Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thank you!

Dear friends,

I would like to take a moment and thank the citizens of Westbrook for supporting the FY18 school budget in the annual School Budget Validation vote on June 13. The budget passed 456 yes to 344 no. Our entire school district is appreciative of the support you have shown to our students. We promise to continue working to make your schools shine.

In the next school year, I am proud that the budget will allow us to maintain our current academic and extracurricular programs and focus on three areas of expansion. First, we are pleased to expand our student support services with additional time for elementary guidance counselors, hiring an LPN at Westbrook High School, hiring an Ed Tech to support behavior management at Westbrook Middle School, and expanding music programming and services in Summer Focus. Second, we are focused on student achievement by launching a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) initiative at WMS, restructuring our Adult and Community Education program, hiring an experienced Ed Tech to support students in study hall at WHS, and adopting a new reading curriculum at the elementary schools. Finally, we are focused on our facilities by replacing the Canal School roof, updating bathrooms and a water heater at WHS, and replacing security systems at WHS and WRVC. Additionally, our district enrollment continues to grow with approximately 60 additional students expected in 2017. Our budget represents necessary additions to our school program based on the needs of our district.

Again, thank you for your support. I am proud to be part of such a child-focused community. I assure you of our careful stewardship and promise to provide for every student to ensure their success.

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!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Welcome to the 2016-17 school year in Westbrook! 

Let me introduce myself. My name is Peter Lancia, and I have recently been named Superintendent of Schools. Many of us are old friends who have known each other in my previous roles as a 2nd grade Teacher at Saccarappa, Principal at Congin, and Assistant Superintendent. Now, as I move into my new role as your Superintendent, I look forward to getting to know all of you as we work together to provide your children with the very best educational experience possible. I intend to keep the needs of all children in our community as the central focus of my work and that of the school district, providing opportunities for every student to succeed. This is a remarkable community, and I am both honored and proud to serve you in this way.

We will continue to focus on a number of ongoing initiatives in the new school year, including our transition to a Proficiency Based Learning system, writing development and instruction in the elementary and middle grades, aspirations and personal learning plans at the high school level, citizenship, culture, and engagement at all grade levels, and the “whole child” focus of the Westbrook Children’s Project and its many projects. We will continue to promote our programs in art, music, career and technical education, support services, and athletics which engage our children in so many ways. We will also continue to promote school expansion projects a Saccarappa School and Westbrook Middle School which will address space issues at all of our schools and provide transparency in our annual budgeting process. 

A major new focus in Westbrook this year involves engagement of students, parents, staff, and community members. Look for opportunities to be part of learning and the work of your schools. We will continue to post information to weekly Thursday Folders as well as our school department website I encourage you to check the website often for the most up to date information. I am also starting to write a blog, also located on our website, and will be using Twitter (@WestbrookSuper) to share news and events.

Our entire faculty, staff, administration, and I look forward to seeing you soon!  If this is your first year in the Westbrook Schools, welcome! If you have been with us for years, welcome back! I hope that this is the very best year that all of us have ever had. Take care!