MAMS UPDATE~AUGUST, 22, 2019

MAMS UPDATE~AUGUST, 22, 2019
Posted on 09/10/2019

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Mt. Ararat Middle School

66 Republic Avenue, Topsham, ME 04086

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

Website:  mams.link75.org

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August 22, 2019


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 3.   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 child(ren) at our school.  I have a several start-of-school items for you:


The First Day of School is Tuesday, September 3.  Classes begin at 7:40. Students may arrive anytime after 7:25 and are asked to wait in the lobby/cafe 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 counselors and teachers, 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 for 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 28, 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 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 11, 6:30-7:15 PM.  This evening is an opportunity for parents to come in to meet with their child’s team 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.  The “main event” will be from 6:30-7:15 when parents will report to their child’s team areas to meet with team teachers. This year, we are trying a new protocol where we are holding optional pre and post sessions for parents that wish to learn more specifics about and/or provide input on certain programs.


Optional Pre-Sessions (6:00-6:30 pm)

  • Exploratory Program (art, music, STEM, PE, health, world languages, Learning Commons)  -- Health Room

  • Special Education:  Parents of students in Special Education can hear from Support Services Coordinator, Cathy Curtis  -- Learning Commons

  • Progress Monitoring Group:  Parents of students in this Response to Intervention (RTI) program can meet wtih RTI Teachers Rebecca Singleton and Marybeth Latti  -- Room 2643 (Across from Learning Commons

  • Gifted/Talented Programming:  Parents of students in G/T Programming can hear from GT Coordinator Kim Emerson and Advanced Math Teacher Pete Stevens -- Room 2729 

  • Sweetser Out-of-School Mental Health Counseling: Parents who currently have children in Sweetser Counseling or are interested in having their child participate can meet with Sweetser staff -- Table in Lobby All Evening

  • Community Substance Abuse Prevention:  Parents who wish to learn more about substance abuse educational programming through Access Health, a community-run organization, can meet with Coordinator Jennah Godo -- Table in Lobby All Evening


6:30-7:15:  All parents meet with their child’s Team Teachers in their team area


Optional Post-Sessions (7:15-7:45 pm)

  • Parent Academy:  Supporting Parents in Supervising Computers in the Home.  Our learning commons staff and assistant principal will provide a “Parent Academy” information session on tips and tricks to help parents supervise computer use in the home, with a focus on the school laptop.  We are encouraging any 7th and 8th grade parents who would like their child’s laptop to go home (see below) to attend this session. -- Orion

  • Parent-Principal Coffee -- What Do You Want Our New Report Card To Look Like?  Our entire school district is in the process of reviewing and updating our grading and reporting system.  Currently our school district uses the Empower Report Card in grades K-8, however we are exploring other options for the next school year.  Parents can provide feedback on our current grading program, as well as what they would like the new reporting system to look like from their perspective. -- Learning Commons


Our New “Parent Academy” Program.  Raising (and educating) adolescents is not an easy job!  Did you know that one of the most rapid periods of brain development for humans (second only to infancy) occurs during the middle school years?  This dynamic, fun, and sometimes challenging period of development means that our kids are constantly changing and parenting can feel like a moving target.  Parents are often having to learn new parenting skills as they go along. Fortunately, our MAMS staff is highly experienced in working with this age-group and we want to offer support to parents.  To support this goal, we plan on holding several “Parent Academy” sessions throughout the year. Each session will focus on different topics related to raising adolescents and will be led by highly-qualified staff members and community experts.  Here are the focus topics and times:

  • Supervising Computers in the Home: (September 11, 2019 -- see above)

  • Screens and Teens: November 20, 2019, 6:00pm in Learning Commons

  • Vaping: January 29, 2020, 6:00pm in Learning Commons

  • Anxiety: March 18, 2020, 6:00pm in Learning Commons

  • Dating and Relationships: May 13, 2020, 6:00pm in Learning Commons

More to come on these sessions as we get closer to each.  SAVE THE DATES!  


