Kids not only ones eager, nervous about the first day of school

PROFILE: Devin Fitzgerald Devin Fitzgerald was approved by the SAD 61 School Board as a Kindergarten Teacher at Songo Locks School for the 2014-15 school year, replacing Susan Shea, who has transferred to another position.  Education: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Language Arts from the University of Maine at Farmington, May 2014. Experience:   December 2010 to May 2014, Substitute Teacher, Lake Region School District (during vacations at end of college school year)  September 2013 to December 2013, Student Teacher, Mt. Blue School District, Farmington September 2011 to December 2011, Practicum Teacher, Spruce Mountain School District, Livermore Falls  September 2009 to June 2010, Volunteer at Songo Locks School, Grade 5 classroom September 2011 to May 2014, Counselor for the After School Program and Cradles and Crayons Program at the University of Maine at Farmington Recreation and Fitness Center  Number of applicants: 33 Applicants interviewed: 6

PROFILE: Devin Fitzgerald
Devin Fitzgerald was approved by the SAD 61 School Board as a Kindergarten Teacher at Songo Locks School for the 2014-15 school year, replacing Susan Shea, who has transferred to another position.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Language Arts from the University of Maine at Farmington, May 2014.
Experience:
December 2010 to May 2014, Substitute Teacher, Lake Region School District (during vacations at end of college school year)
September 2013 to December 2013, Student Teacher, Mt. Blue School District, Farmington
September 2011 to December 2011, Practicum Teacher, Spruce Mountain School District, Livermore Falls
September 2009 to June 2010, Volunteer at Songo Locks School, Grade 5 classroom
September 2011 to May 2014, Counselor for the After School Program and Cradles and Crayons Program at the University of Maine at Farmington Recreation and Fitness Center
Number of applicants: 33
Applicants interviewed: 6

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Devin Fitzgerald has always known that she wanted to be a teacher.

“When I was younger, when my sister and I got home, we played school. I’d give her worksheets to do and I would help her if she needed it,” Devin recalled.

In six days, Devin will realize her dream job when she welcomes 18 youngsters — nine girls and nine boys — to her kindergarten classroom at Songo Locks School in Naples.

It will be a homecoming for the Lake Region and University of Maine at Farmington graduate.

“It’s a neat feeling being back home. It seems like yesterday when I was a student here,” Devin said. “Many of the teachers I had then are now my colleagues. Some of them have told me that it is now okay for me to call them by their first names. I can’t. Like Mrs. Martin. She will always be Mrs. Martin to me.”

Although Devin applied for other positions that were within a 45-mile radius from her home in Casco, when the Songo Locks position opened in late August, she was hopeful to land it.

“I am glad the interviewing is over. It was really nerve-wracking, especially here, where I had to go before a group,” Devin said. “In other districts, it was 1-on-1 with a principal.”

If she was a bundle of nerves during the interview process, the degree of jitters would have soared had Devin known that SAD 61 received 33 applications for the position, and ultimately settled on interviewing six candidates.

“I didn’t know how many people applied until I saw it in the paper,” she said.

Although very confident in her abilities, Devin knows those jitters will return as the first official school day arrives.

“When I get nervous, I can’t sleep at night,” she said. “I know I will be laying there going over all of the ‘what ifs’ and question whether I am ready. But, I am also very excited about getting started. There is a great group of teachers here, and I am really looking forward to some team teaching opportunities. During my school years, I was always a member of a sports team, so I understand the importance of being able to work together. I think those experiences will make this transition a smooth one for me.”

Kids won’t be the only ones a little nervous, yet excited about the first day of school. First-time teachers and new staff members will likely feel the same jitters as they arrive for the new school year this Tuesday.

Devin Fitzgerald and Ryan Williams are just two of several first-time teachers starting their instructional careers in SAD 61.

Each took a very different path to the classroom.

PROFILE: Ryan Williams Ryan Williams was approved as an English Teacher at Lake Region High School for the 2014-15 school year, replacing Don Weafer who resigned.   Education: Bachelor of Science in Animal & Veterinary Sciences, 2003, from the University of Maine at Orono. Experience:  2002-13, Team Leader/Counselor for the American Diabetes Association; Camp Carefree in New Durham, N.H.  2007 to 2014, Manager of Special Events & Fundraising for the American Diabetes Association, Portland and Framingham, Mass. 2004 to 2007, Residential Manager/Case Manager/Counselor, Community Health and Counseling Services (CHCS), Bangor.

