Strong Community Bonds Benefit Cushing Community School in RSU 13

Submitted by Dawn Jones, Teaching Principal at Cushing Community School in RSU 13

A new after school math program for Cushing Community School students begins this week, thanks to our partnership with Cushing Public Library. This is the latest example of how community organizations and volunteers in our small, rural town partner with our school to support students.

Bedtime Math®’s Crazy 8s Club provides high-energy standards-aligned math activities to build motivation and confidence. Starting out as a once-a-week program for students in grades K-2, the library has plans to possibly expand for grades 3-5 in the fall. The school provides bus transportation and helps support communications with families, while the library provides planning, healthy snacks, and staff and supplies to implement the activities. Not only is Crazy 8s Club helping fill a community need for after school programming, but the school anticipates benefits will come back to the classrooms as students bring increased confidence and enthusiasm to their math learning each day.

In addition to Crazy 8s Club, the Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing also provides after-school nature-based arts enrichment to Cushing students in grades 1-5. Growing out of a partnership between Cushing Community School and The Georges River Land Trust, this program is approaching the end of its second year. Among their many projects this spring, students will work with a local woodworker to create a sculpture for the school garden area, modeled after the work of well-known Cushing Artist, Bernard Langlais, whose homestead-studio is the site and inspiration for this after
school program.

Community organizations also help support reading and science enrichment. Students take monthly walking trips to the town library for stories and activities with library volunteers. A community “Green Team” — composed of retired community members with a passion for nature and gardening — helps maintain the school garden area and supports teachers in using our garden and school nature trail to take learning outside and help students learn about and care for our local resources.

This past fall the Green Team worked with school administration and staff to organize the school’s first ever “Outdoor Science Day.” Students spent the day rotating through outdoor activities led by community volunteers and experts from environmental education organizations to learn about seeds, soil, pollinators and beekeeping, ecosystems and apple-pressing. Teachers were able to connect activities with specific expectations in the Next Generation Science Standards so they could continue to build on the learning back in their classrooms. The centerpiece of the day was students enjoying apple cider they pressed themselves, thanks to a local community member who brings his cider press to our school each year. This year they had a better idea of all the natural resources and ecosystem
connections needed to produce a delicious cup of cider.

These are a few examples of how community volunteers and organizations are helping provide unique activities for Cushing students. In combination with the support of the CCS Friends & Family parent group — whose active support could easily fill another article — our growing network of community connections helps make Cushing Community School a special place. You can follow school news and events on our Facebook page.