Early Tuesday morning, the halls inside the Leonard J. Tyl Middle School echoed with the squeak of wet sneakers and excited conversation as summer ended and learning began for Montville students.
It had been exactly one week since the scheduled start, although the hurricane had moved those plans back somewhat. Today, there was a light drizzle in the Tyl parking lot as the buses arrived.
There to greet the stream incoming students were Principal Mary Jane Dix and Assistant Principal William Kleinfelter Jr.
“Hey Mr. K!” one student shouted out as he went by. The assistant principal smiled and waved back.
Another student showed the principal her broken earring; Dix told her to keep it somewhere safe until it could be repaired.
“It’s kind of exciting knowing this is my first full year,” said Dix, who took the position in November.
She is looking forward to working with the new Student Leadership Team, which will meet with her and the vice principal throughout the year to talk about how they can improve the school.
Tyl will have its second year of the “token economy” for positive behavior. Teachers give students who do good deeds “High Five” cards that they can use to buy rewards.
On the students’ suggestion, teachers can get rewards too—incentives like a week of free coffee for giving away the most High Five cards.
Teachers will also meet with each other more to discuss what works in their classes. Math teachers, for example, might get together to talk about the best way to teach a particular equation.
“We’ve always had professional learning communities,” Dix said. She will encourage teachers to attend other teachers’ classes so that they can adopt the teaching technique that works best.
For many of the new arrivals, it was a time of transition as they entered their first year of middle school. There are 220 new sixth-graders entering Tyl this year.
Brandon Drake was excited to have more than one teacher. “We get to walk around instead of being in class all day,” he said. “They trust us more.
“You have to carry your bag around all day,” said fellow student Mathew Silva. He too was excited to begin the new year. “We finally got our own lockers,” he said.
All the sixth-graders would get homerooms, too. As soon as they got off the buses, they were directed into the auditorium where they heard an address from the principal and received their homeroom assignments.
Along with the newcomers, plenty of veterans were ready for yet another year. Sue Sweet has been teaching science at Tyl for over three decades.
“I love what I do,” said Sweet. “I look forward to it. It’s not work, it’s school.”
On the menu for Tyl today:
Meatball or Chicken Grinder, Golden Corn, Baked Beans and Fruit Sherbert.