MAMS UPDATE-AUGUST 24, 2018

MAMS UPDATE-AUGUST 24, 2018
Posted on 08/23/2018

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

Phone:  (207)729-2950     Fax: (207)729-2964

Website:  mam.link75.org

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August 24, 2018


Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  Across the district, there has been a tremendous amount of effort during the summer months to ensure that our students will be able to hit the ground running on September 4.   All of our teachers (below) will spend next week preparing materials and programs for the students’ arrival. I would like to thank our school district’s phenomenal maintenance staff for working exceptionally hard to prepare the school facilities for the start of the school year.   We are so excited to have your son/daughter at our school.  I have a few start-of-school items for you:


The First Day of School is Tuesday, September 4.  Classes begin at 7:40. Students may arrive anytime after 7:25 and are asked to wait in the cafeteria until the 7:30 bell, at which point they will go to their team gathering area.  There will be many staff on hand in the lobby to direct incoming 6th Graders and new students in finding their proper place. If you have any questions about school bus drop off/pick up, please contact MSAD 75 Transportation Dept at 729-1608.


Incoming 6th Grade Team Placement.  Letters to each parent with their child’s 6th Grade Team placement information were sent late last week.  Our counseling staff, in collaboration with 5th Grade teachers and parent feedback, placed our 6th Graders on one of our four fantastic 6th Grade Teams: Carrabassett, Sebasticook, Cathance, and Magalloway.  As a reminder, all of our teams are named after local Maine rivers and bodies of water for a reason. The team they are placed on in 6th Grade determines the team they will “flow” into their 7th and 8th Grade years (see “Teamography Map” below).  


7th and 8th Grade Team Placement.  On Step Up Day last May, all 6th and 7th Graders spent the day with their new team and teachers.  Therefore, we do not send formal letters home detailing 7th and 8th Grade Team Placement. If your child missed Step Up Day, please refer to the “Teamography Map” above to determine which 7th and 8th Grade Team they will be on, based on the team they were on last year.  We will have a number of staff greeting students in the lobby on the first day of school, myself included. If your child has any questions about where to go on the first day of school, we will be there to help.  


School Supplies.  HERE is a link to a general list of suggested school supplies for each grade and team.  The 6th Grade Teams will also be reaching out to their parents with more team-specific information regarding supplies and/or start-of-school information.  If obtaining school supplies or back-to-school clothing is of concern to your family, please contact our School Counseling Office at 729-2950 x2603.


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6th Grade Ice Cream Social.  The tradition continues!  We will be hosting our annual Ice Cream Social for incoming 6th Graders next Wednesday, August 29, 4:30-5:30 PM.  All incoming 6th Graders (and their parents) are invited to attend this fun event. There will be a get-to-know the school scavenger hunt and other community-building activities.  We recognize that this is the first time that all our incoming students will be moving from their local neighborhood school assembling as part of a larger, regional middle school. We value each of our incoming 6th Graders as an important part of our school community.  


Parent Information and Curriculum Night (aka Open House) will be held on Wednesday, September 12, 6:30-7:30 PM.  This evening is an opportunity for parents to come in to meet with their son or daughter’s team and exploratory teachers and learn about the key areas of the curriculum. Parents can also expect to receive general information about the team and our advisory program.  Parents who have children in Specialized Programs, Math 180, Team Sheepscot, Special Education, Target Time Intervention Groups or Gifted and Talented are invited to arrive at 6:00 PM to visit classrooms, meet the teachers and ask questions about those programs.


New Faculty Members.  We are excited to welcome our newest faculty members to our fabulous MAMS Staff Community!

