Whitefield’s Educator in Residence: Isaac
This winter is my second as a Leadership School EIR, and my first at Whitefield Elementary School. Last winter, I worked at Searsport Middle and High School, which was much larger. I’m really excited to be at a small K-8 school this winter. One of Whitefield’s defining features is its use of restorative practices. Once a day, usually in the morning, every grade meets in a circle and students have an opportunity to share important news from their lives. Circles are a place where students practice listening and sharing. When conflict arises, circles are also a space for open communication and making plans to repair harm. My impression as a newcomer to the school is that the students are remarkably open and comfortable in real conversation with me and with their peers.
I spend most of the school day with the middle school sitting in on classes and running activities. I try to go to one class block a day with the 5th-8th grades to help out with class work and assist teachers, and once a week, I facilitate games and team challenges. I also spend some time in PE class, where the 5th-8th grade is wrapping up their floor hockey unit (I join the games every chance I get).
In the middle school, one of my major responsibilities is to prepare the 6th grade for their visit to The Leadership School this Spring. The 6th grade is a really wonderful group of students who engage with any and all activities thrown at them, and who have a great capacity for laughter and silliness. I’m really excited to see what they can do with a full week at TLS. They will arrive for our first week of programming, and I’m already looking forward to greeting their bus when they roll up to the top of the hill.
A consistent highlight of my day is lunch time. There are three consecutive twenty-minute lunch blocks, and I go to all of them. The older kids eat first, and I find that the casual conversation I can have with them is one of the best opportunities I have to get to know them and build relationships. The second lunch block is for the 3rd-5th grades, which is also a lot of fun for me. The last to eat is Kindergarten-2nd grade. Fresh from their recess time, they are brimming with energy and tons of fun.
Another fun part of this winter has been Whitefield’s participation in the Winterkids Winter Games, a statewide competition in which schools earn points for completing an assortment of indoor and outdoor activities with a focus on wellness, family engagement, STEAM, and spending time outdoors. Two other EIR schools, Bristol and Vassalboro, are also participating in Winterkids, so there’s a bit of friendly banter when I see Rachel and Jack. Whitefield is currently 1 point off of first place in the state; and more importantly, ahead of Bristol and Vassalboro. This week is the last one of the competition.
As my first month here comes to a close, I am feeling a great deal of gratitude for being included in the wonderful community of Whitefield and am really excited for the rest of the winter.
Boothbay’s Educator in Residence: Garrett
My name is Garrett Phillips and I have the pleasure to be the educator in residence at Boothbay Regional Elementary School (BRES) this winter. Hearing stories from EIR’s last year pushed me to connect with a community this winter and what a community Boothbay is. BRES is a K-8 school that has had an EIR in place for many years so it pleases me to continue Kieve Wavus Educations presence in the greater area of Boothbay. My focus for these ten weeks has ebbed and flowed over the first month and I am so excited for what the next six weeks will bring. As the time of introductions are behind us, the BRES staff has welcomed me with open arms.
The faculty care deeply for their students success and I can’t say enough how the connections they have built will greatly impact the growth of each student. This being my first year in Boothbay, my primary goals are to acclimate myself with day to day activity within the walls of the 5-8 grades. My afternoons are dedicated to being present in the Hossler behavior room which brings different challenges each day. Kate Hossler is someone I emulate and learn from everyday. Working one on one with students that don’t mesh well with mainstream classes reminds me of how I made my way through public school and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my time.
Having the opportunity to come into a school and form my own approach to connecting with students has been such a gift. Seeing that I started my time with KWE in the summer, connecting with campers in the woods, I love seeing kids in school and how both approaches feed off one another. On Wednesdays, I lead an after school program to get students outside while working on empathy, self awareness, and decision making. I seem to have a consistent group of participants and our conversations have furthered my realization of why I enjoy working with kids. I am so grateful to both BRES and KWE for allowing me to grow and learn from this experience.
Appleton’s Educator in Residence: Sarah
Time certainly does fly, here we are, already five weeks into EIR! Unlike other EIRs or EIR schools, both Appleton Village School (AVS) and I are new to the game, which has led to us fumbling around a bit figuring out what we’re doing. One of the joys of working at The Leadership School, and now as an EIR, is that we do many things and adapt to the needs of the communities we’re working with, so each EIR position looks different. So far my primary role at AVS has been to help out in the classroom and with after school programs so I can get to know everyone, as you need to be established in school before you can go in and do “crazy TLS games”.
Though I’ve only spent about a month at AVS, in some ways it feels like I’ve been there since the beginning of the school year. All of the students, teachers, and staff are so friendly and have welcomed me into their community. AVS is a small school, only about 140 students, and you can feel how much teachers care about their students and strive to provide a safe environment and a good education.
I spend most of my time floating around to all of the classrooms either observing, acting as a helping hand, or just letting the teacher get a bathroom break. One week I joined the 2nd grade morning meeting where I learned how to sign “you are a good and very nice friend” in ASL, which was such a great way to start the day.
One of my favorite parts of the day is eating lunch with Mr. Bernardo the guidance counselor and the students who choose to eat with us, it’s a great way to talk with students in a more casual environment, no pressure of being serious or having to focus on school work.
I often sit in on Mr. Bernardo’ guidance blocks and follow him when guest speakers come in, such as D.A.R.E. and New Hope for Women. On Friday afternoons I’m running a Middle School Mind Challenge, where instead of a study hall, the 6,7, and 8th grade teachers have sign ups for an activity that goes for a few weeks. I’m doing improv and TLS activities with a group of 12 girls who are very energetic and engaged. I’ve also been going with the 3rd and 5th grade to the Midcoast Recreation Center where the students have been learning to ice skate and play tennis on Tuesday mornings.
When the school day is done at 2:50, I then do after school programming. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday I am an assistant director to “Seussical Jr.” with Ms. Henderson the music teacher. On Tuesdays I host sledding, art activities and movement games with K-3 students.
My days are busy when I’m at AVS, I’ve been very content with my EIR placement and I know that I’ll be sad to leave them mid-March. Here’s to a successful next five weeks!