May 5, 2021
Dear Staff, Students and Families,
The Saturday edition of the Morning Sentinel had an article depicting how Maine superintendents were urging state officials to move quickly on COVID-19 guidelines in preparation for the opening of schools in the fall.
The article stated that many schools were concerned that they would still be in some form of hybrid mode if the distancing guidelines were not modified. Clearly, a great deal of pressure is being placed on state officials to consider modifications to the guidelines. However, the advice we are still receiving from state officials is to plan for the opening of our schools with the existing distancing guidelines in place.
Having said the above, the goal for Winslow Public Schools is to provide in-person learning five days a week starting in the fall of 2021, regardless of whether or not the current distancing guidelines are modified.
To accomplish this goal, we are drafting a plan that will require additional space and funding. The Winslow Town Council and the Winslow Town Manager are in support of the schools continuing to use the space available at the old junior high school in order to make this work. Funding to keep the old junior high school in operation for another year, along with the hiring of additional staff, will come from the most recent allocation of ESSER 3 funds. With the space and hiring of additional staff, we are confident in our ability to bring all students back while complying with the distancing guidelines if they remain in effect.
The administrative team, along with the teaching staff, are reviewing the various barriers we need to overcome in order to bring all students back to in-person learning. We will be prepared to share a draft proposal publicly at the May 17 School Board meeting. This proposal will include the rationale for taking this course of action, our preliminary plans (which includes a remote learning alternative for eligible students) and the advantages we see for moving forward at this point in time based on the information we have available to us.
As always, I thank you for your patience and support throughout this process. We will keep you informed as we continue to revise our plan.
Superintendent of Winslow Schools
April 2, 2020
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff,
I hope this finds you all well. A few days ago, Governor Mills issued a “stay at home” order, offering specific guidance around curtailing non-essential activities, gatherings, and travel. She also ordered schools to refrain from in-person, classroom instruction practices until after May 1st (or until further orders are issued). This of course means that we continue with our current course of action.
Before providing a brief update on our progress, I want to once again send a special thank you to our Food Service staff for their unwavering commitment and dedication to provide meals to our students, and to our bus drivers who have helped distribute the food, and to the many faculty and staff members ( custodians, teachers, educational technicians, administrators, etc. ) who have given countless hours assisting to prepare and distribute over 3000 meals each day that meals are delivered.
I also want to offer a special thank you to our faculty and staff for their incredible efforts to stay connected and planning for a different delivery of learning. Like all families, our faculty and staff are juggling numerous worries and responsibilities and we know it hasn’t been easy for anyone. These are unprecedented times and we have to recognize the stress the uncertainty puts on all of us.
I want to thank the parents, guardians and caregivers for your kind messages and support during this difficult time. Your positive messages have helped the Winslow faculty and staff remain focused and ready to serve your children.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the students for your patience as your teachers retool to provide you with a valuable/meaningful learning opportunity as we progress through these uncharted waters. It will be important for you to check your school website on a daily basis to access information regarding your educational programming.
Meal distribution will continue to take place on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings through the use of buses. Two breakfasts and two lunches are provided each of these days to anyone under the age of 18. We are working on a plan to continue providing meal delivery during April vacation.
Staff Check in
Staff have reached out to students to check in and offer support. For many, that involved touching base through email, while others contacted families by phone. Staff have worked to identify those in need of computers and/or internet access, and are working to help families with those needs.
We have provided learning resources for students at all grade levels. Links to online resources are posted on the school websites, along with descriptions of low-tech learning activities that students can try. These resources have also been mailed to families who may not have access to the internet. We have encouraged students to access these resources as they choose.
Following the decision that schools remain closed for an extended period of time, staff at each school worked to develop more formal instructional plans for learning from home. Teachers and administrators are meeting regularly through remote means to develop a systematic approach to delivering instruction to students.
This work does not come without challenges and rewards. Teachers and administrators are finding ways to use technology to deliver an educational plan that is more tailored to the components of the grade level curriculum. Our special education department is working hard to ensure that a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) will be met for students with individualized learning plans.
While we recognize that each family's circumstances will determine their children's ability to participate, our responsibility, as always, is to support the ongoing learning of all of our students.
By Monday, April 6, each building will post information to their school web site regarding what Distance Learning will look like at their level. It will be important for students and parents to check the site in order to stay on top of the information being presented. If you do not have access to the school website please contact your building principal. Communication will be vital at this time.
Other-To be determined
Discussions regarding grading, course requirements, future school activities, and so much more are taking place on a regular basis. For example, schools are struggling with how to handle grading in a remote learning environment when not all students have reliable access to teachers, online resources, and parents who can help them. As we work through the long list of questions and possible responses, we will keep what is best for students as our guiding principle. Updates will be provided on a regular basis.