Parent-Principal Coffee Program.  In addition to the Parent Academies, we will continue to offer “Parent-Principal Coffee” sessions throughout the year, typically once per quarter.   The goal of the parent coffees is for parents to be able to learn more and share their feedback with me and other school staff on educational happenings at the school.  Some sessions might start with a particular focus, but then can be about whatever the parents in attendance want to talk about. Here are the Parent Coffees for the year:


  • Parent-Principal Coffee, Wednesday, September 11, 7:15-7:45 in Learning Commons

  • Parent-Principal Coffee, Wednesday, December 4, 2019 6:00 pm in Learning Commons

  • Parent-Principal Coffee, Wednesday, February 12, 2020 6:00 pm in Learning Commons

  • Parent-Principal Coffee, Wednesday, April 15, 2020 6:00 pm in Learning Commons


Grading and Reporting Review Process.   Last Spring, our district began a process of reviewing our grading and reporting system across all schools K-12. The goals and timeline of the process are included HERE in a letter sent from the Superintendent and were endorsed by the Board of Directors at its April 25th, 2019 meeting. Our teacher-leaders met this week to continue this work and will be seeking input from parents (see “Parent Coffee” above) and students on the improvement process. 

 

New Laptop Protocol.  Thanks to all the MAMS parents who provided us with input on the proposed changes to our laptop protocols for 7th and 8th graders (6th grade chromebooks do not go home so this change doesn’t impact that grade).  Based on parent and teacher feedback, here is a summary of the new protocol:

 

  • While technology is vitally important to the learning process, we know that if adolescents have too much screen time it can be unhealthy to them (lack of sleep, addiction, inappropriate content, social media, etc.)

  • While there is sometimes homework given to students that requires technology, students may have access to alternative ways to do that work that doesn't require their school laptop going home.  This includes using another tech device in the home, accessing files via the cloud, and/or staying after school.

  • Because of these points, our school is not requiring that the laptop go home for 7th and 8th graders.  However, any 7th and 8th grade parent will have the option to elect to have their child(ren)’s laptop go home with them.  This choice is 100% up to parents, as we know that the role of the parent certainly supersedes the role of the school and we want to honor parent autonomy around what occurs in the home.   

  • All parents of students grades 6-8, regardless of whether the device is going home, need to complete the required laptop coverage process and form.  These coverage forms will be going home with your child on the first day(s) of school. We would need this form back for your child to get a device to use in school.

  • If a parent would like to request their child’s laptop to go home, they would indicate this later in September after the initial in-school deployment occurs.  We encourage all parents who choose to have the device go home to attend the Parent Academy, “Supporting Parents in Supervising Computers in the Home” after Open House on September 11, 7:15-7:45 in the Orion.  We will be video-recording this Parent Academy and making the video available on our website for those parents that are unable to attend in-person.

  • All student school-issued macbooks (including those that go home) will be remotely disabled at 10:00 pm, aka. "lights out".  

 

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

Marianne Warner 6th Grade English/Social Studies Teacher - Sebasticook

Meg Marks 7th Grade Math Teacher - Merrymeeting

Helen Oronato Moulton 8th Grade English Teacher - Casco

Catherine Schofield Special Services Teacher

Marjorie Wise Special Services Teacher - BILD 6th Grade

Renovia Marro Day Chorus Teacher

Phil Ingle Educational Technician

Wendy Krouse-Kazanovicz Educational Technician

Annie Munroe Long Term Substitute Art Teacher (1st Quarter)

Attention 8th Grade Parents:  Opportunities for Advanced Technology-Education.  For the past several years, our school has been building a relationship with Region 10 Technical High School so that our students can have earlier access to their phenomenal vocational-related programming.  For example, last year several of our 8th graders participated in programs such as Welding, Building Trades, and Outdoor Power at Region 10 in lieu of their regular MAMS Exploratory Program.  This year, we are excited to announce an even greater expansion of program options for 8th graders:

  • Vocational Middle School Exploratory Program:  Open to any 8th Grader to apply.  This program would occur at Region 10 Technical High School every afternoon.  This would replace the MAMS Exploratory Program for participating 8th graders.  Region 10 was able to hire a new teacher for this “middle school-only” program. Our students would be joined by other 8th grade students from Brunswick and Freeport and engaged in hands-on learning in all of the Region 10 programs.  Students would need to apply for this program and be in good standing to be considered.  This program would be ideal for students who may see themselves going to Region 10 during high school and this would allow them earlier access.  Students would take the bus to/from Region 10 with the high school students every afternoon.

