MSAD #51 District Newsletter - December 7, 2023

From the Superintendent

porterThis is Part 4 of a multi-week series on school safety with today's focus on school climate and mental health resources. The US Department of Justice has outlined the 10 basic tenets of school-based planning and actions with respect to physical and emotional safety, as shown in the chart below.

MSAD #51 offers a robust and ever-expanding host of school climate and mental health supports in order to connect each student with our schools. This is aligned to the district's mission "To guide all students as they acquire enthusiasm for learning, assume responsibility for their education, achieve academic excellence, and discover and attain their personal best." In 2022-23, we re-prioritized school-wide efforts at building positive and inclusive school climates that had taken a backseat for a couple of years during the pandemic.

In addition to a heavy emphasis on connecting students to their schools, efforts were prioritized around interventions that help all students succeed using a Tier 1 mental health approach. In a Tier 1 approach, a focus on enrichment and social/emotional health and education, along with coping skills and resources, are supported by school staff and/or community members. Examples of this would be school-wide assemblies, spirit weeks, topical speakers, team-building activities, etc that dovetail with advisory programming in grades 6-12 and guidance classes at the elementary level. We administer a universal mental health screener, the Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS) that helps to establish a baseline by which students who may need extra support are identified. An intervention tool that is used for many situations is use of restorative practices and restorative circles when the need arises.

In a Tier 2 approach to mental health, targeted classroom or small group interventions address general concerns (stress management, social skills, mild emotional distress) and provide foundational skills for students with mild symptoms with or without mental health diagnosis. Tier 2 is often facilitated by the school mental health team in cooperation with other school staff. For Tier 3, individual or intensive group support for students with moderate to severe mental health symptoms that significantly impact their school functioning are scheduled and provided by the school mental health team.

MSAD #51 is fortunate to have a comprehensive mental health team of staff members, including 8 school counselors, 11 social workers, and a team of psychological examiners that is headed by a full-time PhD level psychologist. The district has a unique position in Maine with a dedicated Mental Health/Risk Assessment Specialist for higher-level student safety concerns using a behavioral perspective. To learn more, check out the Mental Health Resources Plan.

Up Next Week: Behavioral threat assessment and social media monitoring.

Missed the previous segments? Catch up here: 
Part 1: Comprehensive school safety planning & campus/school/classroom security
Part 2: Safety series resumes: Coordination with first responders and school-based law enforcement.
Part 3: Drills and anonymous reporting systems

Jeff Porter

8th Graders created vintage-esque newspapers about the Battle of Bunker Hill.

GHS Science teacher Emily Banks helps students learn how light technology assists in forensic analysis.

Notices from the Office of the Superintendent

Superintendent's Report - December 4, 2024

In case you missed it. Click Here to view the latest Superintendent's Report.

Weather Closing Reminder

As we head further into Maine winter make sure you are up-to-date regarding MSAD #51 closing & delay procedures.

Firearm Safety Locks

Free firearm safety locks are available for all who are interested. Each school office has them available as well as the Central Office. Thank you to the Cumberland Police Department for making them available.

Stay Connected

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YouTube Channel MSAD #51 (you will be able to view not only Board of Director meetings but sporting events, student presentations and other recorded events. Make sure to subscribe!)
School News App by Edlio (follow these brief instructions HERE to download the app)


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).

December 18 - Regular Meeting

Remember you can watch our meetings on YouTube LIVE (

Update from the Board of Directors

On December 4, the Board voted 9-0 to hire Stephen Blatt Architects to develop a general concept design for an on-campus PK-1 school option that would be situated on the 2.3 acre parcel purchased by the SAD in July. Once a concept design is completed, it will be brought back to the Board for review and further decision-making about the location and next steps for a new school, whether  on-campus or at the 80 Gray Road site in North Yarmouth.

Also on December 4, the Board voted 9-0 to retain the book Gender Queer in the GHS library, upon appeal, which had been challenged under Under Policy IJJ. A review committee appointed by the Superintendent previously recommended no change in the book's access given that it met the criteria outlined in IJJ. The Board agreed with the committee and affirmed its conclusion.

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.

Foundation 51 Annual Holiday Drive

Foundation 51’s Annual Holiday Drive is now underway! Foundation 51 works closely with social workers in our district to help make the holidays and long winter more merry and bright for some families. Last year we were able to help about 30 families in the district a record breaking request and this year the request is slightly more than last year. We need your help. Please go to and click on the donate now button. Any amount you donate is tax deductible. We appreciate your consideration this winter giving season. 


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