I read with great interest the article regarding the fifth grade recess issue at Westbrook Middle School in the April 13 American Journal.
Having taught middle school for 40 years, my last 30 at WMS, dealing with recess issues has and probably always will be a challenge for students and staff. I think that the principal, Laurie Wood, staff and students have arrived at a very appropriate and inclusive solution to a perennial situation. In the “old” days, the punishments would have been significantly different and most likely would have been supported by the parents of that bygone era. In today’s educational environment, conflict resolution is a real “life skill” that needs to be taught. This was a “teachable moment,” and the professionals at WMS seized the opportunity and are making the right moves at the right time.
I was disappointed in Mr. Tranchemontagne’s comment, “I truly see deep problems at that school and don’t feel there is much leadership.” First, what does “that school” mean? I taught at “that school”‘ and found it to be a wonderful school with a very dedicated and caring staff. Granted, I retired before Principal Wood took the helm and the fifth grade moved in, but I have great confidence that the selection committee chose the best candidate for the position. Secondly, when Mr. T. stated that he doesn’t feel “there is much leadership,” where did he get his education degree and how long has he worked under her educational leadership?
Finally, I urge the parents of those fifth grade students to sit down with their children and be the parent. After all, you were and continue to be their most important teachers. The values they have were taught to them by you between the ages of 0 and 5. You need to support their present teachers and teach your children that there are other ways to resolve conflicts besides fighting and name calling. We already have too much of that mentality in the world.
Steven C. Pomelow