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Harpswell Community School 
Principal’s Reports/Newsletters

March Principal's Report

Dear Parents and Families,

On Monday while on bus duty, I watched and smiled as many of our children were wearing “hundredth day” crowns to celebrate 100 days of school.  Some of them said “Happy 100th day!” to me as they climbed on the buses.  Many teachers make this day a highlight of all the work they’ve done and they hold special events and do activities celebrating the 100th day.  This always makes me realize that we are more than halfway through the school year.  Because spring always seems to go by quickly it is important to take some time and reflect on all of the learning and events that have happened over the past months. Students, parents and teachers have been working so very hard to make it a successful school year and I continue to be so proud of everyone at HCS!

What do chattering teeth and happy crabs have in common?  Ask the fourth graders at ​Harpswell Community School, and they will tell you that they are gadgets made up of simple machines.  Our fourth graders learned about simple machines and how they change force through our very first virtual field trip broadcasted from the Center of Science and Industry located in Columbus, Ohio.   Collaborating with Mrs. Harris, Mrs. McGovern and Ms. Greeley, students used their scientific observation and reasoning skills to hypothesize just how those happy crabs and chattering teeth move.  Later in the week, using our newly acquired CISCO System for distance learning, we connected with ProWhat do chattering teeth and happy crabs have in common?  Ask the fourth graders at fessor Gadgeteer who taught us all about simple machines and then walked us through the "reverse engineering" process to find out what's inside  those gadgets.  Through distance learning, this hands-on experience brought  the expert into the room to lead discussion and answer questions. Highly Engaging and lots of fun! We look forward to more virtual field trips using our CISCO System.

Our famous HCS Swimming Coordinator,  Mary Beth Rowe and Hilary Innis had to trudge through 4 feet of snow (on snowshoes) up to the storage shed and pull out all of the life-jackets so that Harpswell Community School students could receive floatation water safety instruction at the Bowdoin pool.  (In one part of the program students learn how to properly put on and use a lifejacket.) 
When MaryBeth and Hillary got to the shed, the lock was frozen so they had to return to the car to get some lock de-icer before making a second trek to the shed.  Then they hauled all of the lifejackets by sled back to their cars. 
Our water safety program is unique and includes many volunteers dedicating many hours to swimming instruction.  The extra time and energy  is so appreciated and our kids do learn to swim through their yearly 7-week Red Cross program.  A special shout out to Mary Beth who coordinates this for us every year.  What a gift she has given each year to Harpswell children!

Upcoming Event:
Concert, Tuesday, March 24th
Kindergarten, Grade 3, Chorus and Band members will perform at 6:30 in the gym

Join me in Welcoming Spring.  It will come!

Kerry Bailey, Principal

February  Principal’s Report

Dear Parents and Families,

January brought flurries then downright HEAVY snow right into February!  (Clearly you know this.)  Despite the snow and the cold, students have had a chance to play on their transformed playground and they’ve found many new ways to enjoy the new snow-covered playground structures.  We are also fortunate to have our sliding hill in Harpswell.  This is a unique playground of its’ own! The first winter I came here, I was surprised to find out that our kids were actually sliding during recesses.  That was a first for me, so I had to see it for myself.  As I scoped out the safety aspects of sliding I discovered that the open space with no obstructions was really safe enough for a playground of children.  The rules were clear and students quickly fell into a rhythm of taking turns and waiting until it was all clear to go. This, like our swimming program, distinguishes Harpswell from many other schools and I’m glad that we haven’t gotten so academically focused that play can’t also happen during school.  It is such an important developmental part of growing up!

January is usually a great month to see student growth.  There are generally far fewer interruptions and students seem to gain maturity, reading and math ability and it is a time when they can see that their hard work is paying off.  This January was no different, even with some snow interruptions. 

As our major local, state and national testing comes right up, beginning in February, we are getting students ready to show what they have learned.  On February 5th, our fourth graders take the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Process) test.  This is a 90- minute test given in grades 4, 8 and 12 in reading, math and/or science in some schools in the nation.  Harpswell is a representative school of other schools and students across the country.  The final report focuses upon student achievement nationally.

During the first few weeks of February, our fifth graders take the MIYHS or Maine Integrated Youth Survey.  This is an optional survey that has been given every two years since 2009 to students K-12 by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention and Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.   This survey provides data on youth behaviors, risk factors and protective factors and how they change over time and affect the success of Maine youth in attaining the Maine Learning Results.

The new Smarter Balanced Test is coming up in March and April.  We will be putting together a schedule shortly and parents will receive more information about this test in the form of a parent letter.  The Smarter Balanced test will replace what you know as the “MEA” and the baseline data for this test will be established this year.  This test is not to be compared to the results of the MEA as it is quite a different type of test and has not yet been “normed”.  Teachers and staff throughout Maine will be interested in learning more about it and what kind of information it provides about our learners.

During Late Start mornings and Professional Days, staff has been very much involved in learning about “The Marzano Framework”, largely built upon the ideas put forth in Bob Marzano’s heavily researched book, The Art and Science of Teaching.  This provides common language for teachers to use about teaching and learning and is the framework upon which our new, state required Teacher Evaluation System will be based.  It is “the next generation teacher and leader evaluation tool and training” developing and disseminating cutting edge resources for teachers to use”.  We are all learning to use new observation tools and visiting each others classes to fine tune our skills.

As we continue through the winter, I want to thank all of you for being diligent about student attendance.  It has made a difference and I know it isn’t always easy to do.   As a reminder, if you do need to take your child out of school during non-vacation times, I should receive a letter about your intention a few weeks ahead, requesting this so that we are aware and able to plan around this.  Many of you remember to do this, but parents should do this routinely, please.

Thank you all for your support and patience.  Promise…I will be talking about Spring in our March newsletter!  Never Fear!


