■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
This year’s Island School students gathered in their classrooms on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 8 to prepare themselves for the upcoming 2018-19 school year, which begins this Friday.
Head-of-School Jean Thompson said the school is at a maximum enrollment of 60 again this year, and a lottery was held for the second year in a row for kindergarten slots. This year starting school will be seven kindergartners, 13 first graders, nine second graders, seven third graders, 11 fourth graders and 13 fifth graders. That’s a total of 13 new students and 47 returning students.
Thompson said the school would continue to operate on the curriculum they have used in the past, and this year they will also continue to heavily concentrate class time on science, technology, engineering and math.
“We continue to use curriculum that teaches the whole student as well as the state standards,” she said. “We are excited to implement a new English language arts curriculum this year that uses authentic literature based on a different theme each quarter.”
One change to the students’ schedule will be a lack of an art class, as teacher Roselle Agles did not return this year. The children will instead have a second physical education class each week. Each teacher will be incorporating art into their individual class plans, too.
Returning staff members include Executive Assistant Christie Stevenson, paraprofessionals Karen Kelley, Angela Colosimo and Sarah Moore, Intervention Specialist Nicole Tillotson-Main, counselor/teacher Chris Thompson, kindergarten teacher Megan O’Connor, first grade teacher Tammy Tieu, second grade teacher Rebecca Blalock, third, fourth and fifth grade teacher Dorothy Rajal, third fourth and fifth grade teacher JT Tremaine, teacher Jane Bengston, Spanish teacher Kimberly Deins, music teacher Diana Donlon, physical education teacher Lisa Truisi and school resource officer Willy Radascher. Colosimo also runs the after school program with Moore and assistant Emily Ketts.
There are also some changes to The Island School Board this year. Pat Jeffs left the board, and Barbara Wilson is a new board member. The president is Mary Keevil, the treasurer is Skip Branin and the secretary is Donna Lutton.
Thompson said she is excited to start a new year, her seventh, at The Island School.
“I read a wonderful book this summer, ‘Mindfulness for Teachers’ by Patricia A. Jennings,” she said. “In her book, Jennings writes that ‘Mindfulness promotes the growth of important integrative fibers that help us with the regulation of emotion, attention, thought, and behavior.’ At The Island School this year, we will be focusing on compassion and mindfulness as a way to continue to grow as a learning community.”
The Island School is a Lee County elementary charter school serving community members who live or work on the island, founded in 2000.