Late Start Professional Learning Days in 2015-2016
As you probably know, for the past five years the teachers at the Middle School and the High School have had the opportunity to participate in two-hour sessions of professional learning on seven scheduled delayed opening days. Among many topics, they have spent this valuable time in learning about and shifting their curriculum to the Common Core. They also used this time as they completed their NEASC Accreditation Report. During this past year, they utilized this time in addressing the very specific recommendations after the NEASC site visit last May and for such things as technology use in the classroom.
That being said, the elementary staff also require like time for planning and development of required units of instruction, as well as to create assessments for each unit. In addition, there are many state and federal mandates that require team planning and training, including but not limited to Connecticut's new teacher evaluation and professional learning law. Elementary teachers have pleaded with me to allow them this much-needed planned professional learning time. While I understand the inconvenience to working families, I know that having additional full day professional development days designated for this needed training throughout the school year would also be inconvenient to parents, and additionally would incur added cost to the district.
While this calendar did get posted to our website right after the BOE approved it on May 5 and some principals informed their own parents in their weekly updates, I did not send it out in an early May update. This was my error.
The Board of Education met on Tuesday evening. Among other things, I informed members about the resignation of our Athletic Director, Rick Borg. (We are truly sorry to see Rick leave this position. By all accounts he has done a fabulous job!) I also informed BOE that The Gildersleeve Fund Committee approved Mr. Borg’s Gildersleeve grant request for the fall football program, but did not approve the secondary special education proposal for a job coach. I also shared with them the District’s summer curriculum work plan crafted by Donna Mingrone and the outline for our 4-day writing inservice designed for our elementary teachers during the week of June 22.
In addition, Board members conducted their own annual self-evaluation, and they completed my annual evaluation as Superintendent of Schools.
Senior Night Capstone Showcase-Project Lead the Way (PLTW)
I had the honor and privilege of attending the PLTW-Senior Night Capstone Showcase prior to the BOE meeting on Tuesday evening. This event is the culmination of students’ senior engineering projects. As many of you know, Portland High School offers this outstanding program for students interested in engineering and engineering technology programs. There were five pairs of students who presented their inventions. Not only were their projects deeply innovative and creative, their presentations were engaging to those listening. Congratulations to these outstanding PHS students who are on their way to outstanding colleges to further their education!
Zoe Camp and Michael Chiasson (Steel frame to increase the pulling height of a winch)
Kevin Ferguson and Ryan Osak (Golf bag organizer for golf accessories)
Daniel Cavanugh and Jonathan Dolan (Container for holding IPhone Accessories)
Jordan Balskus and Mason Rambrose (Wrestling headgear with Bluetooth receiver and headphones)
Emilie McKinnon and Mark Waldner (Travel mug with battery component to keep beverages hotter)
Elementary Teacher Transfers
Congratulations to the following Portland teachers who have been transferred to new assignments for the 2015-16 school year. All administrators are also in the process of interviewing outside candidates for the remaining vacant positions, which they will be announcing later in the summer.
Jennifer Esteves from grade 3 to Kindergarten
Jennifer Pickett from grade 2 to grade 1
Colleen Brede from grade 1 to grade 3
Karen Adams-Barrientos from Brownstone math support to grade 3
ToniAnne Bankoski-from grade 1 to grade 3
Each year, the Middletown Rotary Club presents the Service Above Self Award. The youth who receives this honor will have performed extraordinary volunteer service for an extended period and exemplify, through his or her words and actions, Rotary's Four Way Test of behavior: Honesty, Fairness, Good Will, and Community Awareness. This year, Brooke Townsend, a junior at Portland High School was honored. She received a check that she will donate to the Autism Services and Resources of Connecticut. Congratulations to Brooke!
Finally, many of us attended Gildersleeve’s production of Annie Jr. last weekend, directed by music teacher, Kayla Vancalcar. I am not exaggerating when I write that it was one of the finest elementary school musical theatre productions that I have seen. The singing, acting, sets, costumes….were all stunning. To my delight, Miss Vancalcar had the assistance of many people, including many dedicated parents who collaborated successfully on this worthy project. Thanks also to the members of The Gildersleeve Fund for their financial support.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Philip B. O’Reilly, Ed. D.