Since it was built in 2003, the Mildred Avenue School in Mattapan has gone from being a middle school, to a K-8 school, back to a middle school, and now is becoming a K-8 school again! It currently serves about 550 students in grades K-2 and 4-8; next year it will add two 3rd grade classes. Mildred Ave takes up a long city block and includes a Community Center with a pool and spacious, airy classrooms on three levels.

First grade teacher Holly Moulton invited me to see “some of the amazing things that are happening” at Mildred Ave. Her students were using manipulatives to solve math problems, while children in other primary classes were working at a variety of center activities: counting with tiles, painting at easels, playing with water, learning how to use scissors, or crowding under a shelf to read a book together! It was the week before Hallowe’en, and K1 teacher Jennifer Aponte had cut open a pumpkin to show her children the seeds and pulp inside. ESL teacher Theresa Garcia-Quevedo was reading to a small group of students and helping them identify descriptive words to add to their word wall.

Middle school students were learning to draw trees with Maria Ialuna in Art, while PE teachers Kevin Gadsen and Lynn Travers had a double class of second grade students running, jumping, freezing, skipping, stretching, crouching, and galloping around the perimeter of the gym.

Sherdene Jackson‘s seventh graders were using white boards to jot down their ideas in ELA – her walls were filled with student-made posters about the countries their families came from. Science teacher Debra Watson has developed an exciting after school and summer program for middle school students, who participate in a variety of interdisciplinary enrichment projects such as a stock market game – which school secretary April Morales says helps them “learn math without even knowing it.”

I asked several teachers what they liked best about their school and they all had the same response: “Our principal, Mr. Rollins!” One mentioned his calm demeanor; another talked about feeling comfortable going to him for help and support. He has been at Mildred Avenue for three years; I hope he will stay for many more!

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Amika Kemmler-Ernst, Ed.D.