Superintendent Dr. Alan Cron
34 MacKinlay Way,
Rockland, MA 02370
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Photos: Rockland Teachers And Students Share Neighborhood Picnic
ROCKLAND — As she looked ahead to a new school year, Esten Elementary School Principal Marilyn Smith wanted a new way to connect with her students.
She wound up bringing together an entire neighborhood, along with more than two dozen school staff members and community leaders, by organizing a cookout in Rockland’s Spring Gate neighborhood.
Spring Gate is home to 34 Esten families, all of whom were invited to join the festivities on Sept. 8 and connect with members of the school community and the Rockland community at-large.
“It’s so important to the entire Esten community to have a chance to get to know our students on a more personal level,” Smith said. “By visiting kids and families in their neighborhood, it allows them to forge a stronger bond with their teachers in a fun, stress-free environment.”
The idea for the picnic came to Smith after she read “Kids Deserve It,” which encourages and enables educators to take innovative and unconventional approaches in order to connect with and have an impact on students in the low-income neighborhood.
“I’m so glad that there were so many teachers who volunteered their time outside the classroom to participate in this informal event in their neighborhood to help expand their connection with students and their families,” Smith said. “It was a coordinated effort by everyone, and the kids really enjoyed it.”
Smith recruited several colleagues and community members to help organize the picnic, including Rockland Park Department Superintendent Peter Ewell, Esten Parent Advisory Council (PAC) President Nicole Dever and Custodian Bill McGarry. She also enlisted the help of Donna Burke Smith, who manages the property at Spring Gate.
“These teachers are like superheroes to these students and to see them in their home environment was very exciting for them,” Dever said. “It also says lot about our Esten teachers that they took their own personal time to spend outside of school with their students.”
The PAC contributed more than enough food, drinks and desserts to ensure that everyone was well-fed, and Rockland Title One Coordinator Karen MacKinnon helped secure books to provide to the students who attended.
“I am proud of the work the Esten School staff did to go above and beyond to reach out to their students,” Superintendent Dr. Alan Cron said. “Efforts like these are great way for our students and faculty to become more engaged with one another, and ultimately help make the school feel like more of a community.”