Kerry Bailey, Principal

December Principal’s Report

Heroes of Harpswell
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes – colors and dimensions – but the Heroes of Harpswell have some unique and common traits: 

  • Persistence,
  • Hard Work,
  • Can-Do Attitude,
  • Great and Giving Hearts,
  • Tendency to Say “Yes” (some might say foolishness)  and
  • Ability to problem-solve well beyond the abilities of the non-heroes in the world. 

The Heroism all started with a conversation at a PTO meeting three years ago when our then, PTO president, Sarah Davies announced “we have a chair for our new playground, Amy Johnson-Morin” and I remember she added – “and no one would be better at this than Amy!”   At the time I didn’t realize how very true this would become as the many challenges unfolded and Amy met them all with energy and success.  Along with our tenacious leader came the other Harpswell Heroes.  The list is long, but make no mistake about it, the heroes are real!
Text Box:
Amy Johnson-Morin, Chair
Playground Committee
PTO and all of the Community Members
who made contributions are are too many to mention individually!
Town of Harpswell
MSAD#75 and Chris Shaw
Joe Shelton and Brunswick Lowe's
Jessica Vickerson
Heidi Brokate
Carrot Signs and Angelina Buinauto
Tim Hanley Builders
Hancock Lumber
Tim Vail, Vail Tree Service
The Gebbia Family
Eric Wetzel, Miracle Playgrounds
Dwain Webber, RA Webber and Sons
The Eidsness family
Dolphin Marina
The Rowe Family, Great Island Boatyard
Roland Brown
Prescott McCurdy
Goodall Landscaping
Harpswel Anchor
The Cryer
Times Record
Favreau Electric
Gelato Fiasco
Orr’s Island Campground
Harpswell Festival Committee
Auburn Concrete
Neighbors, Edie Bean, Ray Taylor
Barry O’Neil
The Kelley Family
The York Family
The Rose Faily
The Saxton Family
The Brady Family
The Morin Family
The Davies Family and Tom "Papa" Doore
The Griffin Family
The Bailey Family
Kelly and Joel Fitzpatrick
The Larson Family
The Snow Family
Hannaford of Brunswick
Papa Johns
Brad Villeaux  (Mainstreet Market)
The Below-Haskins family
Family Focus
Thank you to the many others...it becomes hard to recall and to honor every person who helped us!  Overwhelming!!
I must add, I have witnessed numerous acts of gallantry throughout the process of building the Harpswell Community School Playground but none as gallant as the 8 wheel barrel-ers shuttling and pouring concrete from a stuck concrete truck over 1000 hundred yards of lawn  to the concrete forms on the new playground!  This was a picture of selflessness and was just darn exhausting work!  Needless to say, our playground opening was great fun and our kids are just giddy with their new playground. Unfortunately the ice and snow have made playing on it much a wish and dream...but hopefully we will have some sunny and fun days in the future and certainly GREAT FUN in the Spring!

Enjoy the Holidays!
Kerry Bailey, Principal

Don't forget!!  Attendance Counts!  

·         This holiday season, the best gift you can give to your child is a good education and to be in school.  Every Day. On Time.
·         Building a habit of attendance is your child’s ticket to success in school and eventually on the job. 
·         Every year, absences spike in the weeks before and after winter break.  This means not only your child misses learning time but those students working with your child miss their learning partner.
·         Just a few missed days here and there, even if they are excused can add up to too much lost learning time.  This is true in kindergarten as it is in high school. 
·         So please make sure your child is in school every day, right up until vacation starts.  Our teachers will be teaching and the students will be learning.  But it’s harder to teach and it’s harder to learn when too many students are absent.  It means the teacher has to repeat lessons for students who missed school and that means loss of learning opportunities for the other students.
·         The good news is absenteeism is a problem that can be tackled-working together we can make a difference by helping students and families understand that going to school every day and avoiding absences when possible is a key to reaching their hopes and dreams.

