Luetje wearing a superwoman cape Mastroianni recently bought her. Mastroianni said in her nomination letter that “every school and community would be fortunate to have her in their back pocket.”

BETHEL — In late February, Telstar Middle School Dean of Students, Lindsay Luetje, was the recipient of New England League of Middle Schools (NELMS)  “A+ Administrator Award.” She was one of three administrators to be recognized.

Luetje, described by peers as passionate, empathetic and a champion, acts as the school’s “energizer bunny,” whose efforts inside and outside its doors never seem to end.

After teaching eighth grade English/Language Arts for 20 years at Telstar, Luetje was named Dean of TMS Students in 2018. The decision to transition into an administrative role was not easy for Luetje, considering her love for teaching.

Teacher Stephanie Mastroianni submitted a letter to the NELMS, nominating Luetje for the award. The choice was an easy one for her.

“Lindsay is a powerhouse, who, as our dean of students, leads the TMS faculty and students with determination, sensitivity and boundless energy,” Mastroianni said in her letter.

Superintendent Dave Murphy also spoke on Luetje’s value to the school.

“This award is well-deserved recognition for an outstanding educator. As the Dean of Telstar Middle School, Lindsay Luetje has been able to effectively build on the relationships she first developed with students, parents and staff during her years as an exemplary classroom teacher in the school,” Murphy said. “Her level of investment in her students and staff is apparent to all who come in contact with her. Her nomination and ultimate selection for this award is acknowledgement of her many efforts. She is a true champion of her school and has excelled in her role as Dean of Students. We are fortunate to have her as part of the MSAD 44 team.”

She is a vital part of the team indeed. Another part of her job is resolving conflicts. Both students and faculty have approached her for help, and sometimes resulting in restorative circles. Mastroianni explained the purpose of the circle is to have the person/people who inflicted harm and the person/people who were harmed come together and talk. The person who was upset has the chance to speak about why they were upset, while the other person listens. Then the person who caused the distress has the opportunity to respond.

Often in these situations Luetje is usually asked by faculty or students for help, simply because they trust her, Mastroianni said. She added that Luetje’s well-balanced demeanor plays to her advantage, being able to display empathy and sympathy toward students, but also putting her foot down when they are misbehaving.

Some mornings, students witness Luetje’s fun side. The last school day of each month she’ll play music to kick off Telstar’s “Star Assembly Days,” a school-wide assembly that occurs at the end of each month that focuses on topics like perseverance, embracing failure, and building healthy friendships, the latter of which was the most recent topic. Sometimes Luetje will also play music if she feels the school needs a pick-me-up after a rough week.

This past Valentines Day, she took heart cutouts and put pencils in each of them. Staying after hours once again, Luetje went to every locker in the school and taped the cutout on them with the words “you matter” on them. She wrote personal notes to teachers and stuck them on their doors.

Although her title says “Dean of Students,” she looks after faculty, too. On difficult days, and even weeks, Luetje will make tea for staff members and has made a crock pot of soup for them to share also.

Luetje volunteers for bus duty, lunch duty and detention duty. When a good portion of school was hit by an illness, Luetje, along with students, helped clean sections of the school because the maintenance crew was short staffed. She also substituted many classes until teachers returned.

One of Luetje’s biggest involvements is with the Oxford County Resiliency Project, a group that has tried to reduce the effects Adverse Childhood Experiences (A.C.E.S.)  has had on children. Mastroianni noted in her letter that “many” students come from homes where A.C.E.S. occur frequently. Her work with the project sanctioned Telstar to get a two-year grant worth more than $200,000. The goal of the grant is “to develop and sustain a trauma responsive school system.”

She is also known for her ability to work with parents.

“I’ve sat in and taken notes on her phone conversations with parents,” Mastroianni said.

Luetje listens to parents’ perspectives and shares her own with them, using her well-balanced demeanor to ease a tense conversation, if needed.

Her efforts do not stop outside Telstar. She coaches soccer for kindergarteners, takes students out after hours for bowling and movie nights and started a remembrance garden to honor students and staff that have died. Over the past three years, thanks to volunteers, students and donations, more than 1,500 bulbs have been planted.

Last summer she helped provide the best possible experience for Chinese students who traveled to Bethel as part of a program put together by her, Dean of THS Students John Eliot, and other staff. During the Chinese students’ stay, Luetje planned activities, gave a writing lesson and hosted the entire group at her house for table painting, blueberry picking and bonfire s’mores. In November, she and Eliot traveled to China with four students for two weeks, where they visited multiple schools, toured Beijing City and visited the Great Wall.

According to Mastroianni, Luetje arrives around 7 a.m. and leaves by 5:30 p.m. at the earliest. Often though, she’ll stay later. In that window of time she not only carries the weight of being dean to 159 enrolled students, but also still manages to teach one period of public speaking a day to eighth graders. When she is home, she has five-year-old twins waiting for her. That’s a lot to have on one plate, but yet, her energy still seems endless.

“I appreciate the recognition for my efforts, but honestly, I don’t do this job for awards. I really love what I do – middle school kids are my jam,” Luetje said.









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