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Closing Thoughts from Principal Deb Landry

by Deb Landry, Prinicpal, HT Wing School

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget the way you made them feel.

-Maya Angelou

Wow!  This year as Principal of the Wing School really did fly by faster than our beloved mascot Henry the Eagle can soar!  On many an early morning, or early evening as I sat at my desk in the Principal’s office, glancing out at the beautiful Monet Garden, I continued to reflect and be humbled and inspired by all that we have achieved, celebrated, commemorated and yes endured (think snow!).It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this fine school during this, the Wing School’s last year with children in classrooms. We have all been a part of this place that is special…historical in fact. We all contributed to the rich history, culture, and “Tradition of Excellence” that is the hallmark of the Henry T. Wing School.  It was my aim to see that everyone who is a member of the “Wing School Family” knew that he or she is valued, included, and supported, not only by me, but also by each other.  I hope that someone made that possible for each one of you throughout the year.

I am delighted I had the opportunity to re-join and serve the Henry T. Wing School Family as the last Principal. Throughout the school year, I constantly found myself thinking what an exceptional place the Wing School is and how dedicated and committed the families and staff are to the students and to the school. More importantly, the relationships and collaborations of our extraordinary students, distinctive teachers and staff and the incredible families and friends made for a remarkable year as we celebrated and commemorated all that is the Henry T. Wing School past and present.

A special thanks goes to Mr. Dintino for his leadership with the Wing School Community and his unwavering support of each and every child attending this magnificent school. Our doors were always open…and many of you did stop by throughout the year.  I thank all of you so very much for teaching me, and helping me to grow as a leader.  I look forward to continuing on with many of you next year and some of you a few years down the road, as we step into a new future with infinite possibilities to serve the best interests of the greatest students who walk through our doors each and every day.

Change is good…you go first.
-Anderson & Feltenstein (2009)

Nationwide there has been a lot of transformation and change in our schools that is fascinating. Some would say schools are changing too much—or too little. Although we also face continuous change and transformation in Sandwich and at Wing, we should remember what isn’t changing.
At the Forestdale and Oak Ridge Elementary Schools next year, we can count on some changes, yet so much more remains the same.
First and foremost, our mission that we will continue to nurture, empower, and inspire each and every Sandwich Elementary School student remains the same.
  • Our hours will be the same at Forestdale, and at Oak Ridge, they will be the same as they were two years ago for our fifth and sixth graders and now our third and fourth graders.
  • Our schedule will be the same as it was this year in many respects and it will resume a five day specials schedule with the added features and offerings.
  • Our student demographics will be very similar, and the fact that our teachers and staff will be teaching some of the finest elementary school students in the state will not change.
  • Our district elementary staff will be quite similar to this year as the staffs move to new locations.
  • Nearly all of our current preK-5 grade students will return with their peers.
  • Our lunch program and after school activities will remain almost unchanged and we benefit from gaining access to what others have been offered and more.
  • Each teacher will teach the same number of students for the same number of minutes throughout the year.
  • Our student-teacher ratio will not change.
  • Our academic calendar year will be very similar to the current year (however, let’s hope there are less snow days!).
  • Our major curriculum initiatives will be the same and new approaches to teaching and learning will provide for enhanced student engagement that is developmentally appropriate to each grade level of students.

The amazing support that we receive from you, the parents and families, will remain the same at both the Oak Ridge and Forestdale schools.

Some of the changes we will face are merely differences, rather substantive changes. For example, we will have two assistant principals at Oak Ridge next year. I will be at the Oak Ridge School with our Gr.3-6 students, along with Ms. MacPherson and Ms. Hill, as we look forward to a fabulous first year together in our new configuration.

The amazing, hardworking, and passionate Assistant Principal, Mr. Dintino, will be at the Forestdale School with our PreK-2 students, which is no change at all from his current role.  For Wing Students there will be three familiar faces on the administrative teams at both schools when we include Mr. Smith.

We will have new mascots and logos that will be tailored to each school, yet be similar throughout the district.  Though our facility site will change, we will still come together as one group of students and staff at each grade level PreK-6, rather than three separate entities which will U-Knight us all (I couldn’t resist!).

Having said all this, I realize, of course, that we do face continuous change. To implement change successfully, I defer to what Michael Fullan has to say on the topic. He maintains that the best way to effect positive change throughout the school is to create cultures focused on results, learning, and collaboration, and I would add building relationships. While teachers are the ones with the greatest impact on student learning at school, we must work together and learn together to achieve organizational knowledge creation:

Change is forever. Problems don’t stay solved,

so we have to learn to do the right thing over and over again.

Schools with positive, productive cultures are constantly thinking about what is worthwhile and how to get there. I never want to underestimate the uncertainty that impending change can cause within many. While we must learn to live with change, we must also learn to take change both less and more seriously at the same time. Less, because most change is superficial; more, because it is important to sift through the nonessential change until we get through to real change: shared meaning, commitment, and improvement.  
Accepting that we will always be faced with a number of minor changes as well as a few potentially significant changes is necessary for our sanity. Recognizing how to ignore the former and learning to embrace the latter is yet another way that we move forward with our “Tradition of Excellence” each day at the Henry T. Wing School!