There are 140 nonnative English speakers in the public schools across the Island, the highest count in recent memory. Most are second generation U.S. residents. Educators are responding by setting a standard for excellence in learning.
Philip E. Campbell, former director of pupil services in the Auburn schools, took over as the new director for student support services in November. Islandwide, 450 students receive special education services.
They are called guinea pigs, seven promising middle school students in Edgartown who are testing the proposition that learning algebra early will let them reach greater math heights in high school. Now educators in other Island schools are mulling ways to bring their own students up to speed.
Matthew D’Andrea hated third grade. But in fourth grade he was assigned an inspiring teacher, Mr. Mansfield, who made learning fun and positive. “For the first time, I looked forward to coming to school,” Mr. D’Andrea said in a recent interview.
Midweek at the Edgartown School an elementary student was squealing in delight. He had just communicated to his teacher, Serena Santinello, that he’d like her to draw him a tiger. But he hadn’t used his voice to make the request. Instead he scanned the library of zoo animals on a speech output app, Proloquo, with a pointer finger, and had pressed on a small picture that was labeled “tiger.”
Ms. Santinello obliged, sketching a friendly tiger face next to a pretty young lady he’d requested minutes before.