DMS and Hope EIRs 2020

Damariscotta Montessori School’s Educator in Residence: Ross

The beginning of my second year of the Educator in Residence program (EIR) has, though been a little hectic, also proven to be a fantastic beginning to what I hope will be a fun ten weeks! I work the program at a school called Damariscotta Montessori School, located in Damariscotta, Maine. Even before I started my work there last year, DMS already had extremely close ties with Kieve Wavus Education. My first year at Kieve Wavus Education, before DMS was a part of the EIR program, saw me working closely with the seventh and eighth grad class when they came to Kieve. With the help of a fellow educator who had previously worked with this group, Chris Sanchez, I learned a great deal about not only what we do at The Leadership School (TLS), but also about the individual personalities of this group of kids and how they worked (and often times didn’t work) together. As one of the first programs I ever ran at TLS, I grew attached to the group and was sad to see them go.

Fortunately, this would not be the last time I’d see this group. The seventh and eighth grade class goes on a yearly trip (this year to Washington D.C) and needed a male chaperone to go with them. Originally, their principal was slated to travel with the class as the male chaperone, but after he was unable to, I was asked to go in is stead. Since then, I had become more or less the go to TLS educator for DMS until, during my second year, I was told I would be working with them for ten weeks in the winter, a fact that I was greatly excited about.

Fast forward to now, where I already have one year of EIR under my belt at DMS and Things have been going wonderfully. My schedule this year is much more consistent than my first year, meaning I have designated times I should be in certain places and a better idea of when I’ll be working with particular classes. Monday through Friday, I usually spend my mornings with the middle schoolers, helping out with work (when I understand the work myself), classroom management, and generally trying to set a good example for them. After lunch. I help out with recess from about 12:30 to 1:15, after which my itinerary changes depending on the day. Mondays, I help out in the Upper El classroom during their Latin/ Music block, simply making sure students are focusing on their work. Tuesdays, I take the reigns in Upper El and run an activity and debrief that connects to an aspect of their “personal journey”, after which they use the activity and debrief to help write about their journey. Wednesday afternoons is, as of now, a little more freeform, but I hope to begin working a little more with the primary class rooms. Thursday afternoons I help out Lower El with art class, and on Fridays I run an activity and debrief session with the middle schoolers.

As the season progresses, I hope to not only provide good learning opportunities to the students, but also for myself. Due to DMS’s continued attendance to TLS over the years, many of our staple activities are already known to them. As such, I often have to delve deep into our curriculum’s archives to find an activity they have yet to do, or else make something new up entirely. So far, I have run claytionary and the fish resource game with the middle schoolers, and a personal reflection game utilizing Ubuntu cards with the Upper El class. I am looking forward to coming up with more obscure games for the students, strengthening my connection with both the students and the staff at DMS, and most of all, coming to work at one of my favorite places every day!

Hope’s Educator in Residence: Dave

It is a new year and it is good to be back at school. As I walked down the middle school hallway at Hope Elementary school this morning, headed to the resource room, I was offering greetings and high-fives left and right. I am back for my third year and excited to be able to continue building trust and getting to know the kids better. For instance, a 6th grader is supposed to speak in a Scottish accent that is his birthright all day today. I only just found out he has Scottish heritage. Everyone in his Crew, a new mixed-grade homeroom structure that the middle school implemented, is pressuring him to do it.

In this small community school with around 180 students, that seems to be the extent of the peer pressure here. Everyone looks out for each other. In the 2nd grade class, who I work with every Friday, 9 students out of 15 have siblings in the same school. That’s pretty much the norm for most grades. Despite the family feel, or maybe because of it, students still have their challenges and tensions to work on. Like many of these community schools, a lot of the students are at Hope from K through 8th grade with the same group of peers in their grade and grades around them. Every year, there are at most up to 4 new students in a grade—and new students are even rarer in the older grades. This means that student friendships can have a lot of history behind them and that can be hard for students to move beyond. That’s what I am here to help them with—moving beyond that, learning how to be aware of how they affect each other so they can treat each other with intentional kindness and respect.

It is challenging having only 10 weeks of the year to work on these things, but I feel so lucky to be able to come back every year, join back into the community, and do what I can. This community is tight knit, and cares about each other deeply—the positive side of all the years spent together. They treat each other like family, sometimes with exasperation, but always willing to help each other out in the end. I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with all these winters and it’s good to be back.