The Malletts Bay School (MBS) in Colchester has a unique configuration of grade levels due to space restrictions in other District buildings. Malletts Bay serves elementary school children in grades three through five. In addition, the preschoolers, age three to five, also attend classes at MBS, as there is not adequate space for the preschool in the two primary buildings (Union Memorial and Porter’s Point School). Teachers at MBS are taking advantage of this unusual configuration by partnering our “graders” (older students) with our preschoolers.
Each week fifth graders from Stephanie Miller’s class (they named themselves the “Millers Minions”) visit Mrs. Wilkinson’s Head Start classroom to serve as assistant teachers. “I think there is a great benefit to the fifth graders as it allows them to feel empowered as mentors,” said Mrs. Miller. “It is so good to see them being leaders as they are getting ready to transition to the middle school.”
Twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, the Minions go in pairs to the preschool classroom during the younger children’s morning free play time. When the older students arrive they are asked to select a book of their
L-R Max Bennett (preK), Connor Roy (grade five), Katie Fontaine playing a learning game.
choice, which they read to their young partners. Following the “buddy reading,” the fifth graders help the preschoolers play games, work puzzles, or build with blocks. When asked about the benefits of this collaboration, Mrs. Wilkinson noted, “It is an exchange of experience, knowledge, respect and empathy that enhances our sense of community in the classroom.”
Saeida Kowa shows fifth grader Mia Cliché her writing.
Cross age groupings are an important part of the unique vision for the Colchester Schools. The vision for our District states, “Our partnerships will lead to a vibrant, inclusive community, proud of innovative learning and flexible approaches in learning with a commitment to excellence for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.” In addition to the collaboration between Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Wilkinson, MBS also has “reading buddies” between the Harmony House fifth and third grades, while fifth grade teacher Gregg Galati coordinates a high school mentoring program with Colchester High School.
Photo credit: Deb Wilkinson, CVOEO Head Start