Middle school deans adapting into new roles

Joe Lister

Mr. Robert Buscaglia, Mr. Jamie Wasson, and Mr. Leo Kindon are all part of the new middle school dean movement.

The middle school announced three new deans and they are working to keep grades six through eight at a consistent flow.

Eighth Grade Dean and Spanish teacher Mr. Robert Buscaglia says it seemed natural to move from his position as a founding Sixth Grade Academy team member to another brand new position as the Eighth Grade Dean.

As a part of his new position, Buscaglia says he’s had to train two new teachers, Ms. Kimberly Sheets and Ms. Lori Trexler, in addition to being a part of the interviewing process.

“They’re fantastic, they came in and hit the ground running. They’ve had to deal with a lot of new stuff and some pretty intense change, and they have been great assets,” he said.

But that’s only a portion of what Buscaglia expects he’ll have to do.

The middle school recently added a feedback block for its eighth graders, which is time that can be spent in multiple ways. The entire grade is tracking the journey of a t-shirt from Plymouth honoring a fallen officer. Buscaglia picked bought the shirt in a convenience store in Nicaragua.

The eighth grade teachers are working on several ongoing projects. “Continuing to evolve the feedback block system, that’s one thing,” Buscaglia said. “Another is to constantly clarify goals and where we’re heading as a team.

At least twice a week, Buscaglia also meets with the leadership team, which includes the other two middle school deans, the two middle school counselors, Head of Middle School Mr. Patrick Sillup and Middle School Coordinator Mrs. Michele Lott.

“We’ll discuss what’s happening at the middle school level and plan out what we need to start doing together to make the Middle School experience work,” he said.

“Most recently it’s been about looking back at orientation,” Buscaglia said. “In the beginning it was planning for orientation, coordinating who’s going to use what spaces and who’s going to be where at what time.”

Buscaglia said his new role has been more work than he had expected. “But in a good way. In addition to my regular teaching load, now I’m supporting new teachers. I’m helping to implement a new curriculum,” he said.

With all his extra work, Buscaglia says that his perspective has changed. “If you were climbing a mountain and you looked at your view, at the beginning of your journey you could see some stuff, but as you kept getting higher and higher your view would get broader and broader,” he said.

Mr. Leo Kindon is the Seventh Grade Dean and English teacher. He applied for the job because he felt he could do more than what he was doing in the middle school.

“I wanted to become a little bit more involved in working with a specific group of kids,” he said. “So I applied for the seventh grade job.”

“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “It’s a little bit more responsibility, and time consuming.”

Kindon says that he gets to campus early, so he uses that time to get his work done.

Kindon also thinks that he’ll be doing a lot of parent interviews, curriculum decisions, and extra things like tutoring in the middle school experiential learning block.

“I think I’m more aware of things,” he said. “I’d just ask people to be patient, not everyone can be treated at the same time, so we’ve got to have a little bit of patience.”

Mr. Jamie Wasson is the Sixth Grade Dean and English teacher, and he took on his job because, like Buscaglia, he felt it was a natural next step after his two years with the Sixth Grade academy.

Wasson said he and Kindon have been working together to facilitate both sixth and seventh grade meetings. Sixth and seventh grade teachers mix between the two grade levels, while eighth grade teachers only teach eighth grade.

Wasson says that he thinks most of his work coming up will have to do with continuing the academy approach and making sure that his kids get a good experience.

For Wasson, the adjustment from teacher to dean is “wonderful.”

“Kindon has taught here for a very long time and he mentored me as a young teacher,” he said. Wasson’s connection to Buscaglia through the Sixth Grade Academy founding team has strengthened their relationship, he said.

“The three of us really get along together and work well together,” Wasson said. “It’s been an honor to be a part of this and I’m excited to see where it goes.”