On Tuesday May 16, 2017, members of the Board of Education and I viewed four AMAZING Engineering Design and Development Capstone project presentations by Seniors, Abagail Dalton and Grace Winakor (hassle-free all purpose water bottle carrier), Hunter Lammers and Andrew Clark, (outdoor phone battery charger), Raymond Lavoy (outdoor grill light), and Chris Dinnis (easy to use/time saving magnetic snowboard bindings). Each of these engineering projects required extensive research and design opportunities for our students and Tuesday night’s presentation was a culmination to their yearlong Engineering Design and Development Class taught by Portland teacher, Ed Szydlowski. Congratulations to these very talented students!
In other BOE News
At last week’s meeting, the BOE viewed presentations from English Language Arts Curriculum Leader, Johnna Cunningham, and Science Curriculum Leader, Joanne Merola. Each leader spent time explaining the collective vision for their departments as our district further articulates a full prek-12 21st century curriculum plan for our schools. In addition to providing a comprehensive curriculum outline, each leader has highlighted several course changes that will occur in the coming years. These presentations follow similar presentations Board members viewed early in the year by teachers, Corey Toussaint (Career Technical Education) and Sarah Harris (Social Studies).
Also, at last week’s meeting, Dr. Karch and I also shared a report that detailed Portland’s Accountability Index Results published by the Connecticut State Department of Education. In this report, there are 12 indices that highlight numerous performance results for our students. I would be happy to share this report with any community group interested in hearing about our students’ progress. Please contact me if you would like a copy of the report or if you would like me to make a presentation about our district’s performance.
Board members also reviewed the performance data for our substitute provider, Source4Teachers. They looked at numerical data that indicated an increase in the number of teacher and paraprofessional vacancies filled. They also reviewed feedback about Source4Teachers from each of our principals. After discussing the company’s performance this year, the Board of Education authorized me to enter into negotiations with Source4Teachers for another year.
Board members conducted a first reading of 12 different policies. Most of them are revisions to existing policies, which needed updates due to legislative action or new federal guidelines.
Board of Education Change
Mr. Jim Trip has resigned his seat on the Board of Education. Jim, who has served on the BOE for two years, has been appointed by the Board of Selectmen to fill out the seat recently vacated by Brian Flood. Jim has served on the Curriculum Subcommittee of the BOE and was a staunch supporter of our one-to-one technology proposal and the Policy Subcommittee, where he has been instrumental in revising and updating hundreds of school district policies. He has provided great service to the Board and will bring keen insight of our operation to the Board of Selectmen
Jennifer Bell, one of our new hires for the 2017-2018 school year has been hired as a Math teacher at Portland Middle School. She will fill the spot vacated by retiring teacher, Carol Levesque. Ms. Bell attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute, The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden and the University of Central Florida for her undergraduate work. She has a B.S in Marketing with a minor in Industrial Engineering. She has her Master’s Degree from Wesleyan University in Liberal Studies with a concentration in mathematics. She spent the last sixteen years teaching math in grades 7 and 8 at Haddam-Killingworth Middle School where she was also the team leader for grade 8 from 2009-2017. MS. Bell grew up in Portland and currently lives in town. She is an assistant coach for Portland Travel Soccer and Basketball. She enjoys most outdoor recreation including horseback riding, soccer and softball. Welcome to our team!
Open Choice News
This past week, Ann Gaulin, Educational Consultant from the Connecticut State Department of Education, conducted her annual audit of our Hartford Area Open Choice program. As many of you know, we have 53 Hartford residents attending Portland schools with us. Administrator Intern (and Portland Teacher), Joe Santavenere has supervised our program this year. In addition, he led a group of staff and administrators in a book group as we explored new ways to involve parents in the life of Portland Schools. The group read Patricia Edward’s book, New Ways to Engage Parents. As a result of his leadership efforts, a set of “actions steps” was developed. Mr. Santavenere will be presenting these to the Board of Education in an upcoming meeting in June.
Director of Student Services Search Process
This week we are interviewing seven candidates for Director of Student Services. As with previous vacancies, an interviewing team has been commissioned with the task of identifying the finalists. We will have teacher, administrative, BOE, parent and staff representatives on our team.
Parents: Karen Walsh, Becky Burke
Faculty: Ashley Thody, Ellen Kelley, Karen Reinhart
Staff: Carol Castelli
BOE Members: Andrea Alfano and Tim Lavoy
Administrators: Kate Lawson and Jessica Bruenn
News from the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, Krista Karch
(Math Makes a “Splash” at Gildersleeve School)
Congratulations to Mrs. Butterworth's 4th Graders and Miss Brede's 3rd Graders who placed first and second respectively in the statewide, 10-week “Splash Math” National Challenge. Each week the students had to complete a rigorous goal, earning bonus points for accuracy as well as consecutive correct answers to core math curriculum questions. Weekly, these classes were also nationally ranked in a field of 76,715 classes. Nationwide, Mrs. Butterworth's class finished 6th and Miss Brede's class finished 12th. Their perseverance and hard work have paid off with each group achieving awards at the “MegaChallenge” level winning Amazon gift cards to be shared with their classes. The classes of Mr. Gervais, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Raines, Mrs. Adams-Barrientos, Mrs. Bankoski, Mrs. Pfeifer, Mrs. Tammaro, Mrs. Scovill, and Mr. Searson also participated in the challenge. Way to go Gildersleeve School!!!
In an effort to support our commitment to fostering a love of reading across the grade levels, we are eager to expand the literary offerings within our classroom libraries. As you complete your spring-cleaning, please consider donating chapter and picture books for our educational use. A collection box will be located the lower level of the Town Hall for those interested in dropping off gently used items. Please email Krista Karch, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology for any additional questions or details. (firstname.lastname@example.org)