Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Great Falls is STEAMing Up!

Have you heard? We have a special guest joining us this Friday for our Great Falls STEAM Family Fun Night!  Scientist Fortazy will be here to share his excitement about science, technology, engineering, art, and math. 

Please join us this Friday, October 2nd from 6:00 to 7:00pm for a variety of activities. Children can make slime, help build a tree, create a paper rocket, build bridges and tennis ball towers and so much more!  We hope to see you there!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Great Falls STEAM Family Fun Night is this Friday, October 2nd

Great Falls STEAM Family Fun Night is this Friday, October 2nd 6-7pm!

See a real robot in action ~ Build a tree ~ Make paper rockets ~ Play with snow ~ Make monster slime ~ Play math games ~ Meet our very own Mad Scientist ~ and so much more.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Visit Great Falls at the Gorham Founders Festival on October 17th

Please be sure to stop by and say hi to me and other Great Falls staff members at the Gorham Founders Festival on Saturday, October 17th. We will be set up by the Library.

This year is Great Falls 5th birthday and we will be selling special t-shirts, this year only, to commemorate the special event. 

T-shirts will be sold for $10 and all proceeds will go towards our spring family and community event, the Great Falls 5th Birthday Celebration! 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

October Letter from the Principal

Dear Great Falls Families,

Often times when we think about school, we think about academics. We think about our children acquiring the skills they need to be proficient in reading, math, and writing. Great Falls greatly values academic progress, but we also want our students to be kind people. We want our students to be able to problem solve, resolve conflict, and positively navigate relationships with peers.

Great Falls understands that social skills need to be taught and fostered through consistent language and expectations. Documented studies demonstrate evidence correlating strong social skills in children with positive long-term outcomes into adulthood.  In our continuing effort to create a safe & positive learning environment at Great Falls, we implement a variety of programs that exemplify our beliefs.

Steps to Respect
3rd, 4th, and 5th graders participate in the Steps to Respect program. The program consists of 9 classroom lessons taught by our school counselor, social worker, assistant principal, and principal. This program is designed to help address bully behavior and promote responsible, respectful student choices and actions.  Each classroom lesson focuses on topics such as skills to enhance friendships, recognize feelings & develop empathy, the difference between bully behavior & conflict, and how to recognize, refuse, & report bully behavior.

That’s My Story, Too!
Kindergarteners, 1st, and 2nd graders participate in That’s My Story, Too! Through the use of picture books and engaging activities, children learn about emotional challenges for their developmental stage and discuss how to cope with problems and issues in an age-appropriate manner. The lessons are taught by our school counselor, social worker, assistant principal, and principal and emphasize the importance of being a good friend and thinking about the feelings of others.  Students are able to relate to the characters of the story and, in turn, hopefully learn new strategies to implement into their own personal experiences.

Student Ambassadors
Student Ambassadors are Great Falls students who help other students find creative ways to solve problems and lead by example. 4th and 5th graders can apply to serve as a role model for others by making a commitment to demonstrate Code of Conduct behavior at all times. Student Ambassadors complete a program called, Little Peacemakers, that fosters leadership skills to become a classroom mediator. Throughout the year, they serve as school leaders and learn how to solve problems peacefully. Student Ambassadors also give back to the Great Falls school community by completing various jobs around the school such as working with younger students and assisting on the playground. Being a Student Ambassador is a huge honor and responsibility that positively impacts the culture at Great Falls.

We understand that there are clear avenues for addressing your academic concerns for your child, but please also contact us if your concerns are based on their social needs. We are always available to answer your questions and help provide resources. Our Social Worker and School Counselor have created a very useful and informative website that provides important information for addressing all needs. Please feel free to explore the Social and Emotional Webpage. In addition to such, we will be adding a special feature in our monthly “Great Falls Chatter” newsletter sharing our curriculum progress and how you may enhance social-emotional learning at home with your child.

