Principal Page

August 11, 2017


Fellow Bobcats and Parents/Guardians:


It seems almost unfathomable that the 2017-2018 school year is less than a month away.  Mr. Partridge and I hope that everyone has had a safe and enjoyable summer.  Saco Middle School implemented several changes last year and this year will also be a year of change.  We have new team names, a new team structure for a group of 7th and 8th graders, teachers who moved to different grades, newly painted rooms, changes to grading and reporting, some new staff, transfers from other districts, and a fantastic group of incoming 6th graders.  To everyone joining our school community, we know that you will find SMS to be a caring and supportive environment.  You will be challenged to uphold our core values; to give an extra degree everyday as part of our “212 Degree” challenge; to work hard in the classroom; and to think big, give your very best, demonstrate grit, and aspire to be great.


The entire Saco Middle School staff and the building administration are energized and deeply committed to making a positive difference in the lives of our students.  We are a school community that strives for excellence.  Excellence, however, cannot be achieved through good intentions alone.  It comes from intentionality and a desire to continually reflect on and improve how we do things.  Each teacher, support person, custodian, food service person, and office staff member is the very best.  We are proud that they are part of the SMS family.  


Last year we had some lofty goals.  We sought to have a high level of external communication; transparent processes; high academic and behavioral expectations for all students; comprehensive support systems to ensure high levels of student achievement; a safe, productive, and engaging school climate and professional culture; engaging, student-centered instruction and assessment practices; high standards for teacher performance; and community engagement.  We did fairly well in meeting our goals, but we can do better and we will do better.


I look forward to my nineteenth year as a school administrator.  Last year was extremely rewarding and energized me to work hard this summer to build on last year’s successes.  In my opening letter last August, I wrote, “I have developed a strong set of convictions about education and an understanding of the true purpose of education, at least in my opinion.  It is not about overloading our youth with obscure facts. It is to instill a desire to learn and to prepare our youth to educate themselves throughout their lives.  We need to supply the foundation and give them a reservoir of knowledge from which to work so they can make informed decisions and be productive, concerned citizens.”  I firmly believe that SMS is on an upward trajectory where students are provided a rich educational experience that equips them for success beyond our walls.  SMS will be the best middle school in the state in the very near future.  What the heck, SMS will be the best middle school in New England in the near future.  Why?  We have laid a foundation for rigorous academics and positive and rewarding student-student and student-adult relationships.  


Before highlighting our foci and system changes for the 2017-2018 school year, I would like to introduce new additions to the middle school staff:

  • Shelby Soloff, 6th Grade Science

  • Dale Menard, 8th Grade Science

  • Abigail Miller, Behavioral Program Lead Teacher

  • Brianna McElaney, 6th Grade Resource Room Teacher

  • Diana Painter, Spanish Teacher

  • Alison Crofton-McDonald, Art Teacher

  • Christina Barrett, Coding & Math Interventionist


We are very excited to have each person join the SMS community.  We are certain that each will be an outstanding addition to our already dedicated staff.


District and School Website

The Saco School Department website is a useful tool to learn more about both the district and SMS.  Information on both the district site as well as the middle school site will be added throughout the remainder of the summer and into the school year.  To access the middle school site, you can look under the heading of “schools.”  I have also included the link here: http://middle.sacoschools.org/


The district and school sites provide a great deal of relevant information and will be one manner in which the Saco Middle School administration and staff communicate with our families.  If you have any questions about the site or are looking for specific information, please contact anyone in the main office or a school administrator.


Start Times/Daily Schedule

Saco Middle School begins at 8:30.  The homeroom period begins at 8:30 and the regular academic day a few minutes later.  The day concludes at 3:00.  When students arrive, they will be asked to go to one of two locations:

  • Cafeteria for breakfast and to sit with friends, or

  • Library for a quiet space to read and/or complete assignments prior to the start of the day.


At 8:15, all students will be released to their team areas.  From there they will be released to homerooms (their advisory location) for announcements and attendance and then to their first class.


