2014-03-14 / Front Page

Learning the value of leadership

Educator-in-residence promotes leadership qualities among students
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


A group of sixth-graders worked together Monday to lower and set a hula hoop on the ground in the activity known as Helium Hula Hoop. The activity is one of many that Michelle Cote, right, has facilitated for sixth- and eighth-graders during her stint as educator-in-residence at Middle School of the Kennebunks. Cote, an educator through the Kieve-Wavus Leadership School, came to the middle school through a grant from the Education Foundation. She encourages students to be collaborative and cooperative through team-building activities. (Alex Acquisto photo) A group of sixth-graders worked together Monday to lower and set a hula hoop on the ground in the activity known as Helium Hula Hoop. The activity is one of many that Michelle Cote, right, has facilitated for sixth- and eighth-graders during her stint as educator-in-residence at Middle School of the Kennebunks. Cote, an educator through the Kieve-Wavus Leadership School, came to the middle school through a grant from the Education Foundation. She encourages students to be collaborative and cooperative through team-building activities. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK – “How can you make this work? What can you do to help people get through the hoop?” Michelle Cote asked a handful of sixth-graders engaged in the game known as Stargate, wherein a group of people, while clasping hands, must figure out how to all step through a hula hoop without letting go of one another.

Cote has been facilitating group-oriented activities at Middle School of the Kennebunks for seven weeks as the educator-in-residence.


Michelle Cote, right, facilitates a game called Steal the Bacon, for sixth-grade students. Holding their poses until Cote turned her back is Allie Bennet in red stripes, behind Rory Sheehan in plaid, and Liam Nelson in blue. Cote has led similar team-building activities for the past seven weeks as Middle School of the Kennebunks’ educator-in-residence. Cote is an educator from the Leadership School at Kieve-Wavus. 
(Alex Acquisto photo) Michelle Cote, right, facilitates a game called Steal the Bacon, for sixth-grade students. Holding their poses until Cote turned her back is Allie Bennet in red stripes, behind Rory Sheehan in plaid, and Liam Nelson in blue. Cote has led similar team-building activities for the past seven weeks as Middle School of the Kennebunks’ educator-in-residence. Cote is an educator from the Leadership School at Kieve-Wavus. (Alex Acquisto photo) Cote is an educator at The Leadership School, which is sponsored by Kieve-Wavus, an outdoor leadership camp in Jefferson.

For the past four years, before entering the seventh grade, middle school students attend a five-day leadership session at Camp Kieve.

The educator-in-residence program, among other things, is a way to help prepare sixth-graders for the trip while also reigniting what eighth-graders learned the year prior.

This is the first year the middle school has participated in the two-year-old program, through a grant from the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel.

“(The Education Foundation) had presented this opportunity to us. We saw this as a great opportunity to extend and expand the lessons that students are getting at the leadership camp,” said Principal Jeff Rodman.

Cote also led different training days for staff, who were taught how to incorporate team-building activities into their teaching.

Cote helped teachers learn how to use the low-ropes course, for example, so they could carry on the same activities with students after her departure.

In addition to games and activities, Cote also assists in the classroom, tutoring students who might need a bit of extra help.

Oftentimes Cote’s activities occur after students complete their work and provide incentive for productivity.

“When they’re done with their work, I’ll run team-building games. They don’t realize they’re team-building, they just know they’re having fun,” Cote said.

“We think it has had great benefits for us,” Rodman said of the program. “Michelle is a jack-of-all-trades and willing to step in and work with the students, teaching them how to work collaboratively and cooperatively.”

Before facilitating Stargate, Cote introduced the activity known as Helium Hoop.

The same students gathered around the multi-use hoop and, according to Cote’s instruction, placed two fingers under the hoop. The objective was simple, Cote said: set the hoop on the ground.

Excitement worked against the students as they lifted the hoop immediately above their heads and giggled.

“Bend your arms, guys,” one student said. “Down, you guys,” said another. “Think about this together,” Cote urged. “How can you get it down?” Cote said. