High school program helps at-risk freshmen

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MEXICO — Mountain Valley High School Principal Matt Gilbert gave the Regional School Unit 10 board an overview Monday of a program that helps freshmen start high school successfully.

The Building Assets and Reducing Risks program, known as BARR, is in its first year at the school and led by coordinator Marsha Burns and Academic Dean Jim Aylward.

“(We) start by addressing areas that create barriers for kids showing up for school, being successful in school and graduating from school,” Gilbert said. “The earlier we address that, the better it’s going to be.”

Math teacher Jeff Pelletier is one of the eight educator members of the BARR team. He described strategies, topics and goals that the team uses to help students in the program.

“We identify kids that are at risk as students, students that are going through some trouble at home, or they might just be struggling academically,” Pelletier said. “We also identify kids that we could challenge a little bit more and maybe bump them to an honors class.”

Superintendent Deborah Alden noted that the BARR program was an example of what the district is doing to combat chronic absenteeism at the high school level.

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In other matters, MVHS technology teacher Jeff Bailey told the board about the district’s Instructional Technology Committee, formed “about three or four years ago to better communicate and problem solve around educational uses of technology.”

Some of the committee’s accomplishments: Helping with the new Chromebook computer presentations for students and staff, helping the staff and students transition to Gmail and Google applications, providing summer professional development in technology for teachers and assisting with PowerSchool program training.

The committee also collected student and staff data to build the state-required technology plan for RSU 10.

The board Monday also hired Kim Cocca as a social worker for two days a week at Rumford Elementary School. Cocca has worked with Oxford County Mental Health with children and families. She has her bachelor’s degree in human services, Alden said.

Lorinda Payton was also hired by the board as coordinator for the 21st Century Program. Payton resigned from her educational technician position at MVHS to take the coordinator position. She replaces Barb Radmore, who resigned in June. The coordinator’s position is funded by the grant for the program, Alden said.

The board held a moment of silence for educator George Affleck, who passed away last weekend. Affleck recently taught at Mountain Valley Middle School and previously at Mountain Valley High School.

mhutchinson@sunmediagroup.net

Mountain Valley High School math teacher Jeff Pelletier told the RSU 10 school board of directors about the Building Assets and Reducing Risks (BARR) program at the school board meeting on Monday. (Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times)

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