Superintendent's Corner

mural on the outside of Sheffield School

Dear GMRSD Community,

It is an honor to continue to serve the vibrant communities of Montague and Gill.  It is also a pleasure to play a role in seeing relationships strengthen among school district stakeholders, as we work together to support the learning and growth of our young scholars.  One of our goals across the district this year is to improve in our digital communications with friends and families.  This includes launching this new district website and associated school webpages.  This superintendent's corner is a place on the site where you may find documents of long-term relevance as well as high interest items of passing interest.  I invite you to dig through some of the artifacts here to gain a deeper sense of what we are up to here at GMRSD.  And please feel free to contact me with any items of interest, feedback you wish to share, or concerns you wish to express.  Contacting me through email is usually the most efficient way to go: michael.sullivan@gmrsd.org.         

Sincerely yours,

Michael Sullivan, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

 

How Snow Days Happen

I am often asked how snow day decisions get made by school districts. Here is some information on that topic.

Superintendents first collect weather forecast information. I gather info from the National Weather Service, Weather Underground, Dave Hayes the Weather Nut, and, at times, other sources. As decision making time approaches superintendents contact their local DPW or road crew managers, bus companies, and sometimes police departments, to learn about current and anticipated road conditions. During this phase the superintendents in our area text each other with what we are learning and what our decisions will be. As you would expect, our decisions are driven by concerns for student, staff, and family safety.

It is interesting to note the recent trend towards making these decisions the evening before a cancellation or delay. Personally, I value being able to let everyone know as early as possible about these decisions but I think we have to be careful and not expect this to become the norm as weather forecasts are not always able to accurately predict road conditions 18 or more hours in advance. So, often times it is best to wait until the morning.

In terms of notifying folks of our decisions for Gill-Montague, we communicate this news through the following channels, usually between 5:45 and 6:00 am:

  • announcements on radio station WHAI, TV 22 and TV 40
  • phone calls to all current family and staff phone numbers
  • emails to all staff
  • district web page posting (gmrsd.org)

We have received feedback that our phone messages are sometimes cut short when they are received by voicemail. Unfortunately, that is not something we have control over. We record full messages and now we often repeat the key details at the end of the message so you will be sure to receive it. Anyway, that is some information folks often ask about. We are always looking to improve so your feedback via email or phone is appreciated.

 

Will March for Food

On November 20, teachers Jennifer Luciano, Jessica Vachula-Curtis, and their students will take part in Monte's March Against Hunger.  Last year this event raised over $258,000 for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and this year they hope to help beat this amount.  You may be familiar with this two day event, which local radio personality,and Turners Falls resident, Monte Belmonte leads before Thanksgiving each year.  I am proud to be joining our students as they take part in day two of the march.  If you wish to support our students and the Food Bank you can donate to our middle school team at: https://www.pledgereg.com/2876/jenniferluciono or to our high school team at https://www.pledgereg.com/2876/jessicavachula-curits.        

 

Fall 2018 Athletics a Success

Congratulations to our middle and high school student athletes for another distinguished season. And thanks to our coaches for their meaningful contributions in the lives of our kids!

Football

  • Intercounty League Champions
  • Record of 82 going into Thanksgiving
  • Wyatt Keith ran for over 2000 yards only second time in TF history
  • Kyle Dodge threw for over 1000 yards for the second year in a row
  • 92nd Thanksgiving Day game will be played this year at Greenfield at 1030am on Thanksgiving
  • Rally and bonfire the night before Thanksgiving at 645 Doors to the gym open at 615 and everyone must be off school property by 9:00pm that night

Field Hockey

  • Qualified for the tournament and lost to Frontier in the quarterfinals
  • Cassidhe Wozniak scored her 100th career goal in a game at Palmer

Volleyball

  • Won the Northern Division league title
  • Beat Lenox in an exciting 5 set match in the quarterfinals
  • Lost to Frontier in the semifinals

Boys Soccer

  • Won the Tri County league title
  • Lost to Monument Mountain in the Tournament
  • Jovanni Ruggiano scored over 50 career goals
  • We had 8 TF boys on the Franklin Tech team

Girls Soccer

  • Just missed out on qualifying for the tournament
  • We had 5 TF girls on the Franklin Tech team

Golf

  • The team came 1 point away from qualifying for the tournament
  • The team is VERY young with most of its starting lineup only in MS

Cheerleading

  • The Cheer team was at every football game supporting the team and energizing the crowd
  • The team will now transition into basketball cheering and most importantly Competition Cheer where they will compete in 2 large tournaments

 

Half Days of School

Last Wednesday was a  half day of school, so I thought this would be a good time to remind folks of how useful and important these days are to us. As with other professions, the education profession has come to recognize the value of advancing practitioners’ practice by engaging in a collaborative approach to training, practice, and feedback. In Gill-Montague we now have nine early release days over the course of the school year which provide the foundation for our professional development. Here are some examples of the work we have been engaged in on these days so far this year:

  • Elementary teachers received training in using a guided reading protocol to teach reading to students across a range of ability levels.
  • Teachers at all levels have been learning strategies to maximize student engagement and learning when they have students work in small groups (cooperative learning).
  • Elementary teachers have been trained in the use of the computer program iReady to provide individualized reading and math instruction.
  • Secondary level teachers have engaged in activities to develop a clear and compelling vision for what students should learn and how they should learn it through the Powertown in the 21st Century Project.
  • Secondary teachers are working in subject area teams to create more authentic or performance-based assessments to anchor each units of instruction.

We recognize that sending students home early on these days presents a hardship for some families, so I would like to acknowledge this challenge and also emphasize how important these days are to our improvement efforts.