trainings;
Submit resources into the Digital Library after each of the 5 trainings;
Submit at least one resource after training one;
Submit at least one resource that is approved for the Digital Library after trainings,2,3,4,5;
Review at Least 3 resources in the Digital Library after each of the 5 trainings.

The application period runs from May 1 through June 3. If you would like to be considered, please submit your application no later than June 3, 2013. For more information go to: http://www.maine.gov/doe/smarter/index.html#digital

Invitation to Join the Conversation on Maine’s Grading System

The Maine Department of Education is extending an invitation to all teachers to join a conversation about the controversial Maine System for Grading Schools. This online forum will be held on Thursday, May 16 beginning at 3:00 pm until 4:40 pm. To register for this webinar go to: www1.gotomeeting.com/register/631576520.

Interns in Gorham

We are indeed very fortunate to have an abundance of pre-service candidates who wish to complete their internships with our many fine teachers. We have gained  an excellent reputation in the “Land of Teacher Preparation” as a great place for new teachers to gain a great deal of experience.

All of that being said, we feel the need to centralize and normalize the process that we select our pre-service interns, whether they are undergraduate students looking for a few hours to those in the graduate program of ETEP. Therefore, when, and if, you should be approached by a pre-service candidate to be placed in your classroom, please ask the prospective candidate to contact the Office of the Superintendent to request an application packet that will outline the requirements and criteria necessary for consideration.

The Office of the Superintendent will be the point of contact for all who are interested in placing interns in the Gorham Public Schools.

News from around the School

We have twenty 7th grade and one 8th grade student participating in the Maine Model United Nations Conference being held on the campus of the University of Southern Maine this week. The students, members of the Little River Team, have spent the past 4 months researching and preparing to act as committee members and delegates from various countries from around the world.

The students will be tackling various “real-world” issues that are facing emerging nations as well as established nations in the area of population and world hunger, education rights of women across the globe and the necessity of clean water in order for nations and peoples to prosper.

These are very “heady” issues for our youngsters to take on, and they are truly prepared to argue for their cause. The students will be dealing with over 500 students from high schools and middle school from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to come to viable solutions.

The Garden Project

Last week, I mentioned the work that Heather Whitaker and the students in our Alternative Education have been doing in our GMS Garden, building new frames for the raised bed gardens, weeding, mulching and preparing the soil for seeds. I even put a couple of pictures of the ongoing work progress.

The next project is to add a Deer Fence to protect the harvest from the onslaught of the wild deer (and antelope) that roam our campus. Dan tells me that some mornings, when he arrives to open the school a 5:00 am, there will be several of “wild things” just enjoying a leisurely breakfast on the succulent shoots and fruits of our students labor.

In the past, as in before the deer found our natural salad bar,  the garden would bear over 1000 pounds of vegetables that would be donated to the local food pantry. This last year we were able to only reap about 400 pounds because of the ravaging of the deer. The deer fence should bring this free lunch to a halt.

We are actively seeking out several grants from other sources to help pay for the fence. If you feel moved to help out our garden, you can do so by giving us a call at the school 207-222-1220.

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year

Winter Break

Students will be on Winter Break from December 21 through January 1. We all return to school on January 2, 2013. It is the hope of all of us that your Holiday Season be filled with the great joy of family and friends.

Learning Teams

By now, all members of the Learning Teams should have received an email from me (what’s the big idea of interrupting my vacation!!!!) informing you that there have been several updates and uploads. There are some very thought provoking articles and videos (I like the videos best!) on each of the subjects.

We have had lots of our time get consumed by many things not directly related to the Learning Teams and we have lots of ground to make up. In the next few months, we plan to dedicate much of our PD time to moving ahead with our original plans for these teams.

Speaking of Professional Development

Over the past year, some might say that I have wasted, but I think I have gained tremendously from my time spent cultivating my Twitter Account and other types of social media. As I sit here with the snow flying all about me, and dreading the idea that someone is going to have the shovel all that white stuff, I can reflect on my learning for this year (that’s ‘cuz I don’t want to think about shoveling!).

I am amazed, and thankful, at all of the people who have contributed to my learning this year. George Couros (@gcouros), a school administrator from western Canada, has pointed out several great reads for me to expand my thinking (it appears he is a bit tarnished though, as he is wearing a New York Yankee hat on his Twitter page!). Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin), a school administrator from Massachusetts who daily posts new ideas for me to explore (and for which I am eternally grateful). It was Patrick Larkin who pointed me toward Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) and her wonderfully inspiring TED talk “You Matter” that I shared with all of you a few months  ago. Many of you have commented to me how inspiring you found that speech to be in your own practices.

There are so many other good and talented people who have led me to some amazing places, it is probably silly for me to try to mention them all… but, what the heck!

Eric Shenigar (@ericshenigar) has offered some great site on education  technology and changes in pedagogy;
Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) keeps me abreast of current news about Common Core;
Rick Wormeli (@rickwormeli) is someone I have read for a long time, now I can get a daily dose;Diana Laufenberg (@dlaufenberg) I first met her in a TED Talk on failure, I wish I were a student in her class;
Bill Burkhead (@normandinbill) A Middle School Principal in Massachusetts who has much to offer all of us;
OpenCulture (@openculture) These great folks make all kinds of Free Thinking available to all;
Steven M. Anderson (@web20classroom) who makes all things educational technology seem so easy;
Sir Kenneth Robinson (@sirkenrobinson) You all remember him form his TED Talks, his tweets are very similar and informing;
Curosity Rover (@MarsCurosity) for some incredible pictures from the surface of the Planet Mars, just amazing!;
Discovery Education (@DiscoveryEd) a great resource for our science and math teachers… all teachers for that matter.

OK, I give up and I will spare you the rest. Just let me say that as a Professional Development resource that costs absolutely nothing, these people are amazing and so willing to share. Thank you, all, I look forward to another great year and I hope that I can make a contribution some time!

Through the use of technology, I have had many of my beliefs challenged, and this is good. Because I have been exposed to other peoples viewpoints, I can become more sure of my own beliefs and my own practices, as well as make the necessary adjustments in my practice. Isn’t this what learning is all about?

I urge you all to explore this very valuable resource.

January PIE Meeting

Our next PIE Meeting will be Thursday, January 10 at 6:00 pm in the GMS Library. Our topic for this month will be school safety and I have invited Lt. Chris Sanborn of the Gorham Police Department to join us so we can answer any questions that you may have about our security plans at GMS.

What a Great Idea!

I know that many, if not most of our kids have cell phones. In fact many of our kids have some pretty “smart” phones. Here is a link to a story about a Mom who gave her 13 year old child an IPhone along with contract for his use. I liked some (actually most of the clauses) to help keep order in the house and to try to teach her child to be responsible.