Monday, March 28, 2016

Safety at Great Falls

Safety is a very important aspect of our school community. I have linked the procedures our school uses if you would like to review the detailed information. 

In short, all the school doors are locked at 9:00am requiring students, parents, and visitors arriving after 9:00am to check in with the office. We do not allow ANY visitors other than approved volunteers to enter the building once school begins. This includes walking children to their classrooms. We take safety very seriously and do not unlock the doors until 2:55pm when dismissal begins. Parents picking up must remain in the gym and be reunited with their children only after ID is provided. 

Throughout the year, we conduct 10 planned fire drills and 2 lockdown drills. We also spend time as a full staff reviewing safety protocols, procedures and debriefing drills. We have a student resource officer, Officer Coffin, that spends the full day on Fridays and periodically stops in throughout the week.

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to call or email.

Becky Fortier

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Letter to Parents Regarding Placement for Next Year

Hello, Great Falls Parents!

It is hard to believe that spring is here and that it is time to think about class placements for next school year. Great Falls recognizes that placement requires a thoughtful review of any child’s social-emotional and academic needs. We take your child’s placement very seriously and spend a great deal of time doing our best to create balanced learning environments. Our overall goal is to create classrooms in which all students can be successful learners and all teachers can be successful teachers.

The first step in an effective placement process is to gather information from the people who know our students best - you! Great Falls recognizes that placement requires a thoughtful review of the whole child, assessing all factors that impact learning. It is for this reason that we seek parent input. The purpose of reaching out is to give you an opportunity to share information about your child that may be of assistance to teachers and school administration in the placement process.

We are requesting that you please share any information about your child as a learner that you believe may have a direct and specific bearing on his/her placement for next year. This may include learning styles, specific classroom conditions that you believe would best serve your child’s learning, or any other factors that will enable a successful school experience. School staff will use this information to assist in the placement process. Please complete the request and return it back to Great Falls by Friday, April 15th. Thank you very much for your input and help with our placement process.

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.  Please follow my Twitter page & blog, which can be found at and Happy Spring!

Kindly yours,
Becky Fortier

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

eMPowerME Update from Cathy Stankard, Assistant Superintendent

March 1, 2016

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was signed into law last December, maintains the requirement that states administer annual tests in reading and mathematics to students in grades 3-8 and 11 and in science in grades 5, 8, and 11.  Therefore, beginning this month, students in grades 3-8 will take the eMPowerME reading and math assessment developed by Measured Progress.  Students in grade 11 will again take the SAT, as they did in the years prior to the 2014-2015 school year.

The Gorham School Department continues to believe that standardized tests play an important role in education.  They provide an objective measure of the degree to which we are preparing our students for their future, including post-secondary education and the workforce.  They also enable us to identify areas of strength and areas for growth within our schools and among groups of students so that we can make adjustments in curriculum and instruction, as well as in supports that will benefit our students.

eMPowerME offers several additional benefits.  It is much shorter than prior year assessments, so less instructional time is sacrificed.  It is taken on the computer, which means students get their scores back faster.  Finally, it is designed to provide subscores, which increases its value as a diagnostic tool to help improve student achievement.

The testing window for eMPowerME is March 21st through April 15th.  While we encourage students to try their hardest and do their best, we also recognize that any assessment is an in-the-moment snapshot and not the final word on a student’s understanding or skill.  That said, a good night’s sleep and healthy breakfast will go a long way toward ensuring a positive experience and outcome, and we appreciate your support in this regard.

Feel free to contact me, your child’s principal or teacher if you have any questions about the upcoming assessments.


Cathy Stankard

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction