Opening Day 2023
This morning, RSU 18 staff gathered at Messalonskee High School to kick off the new school year! Staff members grabbed a delicious breakfast and district SWAG gear before heading inside the auditorium for the opening session led by Superintendent of Schools, Carl Gartley.
Mr. Gartley welcomed everyone back and introduced new staff members. He then took time to emphasize the importance of relationships between colleagues as well as the relationships educators build with their students. The morning was spent sharing powerful moments from last school year showing that the staff of Regional School Unit 18 cares deeply for each other and for the children and families they serve. Not only did Mr. Gartley share his appreciation for the work all staff does day in and day out throughout a school year, but he spent time sharing specific instances where district educators went the extra mile.
One such example was of a seasoned teacher taking a new teacher under her wing and making sure she had all she needed to be successful. Williams Elementary School had a sudden vacancy last winter, and so they hired a teacher who was new to the classroom. Brynn Charest, a successful third grade educator, worked alongside this new teacher, built a relationship with her, and mentored her throughout the second half of the year. It was a wonderful year for the children in third grade, and they didn’t miss a beat thanks to the teamwork, collaboration, and mentorship of these two educators. Thank you, Mrs. Charest.
Another example Superintendent Gartley shared of a teacher going above and beyond what is asked of them is Joshua Bickford of China Primary School. Mr. Bickford is a music educator who has the praises of students, families, and administrators alike! He is known for his thoughtfulness and creativity. He is often found at the entrance to his classroom with an instrument in hand, smiling and greeting the children who enter. Mr. Bickford writes his own songs and productions for the students of China Primary School, and it’s all individualized to the group of children he is working with. He takes into consideration the personalities, interests, and the musical abilities of the students he is teaching to make the most of their time in his classroom. The care and thoughtfulness he puts into his craft is apparent to all. Thank you, Mr. Bickford.
Mr. Gartley then spoke of the importance of building a school wide culture where students feel cared for and safe. Although every school in the district does a wonderful job building such a culture each year, he shared about two educators from China Middle School who truly took this goal and ran with it – transforming their entire school building. A few years ago, China Middle School had an abundance of new staff joining them for the school year. With administrators’ goal to make a collaborative, joyful climate in the middle school, two established teachers, Marissa Chamberlain and Danielle Sevey, worked among new staff to continuously build a culture of teamwork and collaboration in the school building – even with professionals coming from all different backgrounds. The students of China Middle School were not only academically successful, but they benefited from this collaborative, joyful learning environment. The legacy of Ms. Chamberlain and Ms. Sevey’s hard work that year continues on and China Middle School is a place where learners are not only academically successful, but supported by the incredible team that has been built to care for the whole child. Thank you, Ms. Chamberlain and Ms. Sevey.
One final story of an educator who not only teaches academics, but cares for her students is Michelle Frigon. Ms. Frigon teaches mathematics at Messalonskee High School. She was asked to engage in interviews with prospective math teachers joining the building. Not only did she provide incredible insight during this time, but she continues to demonstrate what a wonderful educator she is by the relationships she forms with her students and how strong her instruction is. The students in her classroom thrive academically because she inspires them to try even when they doubt themselves. The influence of a teacher is remarkable; thank you, Ms. Frigon.
Whether it’s educators in the classroom, staff in the school houses, or colleagues in the break room, the relationships we build matter. Atwood Primary School has morning greeters that make morning drop off so special for the children arriving to school. Messalonskee Middle School had an educator who changed the trajectory of the life of a child in crisis because she cared for her student. These are only a handful of examples, but the list could go on and on. Superintendent Gartley closed the morning reminding all staff of the district motto – every student, every school, every day. He challenged educators to be the teacher that kids remember and look forward to seeing again. Above all, he emphasized that relationships matter.
No detail was left out of this spectacular morning – from Sunrise Bagel and RSU 18 kitchen staff catering the event to student athletes cheering staff members on as they entered the building on a red carpet. Thank you to Mr. Gartley, Mr. Morin, all the RSU 18 administrators, tech team, and wellness team who made this morning a success.