New year, new school, new teachers at Twin Valley Elementary
by Jack Deming
Sep 12, 2013 | 5267 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Twin Valley Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Caroly Moore stands in front of her new classroom earlier this week.  Teachers were finally able to get into the renovated school, which opens its doors to students Monday.  She is one of three new teachers at the school.
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WILMINGTON- It’s crunch time at Twin Valley Elementary School. Over the next three days there’s still reconstruction, painting, and organization to be done on the newly refurbished and rebuilt school, and for three new teachers, there are three new rooms waiting to be filled with posters, desks, books, and of course, students.

Caroly Moore has spent the last three years commuting from her home in Whitingham to Savoy Elementary School in Savoy, MA, where she taught a combined second- and third-grade classroom. While Moore enjoyed working with the students there, she is the kind of teacher who likes to be invested in her students’ lives outside the classroom as well, and working at a school with a long commute did not always allow her to accomplish that goal. Moore says that coming to TVES will afford her the time and allow her to be more active in the school community. “If your students don’t feel like you’re invested in who they are outside of their studies, they’re less interested in you,” said Moore. “You have to build that relationship first and throughout the year, to get them to connect on an everyday basis.”

Moore says that parents can expect her to be approachable, open minded, and engaged. Moore likes to keep things interesting for her students, with a hands-on approach to keep their learning somewhat unpredictable, while maintaining a consistent personal effort of 110% percent.

“I prefer to keep things moving and changing,” said Moore. “If it becomes repetitive and stagnant then you can lose kids that way. They can expect to never have their finger on what I’m going to do.”

Moore is also excited about the change from teaching second- and third-grade to teaching fourth, where she says students have more independence, converse better, are able to learn much broader subjects, and still love to be at school. “It’s one of the last great years where kids really value school and the teacher as they get older and make the transition to middle school.”

Moore, who is a big-time planner, says that while the transition to TVES has been hectic, she knows she is in good company. “You usually have a larger chunk of time in summer to get ready,” said Moore. “But we’re all in the same boat and when I feel like I have so much to do I know it’s not just me, we’re all transitioning.”

Anna Nutter comes to TVES after spending the last five years teaching in Turners Falls and Leverett, MA. Nutter will be the special education teacher for the fourth and fifth grades, a job which she says will be less rigorous than her previous work with intensive special needs students with autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome, and nonverbal students.

At TVES, Nutter will be working with students who have learning disabilities and difficulties with specific curriculums. When a student shows they need help, Nutter will collaborate with the student’s full-time teachers, parents, and the student to come up with the right strategy for tackling a subject.

“ At TVES there’s a team approach,” said Nutter. “I’m just one member of the team. If a student is struggling the whole team will come together and figure out what will help the student and how we can teach the material so they understand it.”

Nutter says that often a student will struggle because they don’t enjoy learning, and that in turn makes it hard for them to do so. Nutter says that it is her job to turn that frustration into enjoyment and her students can expect someone who will incorporate their interests into their learning. Nutter’s office is situated in the new design so it is right next to the classrooms she will be going into, and will allow her to work in a low-key way with students, going with the flow of the regular classrooms.

“I always loved learning, and I always knew I wanted to be teacher,” said Nutter. “I got my bachelor’s degree in psychology and that got me into how the brain works, and how people learn. I got into special education to teach those who maybe learn a little differently than other kids but can still learn if given the right resources.”

While learning disabilities are worked on in the classroom, Nutter says the relationship a special education teacher has with students’ parents is essential. “A parent is the best expert I can talk to about a child,” said Nutter. “I want to be in close communication with them, to hear their concerns, what their goals are, and what they want to see their children doing.”

There will also be a new kindergarten teacher at TVES, a familiar face in the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union, former Halifax teaching principal Stephanie Aldrich.

After eight years splitting her time between being principal and teaching kindergarten, Aldrich is excited to be able to go back to full-time teaching and give her undivided attention to a room full of energetic kindergartners. For Aldrich, this is a welcome change “It’s nice to have to focus on one grade,” said Aldrich. “ I’m excited to be able to spend all my planning time on one set of kids, coming up with a new curriculum, and assessing and aligning subjects.”

Aldrich, who still lives in Halifax, says that her experiences as a principal have taught her how to build strong relationships with parents, and connect with them in figuring out ways to solve any problems or concerns that arise with their children’s education. She will miss being able to know every student in the school, but with her new job, Aldrich says she will still be able to meet every new student, being one of the first teachers they meet.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun,” said Aldrich. “I think kindergartners are a joy to be around and they can sense that. If you’re having fun with them, they’re having fun. They just have so much energy, and it can be like herding kittens sometimes.”

Aldrich says that teaching kindergartners full time will be more focused then trying to balance a classroom with the duties of a principal. “Its really hard to focus on the two things at once sometimes. Yes, they’re both education and they’re related, but to give 100% to your kindergartners and another 100% to the school, teachers, students, and community was a lot. I’m happy to focus on one thing again.”
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