It is early August and a little rustle of activity is starting to occur at our beloved 826 High Street; A small flow of faculty are starting to reassemble their classrooms now that our custodians have completed their deep cleaning. Teachers and staff are sharing stories of the summer weeks that have passed filled with family, friends, and summer in Maine. I also hear some talk of new tools learned in summer professional development courses and plans for their new classes for this year. It is such a gift to have this time to reflect on our practices and enter the new school year with fresh eyes and a rejuvenated spirit. New Years Day on the academic calendar is just around the bend!
Members of the class of 2018 have either started their next chapters in life or are about to. Meanwhile, the students of the class of 2019 are preparing to take their seats in the front rows of the Montgomery Theater for a whirlwind of a senior year, time that passes so quickly. The class of 2022 will be joining Morse for their first day of high school on August 29. Along with these annual changes, we have some additional shifts at Morse:
We have just a few staff changes:
Brooke Newberg is our new School Counselor, taking the place of Mrs. Nalls who has returned to school to earn her PhD. Ms. Newberg comes to us by way of Boothbay Regional High School and is excited to be a part of a guidance team in her home city.
Devon Gallice is our new Assistant Principal. Ms. Gallice joins us after a tenure at Dike-Newell school, Bath Middle School, and special purpose private schools.
Melissa Albert will be joining our Special Education department as an Education Technician. Ms. Albert was a long-term substitute at Morse last school year and we welcome her to the permanent staff this year.
I am excited to be moving into the Principal’s Office after a brief stint as the Assistant Principal and many years of teaching in the science department at Morse.
There are some shifts in our grading policies from last school year. These policies are thoroughly described in the student handbook, which will go home with all students on the first day of school. However, the highlights of these changes include:
Semesters: Morse has moved from grades based on quarters to semester grades. We will, however, report mid-semester progress at the same time that we used to report quarter grades. This is a subtle shift; however it allows grades to continue to build throughout the semester, rather than closing at the quarter date. This will allow for more equity of number of assessments within each half of the semester. Final grades of year-long courses will continue to be based on an average of the two semesters.
Summative Assessment Make Up Policy: If a student receives less than 75% on a summative assessment, they are entitled to makeup the exam within ten school days after completing some remediation work from the teacher. This is a change from the 70% threshold set last school year; we have made this change after reviewing feedback from faculty, students, and families. Some departments have further requirements for make up eligibility, please see course syllabi.
Habits of Work: Habits of Work are now a part of course grades, weighted at 5%. This means that each course will have a “Habits of Work” category, where teachers enter assignments based on students’ attendance, behaviors, organization, preparation, and homework completion, etc. Frequency and type of assignments will differ by department; however, this category of assignments will never exceed 5% of the course grade.
School-Wide Guiding Principles: Our sophomore class may recall that we began making electronic portfolios of evidence of accomplishing Morse’s school-wide Guiding Principles. We have decided to document proficiency of these standards through embedded coursework and discontinue the creation of portfolios. This means that students who pass their required courses will also demonstrate proficiency in Morse’s Guiding Principles.
Unfortunately, we must not assume that the school safety horrors that have occured in other schools in our nation could never occur at Morse. The RSU 1 Administrative Team and Morse faculty have been working with the Bath Police Department to update our safety and crisis response plans. At this point, our crisis response has been revised and Morse faculty and staff have received training in a new method of responding to active shooters or similar threats. ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate is the new protocol that we are adopting at Morse. We have catered this general response system to work for Morse and are almost ready to start educating our students in our new response plan. In the place of our usual Lockdown Drills, students will be trained in this response system over four to five sessions during this school year. Students will also be informed of the need to keep the many exit doors to Morse closed and locked during the school day. There will be a focus on making sure students are not propping doors open during the school day and increased consequences for doing so. This change is imperative for school safety and hope to have student cooperation and understanding.
Morse will continue to distribute information through Infinite Campus and School Messenger. It is very important that we have the most updated contact information for your family in our system. Please contact Mrs. Westlake at 443-8250 ext 1234 or firstname.lastname@example.org if your contact information needs to be updated. Also, please make sure that you have an Infinite Campus Account bookmarked on your computer and/or App on your phone. This will give you more information about your student’s attendance and grades than you ever thought you should know! If you do not have an active Infinite Campus Account, please use the information provided later in this Navigator or contact Lynn Rouillard-Hill at 443-8250 ext 1109 or email@example.com. We are also trying to use a new website to help students and staff stay informed on the daily happenings at Morse. Stay tuned for more details and ask your student as the school year begins.
If your student is absent to class due to illness, please be sure to call Mrs. Westlake, 207-443-8250 ext 1234, so your student’s attendance data will be accurate.
Plans for the new Morse High School / BRCTC continue to be refined and focus more on details and less on big picture items. A construction crew has broken ground on the site work and the whole process is gaining momentum. Barring unforeseen issues, we will be moving into the new school in two years!
Morse’s open house is Wednesday, September 5th, from 5:30 to 6:30. Please drop in and meet the faculty and staff.
I could not be more honored to have been chosen to lead Morse High School, a school and community that I value so much. I enter this role knowing that I will face challenges and need to work harder than I ever have before in order to fulfill the expectations of my own community. However, I am lucky to have landed in a profession that I know was meant for me; it is easy to work hard when I truly believe in what I do and know that my efforts matter. Whether we always or seldom agree, please know that I have the best interests of our students and Morse in my mind and heart.