PROFILE: Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams was approved as an English Teacher at Lake Region High School for the 2014-15 school year, replacing Don Weafer who resigned.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Animal & Veterinary Sciences, 2003, from the University of Maine at Orono.
Experience:
2002-13, Team Leader/Counselor for the American Diabetes Association; Camp Carefree in New Durham, N.H.
2007 to 2014, Manager of Special Events & Fundraising for the American Diabetes Association, Portland and Framingham, Mass.
2004 to 2007, Residential Manager/Case Manager/Counselor, Community Health and Counseling Services (CHCS), Bangor.

For Ryan Williams, he admittedly stepped out of his “comfort zone” and is prepared to tackle the unknown challenges of his first teaching job, as well as replace a popular English instructor (Don Weafer, who resigned).

Williams has followed somewhat of an unorthodox path into the classroom. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a degree in animal and veterinary sciences in 2003, but then worked as a case manager and counselor for Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor.

After three years, he moved on to become manager of special events and fundraising for the American Diabetes Association in Portland and Framingham, Mass.

Williams found a solid connection working with children as a team leader/counselor at the American Diabetes Association’s Camp Carefree in New Durham, N.H.

Yet, it was the urging of a group of friends, including fellow English teacher Ian Carlson, who happen to be on staff at Lake Region High School, that ultimately lured Williams to teaching.

“Ian has been on me for years about giving teaching a try,” Williams said. “Through my years of work as a counselor, I found that working with youth is where my passion lies.”

One lesson he hopes to pass along to students is that anything is possible, and it doesn’t matter where you come from. Williams is proof of that statement. As valedictorian of his class from a tiny school in Jackman, Williams and another student placed third in a state public speaking contest and competed at the national level.

Although Lake Region is certainly a bigger venue than his old high school — “we didn’t have an auditorium with nice seats and a big stage, like here, and we didn’t have two floors” — but Williams sees it as a good fit.

“I will be teaching a Humanities class that will have 48 students in it, which is about the same size of my entire graduating class,” he said. “I am really looking forward to getting to know the students and to show them that the door of opportunity is open for them.”

Lake Region H.S. Principal Ted Finn likes the diverse background Williams brings to his staff, as well as his skills utilized in his previous employment for developing connections with communities.

Finn admits one area the high school continues to struggle with is developing a closer relationship with the four district towns. Despite a variety of attempts to “reach out” to taxpayers to invite their involvement with the school, as well keep them informed, Finn says many community members “still don’t know about the wonderful things that are happening in our school” and “they still don’t feel comfortable coming here.”

“We see creating more partnerships with the communities and businesses as a win-win,” Finn said. “We want taxpayers to come in and see what their money is paying for. I am open to new ideas and suggestions, and I want to know what their concerns may be.”

Williams could help break down some of those “walls” that remain between the school and towns. He will be teaching a new course that ties in both public speaking and public relations.

“PR is about relationships and partnerships,” Williams said. “We need to learn what are a community’s needs, and then work out what we can do to meet those needs. The same is true for the community. We need to get the word out on what we are doing, and then ask them to become part of it.”

To develop relationships, one must be able to communicate — thus, the public speaking element of the new course.

Williams will carry a six-class load — four of which will involve a “team teaching” approach. He will be teaching freshmen and sophomores, along with Jess DiBiase. Another “new” approach this year will be a focus regarding “transitional issues” freshmen face.

Some of the “known” challenges ahead include learning “educational jargon” and discover which facets of course work students are comfortable with and identify areas where they may need help.

“I like to be informed, so I am trying to read everything I can, as much as I can, to be prepared for the first day. There just aren’t enough hours to do all the things I want to do,” Williams said.

Williams has plenty of experience in bringing himself up to speed on a subject he is unfamiliar with.

“I didn’t know anything about diabetes, at first,” he said. “ One of the adjustments I’ll have to make now as an English teacher is to not talk about diabetes so much. I am excited about the opportunity and want to make a good first impression.”

Devin: “I am ready for the challenges ahead”

Devin Fitzgerald feels “ready” to take command of a classroom. She has the skills, and now looks forward to the “experience.”

Like any new employee, Devin hopes to make a good first impression. She also worries, a little.

“I wonder if some parents might doubt me because I am a first-year teacher,” she said. “I know I will feel comfortable with the children. I just don’t want to disappoint the parents.”

She has already worked some long hours preparing, be it in her classroom — creating a warm, welcoming, comfortable  environment — or perusing the curriculum.

She has run through all the scenarios she expects to encounter on the first day, wanting to be mentally ready.

Unlike other grade levels, Devin has no “file” to read to better acquaint herself with her students. She has names. Faces and personalities will soon follow.

“That’s part of the excitement of the first day — there’s the unknown,” said Devin, who decided early on that elementary level instruction is where she wanted to be. “The first day will be a little easier because of our team approach. I will have Group A on Tuesday and Thursday, and Group B on Wednesday and Friday.”

