Center School open house connects families, school community

Sep 16, 2022

MATTAPOISETT — Students transformed into tour guides at the Center School open house Thursday, Sept. 17.

“They love to show their parents their classrooms,” new principal Linda Ashley said as she stood outside the school doors greeting families. “This fosters a nice school-to-family” relationship.

The open house also gave families the chance to meet their students’ teachers.

That connection is important to make, Superintendent of Schools Michael Nelson said.

“It just feels good to be in the school building and seeing all the faces with whom they trust their children,” he said.

“It’s a great start to the school year,” he said.

The district “always had a history of family engagement” with the schools, Nelson said.

That made the covid years, when access to buildings was limited and students did not attend classes in person for at least some of their time, especially challenging, Nelson said.

This school year – which is fully in person, with no mask requirements – returns to the traditional schedule.

“It’s nice to have parents back in the building,’’ Ashley said.

The open house also allowed families to meet the new principal.

Before working in Mattapoisett, Ashley worked in the Franklin Public School District for about ten years as a principal and as a pre-k-12 curriculum director for English Language Arts and History/Social Studies.

She succeeds Rose Bowman, the long-time principal of Center and Old Hammondtown school, who retired in July after more than 20 years in the position.

Bowman served as a bridge of sorts among the members of one family that attended the open house.

Bowman was Brendon Piehler’s kindergarten teacher. “She was awesome,” he recalled.

When his daughter Aliah attended Center School, Bowman was the principal.

And now, as his youngest daughters, Arianna and Azalea attend kindergarten and pre-school, respectively, they have a new principal.

The girls’ mother, Tenisha DeOliveira, is a fan of the school. “I love the teachers, they’re so kind,’’ she said. “Everybody’s so understanding.’’

Amy Silva is a veteran of Center School open houses, having attended two others with her older children.

“It’s a warm and loving environment,’’ she said.

Ivy Stewart, a five-year-old kindergarten student, excitedly ran to show her family where the buses pull in. Her mother Ciera Stewart was eager to check out the building, which she had not yet visited since Ivy just started her school year.

Parent Martha Zuther gave the event high marks. “It’s an opportunity for the community to go in and see what the kids do all day,’’ she said.