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Friday, September 2, 2016

Popsicles with the Principal - By Lorraine Glowczak

The 9th Annual Popsicles with the Principal, occurring last Thursday at the Windham Primary School was an enormous success with 300 to 400 students and families picking out their favorite flavored popsicles and reconnecting after the long summer months.

Dr. Karl Rhodes, principal for Windham Primary, initiated this event when he was the new incoming principal nine years ago as a way to meet and form relationships with families. Rhodes stated, “It was so well received that I have enjoyed doing it every year.”  Rhodes also stated that he is often asked if he will continue this event. He said that what was initially a one-time occurrence has become an anticipated yearly occasion to welcome back familiar faces as well as the new and a way to “have a fun school community event to kick off the school year that all families can participate in. Also, it is a chance for families to reconnect and possibly make new relationships.”

Kindergarten teachers Laura Record and Jennifer Key joined Principal Rhodes passing out the popsicles while reuniting with last year’s students and welcoming the new ones. One such student was Mason who will be in the second grade this year and is transferring from Raymond Elementary School. His sister Emily will be in kindergarten. Mason, Emily, and their parents not only got to meet Record, Key and Rhodes but enjoyed the opportunity to have many of their questions answered. Mason, his sister and parents are excited to begin their new adventure at Windham Primary School.

Returning students were also enthusiastic to be a part of this yearly experience – reuniting with their friends for the first time since June. After ordering their blue and green popsicles, Alivia, Ann and Molly happily discussed their summer time activities. They chatted about the various happenings such as swimming in the lake, shopping for school, and visits to Funtown/Splashtown in Saco. They all had an eventful summer and are looking forward to the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.
As the school year begins, Principal Rhodes said that he and his staff are committed to the success for all students. “We strive to provide an education that is authentic and personally relevant to each individual learner.” Rhodes stated. This is a commitment that is important to Rhodes as he himself needed a modified educational plan. “I needed a very personalized and individual plan and the support of a few, deeply caring educators to graduate high school. It drives my beliefs about how we need to educate our learners at Windham Primary,” he said. Rhodes also stated that his passion is to better the situation and the lives of anyone in which he interacts. As a result, being a principal puts him in the perfect position to help improve the lives of the young people he gets to work with every day.

As for the teachers and staff of Windham Primary, Rhodes stated he is “blessed to work in a setting where there are extremely dedicated people.” He continued, “Even though our school was under construction, office, custodial and teaching staff members where here throughout the summer except for a few days when it was unsafe to enter. They all work hard to get school ready for students.”
Rhodes also speaks praises of the parents within the community and their dedication and involvement with their children’s education. What he especially enjoys is the increased participation of the students themselves in their own educational pursuits. Rhodes mentioned, “In the last few years I have witnessed students expressing a stronger voice in what they like about our school and what they wish our school had. For example, one student had an idea for an afterschool writing club and now, there is a such club. All because of one student’s idea.”

Imaginative and supportive learning at Windham Primary School began for the 2016-17 school year when the fall classes commenced on August 30th for first through third grades and September 1st for kindergarteners. 

As for the 10th Annual Popsicles with the Principal event, it appears as of today everyone is already looking forward to next August. Based upon this year’s most popular popsicle flavor, next year’s occasion will most likely include blue, blue, and more blue to keep up with demand.

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