The state's top education official got a look at French immersion, first-grade engineering, and other programs during his first visit to Milton.
“I visit schools every week, but this is my first visit to Milton,” said Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts' commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “I’m incredibly impressed.”
Chester’s first stop was the Glover Elementary School library, where music teacher and choral director Colleen Martin led students in singing a song about the 50 states.
Superintendent Mary Gormley and Glover Principal Holly Concannon then led the commissioner to a first grade classroom.
Co-taught by Kim O’Leary and Lea Campbell, regular education students were mixed with special education students in the same classroom, according to Concannon.
Campbell was in the process of explaining the day’s engineering lesson. Students had to design an invention that would help the three little pigs move either straw, sticks, or bricks across the classroom rug and explain how their invention worked.
O’Leary handed out materials and broke the children up into groups.
In a different first grade classroom, Madame Simone Rogan led her French immersion class. None of the students spoke a word of French at the beginning of the year, but Rogan did not speak a word of English to the students as she taught.
Students read French from the Smart Board at the front of the room, and answered Rogan’s questions about the reading in French.
Chester, a former first grade teacher, thanked the teachers and students for showing him their classrooms.
Concannon then led the way to two full-day kindergarten classes. The students were engaged in small groups, some reading, some writing, some playing word games, and others interacting with a Smart Board.
Gormley presented Chester with a copy of the book “Make Way for Ducklings,” telling him with the students that ducklings often visit Milton’s outdoor classroom.
Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a Milton parent, accompanied Chester on the visit.
While Calderon-Rosado said she was proud of Milton’s programs, she said the district faces challenges, as well.
“It always comes down to the bottom line,” she said, indicating that some programs are often in danger of being cut.
Chester also visited Milton High School, where he sat in on Advanced Placement classes and heard the school chorus perform a section of the Mozart Requiem.
Chester said he would take what he had seen at Milton and inform other districts of Milton’s successes, particularly in their French immersion program.