Reminder: Each Wednesday is an early release.  Students will be dismissed at 2:00 PM, so SMS staff can participate in scheduled professional development activities.


Student Handbook

The purpose of our handbook is to inform parents and students of the various programs at and general expectations and processes of Saco Middle School.  The handbook is a comprehensive document that every student and parent/guardian should read in order to obtain an understanding of our academic and behavioral expectations.  Although all of the information contained in the document is important, I would suggest that everyone carefully reads the following sections as some of the expectations and processes are different from what students and parents have experienced in the past:


  • Section I: Introduction

  • Section IV: Attendance

  • Section VI: Grade Calculations and Habits of Work

  • Section VIII: Conduct and Discipline


You can access the handbook on the middle school website under the Parents/Students Tab.  The Table of Contents provides the headings and subheadings for each section of the document with an embedded link for easier access to the information.  If you have any questions or want clarity around a school procedure, please contact the main office or a school administrator.


School Culture and Climate

A major focus last year was to enhance our overall school climate by establishing a culture of everyone working to the best of his/her abilities; of a singular purpose toward providing meaningful, engaging learning experience to all students; of rich collaborative conversations; and of high expectations for academic achievement and positive behavior.  Our culture––the norms, attitudes, and expectations––that we have for each other––staff to staff, staff to student, and student to student––will directly affect how safe, productive and stimulating our climate will become.  We will continue to build our school community through monthly grade-level community meetings, our trimester recognition assemblies, and other spirit events.


A strong school culture impacts everyone.  Students feel safe, valued, and encouraged to dream big and challenge themselves.  A strong school culture greatly improves academic achievement.   Students feel connected to the school and staff and are better able to successfully navigate the day-to-day challenges they encounter.  For staff, a strong culture creates unity, meaning we can share our success and struggles, engage in conversations around improving our school, and feel that we are moving forward together.


Student Support

Along with building an overall positive climate in our building, we are also committed to focusing on individual student well-being. SMS will be launching an advisory program this year. Advisory provides each student a one-to-one relationship with an adult at Saco Middle School, as well as a consistent and ongoing small-scale peer community. Your student's advisor is also your primary contact person at SMS for academic and social/emotional concerns. We will provide more information on the program at the open house.


We also have a student support team that includes schools counselors and social workers to best support students. Please see contact information below.


Janice Johnston- school counselor (6th/7th grade)

jjohnston@sacoschools.org


Chris Bisson-school counselor (7th/8th grade)

cbisson@sacoschools.org


Sarah Hanson- social worker (all grades)

shanson@sacoschools.org


Grading and Reporting

The purpose of the Saco Middle School grading and reporting system is to fairly and accurately reflect student learning.  The system supports student access to more challenging content and support to achieve proficient-to-high levels of performance.  Our frameworks are aligned to state and national academic goals and identify the essential skills and understandings that ALL students must be able to demonstrate.

Our system is designed to do the following:

·      Measure and accurately reflect student proficiency;

·      Use high quality feedback to support the learning process and encourage student success;

·      Separately assess academic achievement and learner behaviors;

·      Use a common lens to accurately, consistently, and fairly score the quality of student work;

·      Provide opportunities for students to engage in relearning and reassessment;

·      Provide detail of student’s strengths and areas of weakness in order to personalize learning         

      experiences; and

·      Provide meaningful achievement information to students, parents, and high schools.


Student progress and reporting to students and families will occur on a regular and timely basis. The following are highlights of our grading and reporting practices:


  • Assignments and grades will be entered on a regular basis.  

  • Assignments will be listed as either a formative, interim, or summative.  Each assessment type has a different weight to indicate its relative importance as evidence of mastery.  This will be explained in more detail later in this document.

  • Course grades are determined by an average of the assignments with summatives having a 70% weight and interims having a 30% weight.  

  • Different from the traditional system of the past where each trimester represents fixed learning and then all three trimesters are averaged together for a final grade, grade reporting going forward will be dynamic.  Grades are not “closed” every 12 weeks.  Grades are open to reflect a student’s new understanding and demonstration of learning until June.  

