Friday, September 16, 2016

School Attendance

As we begin the new school year, I'd like to remind everyone about the importance of good school attendance. Students with regular attendance have higher achievement, are more engaged, are more positive, and have greater aspirations. When students miss just one day of school, they lose considerable opportunities to learn. Even though some school work can be completed at home, on-line, or as make-up assignments, the majority cannot be replicated. Class discussions, hands-on activities, and interaction with teachers and other students can only happen in school. Additionally, students with high absenteeism in school tend to miss work more often as adults which may result in a loss of employment. Good habits and attitudes built during childhood lead to good habits and attitudes in adulthood.

In the 2015-16 school year, about 20% of our Westbrook students were absent more than 15 days. While the majority of those students had excused absences because of illness, emergency, or other valid reasons, this is still a high percentage. Our Student Service Teams in all of our schools are ready to work with families to help students have better attendance at all age levels.

Some things families can do to encourage good attendance are:
    Set a regular bedtime and morning routine;
    Promote sleep and exercise;
    Avoid medical or other appointments during the school day. If an appointment cannot be avoided, bring your child to school late. Attending for part of a day is better than missing a whole day.
    Meet with teachers and school counselors if students seem anxious or nervous about school, social situations, tests, or other potential stressors.
    Talk with your children about their day. Ask questions and look for school work.  By showing an interest in things happening at school, we encourage our kids to be more engaged.

Let’s all make regular school attendance a priority this year!

Friday, September 9, 2016

We're Back In Session!

With the arrival of Kindergarteners this past Tuesday and the first day of Pre-K next Monday, all 2580 students are here and the Westbrook School are officially off and running in the new school year. I'd like to thank everyone for making the opening of the school year so successful. There were some challenges that were beyond our control, namely the delayed installation schedule of portable classrooms at Congin and Canal, the shortage of bus drivers which caused us to reorganize some routes and bus stops, and some very hot and humid days. However, in true Westbrook fashion, our students, teachers, staff, and families persevered to focus on learning.

Our Open Houses at the elementary schools and 5th grade were very well attended. It was wonderful to see so many families returning to our schools as well as those new to our community. I hope you will continue to be part of our schools by attending events, communicating with teachers and staff, or serving as a volunteer. Westbrook Middle School's Open House for Grades 6, 7, and 8 is on Tuesday, September 13 at 5:30. The Open House at Westbrook High School and Westbrook Regional Vocational Center is on Thursday, September 15 at 5:30. Stop in to meet our teachers and staff, including our new WHS Principal Kelli Deveaux.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this summer's Westbrook READS incentive. We are counting the number of participants and will report on that soon. I hope everyone read some great books this summer!

Congratulations to our Congin School Cafeteria Staff and Students who were recently recognized by the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center with a 2016 Let's Go! Smarter Lunchroom Award. The recognition honors them for their work in making healthy food choices and reducing waste. Way to go!

And Congratulations to Canal School ELL Teacher Kelly Brown who has been recognized as an Inspiring Educator by the MEA/NewsCenter!! She will be featured in an upcoming segment on News Center on channel 6 in Portland and channel 2 in Bangor. A colleague, Kelly Hooper-Bressler, submitted her nomination and wrote: I am personally extremely fortunate to work with many extraordinary teachers every single year, teachers who I see give of themselves and go the extra mile to make sure all of their students are succeeding. But this year when I think about all of these teachers, Kelly Brown, our ELL teacher truly jumps out as being one who goes even a bit further. Kelly Brown is up at the crack of dawn working in her classroom every day to make sure her students, many of whom are experiencing school for the first time get the best and most out of every minute they are in school. She isn't just a teacher she is a mentor, greeter, guiding light and inspiration for us all to do just a little bit more to meet the needs of our newest students. BRAVO KELLY!

Have a wonderful weekend!