From:  Assistant Principal, Mike LeGault

As I reflect on the past school year as the newest member of the Merton Williams community, I feel grateful for the opportunity to be working with the students and staff and feel proud to be sporting the Hilton Cadet red and black.

My first experience as a Cadet was Open House.  Merton Williams was packed.  Both families and staff invested their time into learning more about each other and building the trust necessary to work together for the benefit of the students.  Shortly after this event, I began working in the school fulltime as the assistant principal.  On my very first day on the job, the school was being reviewed for the IB Middle Years Programme authorization.  There was visible evidence that both staff and students had made significant contributions that led to our authorization.  Hallways were marked with student work, IB Learner Profile Traits, and pictures of students who had earned Student of the Month for exhibiting those traits.  I was grateful to be in a place that takes advantage of so many opportunities to recognize students and their achievements.  Since our authorization as an IB school district, I've seen staff continue to work tirelessly at Team meetings, IB Collaboration Time, and department meetings to ensure that the needs of students are met, academically, behaviorally, and social-emotionally.

One of my first tasks was coordinating a PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Support) event called the Fall Festival.  Fall Festival is one of three annual events that recognize students for doing the right thing for others in school.  Staff at all levels donated their time and local organizations donated food to make the event a special one for the students.  What I didn't quite realize at the time, was that this level of involvement, is the norm at Merton Williams.

Soon after, I became involved with our district level PBIS team and helped plan a new program called Cadet Connect.  Students from the High School and Middle School worked together to put together engaging lessons that celebrated individual differences amongst the student population, while at the same time defining what it means to be a Hilton Cadet.  The lessons were taught to our elementary students, and the IB Learner Profile traits were the lens through which this event was viewed, and it was a huge success.  This was another example of Hilton staff coming together to enrich the lives of students at all levels of the organization.  I was grateful to be a part of an event that fostered leadership and connectedness among our students.

Later in the school year, Merton Williams embarked on investigating the IB Approaches to Learning; a skill set for students to help them become better learners.  Our teachers kept open minds through the process and there's evidence that some have started explicitly teaching them to students.  I'm grateful to be in a place that not only cares about "what" students need to know, but "how" they learn as well.

Lastly, a group of dedicated staff members banded together and formulated a plan to bring community and service learning into our culture.  Students will gain a better understanding of an issue that affects both local and global populations, practices empathy, raises awareness, and makes contributions to society.  I'm grateful to be a part of an organization that works with students in this capacity.

You may have noticed a pattern.  When students are the focus, everything else falls into place.  The Hilton Central School District, at all levels, is all about the students and for this I am grateful to be part of such a place.

Sincerely,  Michael LeGault, Assistant Principal

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