Meroby Elementary School teachers Karen Wilson, left, and Maggie Corlett, center, and School Administrative District 17 elementary teacher Laura Waite brainstorm ideas on a nature-based math lesson in 2021 at the Mexico school. The Maine Environmental Education Association has awarded its 2022-23 School of Year award to the school. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times file

RUMFORD — Meroby Elementary School in Mexico has been awarded the 2022-23 School of the Year award by the Maine Environmental Education Association for its outdoor classes that incorporate math lessons.

Teachers and students “have done a ton of work outside in their outside classrooms and they have been (doing that) for a while,” Regional School Unit 10 Superintendent Deb Alden told directors Tuesday at Mountain Valley High School.

In 2021, the school and School Administrative District 17 based in Paris were part of a pilot project to create outdoor math lessons based in nature. Cheryl Tobey, one of three facilitators from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, said then that the focus was on kindergarten to grade 5 students.

The two youngest grades worked on creating a path, measuring by steps instead of feet. Second and third grade teachers went to the soccer field and had students measure distances to guess how far players run in a game. Fourth and fifth grade students measured the walking trail and where trail markers would be placed.

The project received a starting grant of $30,000 from the Betterment Fund to cover stipends for the teachers, materials,  lunch and refreshments. The fund was created for charitable purposes by the will of the late William Bingham II of Bethel who died in 1955. He was a philanthropist with an abiding interest in education and the improvement of health services in Maine, according to the fund website.

The award will be presented at a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 11, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Viles Arboretum in Augusta, Alden said. All staff and community members are welcome to attend.


Also at Tuesday’s meeting, high school Principal Tom Danylik, Assistant Principal Craig Milledge and Athletic Director Jeff Pelletier presented their budget proposals for 2023-24.

Danylik is requesting a second full-time physical education teacher at the high school. There is one full-time and one part-time teacher, the latter who splits duties between teaching physical education and being an educational technician.

“We want to give more options to kids, and if we have more options, it influences more students,” he said.

It would cost about $47,000 more to have a full-time teacher.

Danylik also said the high school is expecting “a pretty significant enrollment increase for us next year,” from the current 376 students to about 415.

Assistant Principal Milledge said an educational technician position is proposed for the alternative education program, which has 20 students and one teacher, Jaymie Marston. The addition would give more flexibility in students’ transportation and attendance because Marston often transports students to and from the program at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico. The educational technician would also fill in when Marston is sick.

“You can’t just call a general substitute teacher to come cover that program if (Marston) is not there,” he said, because the program is off-site from the high school. Having an educational technician “opens up a whole new bunch of possibilities for those kids,” Milledge said.

Athletic Director Jeff Pelletier said there is a need for a full-time athletic trainer to serve the high school and middle school.

That person would be trained for emergencies, provide injury management during the school day and in-house sports first aid training for coaches, he said. The cost, including salary and benefits, would be about $50,000, Pelletier said.

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