Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Letter from the Principal



December 1, 2016

Dear Parents,

Great Falls School is committed to providing a healthy environment for all its students. Our students are doing a great job with Fresh Friday and we will continue to emphasize brain breaks in the classroom.

As a reminder, and with the holiday season upon us, we respectfully request that parents do not send in any food for celebrations, such as birthdays and holidays, to be shared in classrooms. This does not include the daily snacks that you send in for your own child, however we encourage you to provide healthy options.

We want our school to continue to be a safe and comfortable environment for all students, which reflects our value of respect for all.  We endorse the practice of non-food celebrations for a multitude of reasons, several of which are as follows:

  1. To minimize disruption to the teaching day.
  2. To support healthier nutrition choices as stated in the K-5 Maine Physical Education and Health State Standards.
  3. To minimize non-nutritious foods being brought into school, allowing individual parents the opportunity to control how much and which foods their children eat during the school day.
  4. To increase the sensitivity of our community to the needs of our students who have health issues that affect their food intake. As stated in our Gorham School Allergy Policy, our schools are committed to providing a safe environment for students who have an allergy history.

We understand that food is part of our culture and a means to celebrate special occasions of all kind. Of course, this procedure does not mean that our children will not have fun, class parties, or celebrations. Instead of food, students can participate in a variety of creative activities during celebrations of all kind. Non-food tokens such as stickers or pencils can be used to celebrate birthdays while promoting a healthier school environment.

We are asking for your continued support and help by refraining from sharing food items within our school unless we request them for curriculum-based activities. Thank you in advance for supporting the safety and wellness of all students.

Thanks for all you do to encourage student wellness!

Sincerely,

Becky Fortier, Principal

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Check Out the Great Falls Gazette!



http://greatfalls.gorhamschools.org/gazette/october_november_2016

The Great Fall Gazette is a bimonthly student staffed newsletter and is available for printing and reading online on the Great Falls School’s web page. The next issue will be the December 2016/ January 2017. 
 



November Letter for the Principal




Dear Great Falls Families,

I hope you enjoyed your parent/student/teacher conference and feel as though you have a better understanding of what your child is learning, how they are demonstrating their learning, and the goals your child has to be successful in the learning yet to come. Fall conferences are a wonderful time to talk about learning expectations and how your child will grow throughout the school year. Thank you for participating in this process!

Superintendent Perry recently shared a blog post regarding this very topic at http://gorhamsuperintendent.blogspot.com/ . Proficiency-based learning (PBL) ensures that students will acquire the knowledge and skills that are necessary for success in school, college, careers, and adult life. It is based on the idea that the more transparent we are about our expectations for students and how they are doing relative to those expectations, the greater the learning that is likely to occur.

In fact, the Gorham School District strongly believes that student engagement as well as achievement improve when the components of proficiency-based learning are fully implemented in all grades and content areas. These components are:
  • clear learning targets;
  • aligned instruction and assessment;
  • timely interventions; and
  • grading/reporting that reflect those targets.

Over the past few years, Gorham teachers have been working hard to identify clear learning targets at each grade level in every content area. These learning targets are aligned to a set of K-12 Graduation Standards, which are based on the Maine Learning Results, including the Common Core State Standards for ELA and Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards. They are called performance indicators because they “indicate” through a student’s “performance” if the student is on track to achieve the K-12 Graduation Standards.

At the K-5 level, teachers have already identified the performance indicators in ELA, math, art, music, and physical education and are now using assessments aligned to these indicators. They have most recently developed performance indicators aligned to the K-12 Graduation Standards in science and social studies. Finally, teachers are using JumpRope, an online standards-based gradebook, to track student progress to the performance indicators. The 1st trimester will end on November 25th and report cards are scheduled to go home on Wednesday, December 7th.

Quoting Superintendent Perry, “Everything we do is aimed at making sure our students ultimately graduate prepared and inspired to be successful in any post secondary learning they wish to pursue beyond our great schools!”

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at becky.fortier@gorhamschools.org and by phone at 222-1050.  I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with thankful hearts and continued blessings!

Becky Fortier, Great Falls Principal

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Letter from the Principal



Great Falls Elementary School
73 Justice Way
Gorham, Maine 04038


October 1, 2016


Dear Great Falls Families,


If you are like me, asking “How was school today?” may not get you very far with your child. As parents, we want to stay on top of how our kiddos are doing, but the questions we ask tend to elicit one word responses. Part of developing a strong home/school connection is encouraging our families to support your child’s education at home. In fact, research shows that when you take an active interest in what your child is doing during the school day, your child will greatly benefit.


Some questions that may elicit more of a response from your child include asking things such as:
  • How were you kind or helpful today?
  • Was anyone kind or helpful to you?
  • What made you laugh?
  • What was the coolest thing that happened? What wasn’t so cool?
  • Who did you play with at recess today?
  • Pretend you are the teacher. How would you describe the day?


