BERLIN — While she started the school year in a very familiar way, gathering her very first class of Willard Elementary students around a book, the school’s new librarian is looking to continue changing up the freshly renovated library.
"I love to read — read alouds are huge, Pool said. "Getting the kids to be as excited about reading as I am.”
Technology fits right into that goal and the new library, now referred to as the learning common, was outfitted with a green screen, modernized selection of books, science materials and more open space for classes and activities.
Working in the new conference room, she will help teachers plan ways to incorporate media in their lesson plans. Students can also explore science electronically and with equipment purchased over the summer for the classroom installed in the room.
"I'm going to hit the ground running with a fifth grade class at 9 (a.m.) and I'm just so excited to welcome them to the new space and to hear all their reactions, because the last time most of them have seen it, it was completely different,” Poole said minutes before starting her first lesson.
"We're hoping that this new learning commons space integrates a lot of STEAM, so a lot of the science, technology, art, math, that's what we're really hoping we can do with this new learning space,” said Principal Matthew Correia. “Take our units of study and really use the space and Denise's collaboration to really build lessons and have children have a space where there's a lot of inquiry and there's a lot of inquiry based learning, so it's hands on and really student self guided.”
While a few tears were shed by parents and kids anxious about being separated, Correia said they’ve strived to earn the trust of parents and he visits each classroom to do the same with each student. "Every year I like to go in and I welcome back each class and I ask how their summer went and I remind them that this is their second home.”
"We're excited to be back, we're happy to see all our colleagues and friends and really get the kids going,” he also said. “Because that's why we're here, we just love being with the kids and that's what brightens this whole place up every day. Their laughter, their intrigue, their engagement — we love it.”
“Everyone’s ready to go, there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” said Assistant Superintendent Erin McGurk. “They’re just bubbling over with excitement to start the new year.”
She is also beginning her first year in Berlin after leaving her assistant superintendent position in Ellington. She’s already found a home in “Berlin’s sense of pride and community… there’s a lot of warmth in this community.”