Despite the expected changes, Island students will find familiar faces at the helm when they return to the Tisbury School, the Oak Bluffs School, the Edgartown School, the and the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.
That will also be the case at the Martha's Vineyard Charter School in West Tisbury, where returning students will not return to many surprises.
School officials are in the process of filling vacant principal slots at the West Tisbury School and Chilmark School. Both school principals resigned in July after learning they would only be offered one-year contracts.
Maureen Deloach, Tisbury School principal, said she is excited about three new teachers hired to replace three highly experienced and well-liked faculty members who left at the end of the school year in June.
The Tisbury School will also introduce a program called teaming, which is designed to foster cooperation between all the teachers who work with an individual student, as well as between the teachers and the student. "This really helps teachers get more involved in the school process, because they have a group to talk to regularly. They can always get advice or share what works for them," said Ms. Deloach.
In order to facilitate communication over the summer months with non-English speaking students and their families, primarily members of the Island's large Brazilian population, Ms. Deloach took seven weeks of intensive Portuguese classes as part of a summer language program at Middlebury College in Vermont.
"I wouldn't claim that I speak the Portuguese language fluently now, but I am getting there. I tested at the second year level at the end of my course," said Ms. Deloach, "Now I can talk to parents in our meetings and write notes to them myself."
The Tisbury School also renovated bathrooms and installed a new piece of playground equipment that kids are already enjoying, she said.
Laury Binney, Oak Bluffs School principal, said his school is lucky this year in terms of teacher turnover.
"We had to hire one person for someone on maternity leave, and we hired five assistants, which is actually a very small number," said Mr. Binney.
Beyond that and a big playground project that was completed in June, students will not see much change. "Right now we're focusing on sustaining projects that we have already started and making them better," said Mr. Binney.
He said teachers and school administrators are working to fill in gaps in a social program called Responsive Classroom. "The program is designed to set up a set of basic principles, understandings, and protocols for every class," explained Mr. Binney. Every class has a morning meeting, with a special greeting to help establish a routine that the students join.
"This program is good for teachers and students. It takes care of about 85 or 90 percent of the problems we have," said Mr. Binney, "We are working on dealing better with bullying, which is an under-the-radar problem that every school has to deal with."
Two teachers from the Oak Bluffs School, as well as the Edgartown, Chilmark, and West Tisbury schools went to a workshop to get trained in the Responsive Classroom program, and they are now helping other teachers acquire new skills, said Mr. Binney.
Ed Jerome, principal of the Edgartown School, also said not much has changed at the big, new school.
"Our curriculum is the same, and we haven't had very much turnover of teachers this year," he said.
Students will return to a completed new school building. With construction over, Mr. Jerome said that teachers and administrators will be able to concentrate on their students.
"It's hard for us to pay full attention to our classes when there are workmen running in and out and we are trying to finish our building," he said, "This year, there won't be those distractions, so we can really use our new facilities and focus on our program."
Two important vacancies created by retirement this year include the school librarian and the 7-8th grade social studies teacher. The librarian has been replaced, and the school is in the process of filling the spot in the social studies department, said Mr. Jerome.
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School
The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School has significantly altered the freshman year academic program, said Peg Regan, high school principal.
"We've changed the freshman year science program, because it was really unpopular with the students," she explained.
Instead of taking a year of introduction to natural sciences, the students choose two out of three new electives: Environmental Science; Introductory Chemistry; and Introductory Physics.
"We've also decided to include a study skills component," said Ms. Regan, "so that kids coming into high school will learn to manage their studying and learn how to organize themselves better."
In addition, the high school has hired new teachers, and will television courses in conjunction with the Island's cable public access channel, MVTV.
"We get 20 hours a week on MVTV to use for class work, and we are teaching classes for television as a career," said Ms. Regan.
The school hired two new social studies teachers, a new culinary arts teacher, and a new vocational studies teacher.
The school has also started using online course instruction for students who wish to take a class that does not generate enough interest within the school to merit a place in the schedule.
"If you want to take AP German, or Latin, or veterinary biology, you couldn't do that in school, but now you can go online and take those courses," explained Ms. Regan.
The school renovated its weight room and replaced all the doors in the building over the summer.
Bob Moore, Martha's Vineyard Charter School principal, said a new art teacher and fifth/sixth grade math and science teacher will join the staff of the Island's only charter school.
"We are excited about that," said Mr. Moore.
He said the school is also embarking on the construction of two new classrooms which are expected to be completed by next summer and will allow the school to remove its last classroom trailer.
Mr. Moore said a redesign of the school has resulted in the creation of a computer room. Until now the computers have been spread out around the school. "This will allow us to be more effective in a small group setting," said Mr. Moore.
When school begins on September 9 Mr. Moore expects enrollment to be approximately 160 students. In addition 14 new kindergarten students will begin their education at the charter school.
"We are very excited about the new school year," he said.