November Principal’s Report
Last month was loaded with activity and excitement at Harpswell Community School!  So many different people have pitched in to make our Harpswell Experience special for students.  Thank you all!
We spent a Harpswell School Beautification Saturday, organized by Teachers and Parents to tackle the gardens and some painting around our school.  The day was gorgeous and Mrs. Baggett, Mrs. Reeves, Mrs. Burtt did some planning and they joined with the PTO to offer refreshments for the workers.  We had quite a few students, parents and teachers show up with their working gloves on.  Our Title I teacher, Rob Horne, led a group who cleared out a quiet play area and outdoor classroom for kids to use.  Our local arborist, Tim Vail, offered his wood chipper and we created a pile of wood chips to spread in the woods and on the playground “island” that used to have trees, prickly bushes and rocks.  Now we have better visibility of children when they are playing on the playground and the ground underfoot is softer.  Much work was also done on gardens, getting them ready for winter’s blanket and spring’s awakening.  Thanks goes out to everyone who helped!
We hope to make this a fall and spring event to help keep our school looking great.
Bus Driver Appreciation Day … THANKS to   Belinda, Stacy, Jeff, Darla and Yvonne!
Students made beautiful cards, parents offered morning coffee and donuts and gifts were given to our wonderful bus drivers.  They keep our children safe coming to and from school every day.  Often they are the first smile that greets our kids in the morning and the last one who wishes them good night as they head for home. They drive the most beautiful roads in the district, but also the most tricky in bad weather. Our Harpswell bus drivers are the BEST!
School Board Dinner – It has become a tradition for the PTO to provide dinner for the School Committee to thank them for their hard work and dedication.  Every October they look forward to the wonderful lasagna, salad and desserts offered by the PTO as they hold a working dinner.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this such a success this year!
Outdoor Volunteer Training –Matt Dubel from CREA,  Julia McLeod, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s Outreach Coordinator and Cristine Bachor, our PTO Enrichment Committee Chair, have provided a training for volunteers who want to accompany classes as they do outdoor science explorations.  They have also presented a dynamic menu of outdoor science choices (aligned with National Science Standards) to teachers that they have accessed.  We have LOVED this new dimension and the new opportunities we have had for hands-on Science Education for our Harpswell Students!!
Robotics Sessions for Students – Stephanie Rowe and her trained volunteers have continued to provide HCS students opportunities to participate in before-school Robotics club.  Our students continue to love this opportunity and parents provide transportation for them to be able to come.  In addition, Rob Horne, our Title I teacher has started a Leggo club on Thursday mornings for excited students who just love to come and build together.
SwimmingSession One of our Swimming Program at Bowdoin College has ended and we begin session 2 on November 5th.  We can’t thank those of  you enough for  volunteering in this program.  “It takes a village…” and many Harpswell citizens and parents help us all year long with our Swim Program.  We continue to owe a great debt to Mary Beth Rowe who does all the behing-the-scene work to make this program such a success.  Without her, it could never happen…and even though her children have moved on to Middle and High School, she still does this “for the kids!”.  Thank you, Mary Beth!  We miss seeing you at HCS!
The Playground is coming!!   The Playground is coming!!! – We will be making a report from the Playground Committee at this PTO meeting,  but suffice it to say that Amy Morin has been an amazing chair for our playground.  I just can’t say enough good things about her tenacity, attention to detail and just plain hard work she has put in. This challenge has been way beyond what we ever anticipated - and she just keeps on chugging over the mountains and fording the rushing waters that this endeavor has provided.  We are hoping to have this completed before snow flies (well, maybe our second snow flies!).  This will be such a wonderful gift for our children and so many have worked so hard to make it a reality!  We just can’t wait for its grand opening!
Open House featured our visiting Author, VA Brown and Artist, Dawne Pringle and a raffle of their books, a gift basket and a Dunkin Donuts gift card. This was a great chance for students to show their parents around, to see some of their work, to meet their teachers and to enjoy ice cream together.  We had a huge turnout and our children were thrilled to have their parents here.  

SILENT AUCTION...  BID on a framed, "One of a kind" first draft cover that Dawne Pringle offered up for bid during our SILENT AUCTION.  This is the cover that was not chosen to go on her book (Dusty's Udder Luck), but is a special one because of this!  Call Cheryl or place your bid in the office (this is on display in Cheryl's window!).  Bids close on Thanksgiving!  Proceeds will go to books for our children at HCS.
The BIG VOTE!!  On the same day that students’ parents vote for our Maine Governor, students will vote for their new mascot.  There are 5 candidates, each surrounded by our Core Values Buoy of Respect, Responsibility, Kindness and Joy…They are, Harpswell Sea Stars, Harpswell Seal Pups (young seals), Harpswell Herons, Harpswell Lobsters and Harpswell Sea Pups (young dogs).  Students will be stepping into voting booths, casting their ballots and hearing the outcome as soon as the ballots are counted.  They have been campaigning, putting up signs and talking about their favorite candidate.  After we have our mascot, we will be ordering some Harpswell hats, clothing, and items featuring the HCS mascot that student’s families might wish to purchase.  Fun, fun!

I am looking forward to November and all that it brings!  And, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank you to all of you for all that you do for your children and for us at HCS!
Kerry Bailey, Principal

October 2014 Principal’s Letter
What a beautiful summer and fall we have had!  As the cooler weather sets in at HCS we begin our very busy October! So much is going on! Our new students have started to feel more at home here and we have settled into our new routines pretty well.  This is the time of year when we celebrate autumn – crisp days, golds, reds and oranges.  This is the backdrop for our playground.  As students play against this foliage, I am beginning to picture our new playground and the way it will look when it is completed.  Our PTO and the community have worked so hard on the fund raising for the playground and the actual drawings of the playground have come to life in an actual colored plan!  The Playground committee rolled this out at the PTO meeting on October 7, 2014.  There are many exciting pieces of playing apparatus – some leave me guessing about just how students will be moving around them!
We had a wonderfully successful Welcome Back Picnic, organized by our PTO with more parents than ever before!  Marsha set up our tables.   Our cook, Theresa, did the grilling.  Yum.   All hands were on deck (parents, teachers and community members) and the tables were beautifully decorated with colored paper and vases of hydrangeas.  Many parents baked desserts or made salads to accompany our hamburg and hotdogs.  Families sat by grade level tables so that they could fill out a game card requiring them to get to know each other better.  Teachers served and our line was so long that we decided we’ll need to make a double line next year so that everyone can be fed more quickly.  We are always learning at HCS!!

We are learning about the democratic process this month.  We have identified four possible school mascots and our resident artist, Juliana Gaudet has designed a suggested logo for each.  The possibilities are:  Harpswell Sea Stars, Harpswell Sea Pups, Harpswell Herons, or Harpswell Lobsters.  Mrs. Baggett our school counselor and I have begun morning announcements about the contest and we have invited students to add their reasons for preferring certain candidates to our “campaign” bulletin boards.  We will be holding a mock election and every student will get to vote for their candidate on a “mascot ballot”.  It should be fun for everyone and we will have a new school mascot at the end of the day on November 3rd!  The logos are just wonderful!  I can’t even decide!  Hopefully I will be informed and influenced by some of the reasons that the students come up with for their favorites!  (I think that Mrs. Baggett gave one of the candidates an unfair advantage because she already told the students which one SHE wanted most over the intercom this morning!)  Politics, politics!
Of course our children continue to progress with their learning and your child’s teacher will be sharing much of this information with you through their letters home and/or on their websites.  We are all looking forward to a few events coming up:

