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Lawrence’s ‘door is open’ at Ayer Middle School

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Ayer Middle School Principal Lyn Lawrence

SHIRLEY — After vacationing with family in Maine, Ayer Middle School Principal Lyn Lawrence is ready for the 2006-2007 school year.

Lawrence, who lives in Groton with her husband, has two grown sons, the youngest of which is about to start his last year at her alma mater, University of Massachusetts Lowell.

After her schooling at both UMass and Framingham State College, she taught first, second and fourth grade as well as special education in the Ayer School District. Lawrence is now looking forward to her fifth year at the helm of the middle school.

The school has been abuzz this summer with electricians installing new smoke and fire detectors throughout the building.

“The have had an extensive job to complete,” said Lawrence.

The custodial staff has also been busy cleaning the school in preparation of the students’ return on Aug. 29.

“This summer has been a transition time for our administration as well. With Jamie Lamoreaux (former AMS assistant principal) moving over to the high school, we have welcomed Richard McGrath to that position,” said Lawrence.

Along with McGrath, there will be some other new faces added to the AMS faculty. Maura Feller will join the guidance counselor’s office. Timothy Dodd will teach seventh-grade literacy, Jocelyn Smith will teach seventh-grade social studies and Kathleen Richard will teach seventh-grade special needs. Sandra Joseph has been hired to teach eighth-grade Spanish, and Barbara Dyer join the technology department. Rosa DeBarriga will be a world language teacher who will spend the first semester at the middle school. In January she will move to the high school. Two new paraprofessionals — Linda Kauppi for sixth grade and Anne Grallert for grade five — have also been added.

“I am constantly committed to working toward academic excellence for our students, staff and families,” Lawrence said.

Other tasks for the year include mentoring new Assistant Principal Richard McGrath, learning about and incorporating the ideas and methods employed by Stan Davis, who will be working on a systemic district-wide anti-bullying program, and continuing to incorporate the suggestions made by Kit Norris, a math coach for the middle school last year.

“Our math program has been enhanced so much through Norris’ observations and suggestions, and the additions of two strong math teachers, Mark Sinopoli and Erin Casey,” said Lawrence. “We are always striving to be better.”

Another large task for the year is the planning to restructure the school district. As of the 2007-2008 school year, the fifth grade will no longer be housed at the middle school, but will become a part of the Page Hilltop School.

“This is an important transition, but we are fortunate to have such strong and experienced administration teams that will make this go as smoothly as possible,” said Lawrence.

She mentioned that there are some enormous benefits to this reorganization.

“This creates an occasion for us to look at utilizing shared staff even more than we already do,” she said. “Our advanced students will possibly be able to take advantage of high school classes which is a wonderful plus.”

Lawrence said her staff has been incredibly flexible during the planning process. They have showed the school community what professionals they are.

“We are a team here,” she said. “We are working for the students and are committed to creating the best environment for them. We will continue to do that.”

Increased space may also become available due to an entire grade moving to the elementary school. Lawrence has a few ideas for that space.

“It would be great to have some multipurpose meeting areas for the administration and staff to be able to use. Also, the teachers could really use a larger teacher’s room where they could eat together as a team,” she said. “This is a planning stage. It is an opportunity to create a discussion about all of these and other ideas.”

“I am excited to work on this journey with the school. I know the staff is going to come back from the summer fresh with ideas,” she said. “And, the Student Advisory Council has many ideas to keep the integrity of the middle school in tact. It will be an exciting time for everyone.”

As new and returning students and families are preparing for the opening of school, Lawrence wants them to know she is committed to maintaining strong communication throughout the AMS community.

“My door is open. I want parents to feel like they can come to me with any concerns they may have. This is not a time for them to let go,” she said. “I encourage middle school parents to remain involved in their child’s schooling, both academically and socially.”

To all new AMS students, Lawrence said, “We at Ayer Middle School are the next step in your academic and social development. We have a welcoming and supportive staff, and we can’t wait to work with you.”

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