At West Tisbury School, exciting changes inside and out

West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

It is an absolute pleasure to be back for the start of another school year. I am excited to be working with Donna Lowell-Bettencourt and the entire dedicated staff of the West Tisbury School as we begin another great year together. We are very pleased with the progress of this summer’s building project, which is moving forward on time and on budget. Our entire staff is excited and ready for the start of school, and we are all looking forward to opening day.

The West Tisbury School has a wonderful reputation for the personal connections that exist between our faculty and our students. School begins each day for most students with a personal greeting from Sue Merrill, our school secretary, who knows every child by name. Each teacher also allocates a portion of the start of the school day to help build and strengthen a true sense of community in the classroom.

At the West Tisbury School, we emphasize social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe school community. Small class sizes, plus active project-based learning with interdisciplinary support, are the hallmarks of our school. Field trips, extra-curricular opportunities, and enrichment activities help make our educational programs come alive for our students.

This year, we will see a few changes to the school’s organization and staffing. Starting this fall, all students in first and second grade will be enrolled in one of our three multiage classes. Students in first and second grades at the West Tisbury School have been benefiting from our multiage program for years. During this time, we have found the multiage model to be a wonderful and exciting way for students to learn and grow. This nurturing educational model has also been an effective way for us to meet the challenges of changing enrollment trends.

Our three multiage teachers will be Michele Mayhew, Kristy Fletcher, and Lauren Serpa. Erika Mulvey will also join our teaching team as our new Early Intervention Specialist.

In our middle school, we are pleased to announce that all students will be enrolled in an enrichment period that will last 30 minutes each day. The goal of this pilot program is to ensure that all students are able to access and accelerate the curriculum to the greatest extent possible. Each six weeks, students will be assigned to a new group studying a new topic. The grade 6-8 team of administrators, guidance counselors, and teachers will place students in groups based on their academic strengths, needs, and interests.

On behalf of the entire faculty and staff of the West Tisbury School, I would like to welcome everybody to the start of a great new opportunity. I hope your school year is everything that you want it to be.

Michael Halt is principal of West Tisbury School.