Winter 2019 EIR Conclusion

Our Educator in Residence (EIRs) program has blossomed since the first seven educators were planted in six schools for eight weeks in 2013. More than two-thirds of our seasonal Leadership School educators embedded themselves in partner schools for 10 or more weeks this winter. Whether instructing formal academic contents or exploring with students in the fields and forests, our educators shared the message of kindness and respect. While their experiences contributing time and positive energy to their school communities were unique to each partnership, every educator demonstrated experienced personal and professional growth through their opportunities. Here’s just a small taste of their take-aways.

St. George’s Educator in Residence: Ryan
It is nearly impossible to pick out a highlight from my ten weeks at St. George. St. George is a school that cares so deeply about each student and member of their community. They have taken me in as one of their own and supported, pushed, and allowed me to grow throughout the Winter. Every Monday the 4th grade greeted me with excited smiles and even invited me to go skiing with them on their trips to the Camden Snow Bowl. The 5th grade was always eager to play any new game I brought to them. With the 6th grade any moment of high energy was filled with laughter and joy. I am already excited for the 7th grade to join The Leadership School at Kieve in the Fall after a Winter full of thoughtful conversations, strong team building, and an abundance of fun. It will be hard to bid the 8th grade farewell but I am proud of their growth and eager to see how they do as they enter their new high schools. After a Winter packed with laughs, smiles, puzzles, tasks activities, debriefs, fort building, rock climbing and ultimately so much joy all I can say is thank you St. George for allowing me to be apart of your community.

Great Salt Bay’s Educator in Residence: Rachel
I have loved every day spent at GSB this winter and I am incredibly grateful that I got placed at a local school because I plan on visiting my students whenever I can! Last week we had my final Outdoor Ed morning with the Kindergarten and for part of the morning we took the kids on a snowy hike along the trails behind our school. It was a warmer day so we paused and laid down in the snow in a sunny clearing and we led our tiny Kindergarteners in a mindfulness exercise. The kids were totally still and silent as they listened to the birds and the wind, and watched the tall pine trees waving in the wind above us. When we asked them how they felt afterwards (and told them what a great job they did at being still and quiet) they told us they felt “happy!”, “calm” and with a big sigh “relaxed”. Even though my students live surrounded by the woods here in Damariscotta, Maine, most of them do not take full advantage of it or of the benefits of spending time being present in nature. It’s been wonderful to see all of my K-8 students get a little bit more comfortable recharging outside and using the coping skills and emotional skills that I have been teaching them all winter.

OUT Maine’s Educator in Residence: Jess
Working at OUT Maine this winter has been the chance of a lifetime for me. When I worked my first LGBTQ weekend leadership retreat years ago, I had no idea how far my relationship with OUT Maine would take me. In looking back on my 4-year partnership with them, I’ve realized that supporting queer kids is some of the most important work I will ever do as an educator. In my time here, I’ve drafted a best-practices guide to supporting queer youth in overnight residential programs. I’ve also visited a handful of schools to talk about LGBTQ issues/advocacy, and co-facilitated youth group nearly every week. Some of the kids in our youth group are high schoolers that I first taught as middle-school students visiting TLS – to have seen their growth over this many years is amazing! Furthermore, working in a queer space every day has been absolutely incredible. To walk into the office knowing that all my coworkers fully support me and accept me for who I am… well, I’m going to miss that a lot. I’ve never felt so affirmed in my queerness and sadly, I doubt that I ever will again. Still, I’m so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my short time here, and I will carry this experience – and the support of OUT’s amazing staff – with me wherever my career takes me.

Bristol’s Educator in Residence: Kelsey
My last three winters as Educator in Residence at Bristol Consolidated School have been the most impactful experiences I have had as an educator with The Leadership School. The Bristol community is special; it goes above and beyond to support its students, whether it be cheering student athletes on the court, creating spaces for students to express both their triumphs and their struggles, or creating exciting, innovative ways to teach difficult material. I think the highlight of our winter was definitely the BCS PTO Winter Blues Buster fundraiser that was lead by the tireless efforts of my site mentor, Gretchen Brinkler. Between seeing former students who had moved on to Lincoln volunteering to serve dinner, seeing so many of my students with their families enjoying a community event, and sharing this community with a supportive, generous group of fellow EIRs whose presence was so appreciated by the students they had worked with before, it felt like a wonderful culmination of what this program has to offer. There is so much that Kieve Wavus Education has to offer these local schools and in the last few years through the EIR program, I think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the potential good that relationship has to offer.

Searsport’s Educator in Residence: Drew
I am grateful for so many things that made my winter as a first-time EIR special. First, I am grateful to have been paired with Isaac Bierer, whose giggly disposition, compassion, critical feedback, and culinary prowess have kept me well fed and sane throughout the winter. I am also grateful for our tenacious site mentor, Judy Cohen. Isaac and I would not have been successful without Judy’s tireless support, wisdom, and generosity of spirit. Searsport Middle/High School has also been an incredibly rewarding place to work as an EIR and I will miss my students immensely. I hope that KWE continues to deepen our relationship with this community, support its teachers and students, and expand opportunities for SEL enrichment within the school day. Finally, I am grateful for all of Searsport’s students, who have been an inspiration to me. Despite myriad challenges beyond their control as kids, they find ways to smile and make life fun. I wish them all the best and hope to visit them soon!

Lincoln Academy’s Educator in Residence: Aubrie
She was about to start up a route on Kieve’s climbing wall, but hesitated and said she did not feel strong enough to go up. I told her she was strong enough. She had came all the way from China to study in the US and brought humor, light and authenticity. Strength radiated from her. After some back-and-forth she began her climb and completed it with ease. Once she was back on the ground, I asked her if she felt strong. With a sly smile she responded with, “maybe” and I knew at that moment she felt accomplished and strong. My EIR experience at Lincoln Academy has shown me the importance and need for high school students to have someone around to push them to find their inner-strength. They are entering a time in life when peer-pressure, self-identity, and the realizations of how difficult life is can be overwhelming and debilitating for them. My role at LA allowed me to work with an array of students and create a space that allowed them to be their true selves. They taught me how strong they can be and I mirrored that strength back to them, so they could fight back against those adversities and stay true to themselves.

Whitefield’s Educator in Residence: Nina
Digging in for my 2nd year at Whitefield Elementary, I came in with hopes of continuing my work in the classroom and pushing beyond. My highlight this year is two-fold. First, working with the principal and community to cultivate an afterschool program significantly deepened my connection to the students and parents here. The program not only created a healthy afterschool option to students grades 3-5 who previously had none, I also pulled some older students in the community to help me with supervision, organization, and morale maintenance. Lending these 7th and 8th graders responsibility in the program set good examples for the younger, bright-eyed students. The program offered a space for these older students to readily demonstrate the leadership skills we have been working on in the classroom. Moreover, one of these students attended TLS’s All-Star week. There, she and a friend developed a plan to create a positive change in their community. Their solution? An afterschool Art program! Enacting this change requires holding these students accountable and finding a way for that to continue without me there. Further, ensuring the project stays within the hands of the students is a precious balance of empowerment and follow through that I wanted to prioritize. Thus, my second-fold of the highlight was closing my time with the 8th grade. We discussed the impacts they could have as they finish up their time at Whitefield and I posed them with the final TLS challenge: working together as a team, YOU create a tangible change in your community. Luckily, a few of their peers have come up with a plan! Now, with 20+ students to check in on each other, I hope they will rise to follow through on this new art afterschool program. The convergence of community programming could not have come at a better time and I look forward to seeing what these 8th graders can accomplish!

Loranger’s Educator in Residence: Sam
This winter was my best yet at Loranger. My highlight, hands down, has to be teaching and hearing how excited students were to have me in their classes every day. I’ve loved the challenge of combining core content with social and emotional activities to get students thinking about their behavior and relationships while also learning math, science, and writing. The friendships I’ve made with the teachers at Loranger also means so much to me, and I look forward to staying in touch with them as I continue to grow as an educator. I feel so lucky to have worked in Old Orchard Beach for the past three years. Watching the students grow from year to year has been the most rewarding part of my EIR experience.