  • PTO Hosts School Board Meeting & provides supper!  5:00 on Oct. 16th
  • Thursday, Oct. 9th Lego Club - 8:15 – 9:00 for Grades 1-5
  • Lego Clubs every Thursday for Grades 1-5.  (K can come with a parent!)
  • Robotics Clubs meet this month, too! Please see their schedule
  • Our Book Fair is from October 16th to October 22nd
  • On the 22nd Bookfair will extend until 7:00.
  • October 23nd is Open House from 6:00 to 7:00
            (Title I families will receive invitations for 5:00 – 6:00 on this day)
  • Teachers College Training is being held here on October 23.
  • Celebration of life of Sally Brooks on October 25 at 1:00
  • Work is progressing on de-constructing the playground TBA
  • October 18th School grounds beautification day
    • All help is welcomed!  10 – 2
  • October 22nd Bus Driver Appreciation Day
  • October 27th Picture Retakes
  • Harvest Night (Tentative Date) Nov. 21st

GREAT NEWS!!!   Guess What?!!  Our Attendance went UP by 7% last year.  I was  even asked to make a presentation for Maine Educators to talk about this.  This percentage is very significant.  They asked how we did it?  I think parents, teachers and kids just started to pay attention to the fact that ATTENDANCE MATTERS!  Parents started to be more careful about dropping their kids off ON time and not picking them up until school ended.  I think we know that improved attendance means improved learning!  What could be better to do for our kids?!!  Thank you!
I wish everyone a wonderful October and I hope you have a chance to read with your child and to enjoy some of the last beautiful days of fall! 
Kerry Bailey


Hello, Everyone,
I wanted to share the letter we sent to parents regarding Sally Brooks.  Following this letter is a poem that I adapted and read at Sally's service.  Some of you had asked to see it. We continue to hold her in our hearts.  Thank you ALL for all of your support and thoughtfulness during this difficult time. Flowers, food and cards were sent to staff by many of you.  

September 11, 2014

Dear Harpswell Community,

It is with a sad and heavy heart that we write to inform you of the death of our dear friend, colleague, and devoted teacher, Ms. Sally Brooks. 

Ms. Brooks took a medical leave of absence last Spring due to an unexpected cancer diagnosis. Fighting the disease steadily since then, Sally began receiving hospice services in September after specific treatments were found unable to conquer her illness. She died peacefully with family by her side on Wednesday morning.

We have lost an incredibly special member of our community. Ms. Brooks taught at the Harpswell Islands/Community School for 24 years and even had several of our parents in her classroom years ago. Our special, little school will be feeling the effects of this significant loss for quite sometime. Ms. Brooks was a wonderful gift to Harpswell Community School -- our butterfly expert, our historian, our teaching nurse, our supportive friend and teacher.

It is important to remember that everyone responds to loss and grief in their own way. Death is a particularly difficult concept for children to understand. Some may not verbalize their feelings but express themselves through their behavior, for example. We have attached information about supporting your child through the grief process.  In the meantime, it is important for you to know what we have shared with your child today.  

For students in grades 3-5 we shared a “common message” with children.   (We have attached this for you to read.) 

For students in grades K-2 we shared the common message only if children in the class had heard this news.  (If your child has not heard the news, you will be able to have whatever conversation you think feels right.  We have attached some information that you may find to be helpful for this conversation.)  

For students who heard this message today:
We provided a space where they could go if they needed to talk with someone (counselors were available).
We provided activities that would allow them to express their thoughts and feelings (a banner, butterflies to color and write a message on (Sally loved to teach about butterflies!), pictures and/or cards for her family.  

Additional information will be forthcoming about our plans to recognize the impact Ms. Brooks had on our lives at HCS. In the meantime, please feel free to us if you should need extra support at this time. As always, we are here for our students and families.

With Care,

Kerry Bailey, Principal and Darcy M. Baggett, LCSW, HCS Social Worker
On behalf of all of us at Harpswell Community School


Poem read for Sally at her Service:

Adapted by Kerry Bailey from a poem by Leah Becks

Sally had a great job in the universe of occupations.
What did she do?  She was a “star polisher.”
It’s a very important job.  
If you want to know how important, just go out at night and look at the stars twinkling and sparkling.  
You see, Sally was a teacher, an educator, a mentor.  
The stars were the children in her class.  
Her job was to take them – in whatever shape they come – and shine and buff them and then send them out to take their places as bright twinkling beacons in the sky.  
They came into her room in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes they were bent, tarnished, dirty, crinkly or broken.  Some stars were cuddly and soft.  Some were prickly and thorny.  
As she buffed and polished, She would train and teach her little stars.  
She’d tell them that the world could not do without them.  
She’d tell them they could be the brightest, shiniest stars in the sky and that the world would be a better place because of them.  
Each night as she looked at the sky, she’d be reminded of her very important job and awesome responsibility.  Then she’d get her soft buffing cloth and her bottle of polish in preparation for her next day
…for her class of little stars.
Sally, our Star Polisher
Teacher, Dancer, Care-taker, Friend
Star Polisher extraordinaire…
Polishing until they twinkle and sparkle – star fireflies, dancing in the sky
And in time, when we look at the night, at the stars twinkling and sparkling.  
We will think of Sally, 
And we’ll know that she’s been busy, 
Polishing and making things better and happier: 
Polishing, just the way she has, for so many years 
For her special community of friends, families and children
in Harpswell, Maine.
We will miss you, Sally, but you will not be forgotten. 
Your star fireflies (and your butterflies) will continue to dance in the sky.  




