, Gloucester, MA

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November 7, 2012

Letter: O'Maley 'innovations' are a hit

To the editor:

When our son graduated in 2011 from Plum Cove, Gloucester’s smallest elementary school, my husband and I had concerns about his successful transition to O’Maley Middle School.

Would he be overwhelmed with its large size? Would he get the personalized attention that we had been accustomed at Plum Cove?

After he began his second year, Grade 7, at the recently approved O’Maley Innovation School, we know that we made the right choice. His learning experience, both socially and academically, has exceeded our expectations for these reasons:

O’Maley’s “House” system offers a small school within a school feeling of security and personalization. Each grade has three houses or teams offering four core curriculum teachers and specialized classes, health/physical education, performing arts, art, Spanish or remedial math. Class size remains in the low 20s.

We have engaged, experienced, and enthusiastic teachers. I cannot say enough about our middle school teachers. They are creative, committed and accessible to parents via email and website updates. Our son likes all of his teachers.

The SAILS program, Service, Acceptance, Integrity, Leadership, and Success, promotes values and a culture of respect. Last year, O’Maley students banked over 2,000 hours of community service. Last week, our entire student body helped the elderly residents of Gloucester with yard work and chores. Our school is developing empathic and compassionate future leaders.

Our new innovation school model emphasizes 21st century learning skills such as critical thinking by introducing project based curriculum to reinforce student learning. My son works on projects and themes to reinforce learning of the common core topics, with an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) Our common core and specialty teachers benefited from professional development workshops this summer to develop curriculum surrounding learning themes.

Remediation programs are offered for students below proficiency and enrichment for our strongest performers. Students who are not at proficiency in math are given supplementary attention as a normal part of the school day. Those who are advanced are given additional opportunities to build their skills in subjects including Spanish, Algebra and Geometry.

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