Hope’s Educator in Residence: Dave
From start to finish at Hope Elementary School, I felt welcomed every single day. I was able to connect with students of every grade level and get to know them over the course of 10 weeks. I also was able to work closely with teachers to meet their class’ needs, and to get to know the teachers better as well as I learned from them. Returning for a second year also gave me the opportunity to see how the kids I worked with last year were growing physically and in how they are able to work with each other. Some of my highlights were seeing the 3rd grade come together as a class to have a blast doing communication challenges that middle schoolers find tough. With the middle school, I was able to run three Friday afternoon activities where we went outside to learn skills like shelter building and orienteering. I learned so much from being in Hope every day, and from the relationships that I was able to develop. I can hardly wait to be in a school again next winter.

Jefferson’s Educator in Residence: Brian
I have loved my time spent as the Educator in Residence at Jefferson Village School. Coming back for a second year really afforded me the sway to make positive changes in the social-emotional culture of JVS as well as encourage a shift in the hearts and minds of the staff and student body. I was able to work with students in their larger grade levels, where worked on broader skills like social perceptiveness and self-awareness. Because of my certification as a Behavioral Health Professional in the state of Maine I was also able to work one on one and in small groups with students coping with more medically recognized behavioral issues. All in all, my love for the students at JVS grew an compounded in the last ten weeks more than I could ever explain. The JVS student body is an eclectic group of students with very different values and needs. Some have wonderful support systems and are more adjusted to handling the emotional issues that weigh on young people today; others, need all the support they can get whether that’s an extra snack for later or building real skills to aid in coping with these same issues. In the years to come I believe it is going to take a well-rounded and openminded group of teachers to reach students on both sides of the Jefferson fence, I hope with all my heart that they can. I know that the teachers at JVS and those of us at KWE that have worked with them care for these students dearly, supported by that love, I know these kids can be successful. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend this EIR season with any other group of students and teachers, I cannot wait to see my seventh and eighth grade classes at The Leadership School this spring.

Damariscotta Montessori School’s Educator in Residence: Ross
My time at DMS has been nothing but enjoyable and rewarding. Though I have many different highlights from these past 10 weeks, the one I think I will remember most was during the final week of EIR when the 7th and 8th grade students, who I have worked with extensively over the past two years, through me a final week “funeral”. I started walking up the stairs to their classroom for our Thursday activity, and was greeted by RIP written on the whiteboard and my picture taped all over the window. We all sat in a circle of chairs, and though I had planned to run a final activity with them, I was overjoyed to play along with what they had planned. They all began reading cards talking about how much they would miss me and afterwards, we simply reminisced about our favorite times at Kieve, at school, our Washington D.C trip and our Virginia Trip. It was a great way to end my time at EIR and I am looking forward to visiting DMS this spring and further helping these phenomenal kids!

Woodland’s Educator in Residence: Neil
One of my highlights from my 10 weeks as an EIR at Woodland Junior-Senior high school is the trust that I have received from not only the staff but the very intimidating student body. Everyday I would try and make breakthroughs with students that I thought needed the most guidance. Whether it was through class time TLS activities, playing basketball during gym class or venturing around the lunch room to chat with the students, I have seen great positive growth in a few troubled kids. One student in particular would always try and bring his group of friends to disagree with everything I said and every activity I presented. I continually approached this student with a very positive and happy outlook. The last week of my EIR he found out it was my last day and came up and shook my hand. He must have been listening to some of our debriefs from our activities! These small wins throughout an EIRs 10 week span encompass what The Leadership school is all about!

Nobleboro’s Educator in Residence: Nelson
My second year at Nobleboro Central School was incredible. Going back to the same school for a second year made a world of difference. I was able to hit the ground running, and already knowing all of the kids and teachers made it a much more welcoming environment. I think that in a large part our after school attendance was so much bigger this year because the kids and their parents already knew Noah and I and what they would be getting in to and that helped a lot. I think the biggest change for me was feeling more comfortable with the teachers and in the school in general. I really felt welcomed into any of the classrooms at any time. I was also able to help out in the fourth grade a lot this year as they had a long term sub and she was so great to work with. I’m really hoping to go back to Nobleboro for a 20 week EIR next year and am going to be meeting with the school in the coming weeks to talk about what that will look like. All in all, this was another great experience and I can’t wait to be back!