Peter Colesworthy 7th Grade Math Teacher - Team Androscoggin

Danielle Hiltz School Counselor

Ben Cox 6th Grade Band

Mike Toomey Special Services Teacher

Jamie Mauro Special Services Ed Tech

Elizabeth McGrath Special Services Ed Tech

Louis Valliere Special Services Ed Tech



Athletics.  We encourage all our students to take advantage of the many extracurricular activities we offer, including Fall Sports.  Signs ups for fall sports will be held the first week of school, September 5-8, and practices start the week after. In the fall, the school sponsors 7th & 8th Grade Girls Soccer, 7th & 8th Grade Boys Soccer, 6th, 7th & 8th Grade Girls Field Hockey, and 6th, 7th & 8th Grade Boys & Girls Cross Country.  There is also a Tennis Club, run by a parent volunteer, a community-based Football Team, and a new year-long Intramural Program. For any information about athletics, please contact our Athletic Director, Rick Crawford at crawford@link75.org or visit our Athletics page.


Our Commitment to Proficiency-Based Learning.  We had an exciting and dynamic year last year as we completed our second year with our proficiency-based grading system.  The focus of this new grading program has always been on how students are doing with important knowledge and skills.  Just like with our students, we foster a growth mindset with ourselves as educators, so we know there are areas we still need to improve on with our grading system and we plan to.  In response to recent law changes from the Maine Legislature, the MSAD 75 voted this summer to keep the high school diploma requirements tied the traditional credit-based system, not a proficiency-based diploma, as was planned.  The change in the law has given us an opportunity to review our practices, and we plan to do just that in the next few months.  We know that students need to be well-prepared for their future, and that’s what keeps us both focused and motivated in our work.  What will never change is our commitment to providing our students with clear and high expectations, the foundation of all effective teaching and learning.   


Continued Improvement of Honor Roll.  We held a number of parent information sessions last year regarding our grading system.  We also held several student focus group sessions. From these sessions, it was clear that some students and parents struggled with our Recognition Protocols (Honor Roll).  We appreciate all the feedback we have received and we continue to welcome it. In response to this feedback, we assembled a committee of students, parents, and school staff to study proposed improvements to our Honor Roll.  We also discussed ways that we can improve how teachers could be more consistent about how we teach and score Work Habits across the school. The result of this collaborative work is an update to our Student Recognition Protocol.  Here are the eligibility requirements for Honor Roll:

  • Our student recognition will consist of an “Honor Roll” and “High Honor Roll”, published at the end of each quarter.


  • To qualify for the “Honor Roll” at the end of the quarter, students must have ALL (but one) of their Work Habits scores as 3 or higher with no 1’s.


  • To qualify for the “High Honor Roll” at the end of the quarter, students must have ALL (but one) of their Work Habits scores as 3.5’s with no 2’s and have ALL (but one) of their Learning Goal scores from that quarter as 3 or higher with no scores below 2.

Judy Maloney, Special Education Social Worker at Mt. Ararat Middle School (above) has been selected as a candidate to the prestigious Fulbright Specialist roster of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Institute of International Education’s Council For International Exchange of Scholars. The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) sends faculty and professionals from the United States to businesses and academic institutions in more than 140 countries around the world. Countries eligible to participate in the program include those where there is a U.S. embassy or a Fulbright commission.  Judy's application proposed her hope to train social workers in utilizing Narrative Therapy (specifically creating the formal opportunity to tell their stories) to help refugee families settle into their European communities.


Student Accident Insurance Available.  Parents can purchase up to $25,000 in voluntary student accident medical insurance protection through Maine School Management Association.  Coverage options include full time (24 hours), school time, football (grades 9 – 12), and dental. HERE is the brochure/registration form.  MSAD No. 75 is not endorsing this plan.  Other insurance companies provide similar coverage options for students.


Policy Notification of Policies and Student Handbook.  Every year, we are required to direct parents towards all our district policies. This link is not working. The policies, created and approved by the publicly elected MSAD 75 Board of Directors, govern the general operation of the school system.  You are welcome to review any of these policies. In addition, we have a published Student Handbook that we review with students during the first weeks of school and we encourage parents to review it as well.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

If any questions, comments, or suggestions arise, please feel free to call the school at 729-2950 or send me an email at: ottowj@link75.org.



Sincerely,


Josh Ottow

Principal


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