We Are Back! Welcome to the 2017-2018 School Year

Greetings everyone and welcome back! I am excited to have all of the staff and students back for what I know is going to be a wonderful year of learning, collaboration and success for our students.  I trust that your children enjoyed meeting their new teachers and seeing their friends and that they will quickly transition from the summer schedule to the school schedule. The good news is that by starting school before Labor Day we all  have the chance to transition into this new schedule with three days this first week, followed by four days next week and the five days in the third week of school.

I spent a good amount of time in the school these first two days and I was very impressed with so many things but not the least of which are the following:

  • The buildings look wonderful inside and out. The custodial maintenance crew did an excellent job readying the buildings which  sends the message that we care about having the best facilities possible for our staff, students and families.
  • The teachers did a great job preparing their classrooms for their students. I can’t help but believe that students will feel comfortable in these new spaces.
  • The administration did an excellent job of hiring 29 new staff members who are talented and excited to begin their careers in Georgetown. We are truly fortunate that we had the chance to choose them and that they made the great decision to join our team.
  • In addition to the important work we do on a daily basis already, we are launching several new initiatives as part of our strategic plan.
    • We opened Maker Spaces at both Penn Brook and the Middle High School which I will be writing more about in future posts.  The students at Penn Brook  have already been dropping by the space class by class and the excitement that I saw and  heard when I was there makes me confident that a lot of great learning and thinking will be going in this space. The facility at the Middle High School is stocked with all kinds of materials from robotics, circuitry, electronics, hands- on materials , art supplies, sewing machines, hand tools and construction materials, a 3 D printer and many other items that were purchased and/or donated by many members of this community.  We are so very grateful.
    • We launched the first phase of our 1-1 iPad initiative at the Middle High School for students in grades 7,9 and 10.  Thanks to the generosity of parents who purchased devices for their children either through the school or on their own, we will be able to enhance the curriculum as appropriate with this new technology. Devices are never meant to replace the interaction between teachers and their students and the class with their each other but there are many places in the curriculum where students can use a device to access information quickly, extend and represent learning  and  complete assignments independently. We are very grateful for the support of our families!
    • After more than a year of planning, the Penn Brook School is launching their PBIS positive behavior program which I know Penn Brook families will be hearing much more about in the coming weeks. This is part of our social curriculum that works with and supports the academic curriculum.
    • We have revamped the foods program in an attempt to keep our “in-house” program operating after the discussion about out-sourcing last year. We have hired a great new Food Services Director Sean Riley who has many years of experience in the field and a strong customer service focus.  We also constructed a coffee shop called the Royal Brew Cafe in the Middle High School cafeteria where we will sell hot and cold beverages, bagels from Best Bagels, home-baked goods and snacks before school and at lunch. Eventually we expect to have this open after school but not initially. The food choices are not served in stations more like a college where there is a daily hot lunch or Chef’s Specialty, a grab and go section with burgers, chicken sandwiches and pizza, an international station , a fresh salad bar and the Knight’s Deli which will serve made to order sandwiches, paninis and homemade soups. At Penn Brook there is a grab and go section and they are planning to change-up several of the food offerings so watch the menu that is posted on the website.
    • This spring, a visiting team from NEASC, which is the Northeast Association of Schools and Colleges, will be coming to GMHS to do an assessment of the school. This is the organization that grants accreditation to schools and they last visited Georgetown in 2006.  At that time, they fully accredited the school but we were placed on warning for failing to meet the criteria on one of the seven standards, Community Resources for Learning. The school has been on warning since 2007 but almost all of the concerns that were raised have been addressed and we expect this process to go smoothly.  There are so many good things going on but there is always room for improvement so we welcome this assessment. The staff has been engaged in a year-long self-study that began last year and if you keep watching this blog, more information will be posted.

One of the best things about education is that every September is a fresh start for all of us.! It is a chance to reaffirm our commitment to our students, to form new partnerships and to make the town of Georgetown proud of its schools.

I am looking forward to working with you and here’s to an awesome year!