Friday, March 24, 2017

Join us at the Great Falls Family Fun and Wellness Fair!

The Great Falls Family Fun and Wellness Fair
Friday, April 7th 

Join the Great Falls staff and a variety of community vendors as we celebrate and promote family wellness! There will be lots of active activities for all including a bounce slide, obstacle course, yoga, a story walk and more! The cafeteria will be set up as a health and wellness expo with local businesses and experts ready to share their health and wellness knowledge! 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Parent/student/teacher conferences are held on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 15th and the full day on Friday, March 17th. 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 can vary depending on the teacher. You will be able to register for student conferences beginning on Wednesday, March 1st at Thank you!

Getting Ready for Kindergarten!

Calling All Incoming Kindergarten Students 
Joining Great Falls in 2017!

Please join the staff on Tuesday, March 7th at 6:00 p.m. at Great Falls Elementary School for a meet and greet! This will be the time for you to schedule your child's kindergarten screening appointment as well as obtain the registration packet needed for school enrollment.

Tuesday, March 7th
Parent Information - Great Falls Gym at 6:00 p.m.     
Registration & K Screening Appointments at 6:30 p.m.           
April 5th-12th                   
Screening by appointment: You will make your appointment for the screening on March 7th at your school.

By Friday, August 18th
You will receive notification of your child's kindergarten teacher by mail.     
Monday, August 28th
Kindergarten Orientation:
Students and parents will attend together to learn more about a typical day, have a short bus ride, and play on the playground.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Star 360 Winter Results

Today your child will be bringing home their Star 360 assessment results. Even though there is a space at the bottom of the reports for a signature, you do not need to sign and return the documents. The copies are for you. 

Star 360 assessments are computer adaptive and automatically adjust each question based on how the student answered the previous prompt. This reduces testing time and limits frustration and boredom. By using Star 360 three times per year, we are able to compare students’ progress in reference to normal expected growth and toward criteria for mastery of our state’s standards.

Once again, this is one measure and it serves as a “snapshot” to check on student growth in the areas of reading and math. We use many additional pieces of evidence throughout the year to determine the profile of each child. Feel free to contact your child’s teacher or an administrator if you have any questions about the Star 360 results.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Letter from the Principal

February 2, 2017

Dear Parents,

Great Falls will, once again, participate in the American Heart Association and Jump Rope for Heart student exercise event! Throughout the years, our students have made tremendous donations supporting the American Heart Association!
Before our students ask for donations for the American Heart Association, they will learn (or review) the components of heart health, which are diet and exercise. Diet and exercise are critical elements of both the Physical Education Standards and the Health Standards. This donation drive gives Great Falls an opportunity to connect these concepts in a thoughtful way.  The students will also learn how the Heart Association uses donations to help save lives through their education efforts and research.

In addition to providing money for the AHA, this student exercise event provides funds that allow us to enhance learning beyond the classroom.  It is our goal to provide children with a fun and engaging field day in June where students participate in wellness experiences outside of their regular PE classes.
Wednesday, February 8th  - AHA Packets will go home with students.

Friday, February 17th - Kick Off Assembly Featuring Student Jumpers!

February 8th - March 3rd - Students will collect donations for the AHA.

March 6th - March 10th - Students will participate in the Jump Rope for Heart student exercise event during PE class.

Donations are due back by Friday, March 16th
Thank you for supporting this amazing cause!

Becky Fortier, Principal

Great Falls Elementary School

Monday, January 9, 2017

January Letter from the Principal

January 9, 2017
Dear Parents/Guardians,

Formative assessments play an important role in education. A formative assessment is a tool for evaluating student learning during teaching in order to gauge whether students are understanding the material at that identified time. It is a learning tool, not a final evaluation of mastery. Formative assessment helps teachers alter their approach to the learning objectives if students are struggling with or exceeding grade level standards.

New this year, we are using Star 360 as a formative assessment in kindergarten through grade 10. This assessment replaced the former assessments, Aimsweb and NWEA, that were utilized as a “snapshot” to check on student growth in the areas of reading and math. The Star 360 assessment provides more intuitive information that will help to plot the course for what each student needs in their learning. This assessment is only one of several methods used to monitor progress and achievement over the year.
Star 360 assessments are computer adaptive and automatically adjust each question based on how the student answered the previous prompt. This reduces testing time and limits frustration and boredom. We will compare students’ progress in reference to normal expected growth and toward criteria for mastery of our state’s standards three times per year.
The first round of testing for students in grades 1-5 occurred in September and in the coming weeks, kindergarten through grade 5 students will participate in the next round of testing. Time spent on testing will be minimal as it will typically take a student 20-30 minutes to complete each session of reading and math. That being said, those students who require the full allotted time or specified testing accommodations will continue to receive such. Student results will be sent home by early February.
We are very excited about the possibilities of Star 360 and are confident that your child will have a positive experience. We encourage students to try their hardest and do their best while recognizing that any assessment is an in-the-moment snapshot and not the final word on a child’s understanding or skill. Certainly, a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast will go a long way toward minimizing test anxiety and we appreciate your support in this regard.
Feel free to contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions about the upcoming Star 360 assessment. As always, please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at and by phone at 222-1050.  
Becky Fortier, Great Falls Principal

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!


Becky Fortier, Principal

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Check Out the Great Falls Gazette!

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 . 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 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

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions and feedback. I am available through email at and by phone at 222-1050. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at and my blog at where I will be making frequent updates on the happenings at Great Falls.

Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal