Thomaston Grammar School Shares their School and Community Success

DSC_0266Submitted by Ainslee Riley, Principal of Thomaston Grammar School

Thomaston Grammar School, located in the Mid-Coast town of Thomaston, is a great place to be. Our K-5 school has approximately one hundred and eighty-five students, with two classes at each grade level.  In addition to having a daily focus on mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and health instruction, students also have weekly art, music, technology, SEL (social emotion learning), and physical education classes.  Our focus centers around our district goals of proficiency based learning and social emotional learning, which go hand in hand. Teachers have worked together to create appropriate grade level performance indicators that align with our state standards.  The school has also adopted Restorative Practices and Second Step to help us work toward meeting our goals in the area of social emotional learning.

IMG_8524We have a wonderful parent group that works to provide opportunities for our families to come together to have fun in the school community. They sponsor and run big events like our annual Fall Fest and Cookies with Santa weekend events, movie nights, family dances, Trunk-or Treat for Halloween, and more.  They have also brought in organizations like Mad Science of Maine for school wide learning opportunities.  In addition to these events that our parent group provides for our school community, we: have two concerts a year, host a Family Fun Night, hold a Talent Show, celebrate Read Across America week with a week filled with theme days, collect food for our local food pantry and hold a Passing of the Food event, and more.

IMG_9238We partner with a variety of organizations that enable our students to have further educational enrichment during and outside the school day. We have partnered with Leaps of Imagination, allowing for art enrichment during the school day for all students in second and fourth grade.  We work with the Strand Theatre, which offers a variety of learning opportunities where we travel to the theatre or they bring in artists to do workshops inside our school.  Our older students have the opportunity to participate in after school art enrichment, after school programming through Youthlinks, and a Big Trek/Little Trek mentoring program.  Through funding from the Georges River Education Foundation, our second grade students and teachers, along with our PE teacher, have been working with an area gym, Hybrid Fitness, to complete an integrated unit on fitness and nutrition.  Our students in third grade have the opportunity to learn to ice skate at the MidCoast Recreation Center, and our students in fourth grade have the opportunity to learn to ski at the Camden Snow Bowl.  Fifth grade students are able to enrich their learning through our school’s fifth grade TGS Common Ground Garden and Outdoor Classroom.  Students in various grades have the opportunity to visit Herring Gut Learning Center, the Botanical Gardens, the Owl’s Head Lighthouse, Tanglewood, Old Fort Western and more, depending on the year, as part of integrated units they are studying.  This year the Georges River Education Foundation also helped to fund a birding unit for our fifth grade students that has involved bringing in a variety of experts to talk and work with our students.

IMG_9325We recognize students at monthly theme-based assemblies. Our assemblies focus on a variety of attributes including, but not limited to, respect, compassion, and perseverance.  There is also a monthly Principal’s Award given to a student who exemplifies all these attributes on a daily basis. Students who are recognized have a special lunch with Principal Riley. Students who receive TGS tickets are recognized at this assembly as well. These are students who go above and beyond our school rules: Be Safe, Be Kind, and Try Your Best. Students who get tickets are also announced daily and earn prizes for receiving multiple tickets. Students are very excited to receive these tickets.

Teachers at Thomaston Grammar School work hard to make learning meaningful and fun for all of the students in our community.

Happenings in Afterschool Programs for RSU#13

RSU 13 Afterschool Programs

Submitted by Sarah Chadwick Rogers, Associate Director of After School Programming, Youthlinks at Broadreach Family & Community Services in RSU 13

At Broadreach’s 21st Century Learning Center, providing afterschool programming for the towns of RSU#13, we are proud to announce that students from grades K-12 participated in their town’s local “Pies on Parade!” event. This annual event raises funds to help hungry Midcoast Maine families through the local Area Outreach Food Pantry.

Pies that the youth baked were enjoyed at our YMCA’s Community Building, which also featured a pie obstacle course, art projects and pie games – designed by students in the afterschool program.

From Early Reading Struggles to Bowdoin College: One Student’s Story in RSU#34

Emma Hargreaves, senior at Old Town High School

Written by Brenda Gardner, Gifted & Talented Teacher and and Dr. Sharon Greaney, Reading Educator. Submitted by Jon Doty, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
 at Regional School Unit #34

Reading Recovery is designed to help struggling first graders catch up to their peers in 12 to 20 weeks. Specially trained reading teachers work with students in a one on one setting to meet each child’s individual needs. In RSU #34, about three quarters of these students reach the average of the class by the end of first grade. But we often wonder what happens to these students as they move on. Here is one student’s story.

