The learning environment a school creates to develop the learning opportunities for their students is key to the school’s and a student’s success. When students enter into a school they must feel the collective effort to provide an environment ripe for learning. “When a flower does not bloom, you fix the environment, not the flower” Alexander Den Heijer. OTES values our positive learning environment and knows many students have entered through these doors to benefit from an instructional model that believes in their abilities and pushes them to higher levels of achievement. In order to obtain such lofty outcomes, we know we must come from a place of respectfulness with our students, their families, and among our staff members.
In the 2018-2019 school year, our school wants to emphasize the importance of respectfulness in the school setting. All people deserve to be respected and we want to model for our students how we would like them to act, behave, and interact with others in a manner which will help them solve problems and gain new perspectives. Respectful behavior is not designated only for students, we all have a responsibility in demonstrating this behavior. The adults (teachers, principals, Ed Techs, parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) all must display their most respectful behaviors at all times because our students are watching us and taking their lead from our own actions. Respectful behaviors improve relationships and positive relationships improve learning. Here are five ways we hope you will help us with improving respectfulness at OTES:
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We plan to integrate these concepts in our Learner Are Leaders Program and recognize a student from each classroom that embodies the tenets; Respect for Self, Respect for Others, and Respect for Property.
OTES has many aspects of our programming to celebrate and promote in our community. One exciting additional position at OTES will help our staff continue to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math for all learners. Sandy Daniel will serve in the capacity of Math Coach and STEM leader for our school district. Having Sandy work hand and hand with our teachers to provide support for their instructional programming will have a direct impact on our students’ learning. Her passion for teaching math and providing highly engaging science projects will only spark our ability to implement our current science and math curriculum. Very few elementary schools have committed to providing a staff with STEM leadership. In fact, most elementary schools expect the teaching staff to be experts with very little professional development in the STEM concepts. We know by hiring Sandy Daniel to lead this endeavor, teachers will be given the necessary support to impact student learning and outcomes. Old Town should be proud of their commitment to cutting edge programming in the field of education and for providing students with best chance for a successful future.
Here at OTES we are always looking impact our students and their thinking about their world. We have been amazed by how our students love to make a difference in their own learning community. Our strong civics groups; K-Kids and the Civil Rights Team, are two great ways for our students to examine social issues and to learn how to use their powerful ideas to change the school. We have always participated in a recycling program at OTES and students are well aware of how their waste gets handled and recycled to reduce the carbon footprint. During the 2018-2019 school year we are asking students to take this activism one step further and will eliminate drinking straws from our school cafeteria. We know we use over 500,000 straws a year at OTES and the harmful impact they can have on the environment. The K-Kids will take on this campaign and support our school as we transition to become STRAWLESS at OTES. We are excited about how this campaign may spread throughout our community and beyond.
We are excited to gain new members of our staff and value how their participation can bring new ideas to our school community. This year we are welcoming 6 new teachers to our school community. Stacy Henry, Ellie Webb, and Megan Waterman are joining our strong Kindergarten program. Stacy Henry is a veteran Kindergarten Teacher from our neighboring community of Bradley. Over the years, Stacy has worked with many our teachers on curriculum projects and is familiar with our school having a daughter here at OTES. We know Stacy brings a wealth of knowledge about child development and instructional practices to the learning environment and look forward to having an elite teacher join us. Ellie Webb has been working in our school over the past two years as a preservice teacher from the University of Maine. She completed her student teaching experience in the fall of 2017 and continued to gain experience substitute teaching here at OTES in the spring of 2018. We are pleased to hire such a dedicated, young professional to help shape our educational future. Megan Waterman joins the Kindergarten team and brings a strong understanding of working with families to support students. She has recently worked with families from birth to 4 years of age developing programming to support the school experiences. Her natural connection to the students’ homes will be a strong component to her work here at OTES. Michelle Miller will be joining the 5th grade team this fall. She recently has been a 5th grade teacher at All Saints School in Bangor. Several years ago, Michelle did her student teaching in Old Town and had a wonderful experience, so when the 5th grade position opened up here, she knew she was heading in the right direction. We are lucky to have her rejoin our professional staff. Cassandra Arnold will fill our vacant Special Education Position, teaching grade 3 and 4 students in the resource room setting. Cassandra has a strong background in both academic and behavioral management. She has several years of experience teaching at the elementary level. Recently, she served special education students in Carmel. She has experience co-teaching and collaborating with a variety of professionals in order to facilitate student learning. We are excited to welcome her to our school this fall. Finally, since opening this building, we have grown by about 150 students. All students have challenges and we know meeting their needs at an early age helps to set them on the right path for educational success. We hired an additional guidance counselor, Trysha Lunn, to help serve our Pre-K through 1 student population at OTES. She will have additional duties at the other elementary schools, but will spend three days a week with our students. She will make a great team player with our Mrs. Wilcox! We welcome all our new hires and know their presence will only make us stronger for kids.
Communication is vital to maintaining and nurturing a good relationship between home and school. This year, the staff at OTES will make communication between home and school a focus and priority. We know that positive communication skills impact our school and our relationships with students and parents. Effective communication is particularly critical in difficult times, but in every relationship there’s bound to be conflict. We want our conflicts to be minimal, but when it occurs, we will work to resolve those conflicts as quickly and professionally as possible. This takes all of us working together and following some guidelines to resolve the conflicts:
(1) Speak up and share your thoughts early on with the classroom teacher. Letting concerns fester never helps resolve the conflict in the end, it usually compounds the problem with MORE PROBLEMS! Share your thoughts calmly and clearly in order to be heard.
(2) Seek to understand and use active listening skills. Look at the problem for other people’s perspectives. Try to remember we are all on the same team and want the same result, so work to resolve conflicts together.
(3) Seek solutions. Sometimes solutions are not exactly what we want, but by collaborating and sharing thoughts, we may find better results to our problems.
We know our work can be difficult, but the work becomes easier when families are by our side and helping us to guide their children. We look forward to developing positive relationships with our families to better serve our students and make education fun for everyone!
Thank you for your continued support