Viewpoint: In support of a K-8 education



By Katrina Linscott

Throughout my 14 years teaching at Tremont Consolidated School, I have witnessed the myriad of ways K-8 education serves our students. The incredible events of last Friday clearly demonstrate this fact.

In the effort to meet curricular requirements for music and physical education, PE teacher Emmy Watson and music teacher Allison Putnam invited visiting artist Rachel Bell to teach circular dances to the K-fourth graders. Eighth graders joined the kindergarten classes to help assist and guide them in the dances. It truly was a beautiful thing to witness! Eighth grade faces were smiling and aglow as they clapped hands, swung their partners, and moved their feet to the beat. They clearly loved being mentors to these younger students and the younger students looked up both literally and figuratively to their partners. Later in the day, Allison wheeled a piano into the middle school hallway accompanied by the middle school chorus. Chorus members sang “Brave” by Sara Bareilles to our middle school math teacher Geoff Wood who is leaving for a new position at Pemetic School (Geoff had joined the middle school chorus this year and performed with the students at the winter concert.) Third graders who were transitioning from French class witnessed middle school students showing their appreciation, admiration, and respect to their beloved teacher.

The aforementioned events are possible because of our K-8 structure. Research conducted by New York University Steinhardt shows that adolescents have specific developmental needs for autonomy, feeling connected to others, and feeling competent. Research shows that K-8 schools are more likely to meet these needs than middle schools. Students in K-8 schools have a higher sense of belonging and achievement, more cooperation with one another, and more positive relationships with teachers. Tremont School embodies what makes teaching and learning in a small K-8 school great: middle school students serving and being seen as leaders to younger students, as well as a devoted, creative teaching staff who respect and collaborate with one another and know their students. I feel truly blessed to work at Tremont Consolidated School. Our school is not only a school but a community.

The reason I felt compelled to write this letter is because I tried to weigh-in on the benefits of K-8 schools on middle level education at the middle level subcommittee last year. I was then told that the purpose of that committee was to only look at a middle school model. The public should know that the “recommendation” to move forward with a middle school came from a subcommittee with an outcome already in mind. We now have a ballot initiative that falsely implies that local school boards have been working on a middle school model, which is not the case (but rather the AOS). First and foremost, we should be asking what educational problem(s) are we trying to solve? Second, are there creative, less disruptive, and more financially sound ways of solving these problems?

 

Katrina Linscott teaches French at Tremont Consolidated School

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