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.  New this year is my Twitter page & blog, which can be found at and where I will be making updates weekly on the happenings at Great Falls.

Happy October!

Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What is (PBL) Proficiency-Based Learning?

Proficiency-Based Learning (PBL) refers to a system of academic instruction, assessment, grading and reporting that is based on students demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn before they progress to the next lesson, get promoted to the next grade level or receive a diploma.

The Gorham School District believes that student engagement and achievement improve when the components of proficiency-based learning are fully implemented in all grades and content areas.

  • clear learning targets
  • aligned instruction and assessment
  • timely interventions
  • grading/reporting that reflect those targets

Report Cards are Sent Home in November, March, and June

The purpose of the report is to communicate information about your child’s academic performance and skills for life. The scores and comments it contains are based on data gathered from a variety of sources including teacher observations, as well as oral and written tests, projects, and activities.

Communication between families and school is strongly encouraged. Please contact your child’s teacher if you have any questions or concerns about the report.

Skills for Life Key
4 = Consistently Demonstrates 2 = Sometimes Demonstrates
3 = Usually Demonstrates 1 = Rarely Demonstrates

Academic Performance Key
4 = Exceeds            2 = Partially Meets
3 = Meets               1 = Does Not Meet

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Every Child Needs a Champion!

Just recently one of our fabulous Great Falls parents emailed me to share this moving Ted Talk video featuring Rita Pierson, an educator for 40 years. I had seen it many times before, but honestly, it's a message you can not hear enough! 

Rita's inspirational talk really gets to the heart of our work - KIDS! The most important job as educators (and administrators) is to make connections with kids and build relationships that matter. Relationships that make children know they are cared about, they are loved, and that there are people who will advocate for them. 

We all want to feel connected to something and someone! Here is a good reminder to all parents and educators that "every child needs a champion!"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

SAVE the DATE - Family Fun and STEAM Night is...

on Friday, October 2nd from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. We will have fun activities that are related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math.  You can create some slime or play snow. How about building bridges, pinwheels, or catapults?  You could spend time coding in the computer lab or playing math games or paint with compasses.  We hope to see you there!!  

Monday, September 14, 2015


Every time you use a pen, mechanical pencil, or any kind of marker, we want you to think about the environment and save those used writing instruments. Also keep an eye out for tape dispensers and we will send them all to TerraCycle.

TerraCycle is a recycling company in New Jersey that will convert the empty writing instruments, packaging and dispensers into other fun and innovative products. Reducing waste = a happy environment – what a great way to teach the children to take care the earth!

A collection box has been placed outside of the main office, so please save those writing instruments and tape dispensers and direct your students to drop them off whenever they can.

Kids' Clubs Volunteers Wanted!

Our fall session of Kids' Clubs is just around the corner...  Currently, we have 8 AWESOME clubs to offer our kiddos at Great Falls!  Club descriptions & student sign-up sheets will be sent home very soon, but there is still time for you to become a parent volunteer to facilitate a Kids’ Club of your own. 

If you have a special talent, skill, or interest you’d like to share with a group of students, please consider volunteering your gift of time to help enhance our school community.  If you'd like to volunteer to assist with Kids’ Clubs, but would rather not "plan" any activities, we have some standard club offerings that do not have facilitators as of yet, such as Board Games and Chess.  These clubs practically run themselves!  

Kids' Clubs sessions are on Wednesdays for five weeks beginning on Wednesday October 7th.  The remaining dates are: October 14, October 21, November 4, & November 18.  Your time commitment would be from 3:00pm for set-up (if needed) until 4:15 at the completion of dismissal.  (Clubs operate from 3:15-4:00pm).

If you’d like to become a Kids’ Club volunteer, please call or email Jaime Tardif at 222-1168 or by Friday September 18th.

Grades 3, 4, and 5 CHORUS

There is a little bit of everything offered at Great Falls. First up is grades 3, 4 and 5 Chorus! 

