The first day back to school from summer break carries such hope and promise for everyone. There’s a clean slate, a whole new beginning, the chance to get it right this time. “I’m going to play nicely and do all my homework. I’ll participate in extracurricular activities and help others without having to be asked. I’ll listen to the principal and follow the policies in the handbook. This is going to be the best year yet,” says Mr. Straub on Day One every year.

Kids arrive at school wearing clothes that sparkle and shoes minus a single smudge. They are excited to see the friends they haven’t seen all summer, and most are actually happy to be back at school again. Cars line up in the loop and take turns unloading their precious cargo. Final hugs and kisses goodbye as children leap from their cars, some pushed out quickly followed by their backpacks thrown to the sidewalk as the parent’s car burns rubber in a great escape. A new school year has begun. And once the train pulls out of the station there’s no getting off.

High school on Day One

This year has seen more than usual staff movement. Kim Snow has joined Lori Muzzy in the kitchen as a Nutrition Engineer. Tommie Hazen is an Educational Technician with the Special Education Department, and Roxanne Tanner is the new Finance Manager. You are all welcome and appreciated.

Dallas Libby, RLRS Class of 2018, re-enters her alma mater in pre-Kindergarten as an early-education specialist. Ashley Ferrera, already a member of the RLRS staff, has become the pre-K teacher. Rebecca Ellis is the new first grade teacher in the elementary wing. With over 20 years of teaching experience, Kimberly Hockmeyer comes to us from New Hampshire to become our fourth-grade teacher. Asked how she felt being the new kid, Ms. Hockmeyer said, “I am always learning, and starting at a new school has been a huge learning experience for me.” Her formal education began at UMF, graduating from Notre Dame College in NH, and earning her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University. “I am thrilled to be back in Maine…The past couple of years have been challenging for all, and I am hoping for a wonderful year working with students.”

New Kids ready to get it done, whatever it may be (l-r): Rebecca Ellis, Ashley Ferrara, Roxanne Tanner, Kimberly Hockmeyer, and Sarita Crandall.

Coming from Worcester, MA., Rebecca Ellis, the new first-grade teacher, shared that she “really struggled with reading and had to repeat second grade. When I got to third grade I was still really struggling until I had Mr. Clark that year. He believed in me and worked hard to ensure that I was getting my needs met and at the end of third grade I had made massive improvements. A few years later I was able to skip eighth grade. It has been over 20 years since I had Mr. Clark as my teacher but the values he instilled will last a lifetime. I hope that I can be a Mr. Clark to my students and create in them a sense of empowerment.”

Sarita Crandall is the middle school’s new science teacher. She comes to us all the way from Farmington, as a life-long resident, where she received her education. She considers herself “extremely lucky that I have Kelsey Orestis [MS social studies] as my mentor…as she is the most generous and kindest soul I have ever encountered.” Ms. Crandall attributes her sixth-grade science teacher, Sue Basaillon, for inspiring her to one day become a science teacher. “She was my Ms. Frizzle. She captivated students, related to them and made sure everyone felt welcomed around her, and I knew then that I wanted to do that for other kids. I always resort back to thinking how I can embody Mrs. Basaillon, in my own way, and bring learning to students in an exciting way. My goal is to rope as many students as I can into loving to learn about the science world around them.”

Being a professional teacher is a calling, an honor and a privilege. It can be grueling but equally gratifying. It is not for the faint of heart. It demands unlimited amounts of patience and optimism, empathy and vision, creativity and a deep, abiding love for children. After all, they are the future. It is imperative that they learn what is necessary to be a healthy, contributing member of society. We are all depending on the partnership between community and school to succeed, together, as we nurture and instruct the youth who will someday helm the train we are all passengers on as it hurtles down the track.

All aboard.

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