I am David Daigler. I work for the Maine Community College System and my wife, Karen, works for Bowdoin College. We believe we understand education, the business of education and the direction of education. When I listened to Donna speak, I couldn’t help but think back on when my children were starting out in kindergarten in the Gorham schools. Their teachers – both of them – talked about the ‘parent teacher partnership in learning’ and then asked us what our goals were for their first year in school. Our goals weren’t that they be reading, or that they be able to add. Our goals were that they develop a love for learning. That they love coming to school.

Donna’s comments demonstrate just how important that is, not just in kindergarten, but all the way through their education.

When I spoke to you two weeks ago, I talked about being on the search committee that brought Dennis Duquette to Gorham. And I talked about that committee’s desire to change – in a positive way – the “culture” that had existed in the Shaw School. It was not a fringe thought on the part of the committee; it was the primary focus of our concern – or at least it was in my opinion.

That committee understood very clearly that we had a unique opportunity because as the new principal started he (or she) would begin in a brand new building and would be merging the culture of the sixth-grade faculty from Village with the seventh- and eighth- grade faculty from Shaw. That committee also understood – very clearly – we could change the wrapping, we could even change what was inside, but if we wanted to change the “culture” we needed a leader who could bring about that change. It became crystal clear that Dennis was the right man for the job. And, in his 21 months on the job, he has not disappointed us – in fact he has delighted us.

But I am not really here in support of Dennis today. I am here in support of the middle school, in support of the kids and, mostly in support of continuing that mission.

The news that Dennis would consider leaving reigned fear in our hearts. And, like a mild heart attack, served as a “wake-up” call that there are still changes that need to be made, that there is a lot of work to be done. And clearly Dennis needs our support.

When we were here two weeks ago, we asked that you do everything you could to keep Dennis. And we asked what we could do to help. Our collective efforts paid off. Thankfully.

Today, we are not asking what we can do – we are asking you to foster that “parent teacher partnership in learning” and to include us in the work that needs to be done!

The group gathered here is very representative of the Middle School parents as a whole. There are parents of gifted learners, and special needs students. There are parents of young student athletes, aspiring musicians and budding artists. There are parents of sixth-graders, seventh-graders and eighth-graders – though many of the eighth-grade parents are working side by side with Dennis right now preparing for the Washington, D.C., trip. And many of us – myself included – have children in younger grades who will be advancing to the middle school all too soon! So we’ll be around for a while.

We represent a broad cross section. We are remarkably well organized and we have galvanized very quickly in our mission to see this through! I am proud to have been part of this group of concerned and interested parents who are very focused on a very common set of goals, which constitute a review of the School’s operations with the express purpose of assuring the School Committee and the community that the Gorham Middle School – its administration, faculty and staff – embrace a positive and progressive culture geared toward making Gorham’s middle school a “model middle school.”

David Daigler

Gorham


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