September 9, 2014 Principal's Letter
Welcome Back and Happy New School Year!!   Last year Harpswell Community School opened with 173 students.  This year we opened with 190 students and there is a rumor that we are getting 4 more!  Our school has grown by 17 students and that means that almost 1/3 of our students are new to us!  We are no longer the smallest elementary school in the district! 
We began the new school opening with 20 new kindergarteners in EACH class.  This is the largest Kindergarten class that we have had.  We initiated a MSAD#75 system-wide Kindergarten Screening last May and June to identify students for a summer pilot program called “Jump Start”.   We screened all of the incoming students that we knew about so that we could better place them in their kindergarten classes.  It also allowed us to know more about our students with special needs.  We had an additional 6 students sign up over the summer!
During the first two weeks of school, our Kindergarteners get off the bus at their own “special” stop and on Tuesday, they were just so excited to begin their “big school” day!  I had to stop to see their sparkly shoes and their new lunchboxes or new back packs and, of course, they had lots of stories to tell about riding the big bus and anything else they could think of!  This is always the most exciting part of the year and we are all scurrying around to learn more about each of them and their needs.  We have declared “all hands on deck” to support them this first week and we have needed every single adult hand available to help the kindergarten teachers as these little ones learn about routines and rules and what school is all about.  In addition to our K kids, we have 19 new students this year in grades 1 through 5.
Everything seems to be going very well.  We have 2 new teachers this year:
  • Amanda Powell is “moving back to Maine” from where she has been living and teaching in New York.  Amanda grew up in Jefferson, Maine.  She has a special ed, R.T.I. and regular ed background and we are so happy to have her join us.  Our interview committee asked Amanda to come in and teach a model lesson for us this summer and we thought she was perfect for this position.  She has already had a great start spending many hours here this summer getting everything ready for her second graders.
  • Elizabeth Harris is our new fourth grade teacher.  (Martha Burtt has moved to second grade this year.)  Elizabeth grew up in Harpswell and we even have a tile in the hallway as part of our mosaic that she painted when she was a student here.  Not only that, there is a basketball trophy in the trophy case that her team won when she played for the Harpswell Islands School team. 
Both teachers feel like they have come “home” and look forward to a great year here!  If you haven’t met them, you can check out our teachers’ pictures near the middle door so you will know them when you see them.  Both of them have signed up to come to PTO meetings later in the year so I know you will meet them then.
We are so excited about building our new playground this fall! If you haven’t already come in to see the beautiful fund-raising mural on the wall in the school entry, it is worth a trip!  Thank you to Amy Morin and her committee for working with Carrot Signs to create this wonderful piece of art for us to enjoy! I know that this has taken many hours of volunteering and hard work on the parts of our parents and others and we couldn’t be more pleased and thankful for their work.  The smiles on our students’ faces and their laughter and excitement as they play on the new equipment will be a great reward and thank-you to the PTO members and parents who have worked so hard for this!
We are looking forward to a wonderful new school year! Come visit us and enjoy our Back to School Picnic on September 30 or our Open House in October. Maybe you can even try out our new playground when we have it finished!
Kerry Bailey, Principal
June 2014 Principal's Letter

Well, finally we have SPRING – la-la-la! - and then summer!  For all of us, it means “change”.  Some of you have children “graduating” from Harpswell Community School in a couple of weeks.  Some of you have children who will be home for the entire summer.  Some of you have many children who will be coming to your house for the summer!  No matter what your circumstance, it means “change” and usually we love the summer change.
There are several changes that I want you to be aware of for next year.  Following is a letter that I have also sent home...


Dear Harpswell Community School Parents,

We have a few changes that I want you to be aware of for the next school year. I have communicated with you about some of these things before, but I want to make sure you have this information.  I am also posting this letter on our website.

Sally Brooks has requested a medical leave of absence for the school year 2013-2014 so that she can focus on healing and becoming well.  We will be hiring a certified teacher to take her position for one year.  We will miss Sally next year but wish her strength and positive thoughts and prayers as she undergoes treatment and recovery.

Whitney Reeves has tendered her resignation and will be leaving Harpswell Community School to be able to care for her two children who have ongoing medical needs requiring her frequent attention.  We all know what a wonderful teacher she has been for us and will miss her greatly at HCS!

Martha Burtt will be moving from grade 4 and returning to grade 2 to take one of the second grade positions.  We feel that her second grade experience as well as her experience with Teachers College, our Math program, Fundations and TC Writing programs will help assure a seamless academic transition between grades 1 and 3.

Lorrie Gage (our half-time Title I teacher) has taken a position as a classroom teacher at Woodside School next year.  We wish her, the very best.  She will be replaced by Rob Horne (a third grade teacher from Woodside School) who also has a great deal of interest in working with some hands-on enrichment programs for students here.

We will be advertising and hiring a new teacher for grade 4.  We will go through a very thorough and rigorous hiring process to find the best possible teacher to join our staff next year! Students in grade 3 will be combined in grade 4 with one teacher next year (we have 23 students) – so parents will see “New Teacher” on your child’s report card.

Because our grade level teaming has been so successful at Grades 4 and 5, Grade 3 teachers, Jennifer Lamson and Megan Phillips will be team-teaching next year as well.  This means that students in grade 3 will have each teacher for a half-day.  One of the teachers will be a “homeroom” teacher and your “primary” contact.  Usually, both teachers will be present at parent/teacher conferences about your child. 

Although changes can sometimes be challenging, they often lead us to places where we discover something new and surprising.  So we close a successful school year with wonderful memories and terrific children knowing we will be planning and getting ready for a great 2014-15 school year filled with new challenges and sweet surprises!

I wish you all a gorgeous Maine summer!


