November 16, 2015
Issue No: 



Part 2: Motivation Must Be Strategized

As indicated last week, I am reviewing the concepts I presented two and half months ago at Convocation. As you may recall, I presented four main concepts researched by Dr. Bill Daggett and practiced by high performing and rapidly improving schools and districts. Last week, I reviewed the importance of the art of teaching. This week, I’ll review the importance of motivation. As a reminder, sentences in italics are GFPS belief statements which can be found here:


Concept #2: Motivation Must Be Strategized

The most successful high performing schools realize that for students to be successful at content, they must be motivated to learn the content. Daggett relies on the research of Dweck and others when he sets forth these important key factors of student motivation:
• A sense of academic and social belonging
• Seeing school as relevant to their future
• A disposition to work hard and postpone immediate gratification
• An ability not to get derailed by academic or social difficulties
• A willingness to seek out challenges
• The desire to remain engaged for the long haul
He and others implore educators to pay attention to these factors in order to nurture academic tenacity and grit in our students. You may recognize these things as the underpinnings of rigor and relevance. I must admit that when I read those bullets, I get a pit in my stomach. Those are such hard things to accomplish…so hard to measure…so hard to know what to do.

High performing schools in our nation, including GFPS, are recognizing that to move forward these items must be addressed. We are addressing them by developing thoughtful implementation plans that center around these concepts. We continue to seek to create environments where students feel comfortable, safe and encouraged in their pursuit of tenacity. We are challenged to look at everything: content, delivery methods, assessment methods, grading practices, schedules, extra and co- curricular activities, building interiors…everything is on the table to ensure engagement because as our belief statement says, all students and staff learn and work best in a safe, secure and nurturing, and I would add motivating, environment. It’s why our administrators will leave no stone unturned to ensure, like our belief statements say we will, that each student will have fair and equitable opportunity for quality instruction and academic success.

All students…each student. Simple words, but admittedly, not simple to do. Some students seem to have an internal compass for grit and tenacity and others don’t. There are lots of reasons for this; reasons we don’t always fully understand. And there’s the challenge: figuring it out for the hard to reach and sometimes because of that, the hard to teach. Thus, the plans we make are important, but not as important as the GFPS staff members who demonstrate their own tenacity and grit as they never give up on these kids. I thank you for helping all students belong, find relevance, defy derailment, face the challenges and engage for the long haul. Each kid…all kids… deserve nothing less.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.



AA Choral Festival

What: AA Choral Festival
Where: CM Russell High School Auditorium
When: Tues, November 17, 6 pm Concert

Join us for the AA Choral Festival Concert at CM Russell High School Auditorium on Tuesday November 17th at 6 pm. Choirs from CM Russell, Great Falls High, Helena High, and Billings Senior will combine for a fantastic evening of choir music sung by the individual schools as well as a mass choir under the direction of Dinah Helgeson, guest conductor.

Admission to this concert is free!


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




Wellness Update


The Fitness Center will be closed November 25 & 26, 2015, due to no school and Thanksgiving Holiday.

Yoga will be cancelled on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, due to the Wellness Event – Biometric Screening Results -- See below!

Yoga will also be cancelled on November 25, 2015 as there is no school.



Please remember that in order to be eligible for severance pay, a retiring teacher must submit a letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees no later than December 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m., if terminating employment at the end of the first semester. You are encouraged to forward your letter prior to this date. You may wish to refer to Article 8.C of the Negotiated Agreement for further information. Teacher Retirement System must be contacted and an irrevocable election form completed by September 21, 2015 in order to be eligible to deduct additional contributions from termination pay on a tax-deferred basis.

The Teacher Retirement System can be reached at 1-866-600-4045.

Human Resources Office



Academic Language Development

Do you have students who struggle to fully grasp the concepts being taught in your classroom? Do you know why this struggle exists? There are many reasons a student could be having trouble keeping up in the classroom. One possibility is that your students have a language history that is getting in the way of their comprehension in class. This can happen for a couple of reasons. Maybe your student has been exposed to, or even has spoken, another language. This can impact their speed in acquiring academic English. Another possibility is that your struggling students are American Indian students who have an impact in their language structure rooted in their tribal language. This can impact their comprehension of the language we tend to use in our classrooms. Students who have lived in poverty can also have similar language development struggles.
Whatever the underlying reason for the classroom struggle, building a student’s academic English can help them succeed. To that end, our district is piloting an Academic Language Development Project this year. We have four teams of teachers (2 elementary, 1 middle school, and 1 high school) working to build academic English in their classrooms. This Tier 1 intervention will help ALL students find greater success with the language of school.
If you would like more information on this project, or on academic language development in your classroom, please contact us. Also, we are going to be expanding this project next year. If you would like to be a part of it, or if you know someone who would be an asset to the team, we’d love to hear! You can reach us at:

Lisa Jahraus – Title TSA – x6028
Irina Payne – ESL Teacher – x6056

Requesting Your Help to Judge!


DECEMBER 11 & 12, 2015

The success of a speech and debate meet depends on countless volunteers willing to listen to and evaluate talented young people from all over Montana! We would be so grateful if you would volunteer to fill one or more of nearly a thousand judging hours needed for our tournament!

Individual rounds are scheduled for these approximate times:
Friday, December 11 at 4 pm, 6 pm, and 8 pm
Saturday, December 12 at 8 am, 10 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 4 pm

Speech events will be held at Great Falls High School,
Debate rounds will be held at East Middle School.

Please visit our website ( to volunteer as a judge and to receive automated reminders as the tournament date nears!

When you sign up online, you also have access to the MHSA Handbook
and video links to assist you with judging the events
you choose or are asked to judge!

If you prefer to register by phone or email, you can simply contact
GFHS Judge Coordinator
Julie Easton at 268-6369, julie_easton [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us

If you know someone else who may wish to judge, please visit (URL is case-sensitive)


School Grant Program from the Montana Masonic Foundation