With very little notice and just a week before giving PARCC tests, administrators and teachers at the Condon welcomed me to their school. Just off Broadway in South Boston, Condon Elementary School serves approximately 800 students in grades K1-5.
Monique Bynoe, a K1 Inclusion teacher, says she loves the supportive staff and the diversity of the families at her school. She was hosting “Pajama Day” in her classroom and invited me to visit during yoga class with Robin Strickman. I followed the sound of music in the front hall and found Rene Martin leading a class of K1 students as they practiced a “Ring Around the Rosie” dance. In Peggy McLaughlin’s K2 class, children were reading independently and then animatedly sharing their books with assigned partners.
The Condon has two classes for severely handicapped students and I admired their teachers’ patient encouragement of basic skills, such as eating or greeting a visitor, while Kevin Lavallee used a rubber snake to introduce the letter S to two of his students!
Kendra Engel’s fourth graders were learning about animal defenses and reacted with gasps of amazement when she held up a 12” ruler to show how long one millipede was! Third grade students in Manijeh Khalil’s class have selected achievement goals, which are posted outside their classroom with ideas for how they might be reached by the end of the school year.
Large illustrated signs explicitly described behavior for common areas according to the four “Condon Style” expectations: be respectful, be responsible, be safe, and be kind. The staff clearly models those school-wide norms – retired teacher Connie Leone, who now serves the school community as a much-appreciated substitute, commented that there was a “wonderful spirit” at the Condon.
Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.