MSAD #51 District Newsletter - March 14, 2024

From the Superintendent

porterOver the last few weeks, I have written about the Science of Reading and the importance of both phonics and comprehension as part of the process of reading. This is in response to recent research that strongly indicates balancing classroom literacy practices after decades of "whole language" approaches in schools across the United States. A literacy audit conducted as part of our Strategic Plan in 2018-19 found gaps in foundational literacy skills that led to examination of our instructional methodology. Over the last couple of years, elementary teachers and staff have begun learning more about approaches that align with the Science of Reading, such as the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, commonly known as LETRS.This course instructs teachers on the essential literacy skills that should be taught in alignment with evidence-based research, why these skills should be taught, and how to teach them. In the proposed FY 25 Budget Presentation, there are funds to support literacy efforts in grades PK-5 that align to the Science of Reading.

This is the last segment of a four-part series on the Science of Reading. If you missed my previous three segments, visit the links below:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

On Monday, the Board of Directors will be deciding whether to accept a draft concept design completed by Stephen Blatt Architects for an on-campus PK-1 primary school, proceed with the plan at 80 Gray Road in North Yarmouth, or go in a different direction. I am recommending to the Board that the on-campus plan be accepted, which encompasses a number of important improvements needed on campus to sustain a one-campus model:

  1. New PK-1 school building construction on-campus at the designated site recommended by the architect;
  2. Purchase of additional 0.5 acres of abutting land to support the new school building;
  3. Construction of a new maintenance building;
  4. Internal and external upgrades at Mabel I. Wilson School;
  5. On-campus improvements including road adjustments, traffic circulation upgrades, and parking improvements;
  6. Off-site improvements to Main Street and Tuttle Road in line with MDOT and Town of Cumberland plans; and
  7. Installation of an artificial turf surface on Hutchins Field to sustain play space necessary in maintaining a one-campus model for the long-term.

    To keep up-to-date on plans for the new school project, visit our dedicated web page at

As you are likely aware, on Monday, April 8 a total solar eclipse passes through Maine, a somewhat rare occurrence. I have been asked if the school schedule will be modified for that day as the eclipse timing in southern Maine is expected between 2:20-4:30 PM. In our part of the state, the eclipse is not forecasted to be at 100% totality and we plan to dismiss at the regular time on April 8 with no alterations to the full day schedule that day. NASA has provided information about the eclipse at:

Jeff Porter

March is Music in Our Schools Month! The MSAD #51 music department celebrated with their annual All District Band and Chorus Concerts on February 29 and March 5. 

Author Holly Thompson, a native Mainer, lived in Japan for 25 years and wrote "The Wakame Gatherers". She met with all 2nd graders at the GCA to talk about her book.

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MSAD #51 Board of Directors Information

All meetings will take place at 6:00 pm in the Gyger Room at Greely High School.  For those of you unfamiliar with that room, the Gyger Room can be accessed from the GHS parking lot (the side without the electronic sign).

March 18 - Regular Meeting

Remember you can watch our meetings on YouTube LIVE (

Meeting Dates, Agendas & Minutes
Board of Directors Meeting Videos

Community Partners

Our Community Partners are strong supporters of various areas of the school.  Without them, our students would not have many of the wonderful opportunities and experiences that they receive.

Trivia Nights

Parent University

Spring Greely Gear

Opportunities to Volunteer

GMS Book Fair:

GMS 6 & 7 Grade Step-Up Dance:

Useful Links

Employment Opportunities

MSAD #51 Website

2018-2023 Strategic Plan

District Calendar

GHS Athletics Schedule

Greely Center for the Arts Events


If you would like something included in our weekly newsletter, please send a brief write up with title along with a JPEG or PNG image of your flyer (if applicable) to Melissa Porter for approval. The deadline each week is Sunday. Any requests received after Sunday will be reviewed for possible submission in the following week's newsletter. All approved submissions will be posted on the district's website.

Not all items in this email are MSAD #51 sponsored programs. If you need more information, please contact the group or organization that is sponsoring the event.

Maine School Administrative District #51
357 Tuttle Road, PO Box 6A, Cumberland, ME 04021
Contact Us   |   207.829.4800