  • Pre-Engineering Program:  Open to 8th grade students with advanced math skills to apply.  This program is for students who may be interested in attending a college Engineering Program after they graduate high school (ex. University of Maine School of Engineering, MIT, etc).  Students would engage in hands-on, real-world skill building in areas such as architecture, robotics, artificial intelligence, computer-aided design, and coding. This program will be housed at Mt. Ararat High School every afternoon and is open to high school students and select 8th grade students.  Participating students would walk to/from MTA in the afternoons and this would replace their MAMS Exploratory Program. This program has limited openings for 8th graders so it may need to be selective depending on the number of interested students.

Both of these programs are new and were developed over the summer by Region 10 Director Nancy Weed, and the principals of MAMS, Brunswick Junior High and Freeport Middle School.  Because of the newness of the programs, some of the details and logistics are not yet finalized, so both of these programs would not start up until a few weeks into the year. If you are interested in your 8th grade child participating in either of the above programs, please reach out to their counselor, me, and/or Region 10 Director Weed.


School Picture Day will be Thursday, September 12.  Our school photo provider is Geskus Photography.  We will be sending home ordering forms with students on the first day(s).  If you wish to order prints for your child, they should bring the completed form on picture day and give it to the Geskus photographer.  If your child is absent on picture day or you are not satisfied with the quality of the picture, Picture Retake Day will be October 17.


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 3-6, 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 part-time Athletic Director, Rick Crawford at crawford@link75.org or visit our Athletics page.  For parents interested in the other student clubs and activities that happen in our school, I will provide more information in my next update, as they typically do not get rolling until a few weeks into the year.




How Do Students Qualify for the Honor Roll?  As we welcome our incoming 6th grade Class of 2026, we thought it may be helpful to review 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. 


Cell Phones in School.  At Mt. Ararat Middle School, our Cell Phone Protocol (based on school board policy) is:

“OFF AND AWAY”

This means that students are expected to stow their cell phones in their lockers from first bell to last bell. If a parent needs to get a message to their child, for any reason, contact the Main Office at 729-2950 and we have an efficient and discreet way to relay that message.  We ask parents to not text or call their child during the school day.  As you know, adolescents struggle with ambiguity and this may send mixed messages to them about expectations.  We are also asking for your support in reinforcing this expectation with your child at home before the start of school.


Notes from Nurse Naomi.  A warm welcome to our new 6th grade students, transfer students at all levels, and returning students.  I hope everyone had a fun and safe summer! In thinking about the new school year, my primary role is helping your student remain well and ready to learn.  In the 2018-2019 school year I had over 6000 student visits, made more than 500 calls to parents, referred almost 200 students to the guidance/social workers, collaborated with the Brunswick Area Student Aid Fund to arrange for eye exams, copays for medications and other one-time medical needs.   Additionally, around 23 students received scheduled medications during the school year. Why do students come to the nurse?  

  • fatigue

  • stomach aches

  • anxiety

  • headaches

  • accidents or injuries

  • chronic health problems such as diabetes & asthma

  • typical developmental stages such as starting menstruation or losing primary molars

Please know that I’m a resource to all MAMS families.  Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have for the upcoming school year. -- Naomi Mullane, RN, School Nurse, mullanen@link75.org, 729-2950 x3.


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. 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 on our website (located under the Student tab) that we review with students during the first weeks of school and we encourage parents to review it as well.  

 

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,

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Josh Ottow

Principal


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