Falmouth School Board approves new therapeutic kindergarten program, directors of after-school program

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FALMOUTH — After unanimously voting to reappoint Beth Franklin as chairwoman and Analiese Larson as vice chairwoman, and swearing in newly minted members David Snow and Chris Murry Jr.,  the School Board on June 14 approved the hiring of a new therapeutic kindergarten teacher.

“It became clear that there were children with special needs coming into the school next year,” Superintendent Barbara Powers said.

Powers said she believed approximately seven kindergartners will need a therapeutic classroom in addition to, or in place of a traditional classroom next year.

The board approved Cynthia Smith for the position.

Special Education Director Polly Crowell said the therapeutic kindergarten classroom is new to Falmouth, but that due to the particularly high number of students who will need the specialized services, the change was necessary.

Crowell said Smith was highly qualified to work with students with physical, neurological and emotional disabilities, and that she could continue to work with them as they age through the system.

“As they mature, we may not need this as much,” Crowell said. “We don’t really know these kids yet, so we don’t yet know how they’ll function.”

The classroom will have specialized instruction available, including speech, occupational and physical therapy. Some students may spend their entire days in the classroom, while others may move back and forth between the traditional kindergarten classroom and the therapeutic classroom.

The School Board also approved the hiring of a director and assistant director of the Lunt Play and Learn program, which is new to the district in the fall. Susanna Guerra was hired as the director, and Sara Amy Story as the assistant director.

The program will allow up to 30 kindergartners to remain at the school on the days they are not in class for a daycare-like program at the school.

Powers said there are currently 27 students enrolled and that the last three spots are still available.

The School Board also recognized math teacher Shawn Towle for his recent Presidential Award for Excellence in Math Teaching, which was announced June 7. Towle was selected for the award along with 102 other math and science teachers across the United States, and will be flown to Washington, D.C., later this year to accept the award.

Winners receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion.

The School Board also said goodbye to High School Principal Allyn Hutton with a standing ovation, echoing the standing ovation she received at graduation on June 13. Hutton will become superintendent of the Kittery school system.

She will be replaced by Gregg Palmer, who is moving to the area from Searsport next week.

Powers also said construction will begin next week on the drop-off lane in front of the new school and that the parking lot for the district office will also be under construction.

The athletic fields are also entering the final stages of completion and the turf will be installed in July, Powers said. The 1,000-seat bleachers will be installed this summer, too.

“A community group stepped forward and raised the money for the bleachers,” Powers said. “They did an amazing job.”

It was also announced that the school district office will be closed on Fridays during the summer as part of a cost-saving plan.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]