The Maurice Tobin K-8 School is located in the heart of Mission Hill, behind the local library and community center. Serving 468 students, it is organized into two K-5 strands and one for grades 6-8: Ubuntu Academy, which welcomes visitors with middle school student drawings and selected quotes illustrating the meaning of this Southern African concept of interdependence, e.g. “I am because we are.”

K0/K1 children in Computer Technology class with Michael Gordon are exploring and creating different shapes with pattern blocks and large interlocking plastic blocks.

Marlene Romero leads a small guided reading group with first grade SEI students. In grades 4/5 Samantha Sikder’s class is revising personal narratives, while Mary Alice Sandy helps her students log on to a Lexia program for individualized language support.

All classes at the Tobin study Mandarin Chinese, and third graders are learning to count in Chinese. After watching a Chinese Opera performance video clip, teacher YuanYuan Liu selects a few students to practice dance movements with large fans. At the end of each practice session, she asks for compliments for each student performer’s efforts.

Kelly Darchuk‘s Grade 3 SEI students are working in teams to solve math problems and practice presenting their solutions to classmates. Kyle Gichuru is introducing fourth graders to place values up to a million, and Dan Poremba works with a small group of 8th grade students creating math challenges for one another.

In Caitlin Gaffny‘s science class, fifth graders are talking with one another about what they’d learned before describing three different ways to compare salt solutions: mathematically, by drawing a model, and by using a balance.

Several teachers tell me that the best thing about the Tobin is support from their colleagues, and the flexibility to adapt curriculum to meet their students’ needs. What do you think is working at YOUR school?

Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.