by Trish Hill, Principal of the Oak Ridge School
This year it is my honor and privilege to announce the 2018 Employee of the Year, Mrs. Kristin MacDonald!
Kristin is a Sandwich girl through and through; a product of the Sandwich School system, she returned to Sandwich after getting her degree in education and proved herself to be an outstanding educator, earning the Teacher of the Year after accolade while teaching 5th grade at the Wing School. Since coming to Oak Ridge, she has been the teacher of the Exploring the 7C’s class. It is this work for which she is nominated. When bringing the Oak Ridge School together, the staff asked themselves what skills do students in grades 3 – 6 need for their future success. As a team, we started with the 4 21st Century learning skills of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking. As a town we valued Community and Character. Finally rounding out the 7 C’s with Curiosity since our goal was to develop life long learners. We then wanted a class that would allow the students to live these core values and to gain these life-long skills. As the principal, I knew in general what I hoped this class would be and what it would do for our students.
As the teacher of this class, Kristin surpassed my expectations. She hasn’t just shaped a course, but she has shaped a school.
No other class in the school has had a greater impact on the culture of the Oak Ridge School than the 7C’s class. The teachers of the 7C’s: Kristin MacDonald, Cathy Lemay and Kara Black have been intentional around their messages to students about Growth Mindset, Perseverance, Grit and Kindness and have shaped who our kids are.
Kristin’s view of developing the whole child led her to want to become a trained teacher in Calmer Choice, a research based program that brings Mindfulness and Self Regulation strategies to students. Through Kristin’s leadership, we have been able to bring Calmer Choice to all 4 grades, supporting the social-emotional growth of all our students.
Thanks to Kristin’s efforts, our student see themselves as partners in their local community, national community and as global citizens.
Locally, she has partnered with the Council on Aging and the Town of Sandwich to develop Community Action Days in which our students and their families do yard clean up to assist our senior citizens who can’t do this themselves, as well as doing local beach clean ups.
Through 7C’s, Kristin and her partner Kara Black have students participate in the “Bring A Vet to School” program. This program connects our students with active and retired military men and women to speak about their service to our country and to reinforce the importance of putting your character in action. She has partnered with her colleagues on grants and projects to develop a greenhouse made from recycled water bottles, developing and outdoor classroom and sensory garden and the Positive Reflections program that created inspirational messages to students about their value, strength and possibilities.
She has also started a Kindness Club for kids who want to do more in their community. Through the 7C’s, students see that they are welcomed and valued at the Oak Ridge School. This is no more apparent than during the Kindness Challenge’s “Kindness Tunnel” in which Kristin and Kara invite members from Central Office, Administration members from all of the buildings, members of Town Government, Active Military, Members of the School Committee and High School Athletes to the welcome the kids through a human gauntlet just for them.
Kristin’s efforts have also brought our students to be part of global initiatives such as the Global Day of Play, International Dot Day, and the Cardboard Challenge, as well as raising money for schools in Pakistan and Kenya, putting Oak Ridge on the world stage and making our students aware of their stewardship. Our students celebrate the 7C’s as our school values and as a school community, and we highlight these values at our monthly Community Meetings.
Kristin is also one of the founders of the 6th grade National Park Trip that takes students across the US in the summer to various National Parks as a way to increase their independence and learning prior to moving up to STEM. This trip has grown to over 60 students this year.
She is a Team Leader for the Specialists team and serves as a mentor for at risk students.
On a personal note, Kristin is married to her middle school sweetheart and fellow educator, Wayne MacDonald and is now the mom of Kurtis and Mariah, whom the couple fostered before officially adopting this summer and giving these siblings their forever home.
Knowing Kristin is a personal honor and a privilege. The success of the Oak Ridge School is due in large part to her efforts and of the people who recognize her thoughtfulness, drive and leadership and are inspired to partner with her in all of these efforts. Her influence is felt everyday in the climate and culture of the students and the staff.
It is my honor to name Kristin MacDonald as the 2018 Employee of the Year!