This winter, I am lucky enough to spend three months at Lyman Moore Middle School working as an Educator in Residence. My goal is to serve as a liaison between The Leadership School and Lyman Moore, as well as to reaffirm the positive messages learned at TLS and incorporate them into students’ daily middle school lives. Because both Lyman Moore and I are newbies to the EIR experience, my role so far has been versatile, challenging and very rewarding.
Every spring, the sixth graders attend The Leadership School for a little under a week. There, they gain leadership and communication skills and learn character building techniques. It is my hope to first, introduce these initial messages to sixth graders who have not yet experienced TLS and second, to extend and reinforce these messages amongst the seventh and eighth graders who already have attended TLS.
Currently, I work most closely with ELL (English Language Learner) students. While they may be new to English, many of these students are fluent in multiple other languages — including but not limited to French, Spanish, Swahili and Arabic. These students are amazing, and I have helped facilitate conversations regarding difficult topics such as the inclusion/exclusion of ELL students, confronting stereotypes and their ultimate acceptance.
In addition to these conversations and workshops, I help lead a daily art class with seventh grade ELL students. These students are painting a mural on a school wall. The mural is called “The Write Wall” and students from all grades are encouraged to share personal stories or essays on the wall.
Over the past two weeks, I have also worked with most of the eighth grade and led an assortment of communication-focused activities. These have prompted interesting discussions of what it means to communicate, how people communicate at different ages, and ways to effectively listen to different forms of communication.
Furthermore, I co-host a weekly girls lunch. During these lunches, about a dozen seventh grade girls have dance parties, discuss different personal issues, conflicts and triumphs. These lunches provide a space where the girls feel comfortable discussing a wide range of issues, ranging from serious to comical, and a small window where they feel truly comfortable being themselves.
Lastly, I participate in an after school tutoring program called Make it Happen. Every Tuesday and Thursday, ELL students attend Make it Happen. At the beginning of Make It Happen, I lead a different game or activity (the game and TLS favorite Entourage is currently a huge hit) before myself and others tutor students one-on-one and assist them with homework.
I am so excited to continue to build new relationships with the students of Lyman Moore and strengthen the relationships I have already made. I hope to continue my work with ELL students and also expand my presence in Baxter School for the Deaf and various sixth grade classrooms. I am looking forward to a great winter!
Leah Yacknin-Dawson, Lyman Moore Middle School EIR
Click here to read Bangor Daily New’s coverage of Portland School’s EIRs.