Grade 3 Highlights (from Dr. Karch)
Each of our third grade classes are currently enjoying their collaborative experience with the River Dwellers program, which provides an authentic connection to our existing science and social studies units.
This River Dwellers unit explores the impact of human occupation on the Connecticut River Valley from the arrival of the Native Americans through the present time.
Through interactive opportunities, our students explore ten different groups of people who came to the Connecticut River Valley, created communities, used the river, and transformed the landscape. Students participate in a series of activities that include map exploration and use a variety of hands-on objects that are reflective of various time periods.
Many thanks to the Gildersleeve PTO for supporting this engaging classroom extension and community partnership!
Gildersleeve/Brownstone Principal Search Process
As I indicated in my last update, a total of eighty-eight principal applications were received and reviewed last month. Subseuently, Scott Giegerich, Kate Lawson, Jessica Bruenn, and I conducted 15-minute “screening interviews” with 24 of these applicants. Twelve candidates were then chosen for interviews with this team. These twelve candidates all have confirmed their continued interest and have accepted our invitation for an interview.
The Principal Interviewing Committee has been formed. This stakeholder group will meet Tuesday, February 7, and Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in order to interview the 12 semi-finalist candidates. We will have teacher, administrative, BOE, parent and staff representatives on our team.
Parents: Karen Walsh, Sherri O’Shea
Faculty: Tracy Graff, Jennifer Vissicchio, Kelsey Russo, Katherine Hunter
Staff: Patti Toller
BOE Members: Jim Tripp & MaryAnne Rode
Administrators: Scott Giegerich and Jessica Bruenn
After our interviews next week, the pool will be narrowed to the finalist stage for my final vetting to include another interview, and a lesson observation and post observation conference with a teacher in one of the two buildings. At this stage, building specific finalists may be chosen.
Last week, I met with the staff in each building and led an activity that had participants create a list of the preferred attributes of their new leader. I plan to do a similar activity with the Gildersleeve PTO, when I meet with them this coming Wednesday.
These documents will be available to the interview committee next week.
Administration Learning Walks
This past week, the administrative team and I spent most of one day participating in “learning walks” through classrooms in each of our five building focusing on student engagement. This prek-12 experience, planned and executed by Dr Karch, was an ideal professional experience, both for the teachers who allowed us into their classroom, many of whom are attempting new teaching paradigms, and also for the administrative team as we hone our skill in supporting these new efforts. The subsequent conversations about 21st century teaching practices and observed student learning are valuable experiences and certainly strengthen our understanding of that continuum of instruction we are building throughout our five schools here in Portland.
Student Services Update (from Dr. Morris)
Last week’s professional development day provided the opportunity for all district paraprofessionals and their supervising special education teachers to participate in a training on the basics of behavior management. This training focused on the role of the paraprofessional in data gathering of behaviors and also the development and implementation of the behavior intervention plan. It also provided an overview of the variables involved in assessing problematic behavior.
The 3rd Special Education Parent Forum was held on January 25th, and the topic was School Attendance and the Law. Attendance was light so the attendees also spent time discussing ways to increase parent participation. We will be reaching out to parents for ideas for future meetings.
Parents Supporting Educational Excellence (PSEE)
Donna Marino, Parent Partnership Coordinator for the Middletown Public Schools and Artha Slade, Portland’s Open Choice Parent Liaison, met with me this past week and requested Portland’s participation in an upcoming leadership program called, Parents Supporting Educational Excellence (PSEE). PSEE was developed by the Center for School Change and the Commission for Children, and provides participants with the essential tools for becoming leaders and active participants in local communities and statewide. Certainly we all understand that when families, schools and community work together, student achievement increases.
PSEE is a 13-week (weekly) free class that will begin on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 and continue through mid spring. This has been a very successful program for many Middletown parents, including some who have taken on leadership responsibilities throughout the city and beyond. Alumni of earlier programs are now parent educators, pre-school teachers, Board of Education members, and members of town-wide governance councils
During each of the 3 ½ hour sessions, participants actively explore questions at the heart of leadership, change and education policy. The first 30 minutes a light dinner is enjoyed by all, followed by dynamic, thought provoking and engaging activities from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Your children, ages 4 through 12, are also invited to be a part of our Children’s Leadership Class, taking place at the same times and location. There are only enough seats in the class for 25 people, so please do not delay. For more information and/or to obtain an application, please call the Board of Education office at 860-342-6790.