Back to school … new teachers, staff and students welcomed to SAD 17

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GIVEAWAY — Maggie Norton and Holly Hill, team teachers in a first grade class at Rowe Elementary School in Norway, go through tables of materials on Monday, Aug. 21, that have been put in the school gymnasium for reuse as teachers cleaned their classrooms this summer in preparation for the new school year, which starts next week.

PARIS — The SAD 17 school district is preparing to open its doors for the new school year Tuesday, Aug. 29, as students in the elementary schools and incoming seventh- and ninth-graders return to school ready for new challenges and to meet new staff.

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, students in grade 8 at the Oxford Hills Middle School and grades 10, 11 and 12 at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School return.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming 40-plus new teachers and staff,” said Superintendent Rick Colpitts of the new school year. Colpitts said the staff has been engaged in professional development throughout the summer, particularly to prepare for the state-mandated proficiency diplomas.

“I’m excited about the work we’re engaged in and looking forward to sharing with the public the research and best practises for the proficiency-based diplomas,” Colpitts said.

Colpitts said the district is “holding true” to its Strategic Plan – the school’s blueprint for its future and continuing to improve district performance.

Of note this year is the changeover of principals at the Hebron Station School and Oxford Hills Middle School.

Longtime Oxford Hills Middle School Principal Troy Eastman has recently been released from his contract to take a new job as principal at the Cape Elizabeth Middle School. Colpitts said Oxford Hills Middle School Assistant Principal Tara Pelletier has been named interim principal, while candidates to replace Eastman, who has served as principal here since 2007, are being interviewed on Friday, Aug. 25. An appointment to replace Eastman is expected to be made in early September, he said.

“I’m excited for him,” said Colpitts of the new opportunity Eastman has. Colpitts said there are some strong candidates who are being considered to replace Eastman.

D.J. Thorne, former assistant principal at the Rowe Elementary School in Norway, has been appointed as the new principal at Hebron Station School. The appointment was made possible through targeted budgeting in an attempt to return full-time principals to each of the community elementary schools.

School news

At the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Principal Ted Moccia said the leadership team spent time in a retreat on proficiency diplomas this summer. The new Chromebooks have been distributed to students. The Board of Directors agreed to buy the new laptops this year. The high school’s mentoring program has been a huge success, with 60 upper classmen as mentors working with the incoming freshmen students as they learn about what to expect on their first days of school. Moccia also complimented the grounds keeping staff few its “amazing work” on the building and grounds.

“I’m really excited about getting back to school,” he said.

Shawn Lambert, director of Oxford Hills Technical School, said things are status quo as the new year begins with the exception of a new trade assistant in Building Construction Technology program.

At the Oxford Hills Middle School, Interim Principal Tara Pelletier told the SAD 17 Board of Directors at its Monday, Aug. 21 meeting, that 90 percent of the incoming seventh-graders came to the school a week ago for a successful transition day. Students in grade 7 will start school a day before the eighth-graders in order to make their transition from elementary school easier. Pelletier said the buildings at both north and south campus are “looking wonderful,” and she is prepared for the incoming students.

At the elementary schools there are plenty of new staff and programs, including a new K-5 reading program and the continuation of the district-wide math and writing curriculum.

Curriculum Director Heather Manchester reported to the Board of Directors this week that lots has been happening district-wide in terms of curriculum this summer that will carry into the new school year. Staff has been engaged this summer within the district and at other sites, including Augusta, in professional development activities.

“I can’t wait for the kids to get here,” she said.

At Paris Elementary School, Principal Mary Lou Peterson reported that Cardinal Power was potent at the school this summer as more than 75 students from Paris, Norway and Oxford converged for academic learning, physical education and cultural experiences. Paris Elementary School has 410 students coming in from pre-school through grade 6 and more are expected to register by the start of school. This year Peterson said, the school will have a math and literacy coach. K-5 teachers will implement a new reading curriculum that along with the district-wide new math and writing curriculum will support a more cohesive, district-wide direction of instructional practices, she said.

There is a new custodial team, three new first-grade teachers, two new fourth- grade teachers, a sixth-grade teacher, a special education teacher, literacy coach, title interventionist, social worker and secretary.

At Rowe Elementary School, Principal Dan Hart will be aided by new Assistant Principal Jamey Martin, who was appointed by the SAD 17 Board of Directors at its Monday, Aug. 21 meeting. Martin’s work experience includes teaching history, grade 5, gifted and talented and preschool. She serves as assistant recreation director in Lisbon.

There are 14 new staff members, including a new office secretary. Open House for grades 1-6 will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 5, from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

At Oxford and Otisfield elementary schools, Principal Tiffany Karnes said there will be some new faces at both schools this year, including a math coach, primary resource room teacher, grade 2 and 5 teachers at Oxford Elementary School and new kindergarten, grade 5/6 Humanities teacher at Otisfield Elementary School and a new Grade 5/6 STEM teacher who transferred from Oxford Elementary School. Karnes said Oxford Elementary School parents will receive information regarding the new morning drop off/arrival procedures this week.

Oxford”s Open House will take place on Monday, Aug. 28, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Otisfield’s  Open House will be later in September. More information will be sent home with students.

New Hebron Station School Principal D.J. Thorne said the “unofficial” school year kicked off on Thursday, Aug. 10, with a meet and greet Ice Cream Social at Hebron Station School. An estimated 85 students, parents, and community members attended, he said.

“It was a great show of support and a nice way to reconnect before school starts,” Thorne said. The “official” start to the school year will begin with an Open House on Monday, Aug. 29, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

In addition to himself, new staff members include a second-grade teacher, third-grade teacher, music teacher, and a new school counselor and the return of the school secretary, who was hired in March.

“We would like to encourage community members to enjoy the remainder of summer visiting our ‘Little Library’ and seating area in the Hebron Station School Garden. We do ask that visitors respect our school hours and visit after 3:15 on school days,” he said.

At the Agnes Gray School in West Paris, the big news is the reopening of the Legion Memorial School and a new outdoor classroom, which is under construction. The Legion School has been emptied, cleaned, painted and moved into. Preschool and kindergarten students will soon be lining up to go through the doors to their new classrooms soon.

Principal Beth Clarke reports that work has also continued throughout the summer on the Agnes Gray School’s outdoor classroom. The classroom is located behind the school.

Principal Margaret Emery continues to oversee the Harrison and Waterford elementary schools. The schools welcome a new guidance counselor, a new first grade teacher, secretary and food service personnel at the Waterford Elementary School. Harrison Elementary has all staff returning. A new reading curriculum is being implemented.

An ice cream social is being held today, Aug. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the Waterford Elementary School to welcome staff and students.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net