In the life of schools, the end of the year is often bittersweet. At The Oaks, we have a series of 'lasts' for our 6th graders. After 7 years at The Oaks, each moment is marked. Their last 6th grade assembly, last Circus, last walk from assembly with their buddies and so on, all culminating with graduation. It is both a time of celebration and big emotions.
For teachers this time is also bittersweet. Reflecting on the growth of our students and seeing them prepared for what comes next is deeply satisfying. In a school that values connection and relationships, it is also hard to say goodbye, even if the students are just moving down the hall.
This is also the time that some faculty and staff move on and others prepare to join the community. This is a normal part of the life of an organization. This year we are saying goodbye to Stuart Brown. After two years teaching in the Multi-Age, Stuart is moving on to teach Kindergarten at The Mirman School. I am grateful for his work with our students and I wish him well in his new school. Natalie Atzeff, our long-term substitute who took over for Katie Traynor will also be moving on. She will be returning to Wildwood School where she previously taught second grade. She jumped right in in January and I am very thankful for all of her contributions.
I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to the Multi-Age team – Kacie Mele and Jess Lichtenstein. The hiring committee and I were impressed with Jess and Kacie throughout the search process. The process included an interview with the committee followed by them teaching a mock lesson to Oaks students, touring the school and spending more time getting to know the school and faculty.
Kacie, who will be the MA2 co-teacher with Kathleen, is currently a teacher at KIPP Vida Preparatory Academy where she has taught Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade. She has worked for Tom Sawyer camps for many years and has also worked with programs that help to develop social/emotional skills and team building with children. Kacie holds a Master of Arts from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from The University of Arizona.
Jess, will be the new co-teacher in MA1 with April. She is currently a 1st grade teacher at New Roads School. Jess has also taught at Oakwood Elementary School and worked at The Center for Early Education providing one-on-one support in the classroom. Jess earned a Master of Arts in Education at Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies at Loyola Marymount University.
Jess and Kacie bring a wealth of experience with them. They are caring, warm and deeply committed to their work with children. Here are some quotes from our hiring committee:
"Jess immediately struck me as someone who takes a lot of pride in teaching. While she takes the role of teacher very seriously, she has a playful side the children will surely to respond to. Jess demonstrated a deep understanding of the "whole child" and the real value of progressive education. Her experience gives her a strong foundation to grow with us at the Oaks and her dynamic teaching skills will work well in our environment."
"I was so impressed with Kacie's passion for teaching. It was clear that she puts a great amount of research, thought, and heart into developing her teaching methods. I feel that her energy will be fun and inspiring for the children and I'm excited for her to be a part of the multi age team."
"What really impressed me about Jess was how much she values collaboration. It is exciting to have someone who goes out of her way to receive feedback from her colleagues in order to create the best learning environment possible."
"Kacie's deep dedication to teaching and her students completely blew me away. We're so lucky to have such a kind and hardworking person join our community."
"Jess feels like a natural fit for multiage and the Oaks, with all of her progressive education experience. In addition to being very well qualified, she is warm and engaging. I think that she will make great connections with the children, parents and faculty and am so pleased that she'll be joining us."
"Throughout the entire interview process I was impressed with Kacie's dedication to her craft. As she shared her perspective of teaching with the committee, one could hear her passion for working with children. This passion was evident as she began interacting with the children in multi-age. I am excited to have her as part of the multi-age team."
"When speaking with Jess I was struck by her strong commitment to progressive education and her love of working with children. Her teaching philosophy of co-creating learning opportunities with children was visible through the work she brought to the multi-age classroom. I am looking forward to collaborating with her as part of the multi-age team."
"Kacie's energy and strong compassion for children shines in everything she does. She is clearly a lifelong learner and a nurturer who will provide a warm, safe environment for children to face academic challenges with confidence."
"Jess had a natural connection with the children and had their rapt attention throughout her lesson. She was enthusiastic about joining our faculty's culture of collaboration and creativity, and her experience and passion for teaching writing, in particular, will be an asset to our community."
I want to thank the Hiring Committee for their hard work and thoughtful participation. Kacie and Jess are eager to join The Oaks and the Multi-Age. April and Kathleen are looking forward to their new team members and will be working with Jess and Kacie this summer to plan for smooth transition into the new year. I hope you will join me in welcoming them this fall.