Medomak’s Educator in Residence: Drewsie
My name is Alex Drew, but everyone knows me as Drewsie. I have the privilege of spending this winter in Medomak Middle School in Waldoboro. My main focus is on mentorship; becoming a trusted ally and friend for all students. During classes and study halls, I sit and chat with students. Sometimes about schoolwork, but also about themselves. I ask about what they are interested in and what their families are like. I am intentional in letting the students direct conversations- they are usually more than happy to share information with me. I weave TLS values like kindness and respect into our conversations, and help guide students as they set goals and envision their future selves. Middle schoolers are always changing, so no day for me is the same. Some days, I sit with the student who is alone at a table in class and read while they do their reading so they have a buddy. I help students understand science concepts by holding a plastic pipe while they send water and ball bearings down it. I find students taking a break in the hallway and ask them what’s going on. I walk outside on the track with students who need to vent. I spend 50 minutes each day on the 4-Square court, goofing off and having fun, but also reminding students what good sportsmanship looks like and pulling them aside if they need a gentle reminder.
EIR gives me a fantastic opportunity to build long-lasting relationships and make the values we talk about at TLS more applicable to real life. It is one thing to talk about kindness and respect at TLS, but another thing to apply in to present school situations, such as texting drama or using foul language. I have truly enjoyed this opportunity so far, and hope TLS continues to send EIRs to Medomak for years to come!
Memorial’s Educator in Residence: Will
When Kieve-Wavus first started the Educator in Residence program, we wanted to find a way to continue to get involved in schools which we thought were bought in to The Leadership School’s values and teachings. Memorial Middle School is a place that does just that!
My name is Will Hackett and I have been the Educator in Residence at Memorial for the past four winters. Over the past four years my role at Memorial has grown and evolved into a position which I spend a lot of the year looking forward to. When I first started at Memorial I was placed in the English Language Learners room to be an extra set of hands. So, I would spend my days in ELL classes and wandering the hallways saying hi to familiar faces and giving out lots of high fives to students as they walked from class to class. Often hearing “You’re the Kieve guy, right? Why are you here?” I also would spend time checking in on sixth grade classrooms and saying hi to both teachers and students who had attended TLS in the fall. As time went on I found myself dealing with lots of different student conflicts in the ELL room and in the halls. The more conflict I dealt with, the more I realized how much I enjoyed enabling students to resolve their conflicts peacefully with each other and helping them develop strategies to prevent conflicts from arising in the future. It was at about this point that I started learning about Restorative Practices. An alternative to detentions, the restorative process is a way to get students and teachers in conflict to empathize with each other. The idea being that if you can empathize with someone whom you have a problem with, and if you can see and feel the affect you have on not only the other person but the community, then you can want to create a positive change.
Fast forward to today, now here I am in my fourth year as the Memorial Middle School Educator in Residence. I still get to work with the ELL students every day and help out in the office doing restorative work with Principal Megan Welter and Assistant Principal Rebecca Stern, but I also have been working with the Guidance office running mindfulness activities with every student each week to help teach them coping strategies for stress and frustration.
Working with the ELL students at Memorial has and continues to be one of the best experiences of my life. Every day I am greeted with huge smiles and endless amounts of energy by students from all around the world, each one with their own unique story and perspective to share. I get to learn alongside them in science class, help them with math and writing, and help them see the positives when all they want to see is negatives. Each day is filled with challenges and excitement. In fact, on Thursday of this week I was able to go on a field trip with some of the ELL students to the Telling Room, an organization that for many years has worked alongside Memorial teachers to publish a book of short stories written by students. The purpose of the field trip this week was to have the kids see not only how the books are created, but also to edit the stories they have been working on over the past few weeks. Another thing that I have been able to do with the Memorial ELL students is to bring them to Nobleboro for a few days to experience the magic our campus holds. I have never seen kids so excited to get off a bus on top of the hill. The planning for this year’s trip is underway and we are hoping to make it another memorable experience.
I also continue to grow and push myself in the office with Restorative Practices. It has really given me some insight into where I see my passions taking me. I recently have just been signed up to take a class on the Restorative Mindset. I have been able to sign up for this class through the South Portland school district. I am excited for this opportunity to learn more and take my game to the next level. I am also very grateful to Memorial and Kieve for allowing me this opportunity along with many others to always be learning and growing as not only an educator but a person.
One of the advantages to being at a school for so long is that you are able to form really meaningful connections with students. I have even been able to continue these connections with students who have graduated from Memorial and now attend South Portland High School. Last week I was able to go to the High School during their lunch period to meet with kids, check in, and catch up. It was so great to see so many kids who I have really been able to get to know over the years.
Now in the hall, instead of hearing “why are you here?” I get to hear, “Will! You’re back! Can you stay forever?” I feel so fortunate to have become a member of this amazing community of learners down here in South Portland, and I continue to look forward to what each day brings.
[You can read about Will’s experiences at Memorial in 2015 here: https://kievewavus.org/blog/news/memorial-eir/ ]