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SEPTEMBER / October 2022


Our First Month Back Together  

This year feels much better!"  - A More Than Words Club High School Student At a Recent Retreat

Our theme for this school year is Coming Back to Community. It is so good to be back together - it’s been a long time coming.  

What does Coming Back to Community look like and feel like?  It’s open houses between parents and teachers, back-to-school ice cream socials and family picnics, PTO meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and professional development for our teachers and staff. It’s students getting their lunches in the cafeteria, our youngest learners having their first classroom experiences, playing and circling up singing their favorite songs, and so many more of the everyday school moments.

Dr. Piazza and I had a chance to visit all our schools many times in our first weeks back. Seeing students and staff, with all those smiles, made us smile. My greatest joy is visiting our schools and seeing so many student champions across the district, across the grade levels, and in all the schools.

Every child needs a champion and my message to our faculty and staff at the start of the school year was Be a child’s champion; be your student’s go-to person. Choose one child that seems to need a champion, and be that champion. Rita Pierson, a longtime educator, inspires this message and the importance of human connection in her Ted Talk: Every Kids Needs A Champion and there has never been a time when this message is more relevant and important.

You can hear our students talk about the importance of coming back to community, in their own words, in this edition of our new parent newsletter. I had the opportunity, along with Dr. Michael Graner, to retreat with our More Than Words students where they expressed their feelings about the effects of the pandemic. They all talked about how this year feels different and better than the past several years.                                                                                

The month ended celebrating our journey with our LEARN partners and the implementation of a multi-million Magnet School Assistance Grant (MSAP). Years ago, our community came together to support the Groton 2020 and build one new middle school on the top of Fort Hill. This MSAP grant helped us afford the design of one of the most engaging middle schools in the country, despite COVID. With the purchase of STEM and Arts equipment and supplies along with professional development in MYP and inquiry-based instruction for all educators, and the support of community partnerships, Groton Middle School has become a beacon on the hill.

Read all about it in GPS News below,

Susan Austin

Superintendent, Groton Public Schools


Groton Public Schools Awarded $1 Million World Language Grant

Groton Public Schools was awarded a five-year, $1 million grant from the Department of Defense, which will support improving and expanding our World Language programs across grades K-12. 

All GPS world language teachers will engage in a multi-year onsite professional development program with expert trainers from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). GPS will also hire two new world language teachers to expand the program to all five elementary schools. The goal of this effort is to improve students' world language proficiency and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for cultures other than their own.


Groton Middle School STEAM’S Forward

It’s been five-years since Groton Public Schools received a multi-million-dollar grant to develop a middle school magnet program and pursue the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP).  Now Groton Middle School is engaging students through its STEAM classes and is an authorized IB MYP World School.  Our grant partners recently toured the school with our school and district leaders and saw students engaged everywhere they went.   (Pictures)

  • In music technology, students were creating their own music using technology; experimenting with computer-generated sounds, chords, beats, and adding melody.
  • Students are s they are the first middle school class to experience American Sign Language. It was amazing to see that in such a short time, they were able to follow directions from the teacher and work together using the new language! 
  • In the Science lab, students were involved in a lab called “Candy Corn Chemistry”, some noticing that their predictions were accurate, and others wondering why the candy corn didn’t dissolve in a mixture they predicted would change the solid. 
  • In the Black Box Theater, students were engaged in “Mirroring” in theater, while others observed and needed to figure out who was leading and where the switch took place. 

Get a glimpse into GMS and watch their new school video!                         


Fitch High School to Create Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC)

In 2018 a middle school student asked Superintendent Austin if could send out a student survey to see what the interest would be in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corp (JROTC). As a military community it made sense and was already a program the district was discussing. The results of his survey indicated a large number of students were interested in participating. That student who is now a senior will finally get to see his work become a program! With the support of a couple FHS faculty members, we applied in Navy National Defense Cadet Corps, after being told this was the first step towards JROTC.


More Than Words – Here What Our Students Have to Say

One of Fitch High School’s long-existing clubs, More than Words, brings together students from Fitch, New London, and Ledyard, along with their teacher mentors.  Each retreat starts with icebreaker activities that help them get to know each other better, and then they circle up to discuss topics that are impacting them at school. In September, they discussed the effects of the Pandemic and how we can Get Back to Community.

They broke out into small groups and had a lot to say before returning as a whole group to share their insights. Here’s what students said:


  • When we first came back last year after going out abruptly in March 2020, then doing remote and/or hybrid, no one knew how to socialize or get along; we were wearing masks and staying socially distanced/isolated. It was difficult to make connections.
  • Many of us didn’t know we had adults to go to; we felt isolated and disconnected.
  • This year feels much better; we have learned to adjust; no more masks, no more social distance, making better connections
  • Classwork is so much more engaging in person. We have a chance to discuss and share our ideas.

Pictured Right: High school students from the More Than Words club visited the Amistad at New London Waterfront Park after their most recent retreat.





GPS Digital Backpack


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Forms to fill out this month:

  • Federal Impact Aid Verification Form
  • Contact Information Update Form
October Calendar Reminders
  • No School
    • Monday, October 10, 2022
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences (Elementary and Middle) 
    • Wednesday, October 19 - Friday, October 21
  • Early Dismissal TLI Day
    • Tuesday, October 25, 2022