Reflecting on 2012…Looking Forward to 2013

Happy New Year!

2012 was a good year for Machias Memorial High School and I’m looking forward to an even better year in 2013.  It has always been my goal to work with the students, staff, parents, and community to continuously improve our school.  We must work together to make our school a place that meets all of our students‘ academic and social needs and prepares them for life after high school.

Several key steps have been taken, in the past year, to improve our school.  In September teachers, PK-12 throughout AOS 96, began the challenge of aligning curriculum with the Common Core national standards.  This is a daunting task, but when completed will be the first step in ensuring that students learn the right content.  Teachers deserve a lot of credit for the work done so far and the work they will accomplish in 2013.

In 2012 a great deal of emphasis has been put on bullying and harassment prevention.  Students, staff, and parents know the seriousness I place on this issue.  We have taken many steps to ensure that students can come to school and focus on learning.  We have policies and procedures in place to deal with bullying and harassment.  There are many messages around school that remind and educate students on how to stand up to bullying and harassing behaviors.  Formal and anonymous reporting systems are in place.  A student group is being formed to provide support for students who are being bullied or harassed.  It is my belief that if the school provides supports for students that they will be the ones to end bullying and harassment in our school.

Sports teams play a huge role in the morale and pride of the school and community.  Athletic accomplishments have been impressive in 2012.  Cross Country, Soccer, and Volleyball teams all earned DAC Championship titles.  The Volleyball program earned their first ever DAC Championship.  I give the credit to a great group of student athletes who have excellent attitudes and ability.  Credit also needs to go to Coach Cindy Rossi, Coach Bob Sinford, and Coach Kelly Woodward for the guidance they provide our athletes.  I am expecting more accomplishments from this group of students in 2013.  Go Bulldogs!

The Machias Memorial High School Sports Boosters became active again in 2012.  This highly motivated and dedicated group have raised a significant amount of money and want to support athletics at Machias Memorial High School.  I appreciate all the assistance they give me and they appreciate all the support you give them.

Partnerships within the community are beginning to form.  This fall Mrs. Michelle Jaques and myself meet separately with representatives from the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s East Machias Aquaculture Research Center to explore the science-based educational possibilities available through their work.  Machias Memorial High School Sports Boosters have teamed up with Hannaford to host half-time events at basketball games.  More recently Susan Corbett of Axiom Technologies and Machias Memorial High School have begun talks about how students can gain valuable learning experiences by working alongside Axiom employees.  The Building Trades Program has agreed to assist in renovating the old 5 & 10 Building, recently purchased by Axiom, so that community groups can have comfortable and enjoyable facilities for their activities.

The school continues to seek out educational opportunities outside our walls such as internships and apprenticeships with local businesses, online learning, early college, and new exciting Career & Technical Education Programs.

Our website is undergoing a much needed renovation.  It will take some time to complete, but it is much more functional and appealing.  The school has been assisted by Ms. Susan Bennett and Ms. Charlene Cates with this renovation.

The school added an Astronomy class this year.  This class is taught by Ralph Battaline from the Eagle Hill Institute.  This 14 week class meets on Wednesday nights from 3-6 pm and students enrolled in class will receive 3 credits from the University of Maine system.

In January a Machias Memorial High School Parent Group will be formed.  The purpose of this group is to provide input into concerns, help provide solutions to problems, and support or assist in reaching the goals of the school.  If you are interested in being part of this group please let me know.

Moving Forward in 2013…

From my viewpoint the school is going I the right direction.  But headed in the right direction is not enough.  We need to do a better job at meeting student needs.  This means that we must assess students coming into our school, place them in the appropriate classes, ask and listen to what their goals, interests, and aspirations are, and create a customized educational plan around each student before they start high school and then monitoring their progress towards graduation.  That means that every student will not take the same pathway through high school.

When students struggle with academics or life we need to provide interventions.  In 2013 Machias Memorial High School will implement a Response to Intervention plan based on NWEA scores.  This adaptive test identifies students‘ academic strengths and needs.  The challenge will be when to provide these interventions.  I have asked the staff to help me develop an implementation plan.  I am confident that a plan will be in place by, or shortly after, the beginning of the second semester.

We know that every student learns differently, in different ways, at different rates.  The days of every student learning the same content, in the same way, at the same time is going by the wayside.  The challenge is to change the delivery of education in a customized way that benefits the student most.  This is my vision moving forward in 2013.

I always welcome and enjoy hearing comments, questions, or suggestions about our school.  Please feel free to call, email, or stop in to visit anytime.

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