Kerry Bailey, Principal   

May 2014 Principal’s Letter
Dear HCS Families,
May is just bursting with activity as well a little hint of warmer weather.  As I prepared to create this newsletter and started to list the things that are going on, I realized that it must be pretty hectic in your homes, too!!  Spring sports are starting up, many of you are involved in volunteering for some of our school activities and, of course, there are never enough hours to enjoy of our beautiful Maine spring days.
This is the week when we celebrate Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week!   Our PTO has made this week so special for teachers already, with a poster, notes, planting “gifts”, yummy food and pizza on Friday.  In addition, many families have dropped us notes of appreciation that tell us stories of things teachers and staff may have done that have “made a difference”.  I have a poster on my wall that reads “Together we make a difference!”  When I read this each day, I think that the “together” means all of you and all of us – and all of the friends and family members who contribute so much to “growing up” our children!  Despite the long winter, we are truly fortunate to live in this beautiful place and to raise our children here. I feel so fortunate to work here with such a wonderful staff and with such amazing kids.  I could go on and on…    : )
Often I do bus duty at the end of school.  I often see our fifth graders walking their kindergarten “buddies” out to the busses.  This is something we started at the beginning of the year to help our new little students find their ways to the busses.  It has always seemed like just an ordinary thing to me – just something we do - until I watched it through a father’s eyes last week.  A father of one of our fifth grade boys stood next to me as he watched his son nonchalantly walking down the sidewalk with a little kindergarten girl’s hand in his.  “What is that about?” He nodded at them and asked.  I explained and he smiled (proudly, I think!).  What I think is most interesting about this is – although we only asked our fifth graders to help us with this for the first few weeks of school, many of them are still walking their buddy to the bus, taking the important role that they have played very seriously – just ask their smiling Kindergarten friends about it!
At our last PTO meeting, I shared information about next year’s plan for classrooms.  Our class size has dropped in our third grades and we will be joining our two third grades into one single fourth grade class next year.  I have requested an additional Ed Tech III for half the day to give additional support to Mrs. Burtt, our grade 4 teacher.  This is pending approval.  Hiring additional staff sometimes happens when we have a larger class, although this class will not exceed the maximum size allowed for grade 4. We will be exploring several additional ways to support this class and to assure a successful year for all of our students.  Ms. Brown will move with the fourth graders to fifth grade and will team with Abby Svenson at grade 5.  All of our other teachers will keep their same class assignments.
You have probably seen lots of signs up asking parents of new Kindergarten students to sign up.  We are doing Kindergarten start up differently this year all across the district.  We will be holding a Kindergarten Screening on the morning of Thursday, June 5 at Harpswell Community School for all of our new Kindergarten students.  This will identify students who might need additional support during the summer and will give us helpful information for balancing classes, based on student needs when school starts in the fall.
Following are some important, upcoming things to note.  You will find more information about these through notices coming home, on the PTO page and/or on our school calendar.  There are also other things in planning stages that you’ll hear more about this month.  Check out the PTO and HCS websites off and on from now until the end of the year for more info!
  • HCS Mural Fundraiser to support our New Playground.  Orders are due by May 30th.
  • All Gelato Fiasco profits go to PTO from Tuesday, May 13th proceeds
  • Book Fair – May 9th -15th
  • Concert at the Orion– May 13th
  • Explore Nature with Harpswell Heritage Land Trust - 2nd sessions/younger group April 20, 27, May 3rd
  • Field Day – Thursday, June 12th
  • Yard Sale/Bake Sale June 15 & 16 drop off, June 14, 15 SALE!
  • Science MEA for grade 5 – May 9-13
  • Spagetti fundraiser for Kert Brown May 16, 6:00 to 8:00
  • Field Day T-shirts are due at school to be tie-dyed! - May 27th
  • Volunteers to tie-dye T-shirts with students May 30th 
  • June 12 - Field Day (Mark your calendars, we'll need a lot of help!!)
  • Last Day of School and Grade 5 Graduation - June 19th We'll MissThem!!
  • Think – Stretch Summer Program - More information Later on this!
Again, thank you for all that you do for your children and for us at HCS.  We are so thankful for your support and happy to partner with you to benefit all of our children!  Please have a wonderful spring!

Kerry Bailey, Principal

 March 2014 Principal's Letter

Harpswell Fitness Night: The Antidote for Feeling Fit - not Frazzled!

For some reason, at this time of year, I seem to find myself crawling up my front steps and falling onto my couch at the end of a long day.  I asked Harpswell’s Recreation Director, Gina Perow (who sometimes fills in as our secretary at Harpswell Community School when Cheryl is out) if it counted for 30 minutes of exercise if it took me that long to climb the stairs and drop onto the couch.  She made a face.  Nice!  Maybe my fatigue and feeling frazzled is due to the weather and the early darkness – and certainly I am getting just a bit older - but I know that this is no way to model fitness for our kids!

Luckily Gina and Cristine Bachor (our PTO Enrichment Coordinator) had their own vision of how to model fitness for our kids.  They put their heads together, created an adventure for our kids and families and called it “Family Fitness Night”.  Our PE Teacher, Barry O’Neil joined in for support and also did his own “thing” with kids - a segment called Silver Shoes or something very clever.  

So, on Monday March 10, Family Fitness Night was born: a partnership between HCS PTO and Harpswell Recreation both championing fitness for our students and Harpswell families!  What could be better? Thirty-eight people arrived wearing comfortable clothing, sneakers, and carrying water bottles, planning to stay from 6 to 7:15.  Ages varied from 4 to 61! This was the kick-off to our school wide Fitness Challenge. 


Parents, friends and families rotated through six fitness stations set up around the school.  They spent ten minutes at each station learning new ways to keep bodies healthy and moving.  There was a giant hop scotch game, karate, a hula hoop and jump rope challenge.  They acted out Sproing and other stories and even experienced Barry’s Silver sneakers - body weight exercises.  Students received a fitness log to continue to keep track of their fitness activities during the week.  At the end they will win a fun prize for turning in their logs.

