Superintendent's Corner

mural on the outside of Sheffield School

Dear GMRSD Community,

It is an honor to continue to serve the vibrant communities of Montague and Gill.  It is also a pleasure to play a role in seeing relationships strengthen among school district stakeholders, as we work together to support the learning and growth of our young scholars.  One of our goals across the district this year is to improve in our digital communications with friends and families.  This includes launching this new district website and associated school webpages. 

This page is a place on the site where you may find documents of long-term relevance as well as high interest items of passing interest. I invite you to dig through some of the artifacts here to gain a deeper sense of what we are up to here at GMRSD. And please feel free to contact me with any items of interest, feedback you wish to share, or concerns you wish to express. Contacting me through email is usually the most efficient way to go: michael.sullivan@gmrsd.org.         

Sincerely yours,
Michael Sullivan, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools

 

Newest Post:

Responding to Civil Rights Harassment

As with other school systems, organizations of all kinds, and communities across the land, our district faces the dual challenge of addressing the occurrence of civil rights related harassment and the promotion of a bias free and equitable culture. The schools in our district already do a lot to address both facets of this issue but incidents of students calling peers the N word in three different schools have drawn out attention to the need to do more now.

To that end we intend to do the following:

1. Principals will use part of their next faculty meeting to review our expectations that all incidents where a student is a target of harassing words or actions of a civil rights nature, whether it be associated with race, religion, class, disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, will be addressed immediately by any staff member present.

2. At the next occasion where students are gathered by school or grade level, school administrators will review our civil rights and anti-bullying policies and convey the message that uncivil conduct will not be tolerated and that such conduct is highly corrosive to the values of the school and to our paramount obligation to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for everyone in our community.

3. Commit to contacting the parents or guardians of victims of civil rights harassment the same day in which the incident occurs or is reported. In addition, parents/ guardians will be invited to meet with school administration to work together on responding to the incident. Also, two to three weeks after an incident, a school administrator or counselor will contact the parent/guardian to check-in with them.

4. Contract with the Collaborative for Education’s social justice and equity staff to provide training to faculty and staff in how to address incidents of civil rights harassment and to consult with the district to develop a multi-year plan for staff training and student learning to promote a bias free and equitable school community.

5. Provide a range of opportunities, from surveys to meetings, for all stakeholders to engage in dialogue about to how to effectively advance the work of our schools and how to support students and families.

While making effective progress in social/emotional and multicultural learning is a complex and long-term endeavor, we recognize the need to support all of our students, right now, by confronting harassing behaviors and taking advantage of every teachable moment to advance student understanding about issues of diversity and equity.

 

How Snow Days Happen (Nov 14, 2018)

I am often asked how snow day decisions get made by school districts. Here is some information on that topic.

Superintendents first collect weather forecast information. I gather info from the National Weather Service, Weather Underground, Dave Hayes the Weather Nut, and, at times, other sources. As decision making time approaches superintendents contact their local DPW or road crew managers, bus companies, and sometimes police departments, to learn about current and anticipated road conditions. During this phase the superintendents in our area text each other with what we are learning and what our decisions will be. As you would expect, our decisions are driven by concerns for student, staff, and family safety.

It is interesting to note the recent trend towards making these decisions the evening before a cancellation or delay. Personally, I value being able to let everyone know as early as possible about these decisions but I think we have to be careful and not expect this to become the norm as weather forecasts are not always able to accurately predict road conditions 18 or more hours in advance. So, often times it is best to wait until the morning.

In terms of notifying folks of our decisions for Gill-Montague, we communicate this news through the following channels, usually between 5:45 and 6:00 am:

  • announcements on radio station WHAI, TV 22 and TV 40
  • phone calls to all current family and staff phone numbers
  • emails to all staff
  • district web page posting (gmrsd.org)

We have received feedback that our phone messages are sometimes cut short when they are received by voicemail. Unfortunately, that is not something we have control over. We record full messages and now we often repeat the key details at the end of the message so you will be sure to receive it. Anyway, that is some information folks often ask about. We are always looking to improve so your feedback via email or phone is appreciated.

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