Another important part of being involved in the education process is checking in with the work your child is bringing home. “Let’s see what you brought home.” Look through the work items and comment on the positive aspects on your child’s assignments. “Show me what you have for homework.” Although, it’s your child’s job to do his/her homework, you play a role, too. Help your child find a distraction free space to work. Try to establish a homework routine for when your child completes their at home task. After your child finishes their homework, take a quick glance to see that it’s complete. “Tell me what you learned that you’d like to know more about.” Use your child’s interests to share activities. This may help with planning some fun weekend trips as well. When your child feels that you value school and have a great interest in what they are learning, they will share more about their day!


Open communication helps set up a great school conference as well. This month, your child’s teacher will be reaching out to schedule your parent/student/teacher conference. The general purpose of conferences is to connect in a one-on-one setting with your child’s teacher, as well as an update on academic progress and “skills for life.” These progress checks include student sharing of their work products, as well as the presentation of other assessments and work by the student or teacher. As your child will be present, it is understood that issues which are private and confidential require a different forum for communication.


Conferences are held on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 26th and the full day on Friday, October 28th. Technically, however, there is a 2-week window during which your particular conference may be scheduled. The available dates and times during this window of time vary depending on the teacher. You will be able to register for your child’s conference beginning on Wednesday, October 5th at www.PTCfast.com.


Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at becky.fortier@gorhamschools.org and by phone at 222-1050. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MrsBFortier and my blog at http://greatfallsprincipal.blogspot.com/ where I will be making frequent updates on the happenings at Great Falls.

Sincerely,
Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal

Friday, September 30, 2016

Conferences are coming up!



Hello, Great Falls Parents!

It is just about time for Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences! Here is some important information for you to have:

WHAT:
The general purpose of conferences is to connect in a one-on-one setting with your child’s teacher, as well as an update on academic progress and “skills for life.” These progress checks include student sharing of their work products, as well as the presentation of other assessments and work by the student or teacher. As your child will be present, it is understood that issues which are private and confidential require a different forum for communication. It is expected that issues that are of a serious concern would have been discussed prior to and outside of these conferences. IEP meetings, even in close proximity to conference dates, do not take the place of student-led conferences.

WHEN:
Conferences are held on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 26th and the full day on Friday, October 28th. Technically, however, there is a 2-week window during which your particular conference may be scheduled. The available dates and times during this window of time vary depending on the teacher. You will be able to register for your child’s conference beginning on Wednesday, October 5th at www.PTCfast.com.
HOW:
The PTCfast online program is used for scheduling conferences, unless teachers know that there is a family who does not have Internet access at home.  Teachers will be sending out notices and passwords for parents to use to set up conferences. The procedure is user friendly and quite efficient, especially when a family has more than one child in our school.  This program allows you a maximum choice in dates and times, choosing the one that works best for your schedule. When you pick a day and time, you will receive a confirmation and a reminder prior to the conference. If you need to change the day and/or time, you simply return to the site and do so, unless it is beyond the cutoff time selected by the classroom teacher.

Parents’ quick guide to www.PTCfast.com

Step 1:  You will receive a letter or email from your student’s teacher containing a link to the class’s conference website.  Enter the link into your browser.

Step 2:  Enter the class code your student’s teacher has sent to you into the box on that screen-- you can copy and paste it if that's easier!

Step 3:  You will see the list of available time slots your student’s teacher has available.  If someone else has already selected a time slot, you won’t be able to check the box and the time slot will be red.  Check the time you would like for your conference. Reminder emails will be sent out closer to the conference.

Please make sure to contact us if you run into any difficulty with this process.  We don’t anticipate that you will, but we are, of course, happy to help. Great Falls takes pride in having a very high participation rate in Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences. We look forward very much to seeing you around school when you come in for your child’s conference!

Sincerely,

Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our Back to School Family Picnic is Thursday!



Join Great Falls at our Back to School Family Picnic and Concert! This is a bring your own picnic dinner event and will be held in the back of the school. If it rains, we will reschedule for a future evening.

Our family picnics are a great time to say hello to friends while meeting new ones! There will also be special Code of Conduct characters joining in the fun! 

This picnic will be extra special because Lincoln Gray, Mrs. Mosey's son and singer/songwriter of our One and Only Ivan Song, will be performing live music! 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Learning Beyond the Classroom Contribution Drive

Wait! What?! No school fundraiser?!
No selling wrapping paper and candles to family and friends!?
That’s right!

The 2016-2017 K-5 Learning Beyond the Classroom Contribution Drive is Underway!

The Gorham K-5 schools recognize the importance of taking learning experiences beyond the walls of the classroom so that students can benefit from the rich resources within our community and region.
Learning Beyond the Classroom is our campaign to support field trips, experiences, visiting experts, guest artists, etc., which assist us in providing learning and wellness opportunities for our students that are of high interest and relevant to our curriculum.

Our contribution drive is a quick and direct way to donate to the learning beyond the classroom opportunities that your child will be experiencing throughout this school year. Great Falls Elementary School needs to raise a total of $10,000 in order to provide these opportunities for our students.

This contribution drive will replace our annual fall fundraiser. We are relying solely on parent donations to support our efforts.

We are asking for a $20.00 donation per student, but any amount is greatly appreciated!

Please make checks payable to Great Falls Elementary School and return to school by Monday, October 24th.

