Veterans Remembrance Assembly

I have been blessed with many opportunities in my life from becoming a mom to three wonderful healthy children, finding the love of my life and being fortunate to find a career that gives me immense pleasure in watching children discover their possibilities and teachers and staff helping to make those possibilities a reality for each child.  Last week I witnessed a first in my career and wanted to share with you the remarkable experience if you were unable to attend.  I am referring to the Veterans Remembrance Assembly on November 10, 2015 at Brewer High School.

This morning began with a breakfast prepared by our kitchen staff. Our student council served up scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, and cinnamon buns along with coffee, tea and juice to over a hundred veterans and their families.  Conversations between the army, navy, marine corps, air force and coast guard filled our beautiful cafeteria space.  Teachers, staff members, and students stopped to thank veterans for their service to our great country.  Smiles, laughs and even a few tears were shed as stories were shared about those service men and women that passed away during this year as many of these veterans return year after year to participate in this assembly.

I smiled as I shook the hands of so many veterans that day and held back a tear myself as I thought about what each of these veterans have done for the freedoms I am lucky to have today.  After breakfast, our veterans assembled outdoors and lined up by military branch.  As the 195th Army Band and Select BHS Band Members played the processional “Branch Themes”, each branch was led into the gymnasium to a standing ovation.  I was so proud of our students as they stood a little taller and honored our military veterans and their families as they entered our gymnasium.

Evan Vidas, a member of our Air Force JROTC, led the assembly.  He then introduced the posting of the colors which was done by the BHS AFJROTC Color Guard.  The students in the Color Guard in the picture below are: Pedro Rodriguez, Logan Linzman, Jeremy Gignac, Andrew Rackliff, Jessica Jewell, Lillie Nash, Ian Coleman, Tyler Mock, Dallas Getchell, and Tyler Storen. These students marched in perfect synchronicity as they posted the colors.

After Principal David Wall’s welcome, there was a recognition where the BHS AFJROTC honored MIA and POWs.  The Prisoner of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) table serves as a ceremonial remembrance of all the men and women who have served in the armed forces and have either been captured as a POW or categorized as MIA.  It honors all five services and symbolizes the strength of those who fight for our country and rests in the traditions that are upheld today.  The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.  The students that participated in this remembrance were Dylan Bragdon, Ethan Griffiths, Marcus Nash, Alex Reardon, Tim Sovis.

Our keynote speakers for the event were Colonel Douglas Farnham, the 101st ARW Commander and Master Sergeant Daniel Moore, the 101st ARW Command Chief.  These men spoke about the history of Veteran’s Day, the importance of freedom and the significance of making good choices and giving back to our community.  You could have heard a pin drop in our gymnasium, the students were so quiet and attentive, listening to every single word.

As the 195th Army Band played a musical selection called “Bravura”, which words cannot describe, as it was beautifully arranged and delivered, I remember hearing those seated around me whispering “wow” as they were truly impressed with the talent of these musicians.  At this point in the assembly, Sergeant Campbell, a high school teacher, shared the significance of the challenge coin which every veteran received during breakfast that morning.  The Challenge coin is given to a person when they become part of a unit.  They carry their unit coin on them to prove they are a member of that group.  When challenged you must present your unit coin or face the consequences…buy a round of sodas for everyone.  J Sergeant Campbell then recognized all of the Brewer High School Veterans.

As the assembly neared closing, we had the honor of hearing from Anna Jewell from the Class of 2019.  She was the student essay contest winner.  I then had the privilege of giving closing remarks.  I spoke about honoring our heroes, remembering their achievements, courage, dedication and sacrifices, and the great pride we have in being Americans because of what these brave men and women have done for us and continue to do for us.  As the 195th Army Band and BHS Band Members played the “Stein Song”, our veterans and families exited our gymnasium to another standing ovation.

The entire event was incredibly moving and I only shared some of what occurred.  I am sure that my words also could not capture all of what was felt within those moments especially for our veterans.  However, as an American with family members and friends that have served in our armed forces, I was once again in my life, blessed.  I was proud to be in the presence of these great American Veterans.

I want to also make sure I thank the following:

Student Council: Noah Umel, Lana Sabbagh, Annie Jewell, Maria Maxsimic, Jennah Geiser, Jacob Cote, Cameran Oxley, Collin Rhoads-Doyle, Connor Roope, Brian Howard,  Rose McLaughlin, Caleb LaPlante, Hayley Roy, Sarah Maxsimic, Cameron Wood, Alex Stroup, Eric Seekins, Kyle St. Thomas, Abby McCarthy, Ally Chapman, Ashley Clukey, Madison Oxley, Jamison Rhoads-Doyle, Oisin Biswas, Reed Davis,

Student Council Advisors: Breanne Pelletier and Sergeant Anthony Campbell

The 195th Army Band, CW3 Brady Harris and Select Members of Brewer High School Band

Brewer High School Administration

Brewer High School Food Services

Brewer High School AFJROTC

Anna Jewell, BHS Class of 2019

Our Guess Speakers:  Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt, Daniel Moore

Our students, teachers, and staff

And Most of All …  Our Veterans, their Families and those that continue to serve and protect our freedoms.

