Whitefield Elementary School has three new teachers this year, each with extensive experience in the profession.
The new teachers are Molly Brewer, fifth grade; Kelley Capen, middle school English language arts and reading; and Crystal Crowell, middle school math.
All three have some connection to Whitefield, the school, or the area.
Capen, of Windsor, is the daughter of a former Whitefield Elementary teacher, Barry King.
“Twenty years ago my dad taught here, so it’s kind of funny to have people who have been around that long remember and make the connection,” she said.
Capen previously taught all subjects for five years each of fourth and fifth grade at the Sylvio Gilbert School in Augusta. She took two years off to be with her daughter before returning to teaching for her 11th year.
Crowell just moved to Whitefield from Buckfield, in Oxford County. Her two children now attend Whitefield Elementary.
Crowell is starting her 17th year as a teacher. She has taught at schools across Maine: Fort Kent Elementary School; Sherwood Heights Elementary School, of Auburn; and Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, of Sumner.
Brewer, of Pittston, previously taught Spanish at Medomak Middle School in Waldoboro. She also taught third grade at another school in RSU 12, Chelsea Elementary. This is her eighth year teaching.
Wednesday, Aug. 28 was the teachers’ first day of school.
All three are excited to build relationships with their new students.
“My biggest thing is building a relationship with students and making a connection with them, because unless you have relationships and connections with them, it’s really hard for any learning to take place,” Capen said.
“I think, for a lot of us teachers, it’s really knowing when the kids come here, they are safe and they are going to be respected,” Crowell said.
Crowell wants to make students feel comfortable and “able to reach out and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got to talk to you about something that has nothing to do with math today,’” she said.
Brewer said her teaching philosophy is putting students first.
“Every decision that I make about what activities I do each day and how I teach what I’m supposed to teach is based off of the needs of all the learners in my room,” Brewer said. “I think it’s important to get to know them first, which is what I’ve been doing these first few days.”
The teachers find it satisfying when students are able to solve an academic problem after struggling for a while.
“Teaching is a hard job and it’s a job that requires a lot of different hats,” Brewer said. “You have to be a caretaker and a teacher and a nurse at times, but when you see a student understand something that they’ve been working so hard on and you’ve been working with them is just – you can’t beat that.”
Capen referred to this as the “lightbulb moment” in teaching, and she enjoys these moments, as well as being a mentor for students.
Crowell said she enjoys being able to learn something with her students for the first time.
“My favorite part of teaching is when we can learn together. It really helps everybody be excited about it,” Crowell said.
Capen is excited to teach middle school students this year because it is new for her. She will also get to teach one subject and will have a chance to perfect that with her students, she said.
Crowell has planned a project in which her students will make scaled drawings of the classroom and their bedrooms.
“There’s a different level of independence with this level and it’s kind of fun to do project-based learning because they can handle that,” Crowell said of the middle school students.