September 14, 2018
Readers of “Breaking News”, Gateway’s official e-newsletter (sign up on the district’s webpage), are well aware that Gateway earned a spot on the MIAA’s 2017 Sportsmanship Honor Roll. This is awarded to schools that go an entire year without a player, coach or team disqualification. Last year this award was earned by roughly half of schools in the MIAA.
For those of us who can remember the long losing stretch of the girls’ basketball team at the turn of the century or the constant changes in leagues, it may come as a pleasant surprise that our girls’ soccer team just won its 300th game. But what is more interesting is that this 300th win for the team was also the 300th win for the team’s coach, Steve Estelle. Mr. Estelle was there at the beginning of girls’ soccer at Gateway, served as a middle school social studies teacher for most of those years, and continues to work with our students to prepare them for life after high school. Mr. Estelle—like Mrs. Jean Garriepy, Mrs. MaryAnn Shipman and Mr. Dan Shea—is an example of the excellent staff we are fortunate to have working with our students during their careers but who continue to support the district and make a difference in the lives of our students even in their retirement.
Recently I wrote about the jewel that the towns have in their school district and much of this can be directly attributed to our outstanding staff, whether that be secretaries, custodians, maintenance, paraprofessionals, cafeteria staff, administrators or teachers and our community members who coach or run student activity programs. The connections made to each other, our students, and our communities are hard to measure but easy to see. I’m hopeful that, as the high school completes its ten year accreditation process this fall, the visiting team will be able to document this commitment to students, the support of a positive school climate and the professionalism that’s evident everyday in our buildings.
Parents often get to see this in their interactions with staff, in the activities and academic activities of their children, in visiting the schools and classrooms and in talking with their children. Some residents get a glimpse of schools as they watch athletic events, listen to our musicians or take in a play or other activity. Unfortunately most of our town citizens don’t take advantage of these opportunities and may only know the schools from the outside as they drive by the buildings. We certainly try to share with everyone the great things that are happening, as well as some of the issues we face, but that’s not quite the same as seeing for yourself just how strong a system we are fortunate to have in our corner of the state.
For that reason I encourage people to attend events at the school, volunteer in our schools, attend school committee meetings, talk to families with students in the district and follow school and district activities on the web, on social media and in print media.