WHO? Any student in grades 3-5 from Village, Narragansett or Great Falls may join the chorus, directed by Mrs. Mosey. 

WHAT? We will perform three concerts this year! January 12, 2016: Songs by The Beatles at Great Falls at 6:30pm, April 12, 2016: The All Gorham Chorus Concert at GHS, Time TBA, and May 17, 2016: The Spring Chorus Concert at Great Falls at 6:30pm.

WHERE? Rehearsals will be at Great Falls School. Students from Village and Narragansett will be bussed to Great Falls after school.

WHEN? Mondays after school from 3:15 - 4:15pm beginning on September 28, 2015. Students must be signed out and picked up at Great Falls School at 4:15 pm.

HOW? Mrs. Mosey will be handing out permission slips to interested students during Music class this week or complete the form at Please send/complete the permission slip by Friday, September 25.

Questions? Contact Mrs. Mosey at or at 222-1061 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Remembering September 11th

September 11th is a day none of us will forget. I was teaching 4th grade at the time and clearly remember my principal walking into my classroom to privately share the tragic news with me. The world stopped. The feeling I had of wanting to nurture, love, and protect the 22 faces in front of me was overwhelming.

Although the Great Falls students were not born yet, September 11th, 2001 is a day in United States history that we will never forget. The staff and students joined together in a brief moment of silence in memory of this day. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

September is Attendance Awareness Month!

Important Message from Assistant Principal, Stacey Sawyer
As we begin the school year, we want to welcome you as our partner in your child’s education.  We value, appreciate, and seek out your involvement and collaboration for the success of your child.

Our goal this year is to ensure that every student attends school regularly.  Positive attendance is a key ingredient to keeping kids on track academically and in engaging them in all aspects of school life.

Showing up for school has a huge impact on a student’s academic success starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school. Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students get to school safely every day and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and in life.

We realize some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other circumstances. But, we also know that when students miss too much school— regardless of the reason – it can cause them to fall behind academically.  Your child is less likely to succeed if he or she is chronically absent—which means missing 18 or more days over the course of an entire school year. Research shows:    

  • Children chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. 
  • By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.  
  • By 9th grade good attendance can predict graduation rates as well as success in college.  

Absences can add up quickly.  A child is chronically absent if he or she misses just two days every month!!

Clearly going to school regularly matters!

When our students are not school, we notice because we care!

We don’t want your child to fall behind in school and get discouraged.  Please ensure that your child attends school every day and arrives on time.   Please make sure you are familiar with the school calendar to assist in your family scheduling for vacations and medical appointments.

Let us know how we can best support you and your children
so that they can show up for school on time every day.

We want your child to be successful in school!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Superintendent Heather Perry's Blog

Check it out!

Keep Calm and Read a Book!

Check out Mrs. Oliver's Website

Accidents Happen - Message from Nurse Merrill

Please have your child keep a change of clothes in their backpack so if an accident happens, we can put them into dry clothes. 

We have a small amount of clothes at Great Falls as back-up for emergencies, but our resources are quickly being used up. If your child has outgrown clothing, we will gladly accept your donation.

FRESH Fridays!

It is hard to believe that it is only the 2nd week of school! Our students are acting like cafeteria and lunch pros! They are making healthy selections and the lunches brought from home are fabulous! We love to see the many fruits and vegetables on student lunch trays. Great Falls is committed to providing a healthy eating environment and encourages healthy options at snack time.

Fridays at Great Falls are FRESH FRIDAYS! It is the day that we love to see fresh fruits and vegetables for snack time. Teachers tally the number of students that bring in a fresh fruit or vegetable and send the total to our Physical Education teacher, Mr. D. The class with the highest percentage of fresh options are announced at the end of the day and receive a toe token for their sneaker!

Thank you for supporting our efforts to encourage healthy eating habits! Especially on Freeeeeeesh Fridays!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Volunteer Orientations for the 2015-16 School Year!

