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Update from the Principal: 04/02/2020

T. W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School: T3 Grading Expectations

  • Teachers may provide feedback on individual assignments as they usually do, however the overall course grades for T3 will either be “passing” or “incomplete.”
  • The most important thing is that students simply try. Teachers will be gentle and reward effort.
  • Students who do very little to nothing will have an “incomplete” and will be expected to attend summer school.
  • We will share information on how this will look in PowerSchool sometime next week.

T. W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School: T3 Assignment Expectations

  • There are three types of assignments for online learning at TWKDMS: Supporting Assignments, Graded Assignments, and Enrichment Assignments.
  • There will be one “Graded” task/activity/assessment per week, per class. These “Graded” tasks are what will be used as the minimum to determine which students must attend summer school. If you fall behind please contact your teacher - these things must get done.
  • Expectations for each week’s “Graded” tasks will be posted by 8:30 am every Monday morning so that students with limited internet access know when they can go and download what they will need for the week. This does not mean teachers will only post once a week; “regular” classes will still continue online as they have been. Teachers will continue to help students throughout each week to guide work completion. Please email your teachers to set up a phone call or video chat when you want individual help.
  • Middle School students should plan to spend on average 2-3 total hours a day on school work. Teachers are aiming for no more than 30 minutes of material per class each day, although students may work at their own pace and on their family’s schedule so long as they are keeping up and trying. Please communicate with teachers if you have questions or concerns about this. We will be flexible.
  • Students should complete all the “Supporting” assignments meant to help them be successful with each week’s “Graded” task.
  • Students are also highly encouraged to complete all “Enrichment” assignments meant to take the material into further depth or at a higher level of thinking. Teachers will be clear with students to differentiate between these types of assignments and the weekly “Graded” tasks.
  • Students who excel at online learning and/or complete all assignments will be formally recognized for their excellence in June. More on that to come. 

Update from the Principal: 03/20/2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance and resources to parents and guardians during the prolonged school closure announced today.

All staff is communicating with students through their RSU 56 Gmail accounts. Students should know how to get into these, but if they do not then they can call the Main Office at 562-7552. Most staff will be using Google Classroom, which is a software platform students have already been using. There will be a little bit of a learning curve as we all get used to this together. I asked our staff to be patient and we will keep reaching out to provide help as well.

Teachers will be available for contact during the school day from 9:30 until 2:30. An initial remote learning schedule is below; it is just a modified version of the schedule we already have. Teachers may sometimes choose to provide live instruction or support through video conferencing during these periods of time, but they will not do so every day and participation in video conferencing is optional. The staff has developed videos and other resources with instruction so that students can access the instruction at whatever time makes the most sense for their families. The schedule below basically highlights when teachers are available to help students. Students know what schedule group that they are in and can send emails to staff at any time.

As a parent myself of two young children, I understand the pressure and concern that can come with suddenly being in a homeschooling situation. Everyone has a lot to manage right now, and supervising online learning on top of everything else is challenging. We always want what is best for our students, and during these difficult times, I want to offer YOU the parent/guardian some additional support as well.

Parent and Guardian Support

TWKDMS is providing curriculum for remote learning, technology for remote learning, teacher feedback and assistance for students during the school day, and the delivery of meals as well as food pantry items to our homes. We stand committed to providing these services for as long as the closure may require.

In addition to being available by email and phone, our School Social Worker Philip Ramu and School Nurse Kathy Wilcox will be hosting “Facebook Live” Q&A sessions from 9:30-10:00 every school day starting Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These Q&A sessions are meant for parents and guardians to ask general questions as well as get updates and insights from our health and mental health experts. Philip and Kathy will rotate their sessions, please stay tuned for more.

I am also excited to offer the support services of Lora Perry, a well-respected behavior specialist who has been working with families in our district this year. As of today, she is “on-call” for parents and guardians in RSU 56 needing help to manage behavior at home, discuss ways to motivate students and offer strategies to promote healthy routines during this stressful time. Parents and guardians can reach Lora at any time by texting, calling or emailing. She will get back to you as soon as possible: Phone/Text: (207) 841-7491, Email: Lperry@BCBA4Hire.com

Finally, it is important for families to be proactive about mental health. Never hesitate to send our social worker an email (pramu@rsu56.org) if you have concerns. Also, the Maine Crisis Hotline is an important number to have: 1-888-568-1112. This hotline is available 24 hours a day and connects you with a crisis clinician who can help stabilize and guide families to the mental health resources they need to move forward and stay safe.

As your principal, I want to express that I am directly available as well. The easiest way to communicate with me is via email at jlong@rsu56.org. I can also be reached by phone or text using my cell at (207) 464-8256. I have spoken with students, staff, community partners, parents, and guardians this week and I frankly feel inspired by the school and community response to this situation. It is clear to me that we’re in this together. Go Cougars!

Update from the Principal: 03/16/2020

All of RSU 56 began work on Monday by making preparations with a focus on meeting our school community's basic needs. Staff is contacting every student's family to determine what is needed in terms of food, school supplies, and technology. RSU 56 will distribute resources and school-related items to families by sending buses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. The first distribution will happen this Wednesday afternoon (03/18/2020).

This week, our staff is preparing lessons and assignments that provide a genuine continuation of learning. Roughly 90% of our students have the capacity to participate in online learning, so Google Classroom will be an important tool for TWKDMS during this time. Paper copies will be provided for all students without internet access or in those cases where the family requests to not use technology at home. The office is focusing on getting the logistics fully established so that everything is in order when remote learning officially begins on Monday (03/23/2020). Teachers will be available for contact during regular school hours (8:00-2:30) and will provide assistance through a combination of email, phone calls and video conferencing. 

TWKDMS expects all students to fully participate in remote lessons and work. It is absolutely critical that students are progressing in their learning, as falling behind now creates risk factors that may impact graduation down the road. For this reason, I am preparing TWKDMS summer school to catch up any students who do not complete their remote learning duties during this closure. 

As my staff complete initial calls home on Monday (03/16/2020) and Tuesday (03/17/2020), I will follow up with any family having special requests or needing special assistance. For example, some families may have previously not wanted laptops to come home but now would prefer to have them. This is definitely something we can arrange. Also, TWKDMS has a relationship with the Dixfield Common Road Baptist Church Food Pantry and we will be making arrangements to support weekly food panty deliveries for those who want them.

The second-trimester report cards (both traditional grades and a standards report) will be mailed home by the end of the week. This mailing will include additional information from our school nurse, school social worker, and school library.

Finally, I want to encourage students and families to honor the intent of this "social distancing" strategy undertaken by the state. Practicing good hygiene and staying away from crowds will only make a difference if we all do it together. 

The four towns of RSU 56 always have a knack for coming together when the going gets tough. In these strange times, let's lead by example. After all, we are Dirigo.

Go Cougars!

Jason Long