MAMS Update August 24, 2017

MAMS Update August 24, 2017
Posted on 08/24/2017

August 24, 2017


Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  Across the district, there has been a tremendous amount of effort during the summer months to ensure that our students will be able to hit the ground running on September 5.   All of our teachers (below) will spend next week preparing materials and programs for the students’ arrival.  I would like to thank our school district’s phenomenal maintenance staff for working exceptionally hard to prepare the school facilities for the start of the school year.   We are so excited to have your son/daughter at our school.  I have a few start-of-school items for you:

June 2017 - Staff Photo.jpg

Mt. Ararat Middle School Staff, June 2017


The First Day of School is Tuesday, September 5.  Classes begin at 7:40.  Students may arrive anytime after 7:25 and are asked to wait in the cafeteria until the 7:30 bell, at which point they will go to their team gathering area.  There will be many staff on hand in the lobby to direct incoming 6th Graders and new students in finding their proper place.  If you have any questions about school bus drop off/pick up, please contact MSAD 75 Transportation Dept at 729-1608.


Incoming 6th Grade Team Placement.  Letters to each parent with their child’s 6th Grade Team placement information will be arriving to your mailbox this week.  Our counseling staff, in collaboration with 5th Grade teachers and parent feedback, placed our 6th Graders on one of our four fantastic 6th Grade Teams: Carrabassett, Sebasticook, Cathance, and Magalloway.  As a reminder, all of our teams are named after local Maine rivers and bodies of water for a reason.  The team they are placed on in 6th Grade determines the team they will “flow” into their 7th and 8th Grade years (see “Teamography Map” below).  

MAMS Teamography 2017-2018.png


7th and 8th Grade Team Placement.  On Step Up Day last May, all 6th and 7th Graders spent the day with their new team and teachers.  Therefore, we do not send formal letters home detailing 7th and 8th Grade Team Placement.  If your child missed Step Up Day, please refer to the “Teamography Map” above to determine which 7th and 8th Grade Team they will be on, based on the team they were on last year.  We will have a number of staff greeting students in the lobby on the first day of school, myself included.  If your child has any questions about where to go on the first day of school, we will be there to help.  


School Supplies.  HERE is a link to a general list of suggested school supplies for each grade and team.  The 6th Grade Teams will also be reaching out to their parents with more team-specific information regarding supplies and/or start-of-school information.  If obtaining school supplies or back-to-school clothing is of concern to your family, please contact our School Counseling Office at 729-2950 x2603.




6th Grade Ice Cream Social.  The tradition continues!  We will be hosting our annual Ice Cream Social for incoming 6th Graders next Wednesday, August 30, 4:30-5:30 PM.  All incoming 6th Graders (and their parents) are invited to attend this fun event.  There will be a get-to-know the school scavenger hunt and other community-building activities.  We recognize that this is the first time that all our incoming students will be moving from their local neighborhood school assembling as part of a larger, regional middle school.  We value each of our incoming 6th Graders as an important part of our school community.  


Parent Information and Curriculum Night (aka Open House) will be held on Wednesday, September 13, 6:30-7:30 PM.  This evening is an opportunity for parents to come in to meet with their son or daughter’s team and exploratory teachers and learn about the key areas of the curriculum. Parents can also expect to receive general information about the team and our advisory program.  Parents who have children in Specialized Programs including Reading Plus, Math 180, Alternative Ed, Special Education, or Gifted and Talented are invited to arrive at 6:00 PM to visit classrooms, meet the teachers and ask questions about those programs.  

New Faculty Members.  We are excited to welcome our newest faculty members to our fabulous MAMS Staff Community!