One lesson Devin expects to learn during her first year on the job is when to make adjustments.

“You can plan, plan, plan, but some things may come up that you need to a backup plan to address certain needs and situations,” she said. “I know I need to be flexible. Day to day, changes may be needed.”

The reward, Devin knows, will be seeing children develop, both educationally and socially.

“I want to see them learn and have a memorable experience,” Devin said.

Who knows, another young girl or boy walking through the halls of Songo Locks next week might someday be inspired to teach and return to their old school, much like Devin Fitzgerald has.

New SAD 61 personnel:

SEBAGO ELEMENTARY

Allison McKay, Health Care Attendant

Carolynne Skarbinski, Grade 5 Teacher

SONGO LOCKS SCHOOL

Cheryl Frechette, Principal

David Coyne, Special Ed Technician

Devin Fitzgerald, Kindergarten Teacher

Joseph Gasbarro, Gifted & Talented Teacher

Robin Greeley, Art Teacher

Stacey Leonard, Nurse

Amy Saunders, Guidance Counselor

STEVENS BROOK ELEMENTARY

Colleen Craven, Grade 2 Teacher

Cynthia Taylor, Art Teacher

Valencia Buteau, K-2 Academic Technician

LAKE REGION MIDDLE SCHOOL

Jenny Cameron, Guidance Counselor

Claton Conrad, Science Teacher

Jeffrey Enman, Intervention Specialist

Leanne Fasulo, English/LA Teacher

Lynda Foster, World Language Teacher

Joseph Gasbarro, Gifted & Talented Teacher

Susie Hanington, Social Studies Teacher

Leah Heyman, Science Teacher

Nancy Laurent, Permanent Substitute

Lauren Moulton, Family/Consumer Science Teacher

David Southwick, Art Teacher

Nina Spizuoco, Grade 6 English/Language Arts

Lila Theriault, Math Teacher

Kaelyne Thompson, Math Teacher

Brian Tingdahl, Music Teacher

Miranda Walker, Student Support Center Monitor

LAKE REGION HIGH SCHOOL

Ann Bragdon, Alternative Education Teacher

Whitney Nelson, Interim Guidance Counselor

Ryan Williams, English Teacher

SPECIAL SERVICES

Brian Jahna, Day Treatment Support Teacher, LRMS

Paula Jondro, Special Education Teacher, SLS

Tracie Peterson, Special Education Teacher, SBES

Edward Stevens, Day Treatment Support Teacher, LRHS

Kayla Olsen, Special Ed Day Treatment Support Technician, SLS

Tyler Oren, Special Ed Technician III, LRHS

Gordon Smith, Special Ed Technician III, LRMS

LAKE REGION VOCATIONAL CENTER

Carisa Miner, Playto Ed. Tech. III

TRANSPORTATION, FACILITIES, FOOD SERVICE

Ricky Bishop, Bus Mechanic

Daryl Fernald, Groundskeeper

Andrea Kuvaja, Bus Monitor

Back to School tidbits

START DATES & TIMES

• The first day of school in SAD 61 is Tuesday, Sept. 2.

• Start and end of the day times:

Lake Region High School, 7:25 a.m. — 1:55 p.m.

Lake Region Vocational Center, A.M. class 8:15-10:30 a.m.; P.M. class 11:15 a.m. -1:55 p.m.

Lake Region Middle School, 7:20 a.m. — 1:45 p.m.

Sebago Elementary School, 8:30 a.m. — 3 p.m.

Songo Locks School, Naples, 8:30 a.m. — 3 p.m.

Stevens Brook School, Bridgton, 8:30 a.m. — 3 p.m.

MEAL PRICES

K-8: Breakfast $1.25, Lunch $2.50

9-12: Breakfast $1.50, Lunch $2.75

Adult: Breakfast $1.75, Lunch $4.00

Milk/Juice ½ pint, $.40

OPEN HOUSE DATES

Stevens Brook: Wednesday, Sept. 10, 6-7:30 p.m.

Sebago Elementary: Thursday, Sept. 11, 6-7 p.m.

Songo Locks School: Thursday, Sept. 11, 6-7:30 p.m.

Lake Region Middle School: Thursday, Sept. 18, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

CONTACTS

Website:www.lakeregionschools.org

Central Office: 647-3048/693-5194

Special Services: 627-4578

Adult Education: 627-4291

Sebago Elementary: 787-3701

Songo Locks, 693-6828

Stevens Brook, 647-5675

Lake Region Middle School: 647-8403/693-4784

Lake Region High School: 647-3581/693-6221

Lake Region Vocational Center: 693-3864

Transportation, Facilities, Food Service: 693-4635/693-6467/647-5343

 

 

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