October 19, 2015
Issue No: 


Superintendent's Message

Say Something!

“All students and staff learn and work best in a safe, secure, and nurturing environment,” says GFPS Belief Statement #4. Ain’t that the truth? It’s hard to learn and work when you don’t feel safe, secure or nurtured. Two things have brought this belief right to the forefront to me in the last couple of weeks: a threat of violence at GFHS and an article in the CMR student newspaper titled, “Student Voices: What do you think should be the priority for the Great Falls school board?” In both cases, the obvious response should be:


I will address the latter first.

In the CMR article, one of the student writers asks the school board to recognize students as people because “they are handling the next generation”. I couldn’t agree more and I am confident the Board supports this concept as well. It is his lead-up to this statement, however, that bothered me. He indicates that some students “get degrading and horrible treatment” by teachers. He states that this kind of treatment “fractures the bond” and “lowers their chance of success in the class.” I agree with this too: degrading and horrible treatment does not make for safe, secure and nurturing environments. My heart sank when I read this. If accurate, I can’t defend this kind of treatment of students, nor can the school board. It is just plain wrong. As I tend to do, my mind began to ask questions: Why does this have to be written in a student newspaper to get attention? When witnessing “degrading and horrible treatment, why don’t we say something to a trusted adult so it can be stopped?
Saying something works. This was absolutely true at GFHS last week. Something wasn’t right, the student recognized it, and she said something about it. The threat was thwarted, and safety and security ruled the day. In my mind, this student is a hero. As noted in the Say Something Call to Action Planning Guide, “Too often after an act of youth violence, facts come out that friends suspected or knew something was going to happen, but didn’t know what to do with that information. In fact, in 7 out of 10 acts of gun violence, at least one other person knew of the shooter’s intent, but said nothing. Additionally, 70% of people who complete suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication.”
Just imagine how much tragedy, degradation and poor treatment could be stopped if individuals would just say something? GFPS is going to continue to work on enhancing the culture in our teaching and learning environments to ensure that students and staff are empowered to say something to a trusted adult anytime and every time something is amiss. A safe, secure and nurturing environment is essential, and so are the trusting relationships and organizational pride that serve to guarantee it. Stay tuned for more information on this important topic. In the meantime, support those who say something.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.

United Way Goal!

Coat Drive for My Student in Need

Community coat Closet & Winter gear. Drop you gently used or new coats and winter gear off at the DOB October 14-28th. Coats, Snow Pants, Boots, Hats and Gloves are all needed. Children and Adult sizes needed. Thank you!

K-12 Educational Leadership Masters Cohort Program

Come meet with MSU educational leadership program department head and professors. During this meeting you will have an opportunity to learn about the K-12 Principal Cohort program of study that we plan to start in the near future (summer 2016 or fall 2016). This will be a great opportunity to get your questions answered and determine next steps. Feel free to share this invite with others. This opportunity will be open to all teachers grades K-12. Hope to see you there.

When: November 17, 2015 3:45-5pm
Where: DOB- Birch and Cedar rooms


ELL Corner for October 19th

How long does it take to learn a new language?

To answer this question, we need to consider how proficiently we want the learner to learn the language. Do we expect collegiate proficiency? Enough to get by from day to day? For students coming into our schools, we need to determine the type of communication we envision the student carrying out. It takes from 6 months to 2 years to acquire social language. The student will then be successful on the playground or talking about the upcoming weekend. Academic language, including its vocabulary and structures, will take 5 to 7 years to develop. Academic language allows ELL to successfully listen, speak, read and write in the classroom. Also, the amount of formal schooling in the native language is one of the most significant variables that determines how long it will take the child to learn English. This is why we need to make every effort to support the development of academic language in our schools! If you would like more information, please contact either Lisa Jahraus or Irina Payne.

In addition to teaching students who may be learning English, you also need to communicate with parents who may have different language abilities. If you need a translator, for parent-teacher conferences or any other parent-teacher interaction, please contact Lisa Jahraus or Irina Payne ASAP!

Lisa Jahraus, Title TSA 268-6028
Irina Payne, ESL teacher 268-6056


October 14-18 & 21-25, 2015

Great Falls Public Library 3rd Floor

Early Bookworm Sale:
Wednesday, Oct 14……. 12 noon-7pm $2 at checkout* $2 per book
Thursday, Oct 15…….12 noon-7pm
Friday, Oct 16…….. 12 noon-5pm
Saturday, Oct 17……. 11am-5pm
Sunday, Oct 18……… 1pm-4pm

Half Price Sale Days:
Wednesday, Oct 21……. 12 noon-7pm
Thursday, Oct 22……. 12 noon-7pm
Friday, Oct 23…….. 12 noon-5pm

Sack Sale Day:
Saturday, Oct 24…… 11am-5pm
Sunday, Oct 25…… 1pm-4pm


34th Annual Cross Town Run Around

34th Annual Cross Town Run Around
October 27, 2015 (Tuesday)
Paris Gibson Education Center
Race begins at 4:15 pm

The date for our Annual Cross Town Run Around has been set since 1982, typically the Tuesday of Cross Town Football week. Although it has been on the district calendar since early last spring, we wanted to remind you of the date and hope you can attend. As many of you know it is quite a lot of fun to walk or run with staff from all-round the district. This event happens rain or shine….sleet or snow! More details to follow and look for posters in your building. Be thinking of a theme as the 7 trophies are up for grabs once again! As our dear friend Mikie Messman would say “Rally the troops and join us for Cross Town!”.


Building Elementary Leaders


EdCamp BootCamp


Online Courses for Educators