Naomi Mullane Nurse

Cathy Curtis Special Services Coordinator

Missy Wetherell 6th Grade Math/Science Teacher - Team Magalloway

Karin VanNostrand 7th Grade ELA Teacher - Team Androscoggin

Megan Bosarge 7th Grade ELA Teacher - Team Merrymeeting

Julie Wallace Alternative Education Teacher

Rachel Williams Band/Music Teacher

Stacia Drew 6th/7th Grade Cultural Literacy and 8th Grade French Teacher

Elizabeth Mendoza 8th Grade Spanish Teacher

Josefine Eltzroth 8th Grade German Teacher

Scott McDaniel Special Services Teacher

Jen Nelson Special Services Teacher

Sam Bernier Special Services Teacher

Athletics.  We encourage all our students to take advantage of the many extracurricular activities we offer, including Fall Sports.  Signs ups for fall sports will be held the first week of school, September 5-8, and practices start the week after.  In the fall, the school sponsors 7th & 8th Grade Girls Soccer, 7th & 8th Grade Boys Soccer, 6th, 7th & 8th Grade Girls Field Hockey, and 6th, 7th & 8th Grade Boys & Girls Cross Country.  There is also a Tennis Club, run by a parent volunteer, as well as a community-based Football Team.  For any information about athletics, please contact our Athletic Director, Rick Crawford at or visit our Athletics page.


Our Commitment to Proficiency-Based Learning.  We had an exciting and dynamic year last year as we transitioned to a new proficiency-based grading system.  The focus of this new grading program will be on how students are doing with important knowledge and skills.  While overall the transition went well, we recognize there were growing pains at times. We know we need to get better and our teachers will work with you to ensure everyone is using Empower, our grading program, to effectively communicate how your child is doing in school.  HERE is a recent New York Times article that highlights some of the ways that a proficiency-based approach benefits students.  

Return of High Honor Roll.  We held a number of parent information sessions last year regarding our new grading system.  We also held several student focus group sessions.  We appreciate all the feedback we have received and we continue to welcome it.  One of the areas we received feedback on was the lack of a “High Honor Roll” in our Student Recognition Protocol.  Our Leadership Team recently convened to examine this issue and has reinstated the “High Honor Roll.”  Here are the Honor Rolls’ eligibility requirements:

  • To qualify for the “Honor Roll” at the end of the quarter, students must have 95% of their Work Habits scores as 3’s & 4’s with no 1’s.

  • To qualify for the “High Honor Roll” at the end of the quarter, students must have 95% of their Work Habits scores as 4’s with no 2’s.


Parent/School Feedback Loop.  We are excited to partner with you for another year of meaningful learning!  At the start of a new school year it can feel as though things will just keep going along smoothly - everybody is refreshed from summer vacation, feeling happy, and excited for the year ahead.  But there is one thing we can be sure of:  there will be challenges that arise during this year.  And yes, the school will make some mistakes.  We work really hard to do an excellent job, but we know we are not perfect.

Relationships are the foundation for all learning, and that extends to our students’ families.  At our school, it is also important to us to model effective communication and problem solving for our students.  When somebody at the school makes a mistake, or you are confused by or uncomfortable with a decision, we need you to talk to us about it.  Most issues can be reasonably addressed by your child’s teacher, the person to whom you can reach out first.  For issues that are more serious or complex, you can get in touch with the one of our counselors, the assistant principal Megan Hayes Teague, or me, the principal.

When parents have a concern or a question, we tend to be pretty successful at working together to find a solution.  However, concerns that have gone unaddressed for a long time turn into frustrations.  It is much harder for us to help with a frustration.  So please, be upfront and proactive in sharing your concerns, questions, and ideas, and we promise to do the same.  Together we will make this an excellent year for our students!


Policy Notification.  Every year, we are required to direct parents towards all our district policies.  The policies, created and approved by the publicly elected MSAD 75 Board of Directors, govern the general operation of the school system.  You are welcome to review any of these policies.  If you have any questions, please let me know.


“Can’t Stop the MAMS Feeling”  At the last-day-of-school assembly, we surprised the student body with a music video we made just for them.  It is set to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feelingsong.  If you didn’t happen to see it went it went “viral” in June, check it out now!  


If any questions, comments, or suggestions arise, please feel free to call the school at 729-2950 or send me an email at:


Josh Ottow



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