Thank you for contributing to our Learning Beyond the Classroom Drive!

Contribution Drive 2016-2017
School Goal: $10,000

Student Name:______________________ Grade:____Teacher:_____

Student Name:______________________ Grade:____Teacher:_____

Student Name:______________________ Grade:____Teacher:_____

Total Amount:___________

We are asking for a $20.00 donation per student, but any amount is greatly appreciated!

Please make checks payable to Great Falls Elementary School and return to school by Monday, October 24th.

Thank you for contributing to our Learning Beyond the Classroom Drive!

Last year’s Learning Beyond the Classroom experiences:
  • Kindergarten: Snell’s Family Farm, Baxter Library, and the Gorham Fire Station
  • Grade 1: Beyond the Curtain at the Portland Ballet and the Maine Animal Park
  • Grade 2: Ferry Beach Tidepool Excursion and the Mr. & Mrs. Fish Presentation
  • Grade 3: Willowbrook and Gorham History Tour
  • Grade 4: Augusta State Museum/Capital and Wells Estuary
  • Grade 5: Boston Science Museum and Gulf of Maine Research Laboratory
  • Full School: Mad Science Presentation, Spark’s Ark, Earth Jam’s Matt Loosigian, Music with Mike Noble, and the Maine Stage Academy

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Letter from the Principal

Great Falls Elementary School


September 1, 2016


Dear Great Falls Families,


Welcome back! We are officially in full swing and loving every moment! Every staff member, student, and parent has been working hard to get Great Falls up and running for a productive and successful year! Check out the school calendar at Great Falls Family Calendar 2016-2017.


Our custodians…
Our custodians have been working hard since the beginning of July to get our school in tip top shape for the opening week. We are extremely fortunate to be blessed with this amazing and beautiful facility! Our diligent crew has made sure that the windows are sparkling, the floors are gleaming, the desks are shiny, and the dust bunnies are gone. Our school looks great and we are very appreciative of their painstaking attention to every aspect of our building. If you are interested in knowing more about facilities you can link to Gorham Facilities Management.


Our bus drivers…
Our bus drivers have been practicing routes, attending trainings, and preparing to greet your children as they embark on their new journey! They are eager to make connections with kids while safely transporting them to and from school each and every day. Questions about bus routes and transportation? Check out their website at Gorham Transportation.


Our lunch staff…
The kitchen crew has been ordering yummy local produce, reviewing the menus, prepping the kitchen, and getting ready to provide a great lunch experience for your child! Plan ahead by checking out the school lunch menu and registering for the online payment system, PayPAMS at Gorham Food Services.


Our staff…
Teachers and staff members have been visiting Great Falls throughout July and August to prepare their physical spaces, while also attending workshops and trainings. A lot goes on behind the scenes and throughout the summer months to prepare for the start of the year! The office staff has completed many new registrations, mastered student bus destinations, and prepared all the documents necessary to collect information to effectively communicate with our families. The Great Falls staff has made sure that their instructional techniques and strategies are on target to help all students meet grade level standards. Teacher teams continue to work collaboratively to implement quality lessons that are thoughtful, engaging, and tied to our curricula goals. Character education is always a priority and staff will continue to focus on addressing the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of our students through pro-social education. Character education and establishing a positive classroom community are always a priority during the first few weeks of school. Our staff does a fabulous job at setting the stage for a collaborative, productive year to come. Be sure to peruse staff websites, blogs and more at Great Falls Staff Email and Websites.


Our parents…
We could not do what we do without the continual support from you! Thank you for attending Kindergarten Orientation and Open House! Our parent community makes it possible for the Great Falls staff to successfully teach our students. Please consider volunteering in our school by completing the annual registration form at Volunteer Information. You shopped for supplies, new sneakers, established nighttime structure, packed healthy school snacks and lunches, made after school childcare arrangements, and completed many school forms. You have instilled in your child a positive attitude about school and learning. Through clear communication, at home support with routines and homework, participation at school events, and more, you help to establish a positive home/school connection that is necessary for the success of our students. Thank you today and thank you every day for supporting Great Falls in achieving our district vision…
“Prepare and Inspire!”
Our students…
They are the heart of our work! They are our focus as we aim to prepare and inspire! It has been such fun watching our students become reacquainted with old friends while meeting new ones. The returning students have been wonderful role models and guides for our Kindergarten students. The lively conversations happening in the cafeteria, on the playground, and during team building activities are energizing and amusing. Every incredible child walking through our school reminds me every day of why we do what we do. Our kids are the reason and are at the center of every decision we make and every action we take!


At Great Falls School we are dedicated to success.  We value skill, knowledge, and excellence in all areas. Our mission is to prepare and enable all learners to grow everyday.  Our sights are set on being ready for the world of today and of tomorrow. In an environment that fosters kindness and safety, we work to ensure that all children and adults will reach high standards of scholarship, character, and citizenship.


We are ready! Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at becky.fortier@gorhamschools.org and by phone at 222-1050. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MrsBFortier and my blog at http://greatfallsprincipal.blogspot.com/ where I will be making frequent updates on the happenings at Great Falls.

Happy September!


Sincerely,


Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal