MAMS UPDATE-NOVEMBER 7, 2019

MAMS UPDATE-NOVEMBER 7, 2019
Posted on 11/07/2019

November 7, 2019


Dear Parents and Guardians,

 

We are now into the second quarter of the school year.  Time flies when you are having fun! I have a few items for you:


Our Students Are Growing!  We are very excited to share some academic achievement data from the past few years, some of which was just released by the State.  While we focus on this type of school wide achievement data from time to time, we do not approach our work with students from this lens.  Our students are not a number and/or are not defined by a score. Our work with adolescents is based on a student-centered, whole child approach and individual growth is always the goal.  All that said, this type of data can be helpful in viewing our efforts from a “10,000 foot view,” and give us a sense what our broad-based school initiatives could be in the future.

As you know, our students take the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) every year.  This state assessment data is incredibly helpful for our school when MAMS data is compared to the average from all the middle schools in the state.  While the assessment and students can change from year to year, the comparison to the state average remains a helpful analysis. The two above graphs show overall achievement for our school as compared to the rest of the state.  As you can see, four years ago, our school was below state average in both reading/writing and math, whereas the most recent data (from the assessment last Spring) shows that we are above state average in both areas.  This is a great trend to celebrate!  And, we want to see that turnaround trend to continue for years to come!

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In addition to the MEA, we also use the STAR Assessment, as a universal screening tool to get an up to the minute check on where students are at with expected grade-level reading and math standards.  This assessment is very helpful in planning individual student programming. Because the STAR Assessment is used by over 34,000 schools and districts from around the country, the assessment has a data tool called the “Student Growth Percentile” (SGP), which takes the amount of growth a student is making and compares him/her to the median growth from middle school students nationally.  A SGP of 50 is the national median. A score below 50 means the student is growing slower than his/her national peers, while above 50 means they are growing faster. The two above graphs shows MAMS’ average Student Growth Percentile on our screening tools since 2014. We are proud to report that for the second year in a row, our students are growing at a faster rate than their national peers!  Maintaining this high level of growth continues to be our goal so that our students can be as prepared as possible when we send them off to Mt. Ararat High School.


Quarter One Report Cards will be going home in backpacks today or tomorrow.  Our goal with report cards is to clearly communicate to you how your child is doing with their learning.  This report card is designed to be a mere snapshot of where students are at that point in time with scores for learning goals and work habits.  We encourage all parents to reach out to their child’s teacher(s) for more information about how their child is doing beyond these scores. Parents may also go online and view grades within the Empower Program


Our Quarter 1 Honor Roll will be published on our website and in local newspapers by the following week.  As a reminder, here are the eligibility requirements for Honor Roll:

  • To qualify for the “Honor Roll” at the end of the quarter, students must have ALL (but one) of their Work Habits scores a 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. 


Phone Messenger System Test  Tomorrow afternoon around 3:00pm, all parents will receive a phone call from me.  The call will be a test of our school district’s new automatic phone messenger system.  Our new Superintendent Shawn Chabot has made it a priority to ensure all our communications systems are in effective working order in case we need to reach parents in case of an emergency crisis situation.  In the past, all of this type of communication would come directly from the superintendent’s office. Mr. Chabot is changing this strategy to empower each school principal to contact parents directly with a phone call or text message without the delay of going through his office first.  The message you will receive tomorrow will indicate right away that it is a test. So that we can practice actually delivering a complex message, the call will also include an encouragement to attend our upcoming Parent Academy and Parent Coffee sessions. It is my intent to use this messenger system primarily for urgent messages.  We will continue to use email and Facebook to deliver regular updates on the school.



School-Parent Outreach Programs.  Our school places a high priority on effective home school communication and  collaboration. In addition to the myriad of ways your child’s individual team teachers communicate with you, our school, at large, has several important outreach events throughout the year.  

“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) VIDEO 

  • 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

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

    • This session will again focus on our improvements to our grading program, including a review of a sample new report card formats

  • 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



L-R (Back): Ethan Hanna, Rose Tuttle, Claire Caton, Gab Chase, Co-Advisor Megan Hayes Teague, Madison Caron, Theo Forcier; (Front): Savannah Baker, Kira Chown, Josy Hollenbach, Ava Hanson; Missing: Co-Advisor Jon Beede


Welcome Week.  Friday, October 25, marked Mt. Ararat Middle School's first ever Day of Welcome. Our Civil Rights Team and teams across the state took some time to celebrate and promote the idea that our school communities are for everyone. CRT members created a paperchain for their classmates to sign with the message "If we 'link' together, we can make a difference." This statewide event is sponsored by the Maine Office of the Attorney General through the Civil Rights Team Project.

 

   

Literacy Learning.  (Written by Logan Norton Grade 7 Team Androscoggin)  On October 25th, 2019 the 7th grade Androscoggin Team went to the Topsham Brunswick Land Trust, located on Baribeau Dr. in Brunswick. We met volunteers who work with the Land Trust and taught us how to dig a 300 ft long trench! The trench was needed to get water to the community member’s gardens. It was a lot of work but we got it done! We also spent part of the day walking around Maine Street while writing in our journals. Our entries included observations we made about the people we saw and the scenes from Downtown Brunswick. Later we stopped by the Farmer’s Market and had lunch on the Mall.  It was a super fun field trip where we got to do some community service and write about the many things we observed.

 

 


Winter Athletics.  Our students are encouraged to take part in a variety of sports and activities this season; including basketball, wrestling, cheerleading, nordic ski, and hockey.  The basketball season tips off in coming weeks with many home games throughout December and January. The general public is welcome to attend these games, but any student wishing to attend needs to be accompanied by an adult.  Please visit our MAMS Athletics Page or contact our Athletic Director Rick Crawford for more information.  Wrestling season begins after the basketball season ends, in late January.  The school also offers after school cheering and nordic skiing clubs throughout the winter months.  While the school does not offer hockey, there is a community hockey program that our students are welcome to join.  


Sports and Club Participation.  MAMS has so many clubs, activities, and sports for our students to participate in.  There is something for everyone! We are holding a school-wide assembly next week to promote student involvement in extracurricular activities.   Most of these clubs are held in “seasons,” meaning that they do not meet all year, but only for a few months at a time. Therefore, we include information on club formation in our Daily News page on our website.  Please speak with your child about participation in clubs and activities and reach out to their Advisor for assistance in helping them to join any of these activities:



field hockey 

soccer 

cross country 

basketball 

wrestling 

baseball 

softball 

track and field

Cheering Club 

Nordic Ski Club 

Interact Club

Math Team 

Girls on the Run

Rubik’s Cube Club

Student Council

Mural Club  

Minecraft Club

Eagle Ambassadors

iTeam (computer club)

Drama/Play Performance

Civil Rights Team

Yearbook Club

A Capella Club

Pride Club

cross country

Football

Newspaper Club

American Sign Language

Intramural Sports Club

..and more coming!

 



Community Support and Giving During the Holidays.   With the holiday season approaching, if your family is in need of support or would like to support others, this guide from United Way contains a list of local community resources and organizations.  In addition, there is a parent-organized support network called,Ararat TEANthat uses social media to match student/family needs to appropriate resources.  If you have any questions about accessing resources in the community or in school, or if you wish to donate to others please contact your child's school counselor by calling the School Counseling Office at 729-2950 ext. 2603.


Boys to Men and Hardy Girls.  In a previous update, I mentioned the positive, proactive work our 8th graders are engaging with surrounding the important issue of what it means to be a young man or young woman in our society, with a focus on respect, understanding, and empathy.  For boys, this work involves the Boys to Men program and, for girls, the sessions use the Hardy Girls Healthy Women curriculum.  Our 8th graders are currently in the middle of this ongoing work, so I encourage parents to ask their child more about these programs.


(Photo Courtesy of Karyn Rawson Photography)

Spirit Series is Back!  All our 6th graders recently began the Spirit Series “Seeking Socrates” program in their social studies classes.   Spirit Series is a three-week residency in which our students delve into the history, language, art, and philosophy of Ancient Greece in a two-way exploration, both stepping into the sandals of the Greeks 2400 years ago, and bringing the lessons of that time — Knowing Thyself, Following Your Conscience, Doing Nothing to Excess, and Speaking the Truth, to name a few — into their everyday lives here in Maine in 2019. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me, or 6th Grade Social Studies teachers who are collaborating with Spirit Series teachers to deliver this transformational program in our school. 


Updates from Exploratory Classes.  With the start of the second quarter this week, many of our child’s Exploratory Classes are changing.  We are trying a new strategy in home-school communication when it comes to Exploratory Classes. In the past, our Exploratory teachers would use these ‘MAMS Update’ emails to include updates on what the students are learning in these classes.  Moving forward, each of the Exploratory teachers will be emailing all their parents directly periodically to update on what is happening in PE, Health, STEM, Learning Commons, Art, World Language, and Learning Commons classes.


Senora Frost

Staff Spotlight. One of the greatest resources at Mt. Ararat Middle School is our amazing staff. HERE in the Staff Spotlight, you will get to know some interesting information about a member of our faculty! Staff members are chosen at random and will be featured on our website. We hope you enjoy this extra look inside our community and that you learn something new about the people that make MAMS such a special place! This month is Leah Nook-Frost, Spanish and ELL (above)!  We are also excited to announce that Senora Frost’s family welcomed a happy and healthy baby recently and she is now out on maternity leave. Sra. Frost’s 8th grade Spanish classes now have a long-term substitute teacher, Ms. Rose Antonecchia, an experienced Spanish Teacher. Ms. Antonecchia will be sending a separate email to all the parents in her classes to introduce herself.


Website Photo Refresh!  We recently updated our school’s WEBSITE to showcase students, including three new photos for the scrolling main image.  We are also updating student/staff photos located in our lobby/atrium. Thanks to our brave and patient student leaders who participated in the photo shoot for these new pictures.


What Parents Should Know About Social Media. Our Technology Integration Teacher, Mr. Ryan Palmer, has put together THIS INTERACTIVE GUIDE for parents about how to support your child in their appropriate social media use.  Some of the resources are accessed using the QR Code Reader on your phone (just ask your child if you don’t know how to use that feature on your phone).  We actually recommend that parents go through some of these resources directly with their child. If we can support these discussions in any way, do not hesitate to reach out to Mr. Palmer at palmerr@link75.org or your child’s school counselor.  This will be a focus of the upcoming “Screens and Teens” Parent Academy next week.  When it comes to parenting and educating parents, we are truly all learning together.


MAMS Focused--Respectful--Responsible Students.  Because of the great value we place on focused, respectful, and responsible behavior in our community, we have established a program to recognize our students. Each Friday, teams are asked to submit the name of one student whom they believe most exemplifies the team's definition of focused, respectful, and responsible behavior. Those students are called to the office, presented a certificate, and entered into a monthly drawing for a gift certificate. Additionally, Ms. Hayes Teague calls the families to describe the behaviors that led teachers to their choice!  Congratulations to our October Students of the Week:

Sullivan Crowe (Counseling Dept.)

Griffin Ridlon (Merrymeeting)

Elliot Larsen (Carrabassett)

Ian Britt (Magalloway)

Eligh Imrie (Cathance)

Caiden Chase (Sebasticook)

Declan Kelly (Exploratory)

Elijah Blanchette (Exploratory)

Katherine Kelly (Cathance)

Jason Bragg (Magalloway)

Cody Sutherland (Androscoggin)

Colby Bleau (Merrymeeting)

Ava Hanson (Carrabassett)

Lily Ouellette (Magalloway)

Aubrey Pelletier (Cathance)

Salin Bachor (Merrymeeting)

Chloe Thornton-Holman (Casco)

 

 


Team Sheepscot Update. (Written By 8th Grader Tucker Wnek). As some of you readers may know, Team Sheepscot Is a project based learning program at Mt. Ararat Middle School. Sheepscot has four main departments such as Culinary Arts, Engineering, Technology, and an Aquaponics program.

The Sheepscot team’s Culinary Arts department has been tackling many different themed recipes including foods like kale, apples, and chicken. With the apple recipes we learned how to make things like apple crisp and apple turnovers. With kale we have sold kale chips to teachers around the building to raise money for more projects. With chicken we have made foods like chicken tacos and chicken teriyaki.  

In our Aquaponics department we have a fully functioning aquaponics garden on the balcony in the school lobby with two fish tanks and two big grow beds. We also have a fish tank and a grow bed in the office for people to see. And in the classroom we also have two nursery tanks. Earlier this year we received a $2000 grant from the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom to support our aquaponic farm. Money from the agriculture license plates. A new department we have this year is our technology department. In this fresh new department we practice coding on the website SCRATCH. We also host a weekly MAMS news show to share information with students, teachers, and parents about what is new at Mt Ararat Middle School.

Last but definitely not least, is our Engineering department. This year we are trying to build a shed to store our bikes in but first we have to build a scale model shed so we can show the school what it will look like so we can have permission to build the shed. Also this winter we will build a magnetic levitation car for our classroom.

There are also additional projects that we have been doing besides our four departments. We did a research project about the vaping epidemic that has struck the United States. We studied the country of Afghanistan using the book “Craig and Fred” as our anchor text. We have studied many artists such as Andy Warhol, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Pissasco, and Vincent Van Gogh. We also have our own currency and finances. We have paychecks, our own bank accounts and we invest in our own stock market.

We are proud of our work and we would like to show you what we do on Team Sheepscot.  You can contact our teacher, Mr. Hawley, at hawleyj@link75 to make an appointment to come see what we do on this team.


From the Learning Commons.  Students are getting excited and starting to prep for the MSAD 75/MSBA (Maine Student Book Awards) Battle of the Books. We will host the 2nd annual “BOB” tournament at MAMS early in 2020. MAMS students will be competing with teams from Bowdoin Central School, Bowdoinham Community School, and Williams-Cone Elementary School. MAMS students are welcome to join the MAMS Maine Student Book Award (MSBA) & Battle of the Books (“BOB”) After School Book Club which will meet on Thursdays after school. Thank you to Trust For Our Future for supporting BOB!

Does Your Child Walk or Bike to School?  If so, please review the following reminder with your child: Walkers should use the sidewalks only and use crosswalks when crossing the streets.  Bikers should stay on the far right side of the road and cross the street only at designated crosswalks.  With the high school construction going on, there are new traffic patterns for cars and pedestrians. Therefore, the focus should be on safety by all.  We recently reviewed safety expectations with all students, but reinforcement from parents will also be helpful.


The Mt. Ararat Stage Company will hold auditions for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Monday, December 16, 2019 and Tuesday, December 17, 2019 from 2:20-4:30 PM in the Orion Performing Arts Center. All interested students should plan to attend at least one day of auditions. An audition snow date has been scheduled for Thursday, December 19th from 2:20-4:30 PM. It’s a very ordinary and rather boring day for Alice until she spots a White Rabbit with a pocket watch whizzing through a world that’s beyond imagination! Her insatiable curiosity draws her into a madcap adventure in which she meets remarkable characters like the Caterpillar, Talking Flowers, a Duchess and her Cook, a Gryphon and Mock Turtle, a Mad Hatter and a March Hare. When Alice finally catches up with the White Rabbit in the Queen’s Court, she’s in for her biggest adventure of all. The wonder-filled world of Alice is a fantastic journey for the adventurous of any age.

Rehearsal Start Date: Tuesday, January 7, 2019. Please note that rehearsals for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begin at 2:20 PM and conclude at approximately 4:30 PM. An extended rehearsal schedule will be implemented during the final week of rehearsal.

Performance Dates and Times: Friday, March 27, 2020 at 7:00 PM, and Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 3:00 PM. A photo-call will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 12:00 PM.

All individuals interested in auditioning will be asked to read from the script and to participate in theatre games and exercises.    


Student At Risk of Self-Harm Outside of School Hours?  If you and/or your child become aware of a student that may be at risk of self-harm outside of school hours, please DO NOT attempt to contact school personnel outside of school hours.  Staff are not working and may not be checking email or voicemail during these times. Therefore, vital safety information could easily be missed and students could be placed at greater risk. Instead, please utilize THIS step by step guide for how a parent could respond to such concern outside of school hours.  This guide is placed prominently on our MAMS webpage, as was created in collaboration with local police, mental health providers, and the local Crisis Response Center.


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.


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