Student Council Students Serve Breakfast to Our Veterans

Student Council Students Serve Breakfast to Our Veterans

Welcome Address and Color Guard

Welcome Address and Color Guard

Our Veterans Lining Up

Our Veterans Lining Up

Marching Into the Gymnasium

Marching Into the Gymnasium

Evan Vidas Welcomes Everyone to the Assembly

Evan Vidas Welcomes Everyone to the Assembly

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MIA/POW Ceremony

Guest Speakers Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt. Daniel Moore

Guest Speakers Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt. Daniel Moore

The Incredible Music

The Incredible Music

Anna Jewell Essay Contest Winner

Anna Jewell Essay Contest Winner

Breakfast Gathering

Breakfast Gathering

 

Message from Superintendent of Schools

Message from Superintendent of Schools

Welcome to the Brewer School Department. It is my pleasure and honor to serve the students, faculty, staff, parents and community of Brewer. My plan is to create a monthly update to share with all stakeholders. This first update will be more of an introduction to who I am and why I became an educator and what brought me to Brewer School Department. I have to start by saying that I am excited that I have the opportunity to lead this incredible school system!

My name is Cheri Towle and I have been an educator in Maine since 1993. I began my journey at the Riley School in Rockport where my philosophy of education was ignited. At this small K-9 multi-grade school, I quickly learned that all students can learn and we as educators need to meet them where they are in their learning and guide them with learning activities that engage, create opportunities for collaboration and allow students to develop critical thinking skills. I also saw that students learned at different rates as my students were in mixed graded classrooms and excelled by learning from each other. My teaching career took me from the Riley School to forming the first multi-age classroom at Great Salt Bay School to teaching high school science at Mt. Ararat. Once at Mt. Ararat I became a Nationally Board Certified Teacher and Department Head and was encouraged to enter administration. I also created an action research project that looked at science literacy methods and incorporated lab science for all students. I have been a high school administrator with two school districts, RSU #3 and Wiscasset School Department.

The skills I am proudest of are my work to lead change in proficiency based education, teacher effectiveness and professional growth and creating school wide community events. I have been known to do just about anything for a fundraiser including putting myself in a dunk tank not once but twice, dying my hair pink, and modeling at a local fashion show. I love kids and believe that they deserve the very best. I have a variety of additional experiences in aligning RTI needs to specific interventions to improve student outcomes; school accreditations committees; differentiation consultant; vision, mission and strategic design and implementation; and I am currently writing my dissertation on student voice pedagogical tools and there effects on student learning. I have a great many tools to share with you on how to specifically help students set goals, become accountable and engaged in their learning and meet learning targets in a variety of ways at all grade levels. Since I have such a wide variety of skills and have been at various types of schools, I understand what it takes to successfully lead a school system from a variety of perspectives.

Many of you might ask what drew me to Brewer School Department. There were several things that impressed me about the Brewer School Department and made me feel that Brewer would be the correct match for my leadership skills, educational beliefs and philosophy. One of the key reasons was your vision statements. While I could discuss all five, there are two particular pieces that resonated with me.

1. Our curriculum will be cohesive and seamless, providing smooth transitions between grades, with a variety of pathways suited to each child.
2. Brewer’s schools will be the “schools of choice” in our region—drawing people to move to Brewer to live and contribute to a vibrant community.

First, it talked about students having a variety of pathways suited for each child. The idea that a school system recognized that all students learn in different ways and that we must provide students different ways to demonstrate that learning was very exciting. This means that we are ensuring that all of our students are successful. One of my core beliefs is that we must ensure that each child is successful and that each child graduates from high school with every possible door open for them. With every possible door open, students are able to choose their own future rather than having that future chosen for them.

Another exciting piece was having Brewer Schools be the school of choice in the region. By being the school of choice this means our schools are academically vibrant, nurturing and challenging, and safe. Another of my core beliefs is that every child in our schools should be welcomed and cared for by every adult they encounter. All children should want to come to school, know that they will be met at their level of learning, be engaged in their classrooms, and pushed to grow and learn and have fun in the process. As a community of learners, we should expect nothing less for our students. We want our schools to be a place where students’ dreams and ambitions can come alive so that their full potential can be reached.

In my first 90 days as your Superintendent, I have created an entry plan. This plan is centered around another of my core beliefs: visibility and communication. It is important to me to immerse myself in the community and to learn about the Brewer School Department. By being present in as many events as possible, I hope to form positive relationships to help meet the needs of our school department. I will be meeting with administrators, teachers, parents, students and community members over the next several weeks. If you are interested in meeting with me, please email me at ctowle@breweredu.org. I am looking for some answers to some simple questions: What do you see as Brewer’s greatest strengths? What do you see as our challenges?

My entry plan reflects my strong desire to make a thoughtful and deliberate entry into this diverse and high achieving school district. It provides the necessary time to listen and learn about Brewer Public Schools and work collaboratively to develop, articulate and execute an educational vision for the future. High quality instruction and successful student learning are the keys to achieving our collective educational mission. Meeting each student’s individual learning needs and providing each student the necessary pathway to success is vital in today’s educational paradigm shift. We know that students learn in different ways and in different time frames. Our educational system needs to align with best practices. We need to help all students realize their dreams, and equip them with the knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in a constantly changing world. Through a deep commitment to children; every child will learn and every child can meet high standards. My plan is organized to gather a great deal of information, input, and ultimately gain insight into how best to strengthen and build upon the current and historical success of the Brewer School Department.

I hope as you get to know me, you will see that we share a passion for children and education that you so clearly have demonstrated to me in your vision and mission statements. One of my favorite quotes on leadership is “Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example.” I realize my leadership will be earned by my actions over the next few months. It is through my desire to learn as much as I can about the Brewer Community and my strong desire to build schools that support all students to fulfill their dreams, that my leadership will be demonstrated within our community. Thank you for this incredible gift and I look forward to making our vision and mission a reality for all of our children!

Sincerely,

Cheri Towle, NBCT Superintendent of Brewer Schools