Superintendent of Winslow Schools
Friday, March 27, 2020
I wanted to send an email as we wrap up the week to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the entire Winslow School Community. I cannot tell you the number of times I have caught myself with a smile on my face as I witness the tremendous efforts being given on multiple fronts during this unprecedented time. The reasons for the smile vary but they are all connected to the same theme which is one of giving and caring for one another during a time of crisis.
Allow me to touch upon a few of the moments.
Meal Delivery Program
For the past two weeks, forty staff members comprised of kitchen staff, custodians, maintenance, teachers, educational technicians, bus drivers, administrators, directors, guidance counselors, school nurses, and secretaries have worked to ensure that our students have nutritious meals. Each day, over 600 meals are prepared and delivered to students throughout the Winslow community by utilizing our buses and bus drivers. This past week, we served well over 3000 meals.
Demonstration of Appreciation
Students, parents, guardians, and caregivers have offered sincere thanks through the form of notes, cards and email messages for the food that is being delivered. My favorite story is one that occurred earlier this week. After the bus arrived at the stop and the meals were unloaded, an elementary school student approached the driver, reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumbled one dollar bill. He offered the bill to the driver to help pay for the food he received. The driver thanked him and told him to keep the dollar so that he could help another in need. That one moment captured the essence of care and compassion that is occurring with our staff and students.
Along with helping to prepare and deliver meals, our teachers, administrators, directors, curriculum coordinator, educational specialist and other staff are working hard to provide meaningful educational opportunities for our students. With limited availability to the schools and their materials, our educators are working on line through a variety of technological platforms. Virtual meetings are being held by staff in all buildings to discuss the components of our educational plan as we move forward. Throughout the development of the plan, care and consideration is being given to the various barriers families may face throughout this difficult time. Barriers such as lack of child care, no accessibility to remote learning, and the mere stress and anxiety caused by simply not knowing if they will be able to find the necessary supplies at the grocery store. In addition, many families are helping elderly family members by delivering food to their homes. It's important to note that our school staff are dealing with the same fears and concerns as they work to prepare and deliver a meaningful educational alternative.
I am grateful for the support of the Winslow Town Manager, members of the Town Council, Police and Fire Chiefs, Public Works, community members, and the incredible support of the Winslow School Board. All have offered their assistance in some fashion and are ready to help in whatever way possible.
Throughout my life, I have often said, "people will forget dates, places and events but they will never forget how you made them feel." Each day I am reminded of those words as I see the acts of compassion taking place. The Winslow Community has a great tradition of wrapping its arms around those in need. It is clear to me that tradition is alive and well through the various moments I have witnessed.
In closing, I wish you all a restful weekend. Stay safe and thank you for all that you are doing. Together, we will get through this.
Superintendent of Schools
September 10, 2019
Welcome back to another school year!
The students have arrived with enthusiasm, energy, and excitement for the new school year. Meanwhile, the staff has been working hard to prepare for their arrival.
Prior to the start of school, the Winslow leadership team, which is comprised of teachers, directors, and administrators from each building, met for a day-long leadership retreat at Winslow High School. The purpose of this annual event is to give participants the opportunity to review and discuss relevant information and performance data relating to 2018-19 school goals, identify system and school goals for the 2019-20 school year, and draft 2019-20 work plans that will be shared with respective stakeholder groups in August/September. A common topic across all three buildings at the leadership retreat involved improving student achievement by focusing on using assessment data to inform instruction.
At the elementary level, a major topic discussed was the school’s transition to a schoolwide Title I program. This new program model will allow for greater flexibility in the delivery of services to a variety of students compared with the previous targeted assistance model, which limited the number of students served.
The junior high staff continued their conversations surrounding the changes that will occur in the fall of 2020, when the district completes the transition to a two-school campus. As you know, construction is currently taking place at the high school to accommodate the grade 7 and grade 8 students in the fall of 2020. Next summer, renovations will also be made to the elementary school to accommodate the grade six students who will remain in that building. Discussions such as the one that took place during the leadership retreat will continue to be held with administrators and teachers as we plan for a smooth transition to a two-building campus.
The high school continued work on the goals and activities developed during the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation process. We are proud to report that the high school has once again earned accreditation status, and the leadership team discussed how to implement the recommendations that resulted from the accreditation process.
Now that school is in session, the building principals have reported that the opening of schools went exceptionally well. In addition, they commented that the open houses were well-attended by parents, guardians, and caregivers.
Thank you for your continued support in educating Winslow’s students. If you are interested in opportunities to become more involved in your child’s education or to support the educational needs of all of our children, please check with your building principal to learn how you can help.
We are off to a great start! Let’s have a fantastic year!
Superintendent of Schools