School Scoop: Summer ends, school begins
The corridors of the Block Island School are quiet as this visitor walks through them just a week after the end of the summer season and the start of a new academic year. Looking into classrooms, teachers and students can be seen engaged in the expansive business of education: the exchange of ideas that opens minds, exciting all those involved in the process.
For middle grades teacher Bonnie Swienton, the beginning of the school year is very exciting. She speaks with undisguised admiration of her new class of fifth graders, who appear to be very determined about learning to navigate the new routines of going to many classrooms each day. To Swienton, they also seem quite eager to learn the organizational skills they will need to manage a number of new tasks related to attending separate classes.
At the island school, the middle grades span fifth through seventh grades and are team-taught by three teachers: Swienton, Marlee LaCoste and Shannon Cotter-Marsella. They divide teaching responsibilities as follows: Swienton teaches fifth grade language arts and fifth, sixth and seventh math; LaCoste teaches sixth grade language arts and fifth, sixth and seventh social studies and Cotter-Marsella teaches seventh grade language arts and fifth, sixth and seventh science.
On the evening of September 12, Swienton says, parents were invited to attend a session in which they would have “the opportunity to learn about the new world of the fifth grader.” Swienton explains the “daily life of a fifth grader” has changed significantly, especially with the changing of classes. But, she adds, “For the first time, they also very excited to have class planners and lockers.”
The school has also scheduled an open house for Wednesday, September 19, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., meant to provide an opportunity for parents of students in all grades to meet new teachers, the new co-principal and have a look at new classrooms.