Gary N. Smith has been Superintendent for Regional School Unit 18 since 2009.

  1. Shirley Brook says:

    The parents that have shown up at the Messalonskee High School MCL informational nights are for the most part those who have a stake in their child’s class rank. Parents who have supported their children through rigorous classes and full schedules that demanded far more hours of study of them than most of their peers. Admissions, scholarships & students compete for and still rely on this scale of achievement. In these financial times it makes plenty of sense/cents that they are concerned RSU 18 might one day abandon class rank.

    In the recent board meeting there was a discussion on athletes and concussions, but academics & teachers opinions were not raised with the issue. Teachers should also weigh in on whether or not a child is ready to compete in their sport again. They would know if a child’s cognitive skills are back to preinjury status and if they are advancing through standards at the same pace as before the concussion.

    I used the word compete in both instances above. I imagine that parents of top athletes would show up at the informational meetings if we converted to Standards Based Athletics. “Tommy can kick a field goal and he can teach other athletes to kick field goals. We don’t keep score any more, we just check off our athletes skills as they master them. After all, given enough time, all of the athletes should all be able to master every skill. This way everybody is a winner.” Should work for them as well, right?

    Some kids study hard, some kids play hard, and some kids achieve both and more. It is simply within them to compete, that need to set themselves apart from the rest, intrinsic motivation. My kids came home after a school day with a long assembly on MCL talking about how there would be “incentives like reserved parking spaces for kids that pass the most standards!” I thought this wasn’t going to be about speed but mastery. The extrinsic rewards for learning should be associated with what comes beyond high school, getting into college, mastering some craft, navigating the labor force, quality of life.

    The volunteer policy also came up at the school board meeting. I volunteered at RSU 18 for six years doing First Lego League with mostly 9 and 10 year olds, and up to 14 years as well. I took well over 100 children to compete in Regional FLL Competitions and the Maine Robotic Track Meets. First Lego League is known as “Sport for the Mind.” Kids have to give a 5 minute research presentation to judges on the theme of the season, then do as many missions as they have designed and programmed their robot to perform in just 2.5 minutes. Our teams met once a week for about two months. Other teams were home schooled and met every day, some teams had been together for years, others have robotics in their school curriculum, and some teams had more adult mentors than there were kids on the team, and yet we could all compete together. The coaching manual encourages all teams to come and do their best, demonstrate and test what they have learned and come to learn more. FLL stresses the core value of gracious professionalism. My teams would leave the competition with both a sense of accomplishment and also an idea of how much more they could have learned and achieved if they had worked harder or had more time. At the end of last months competition many members of the middle school team begged to start earlier and meet more often next season and that was before they took a trophy for their presentation.

    I keep hearing over and over again that we don’t yet know what MCL will look like at the high school. How about active, engaged, experimental, iterative and yet somehow still meaningfully competitive?

    Also a pdf online: “Expanding Volunteerism in Rural Schools in Nova Scotia: Promising Practices” its a great manual for anywhere.

    Shirley Brook

    • erika says:

      Well said Shirley! You have been an amazing advocate for children and I thank you for your dedication to the FLL team and my son!

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