Sunday, August 16, 2015

WMS wlecomes new principal and renovates Field Allen - By Michelle Libby

Amidst construction, summer cleaning and summer camp, new Windham Middle School principal Drew Patin is setting his agenda and getting to know his new school and new community. 
Patin, who just moved to Gorham after working at Sanford Middle School for 13 years, had been holding out for a principal position in the area, so when the principal position at Windham Middle School became available, he jumped. 

“Middle school is my wheelhouse,” Patin said. “Windham was a great choice. It has diversity, working class, down to earth, supportive of kids and the schools.” 

Patin spent some time in Windham at the end of last school year, introducing himself to the students on step-up day and getting to know the staff. 

His philosophy on education is being kid-centered and having fun, using the three “r’s”, relationships, rigor and relevance. 

The relationships he plans to foster are those between teachers and students and also including the parents. Patin hopes to improve on the school and home relationship, so that there is a team to make sure students are in the right place and to help them get there if they have delays. 

“The staff is very student centered and caring,” said Patin. 

The relevant “r” is for relevant, engaging curriculum. Patin sees a strong program that works on problem solving and teamwork and learning to get along with one another. 

Rigor is teaching at the appropriate level and challenging kids by “taking kids where they are and bringing them to the next level. And, have some fun while we’re doing that,” Patin said. 

He was glad that his perspective lined up with what superintendent Sandy Prince had in mind for the role. Patin wants to keep kids engaged before, during and after school and is interested in using the community as a classroom. 

To Patin, that means bring in community members to speak to classes, and to understand the connection between the community, the schools and education. 

Middle school is a rough time for many students, and Patin would like to change the “bust-out-of-here” mentality to the “I had a good time in middle school” statement. 

A topic of conversation for Patin will be to discuss how to make the classroom different and make it fun for the students. “I want every kid to go home and have had a good first day experience and be excited to go back. That’s what we’re looking for.” 

Improvements are being made to the physical school and to the outlook of the school. Patin hopes to have more after school activities to engage students beyond the school day and increase student supports after school. The STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) program in the school is getting renovations and the applications of those fields go back to Patin’s goals to increase problem solving in the curriculum.   

Windham has great opportunity for the arts from its strong music and chorus programs. “I feel it’s strong and healthy here,” he added. He plans to continue to have programs that encourage the arts. The more, the merrier, he said. 

Patin is interested at getting feedback from students, parents and teachers. “We can all get better from feedback. More efficient,” he said. 

Using new media and a new website, Patin plans to do a video parent letter to encourage parent participation in the school. 

“We build trust with each other, solve problems together and support one another. The kids will see me a lot. It’s important that I’m visible and around.” 

In addition to the new principal, Field-Allen is getting a makeover this summer. The three year project will make the school safer and cleaner for the sixth-grade students who will be housed there. New tile, new carpet, an outdoor facelift with new windows all make Field-Allen more appealing inside and out. In addition to the sixth grade, one applied arts class and the sixth grade special education class will be in Field-Allen. 

“Bill Hansen understands the importance of the building to the community,” Patin said. “I don’t have a doubt we’ll be ready for the first day.” 

On August 26, there will be an ice cream social between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. behind Field-Allen School to help middle schoolers get back into the groove. 

The first day will be September 1. To give feedback or to talk to Patin, email or call 892-1820.

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