If these participants went home and dropped onto their couches, they deserved to!  Fitness is important for everyone.  Thank you, Gina and Cristine and Barry for reminding us of this.  What a great experience for Harpswell Families.  Well done - and thank you for The Awesome Antidote, your vision and hard work!

Kerry Bailey, Principal

February 2014 Principal’s Letter

The cold weather and constant wind has taken its toll on HCS staff and kids AND parents!  This has been a very tough winter for all of us with the record-breaking snow and cold!  We have had days and days of indoor recess and when we have gone out it has almost been too cold or too icy to play!  Thankfully we have a sliding hill and some good places to make forts – but even with that, we needed a Caribbean Holiday! 

Last Friday we donned our flip-flops, played some steel drum music, and dressed as if we were at a tropical beach!   Every student who had “perfect attendance” won a prize (a colorful lei) in the morning and we pretended to be warm all day.  (It was quite a shock to go out to the buses at the end of the day, too!)  I received a huge, poster sized, hand written letter from Mrs. Chasse’s Kindergarten that said:                                    


Dear Mrs. Bailey,

Thank you for our Hawaiian holiday.                 

         Can we do it again?                                          


        (and then it was carefully signed proudly by each of

                        Mrs. Chasse’s Kindergarten students!)

From some of the pictures, you can see that kids and staff alike had a fun day...and kids told me that “we even learned something!” during the day. What a way to spend a winter day in Harpswell!

Kerry Bailey, Principal




January, 2014 

Happy New Year! 

This is a good time of year for reflection about those things that will make a positive difference. You all have HOPE for a bright future for your children and every day you try to make sure that they are on the right track.  We share that HOPE and work to do everything that we can to help your child succeed.   Some of the information I’m sharing in this letter may surprise you!  I know it surprised me!

In schools, we are always talking about how to increase student achievement and we spend a lot of time working at this.  Recently, I attended a very powerful conference in Portland where the presenter, Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works, shared some pretty compelling information.  I know that if you knew a simple way to make a positive difference for YOUR child, you would!

  • If I told you that you could help your child do better in school and in his or her future work place, would you do it?  Of course! 
  • If I told you that ignoring this information, may put your child in peril and that potentially he or she will “pay” for it later, would you heed this warning?  Of course!
  • If I told you that we can tell in Kindergarten whether or not your child may be at risk in first grade and beyond, would you want to know HOW?  Of course!
  • If I told you that by MODELING one simple thing, you will teach your child a critical skill for success in his or her future job? Of course!

Research shows that without question children who repeatedly miss school fall behind.  ALL absences matter, NOT just days in a row.  

  • When your child is late, he or she has to scurry to catch up.  The teacher has to slow down or interrupt instruction to bring your child up to speed - so others are affected and the quality of instruction in a quick make up session will not be equal to the instruction that the other students had.
  • When your child is absent, learning is missed that can’t easily be reproduced.  Students miss the richness of the classroom instruction, guided practice and/or learning with peers.
  • When your child leaves early, he or she misses one of the most important parts of the day:  review, guided practice and directions for homework assignments.

Nationwide, as many as 10% to 15 % of students miss a month of school every year.  Here is last year’s data from Harpswell:

Last year (2012-2013):

  • 57 students missed more than 10 days of school.  (This is 33% of our students!)
  • Of those, 23 missed 11-15 days of school. 
  • 11 students missed 16-20 days of school.
  • 6 students missed over 20 days of school. This is over a month of school.

I know that every parent has HOPE for a bright future for his/her child and that every day we try to make sure that our children are on the right track. This is very compelling information!  Of course some absences are unavoidable, but high absences like these are a RED alert.  If your child has a high rate of absence, please help us turn this around for him or her by making sure he/she is at school every possible day. It really matters. Thank You for all you do! 

Kerry Bailey, Principal

December 2, 2013                                        

After Thanksgiving vacation we all return to school a little plumper (well, at least I do!) and filled with excitement about new snow and the holidays approaching.  Although November is a very busy month it is also a time when teachers are able to reflect upon student progress and share that with parents.  Parent conferences have been very well attended and most of them have been completed.  We hope that you, as parents or guardians always feel that you can talk with us or e-mail any time you have questions.  We share your commitment to make sure that your child has a great year!

MSAD 75 teachers, grades 3, 4, and 5 were involved in professional learning with Teachers’ College faculty on November 4th, 5th and 6th.  As you know your children are reading and writing more than ever before and they are loving it!  I am forever amazed at what they can do at earlier ages than we ever thought possible before.  Teachers’ College has been a wonderful partner in helping us help our students become stellar readers and writers. 

On November 15th, our Playground Committee held the drawing for $10,000.  Our very excited winner was from Phippsburg.  As a result of all of the hard work that went into selling tickets and getting the word out, our playground fund has grown significantly and we thank the members of the Playground Committee and other parents and businesses for their tenacity and support!  Our children and the community will soon be able to enjoy a beautiful playground that has been envisioned and realized because of the hard work and generosity of Harpswell parents and citizens as well as businesses like Lowe’s and our new, welcoming gardens, arbor, pebble walkway and bridge will lead to great fun for our  children.  

At our last meeting, I mentioned I was going to explore a better way to use technology to communicate with parents and guardians instead of the more traditional newsletter.  I am in the process of updating our school webpage and if you visit it, you will see some big changes.  This format will allow me to post information for parents in a more timely manner.  

Cheryl and I will put all school-related dates on the calendar on the left of this home page.  In the right hand column, you will see “teasers” that you can click.  This allows you to read an article or short item of information if you are interested in it.  This will also allow Cheryl and/or me to post things that you need to know just as soon as you need them.  This will include updates about storms, when we do fire drills, and/or other events or changes that might occur here at school.  I also know that not everyone has access to e-mail and cannot get information this way.  For these folks, we’ll print initial and updated information for those who request it - and send it home with their children. 

