Monument Valley Regional Middle School

Week at a Glance and News and Notes

Note from the Principal:

This was the first Friday in a while that actually felt like a Friday, which means I must be getting used to this new normal a little.  It is not easy, and I find myself going between thinking “I can do this” to feeling like none of it makes sense and “I have no idea where we are going.”  Being honest with ourselves is probably the best way to make sense of the situation, but I also sometimes want to just avoid dealing altogether.  It is with this spirit of “well, here we are,” that I bring you this week’s update.

We are doing a great job at Monument Valley in making sure our entire learning community is moving forward.  The priority over the first three weeks was making sure all kids and families were safe, secure and connected.  The past four weeks have been about making sure kids are engaged.  Now we enter the stretch where we figure out how to keep the students engaged, and deepen their engagement.  For some students that is making sure they are able to accomplish the assignments regularly.  For others it is challenging them to go deeper or farther with their learning.  This is an interesting time, as it challenges all of us to be more direct and responsible for our development: we do not have the regularity of joining the institutions in buildings in our daily lives (for example, going to school, or for many, going to work).  This requires us to come up with our own ways to motivate ourselves, our family, our peers.  Some of the engagement can come from the way we engage with the institution (remote learning, working from home, modified work schedule), and a lot of it has to come from our own motivation.  We are challenging students in the district to take more responsibility for their learning.  This is actually in the research and best-practice part of learning about learning: learners (children and adults) actually learn better, learn more and are able to transfer their understanding to new situations much better if each learner is expected to have a part in leading their own learning.  It is our job as educators to support that role for the learner, and create the conditions for kids to do this.  That is the work of the next month.  We also want to end the year well, with a sense of closure and meaning for the students, and for your family.  We will share our ideas on how we will wrap up the year and get ready for next year in a few weeks.

I held Community Forums this week–5-6 Grade on Tuesday evening, and 7-8 Grade on Wednesday evening.  They were well attended, and I appreciated those who could join us.  I also recorded the sessions in video and audio formats so you can watch or listen if you could not join.  The videos and audio files are in a folder at this link.  I start the session by welcoming folks and celebrating what we have accomplished, and continue by acknowledging how hard it is to make sense of this school closure.  I discuss what will be happening in the next weeks and to end the year, and where the district is with end of year activities like graduation and transitioning to the next grade.  If you have specific questions feel free to email me, as always, at  I will also hold another set of forums in a few weeks once we have more information from Massachusetts and our local leaders.

Many families have asked about getting items from school during the closure.  If you want an instrument or an essential item like medication, please email me and we will prepare it for you to pick up.  We are not retrieving items from lockers right now, and will have a plan for locker clean out once the district knows when it is safe for students and families to return to the school building.

The goal for next week is to continue to engage the students in learning, getting deeper with reviewing skills and promoting understanding.  Let us know if there is anything we can do to help connect your kids.

See below for reminders about our remote learning experience, getting a ChromeBook if your child needs one, and information from our nurse and about opportunities to get food while the schools are closed.

Thanks, and be well,

Ben Doren


Week at a Glance:

Monday, May 4

Remote Learning School Day

Tuesday, May 5

Remote Learning School Day

Wednesday, May 6

Remote Learning School Day

Thursday, May 7

Remote Learning School Day

Friday, May 8

Remote Learning School Day

Reminder about Important (updated) news from our School Nurse

Please see the information posted on our School Nurse’s (Pat Harper) website  It has contact information so you can connect with her for health questions as well as get COVID-19 updates.

From the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office

The “Think Before You Click” campaign from the United States Attorney’s Office encourages parents and guardians to discuss internet safety with children of all ages and to continue to monitor internet use during this time of COVID-19.  Please see the flyer in the link to the flyer page below.

From the Office of the Child Advocate in Massachusetts

On behalf of Director Mossaides, I wanted to let you know about a public information campaign the Office of the Child Advocate is launching in partnership with UMass Medical, and request your assistance in spreading the word.  The information campaign is designed to make Massachusetts families aware of state resources that are available to them and encourage struggling families to reach out for help.   We have posted a series of graphics on this website ( that are available to be printed, emailed, and/or shared on social media.


Would your child  like to borrow some books from the MVM Library?  We have arranged that Mrs. Kane can accept requests from students by Tuesday mornings at 9:00 and the books will be ready for you in paper bags for families to pick up on Wednesday mornings in the front circle.  Please have your child answer the brief questions about what books they would like in the attached form which has a link to our library’s Online Catalog, and a video to help you search it. This announcement will also be made via Google Classsroom.  Any questions?  E-mail Mrs. Kane at

Library Book Request

If you would like to purchase books from Scholastic Book Clubs, you may shop their collection online and order books which will be delivered to a teacher’s home and then brought to school for you to pick up.   Sign in at Scholastic Book Clubs.  5th grade families will use code #   H8ZR7 for Ms. Gillis’ bookclub.  Grades 6 to 8 families will use code # PDXDB for Mrs. Kane’s bookclub.  Scholastic offers a wide variety of books for all ages, with bargain books featured each month.

2020-2021 School Calendar

Many of you have asked about next year’s school calendar.  You can find it here:

3rd Quarter Report Cards

3rd Quarter Report Cards were emailed to families on Tuesday, April 21st.  Please email Debra Spence at if you did not receive your child’s report card and she will make sure to send it to you.

Reminder about getting a ChromeBook from the school

Here is how you can get a ChromeBook for your child if you need one: Families can come to Monument Valley to pick up a device at the times and days listed below. Families that cannot make it to Monument Valley can request a delivery to their home by emailing


  • Tuesday, May 5 between 10:00 am and 11:30 am in the Monument Valley car loop in the front of the school.

Reminder about REMOTE LEARNING at MVM

Go to the Monument Valley Grade Teams and Exploratory Links webpage to launch learning! will get you there.  Just find your kid’s team, click the link and you are on your way.  There is also the link for the Exploratory classes.  I left all of the enrichment and other resources I had posted over the past two weeks at the bottom of the page in case you want to extend the learning experiences, and if you need resources to talk to your kids through these difficult times.  Also, your children have received emails from their teachers inviting them to join their Google Classrooms, which are also linked on the team web pages at the site link above.  At this point you should have had contact with your child’s Advisor, and possibly other staff from the school.  If not, please reach out to your child’s advisor, a school counselor or me.  We need to have all students connected.  ALL STUDENTS SHOULD CHECK THEIR SCHOOL EMAIL ( ACCOUNT EVERY DAY.  This is the way that teachers will communicate with their students.


Reminder about Food Support available at the end of the week:

The District will be providing a week’s worth of food to families of our students in our district community every Friday.  These meals will be available to all students who would benefit from the service. Food will be distributed on FRIDAYS from 11:00am-2:00 pm ONLY AT THE MONUMENT VALLEY site.  If you need this resource and cannot pick up, we can deliver to you.  Email  if you are interested in receiving a box, or share this information with a family who needs a box.  At this time we can only distribute boxes of food to families with children in our district.  There are resources in towns for food support as well, such as the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington, for families or individuals who do not have children in our district.

Yearbooks are available for pre-order

You can order one at this link:


Flyers are available on our website at this link:

This week’s flyers:

  • “Think Before you Click” Internet Safety Campaign

Last week’s flyers:

  • Ward’s offering Free Tree Seedlings to Youth

Older flyers:

  • GB Babe Ruth Baseball 2020 Registration

  • French & Spanish Immersion Camps for rising 4-6 graders

  • Berkshire Cal Ripken Baseball Registration

  • GB Girls Softball Registration

  • GB Little League Registration Information

  • CANCELLED–Family Dance at Unitarian Universalist Church

  • SMArt Summer @ Flying Cloud Institute

  • STEM Summer @Flying Cloud Institute

  • Outdoor Explorer’s Club @ Flying Cloud Institute

  • Eisner Day Camp

  • RSYP:  RYSE Weeklong Summer Program

Julie C. Duffin
Principal’s Secretary
Monument Valley Regional Middle School
313 Monument Valley Road
Great Barrington, MA  01230