Madison Ave Elementary Staff Reunion

OXFORD — The room was filled with hugs, stories, and laughter when staff members from the Madison Avenue Elementary School gathered recently for a reunion and to open a time- capsule filled nineteen years ago. The school was the brainchild of former Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mark Eastman, when the Guy E. Rowe School in Norway became overcrowded. For seven years, Madison Avenue housed Paris students in grades 4, 5 and 6, remaining open until the Paris Elementary School was built in 2007. The temporary facility on Madison Avenue in Oxford now houses the South Campus of the Oxford Hills Middle School.

Retired principal, Jane Fahey, speaks fondly of the staff from that special school. “In seven years, we only had to fill one classroom teaching position and that was because of a retirement. This was a close-knit group of professionals who understood that children learn best in an environment where they are valued and nurtured. I lovingly refer to the staff as renegades but they helped build a school that was very, very special.”

Following a tour of the old facility, the staff met at a local restaurant where the time capsule was cracked open and each person reached in to extract an item that had been placed there. The stories began to flow with much laughter, oohs and aahs. “I remember this student!” “Look at our school rules – they don’t mention test scores!” “We really focused on children’s needs, didn’t we!” “Here’s the clock that we used to keep the official time that first year!” “What’s that teddy bear doing in the time capsule?” “Here’s the first yearbook!”

The gathering became somber when one teacher pulled a poem from the capsule written by sixth grade teacher Fred Schwaner, who passed in 2011. Fred was the resident poet and he had written a verse called, “Ode to the Madison Avenue School.”
Welcome all to the Madison School,
where teaching and learning are the general rule.
It’s friendly, it’s safe, a high quality place
Where parents and staff and students explore
Educational topics, opportunities galore.
Several felt that the school shouldn’t be,
The rest of us said, “We’ll try it, you’ll see.”
We all pulled together, you’ll have to agree
It’s one of the best, the best that you’ll see.

The first group of sixth graders is now in their thirties. Some teachers took several of the items that children had written in hopes of returning them to the original authors. The rest is being stored and will hopefully be revived when this special group of educators get back together for another reunion in the not too distant future.


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