Emma Hargreaves is currently a senior at Old Town High School and will attend Bowdoin College next year. She remembers being a social butterfly in first grade, always babbling and asking questions but her reading was holding her back. Her mom was worried she wouldn’t be able to catch up. Her parents were happy when she was offered a spot in Reading Recovery. Emma says she doesn’t remember specifics about her lessons, but she does remember how much she adored her one-on-ones with Mrs. St. Louis. Emma says, “I think she taught me how to value progress and how to persevere when a process isn’t linear. Catching up with my peers often felt like two steps forward and one step back. Years later, I know that process is true for almost anything worthwhile, and I am forever thankful to the women who taught me that lesson.”

After a half year of Reading Recovery lessons, Emma says her success went off much like a rocket. She developed a love of reading and advanced to the top reading groups. Emma was identified as gifted and talented. At Old Town High School, Emma has taken all honors and AP classes and is on track to finish with a GPA at or near the top of her class. As president of the National Honor Society, she created a tutoring program to help her peers. Emma is a student leader who has served as a student school board representative as well as student representative to the Chapter 104 advisory committee. She traveled to Washington DC last summer as a representative for Dirigo Girl’s State. She has been published in the Portland Press Herald and Emma says, “Authoring and publishing the work was one of the most scary and rewarding things I have ever done. It was challenging and emotional and I used the same perseverant spirit Mrs. St. Louis and I cultivated way back in first grade to do so.”

Emma concludes that “the potential in everybody exists and the hardship is in its release, not in the question of its presence. Reading Recovery was the beginning of unlocking mine. What I’ve accomplished is much less important than how it has set me up to accomplish more things. Reading Recovery is valuable in its continued and immeasurable effects on its students. Reading Recovery is the beginning of stories of kids like me, and without teachers like Mrs. St Louis, the chapters of those stories would be completely different. You helped me find my voice, and while I can never repay you, I promise to write my life with the lesson you’ve taught me and the confidence you helped unlock.”

Mountain Valley Middle School (RSU 10) – A Safe Place To Learn

Submitted by Cheryl Gurney, Teacher/Assistant Principal at Mountain Valley Middle School

Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, is part of Regional School Unit #10, in the picturesque foothills of western Maine. At Mountain Valley Middle School, we strive to provide all students with a safe place to learn where all staff and students follow a code to be respectful, act responsibly, and do what is right, even when no one is watching. We pride ourselves on knowing where we need to grow and we all work toward becoming better students, teachers and learners. In particular, we have worked hard to provide our students with the opportunities to grow in the areas of academics and behavior. By using a Multi-Tiered Response to Intervention Approach we have been able to help our students to develop scholastically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally.

To promote academic growth, Mountain Valley Middle School staff and students participate in a wide variety of activities and instructional opportunities that are designed to allow learners to fill in gaps and build on foundational skills. Within the first tier of supports, all students participate in an intervention period that is built into the daily schedule four days per week. We call this our Hawks SOAR period which stands for Student Opportunities to Aim for Results. Students receive focused instruction on topics and concepts in mathematics and literacy that have been determined to be weaknesses through disaggregation of EmpowerMe and NWEA data. Students are grouped and re-grouped according to their needs.When they have mastered specific concepts and they move onto new topics to begin the process again. Comparisons of recent NWEA data have shown very promising growth in both reading and mathematics.

Over the last five years, Mountain Valley Middle School has implemented Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and in particular we have introduced a Bully Prevention program called Stop, Walk and Talk. When a student has a conflict with another student they are encouraged to tell that person to STOP. This warns the other person they are bothering someone and gives them the opportunity to change their behavior. If the behavior does not
change the offended student is asked to WALK away and TALK to the nearest adult to attain help in navigating the situation. The adult then steps into the situation and helps the students to work through the conflict. This program has helped Mountain Valley Middle School students to have a voice and office discipline rates have dropped significantly.

The staff and students at Mountain Valley Middle School are proud to be members of this community! We strive to have a growth mindset and continue to set goals and move toward their attainment. Go Hawks!


St. George School Chosen as the School of the Year by the Maine Environmental Education Association

Submitted by Mike Felton, Superintendent of St. George Municipal School Unit

St. George School has been chosen as the School of the Year by the Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA)! In the award letter to the school, the MEEA wrote, “Your demonstrated commitment to creating authentic learning opportunities for your students and engaging them in their environment as well as your clear dedication to reaching into the community to create real world learning opportunities make St. George School a clear choice for this award.”

The school congratulates and thanks their educators, students, families, community members, local organizations, and Town officials and committees for all they do to make the school-community what it is. In a statement to the community, the school said, “Together, we are stretching people’s imaginations as to what’s possible in public education and redefining the depth and potential of the relationship between school, community, and environment.”