  • A progress report will be sent via email every 6 weeks.

  • At the end of a 12-week trimester, student grades will be evaluated and both academic and habits of work recognitions will be determined.


Open House

Our three Open House dates for the 17-18 school year are as follows:
    August 30th from 6:00 - 7:40 for all students on Team Baxter (6th) and Team Sebago (7th/8th)

    September 6th from 6:00 - 7:40 for all Bradbury (6th), Allagash (7th), and Black Bears (8th) students

    September 13th from 6:00 - 7:40 for all Bigelow (6th), Acadia (7th), and Dirigo (8th) students


You and your student should have received notification of his/her team assignment but if you have not or have forgotten, please contact the school.


Parents and students will meet in designated team areas from 6:00 - 7:00 to learn about the following:

  • Google Classroom

  • Parent Portal

  • Curriculum

  • Grading Practices

  • Purpose of homework

  • Habits of Work

  • School to home communications

  • Technology Expectations

  • Advisory


After the team presentations, we will hold a Parent EdCamp where you can attend a fifteen minute detailed presentation about some very important topics.  We will hold two rounds of the EdCamp so you can attend two of the workshops.  This will begin promptly at 7:05.  The first session is from 7:05 - 7:20 and session two is from 7:25 - 7:40.  The workshop topics are:


  • Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports: SMS’s preventative discipline approach that focuses on teaching a set of core values and expectations

  • Advisory Program - Includes focus on student/adult relationships, community building, fostering social, emotional well-being; and providing academic support for higher achievement

  • Performance-based assessments: Complex tasks that promote higher order thinking and application of knowledge and skills

  • Preparing your student for high school: What to expect from teachers and how parents can support student success

  • Executive Functioning: How to support your child in developing organizational, planning/prioritizing, time management skills

  • Anxiety 101: How anxiety can manifest itself in middle schoolers and how parents can best support

  • Growth Mindset: The importance of grit and persistence

  • Grading and Reporting: fluid system, which grades are reported, academics v. behaviors, introduction to proficiency


These sessions will be very informative and we hope that you will attend our offerings.


Parent/Community Engagement

  • Principal’s Coffee - A morning and evening time will be established for a monthly opportunity for parents and community members to engage in conversations about school with the school administration.  Conversations will range from discussions about “good happenings” at SMS, to sharing of data, to talking about our direction.  An agenda will be posted on the Principal’s Page and sent electronically a week prior to the meeting.  The first meeting will be in the Fall.

  • Principal’s Page - The page will be used to inform parents and community members of the teaching and learning happening at SMS; to share information on the many initiatives of SMS; to share readings, interesting videos, and other informative writings, such as blog posts; and to educate people on proficiency-based education and project-based education.  As important as it is for the community to be kept abreast of what is happening in our school through the administrative office, I believe it is equally important that the community hears from students and staff.  Therefore, I intend to have staff and students contribute their thoughts.  I intend to consistently post items in order to maintain strong communication and transparency.

  • Facebook & Twitter - This will be used to share recent posting to the Principal’s Page, upcoming events, co-curricular news, etc.  Please find us and like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sacomiddleschool/  You can follow our Twitter feed at, @Principal_SMS

  • Parent-Teacher Organization - Research shows that parent/community engagement is paramount for student achievement.  Too often schools create policies and programs and then attempt to sell the idea to parents instead of working with parents to develop and implement the policy or program. Real change will take place when the school and its various stakeholders partner around initiatives and work collaboratively to make a difference.  If you have an interest in partnering with the school as part of our PTO, please contact the main office either by phone or email.  We will have an initial meeting later in September.


Thank you for your ongoing support of SMS and being a part of our school community.  We wish the very best over the remainder of the summer break.  


Sincerely,



Brian Campbell, Principal Thomas Partridge, Assistant Principal


Brian Campbell


Mr. Brian Campbell

40 Buxton Road
Saco, Maine 04072
bcampbell@sacoschools.org
207-282-4181






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