I am part of a district-wide task force looking at the importance of School Attendance.  I am going to write an article to share with you about attendance and I will post it on the website in the next weeks.  There is some compelling information about school attendance that I found quite interesting.   

Please check the calendar on our “new and improved” webpage for upcoming events.  I am hoping that our webpage will become a place where you can find the most important and recent information about HCS. 
This is a notice from Kate Greeley about our Learning Commons:
Sometime between December 9th and 15th …   An Hour of Code is Coming!  

Our school has joined the Hour of Code event; 10 million students coding for an hour during the Computer Science Education Week. During their Learning Commons time, students in grades kindergarten through grade five will have an opportunity to complete a coding tutorial.  From moving an angry bird through a maze to writing Java Script, there is something for everyone to learn! Why Code? Many jobs now exist and more are being created everyday that need computer science skills. This is an opportunity to begin to shed some light on this career path.  It's not too early to begin and it's fun!  If you’d like to learn more, visit code.org

Wishing you a wonderful December and a peaceful holiday season

Kerry Bailey, Principal  

November 5, 2013

Good Evening everyone! As the cold air and early darkness descends and we enter the Thanksgiving season, we have a lot of things to be thankful for! Last month was incredible with so many parents and teachers and volunteers pitching in for the students at HCS! Our Title One celebration, Open House, the Fall Festival and our Lowe’s hero project brought people together to “make a difference” for our students last month. We had so many families come to our Open House and our students could not have been prouder to show their parents around. 
Our Lowe’s project allowed us to do our Kick Off Phase I for our playground and the Lowes’ volunteers worked side by side with our parents and staff to install a pergola, beautifully landscaped walkway and bridge and a new storage house for student gardening tools and sleds. In addition, our Gebbia’s Garden area was re-done and it looks beautiful! These activities came about because of the tireless efforts of PTO members, volunteers and our staff. We do have a lot to be thankful for.
From feedback I’ve learned that there is a need for a different way to communicate with parents, using a form of Social Media contact instead of the old format of newsletters that I have been using. Parents would like more timely information and tend to use social media more than the more traditional newsletter format that I have been using. I decided it is time for a change. Many of the things I have included in my newsletters have also been duplicated by the PTO web pages and on the PTO Facebook pages or have been distributed as “handouts”. I am working with our technology integrator, Kate Greely to develop a better way to share messages from HCS with parents and community members Parents who want written information will still be able to receive it in a paper format, however we anticipate that posting information on the web will be the preferred method for communicating. I plan to have something “up and running” in the next few weeks. 
I have had a request to update you on the Safety Improvements/Additions we have done at school. We now have a camera at both of our entry doors that are monitored by someone in the secretary’s office (usually Cheryl) and a buzz-in system that allows us to screen anyone who comes to the door to enter. All doors are locked during the day. Our teachers have keys to the outside doors and to their classrooms. We have instituted a doorbell for our before/after school program which allows Sue Baker to screen folks who come before and after school for her program. We have a protocol that requires that we have a call from our Maintenance Department to identify/announce any workers who are coming to the school to work. All of our substitute teachers and volunteers who come regularly to HCS have had background checks run. We have a Crisis Plan, a Crisis Team and we practice drills with students throughout the year to make sure we all know what to do in the case of a crisis. I am in the process of finalizing our Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. The base plan’s format follows the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) four phases of emergency management. The purpose of the plan follows:
“Purpose – The purpose of this Emergency Management Plan is to provide a framework of policies, procedures, guidelines, and organizational structure that enables Harpswell Community School and its community partners to effectively mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all emergencies and disasters involving Harpswell Community School.
The goal of this plan is to ensure the safety of all members of the Harpswell Community School community and to preserve the well being of the School and continuity of education through a rapid, coordinated, effective response to (and recovery from) emergencies and disasters.”
Our Crisis team will be meeting regularly to review this plan and to update our protocols at HCS.
Kerry Bailey, Principal

September 3, 2013

Our school opening went smoothly and we are already into a routine!  It doesn’t take long to fall back into our roles and to let the summer begin to fade.  Everyone seems renewed and ready to tackle 2013-14.  We have 10 fewer students this year than last year with many past students moving to other towns and many new students moving to Harpswell.  Some of our major changes over the summer were:


  1. We have added a student support center for some of our students who have needed extra academic and behavioral support.  Ryan McKenney is our support center teacher and is going to be a great addition to our staff!
  2. We moved our Special Education room next door to this room.
  3. We made room for the support center classroom (and moved our Title I, LTL and RTI staff to share space in the PTO room and to the former speech room). This keeps our support staff for reading all in the same core area off the Learning Commons.
  4. We installed blinds and an overhead projector in the Learning Commons.
  5. We have received additional laptops for our Learning Commons that will be ready to circulate in the next few weeks.
  6. We had to move Sarah Levy, our speech therapist, to our former flex room (sometimes called the blue room).
  7. We made room for a third grade so that it shares a door with the other third grade.
  8.  We moved Mrs. Chasse’s Kindergarten to allow for this.
  9. We hired a new third grade teacher, Megan Phillips, to replace Debbie Smith.

Our Learning Commons will continue to grow.  We have increased Barbara McGovern’s time so that she is here every day as the Learning Commons Ed Tech.  We will be using technology in new ways – helping students build research skills, create products and  use technology in a responsible way.

I am looking forward to a great year with the work of the PTO to support a new playground and a robust enrichment program for our students.  The robotics program that Stephanie Rowe is coordinating looks like it will be a great success and we will be looking for ways to provide opportunities for our students beyond just the school day

I wish you a wonderful year.  We will take good care of your children and you!  Thank you all for all that you do to make this a very special place for children to go to school!

 Kerry Bailey,  Principal



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