Don't miss out! Attend a Volunteer Orientation!
Volunteer Orientation Dates for 2015-16 School Year

Thursday, September 10 at Great Falls School – 9 a.m.
Monday, September 14 at Village School – 9:15 a.m.
Wednesday, October 21at GMS cafeteria – 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, November 17at GMS library –6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 6 at GMS library – 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 9 at GMS library – 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 9 at GMS library –6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12 at GMS library – 6:30 p.m.
Monday, May 9 at GMS library – 6:30 p.m.

The volunteer orientation dates listed are for those who have NOT attended an orientation before. You must attend at least one before your volunteer time with Gorham Schools.



Aimsweb assessments are a form of curriculum-based measurements

used for universal screening. These brief assessments measure overall

performance of key foundational skills at each grade level. Teachers use this

information to check on student progress and make any necessary changes in

instruction. Aimsweb measures are only one of several assessments used to

monitor progress and achievement over the year.

Collaborative Installation with the Great Falls Staff

Great Falls Art Teacher, Allie Rimkunas, conducted a COLLABORATIVE INSTALLATION with staff at this morning's staff meeting! The artwork will join the students' masterpieces and will be displayed in the hall for all to enjoy! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fundraising Campaign at Great Falls

Meadow Farms Fundraising

Great Falls recognizes the importance of taking learning experiences beyond the walls of the classroom so that students can benefit from the rich resources found in 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.  

Participating in the Meadow Farms Fundraiser benefits ALL Great Falls students. We are able to provide our students with field trips and special activities because of the funds we raise through selling Meadow Farms gifts. If you prefer not to participate, please know that donations to Great Falls are always welcome and accepted. It's another great way to support our Learning Beyond the Classroom campaign. 

All order forms and money are due back to Great Falls on Tuesday, September 22nd. Please make checks payable to Great Falls School. 

Shopping online is easy and can be done after the September 22nd date. Go to and click on the 'Register a Child' tab. Enter the School ID 1032061 and verify Great Falls School. Enter your student ID, found on the bottom left hand corner of your order form. Include ALL digits, including 0s. Enter all required information. You will also create your personal password.

Thank you so much for helping Great Falls students participate in fun and relevant learning experiences beyond the classroom! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Important Upcoming Dates

Important Upcoming Dates

7 – No School – Happy Labor Day
10 – Volunteer Orientation 9 a.m. at Great Falls
11 – Remember 9/11
14 - 18 AIMSWEB Testing Grades 1-5
16 – Parent Connection Meeting 7-8 p.m. in the Great Falls Library – ALL ARE WELCOME!
21 – 25 AIMSWEB Testing Kindergarten
21 – 25 NWEA Testing Grades 3-5
22 – Fundraising Packets are Due
23 – Early Release Day – Dismissed at 12:00 p.m.

2 – Family Fun and STEAM Night 6-7 p.m. at Great Falls
7 – Kids’ Clubs Round #1 Begins
9 – No School – Teacher In-service Day
12 – No School - Happy Columbus Day
15 – Bus Driver, Custodial, Maintenance Appreciation Day
21 – School Picture Day
23 – Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences
28 – Early Release Day – Dismissing at 12:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Letter to the Parents

Great Falls Elementary School

September 3, 2015

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!

Our custodians…
Our custodians have been working hard since the beginning of August 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 sparkle, 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.

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 to get their intellectual juices flowing. 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 routes, 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.

Our students…
The smiles on our students’ faces say it all! 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!

Our parents…
We could not do what we do without the continual support from you! Our parent community makes it possible for the Great Falls staff to successfully teach our students. You shopped for supplies, new sneakers, established nighttime structure, packed 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 mission statement…

Great Falls School: Succeeding today to be ready for tomorrow

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 and by phone at 222-1050. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at and I most recently started a blog at where I will be making updates weekly on the happenings at Great Falls.

Happy September!

Becky Fortier
Great Falls Principal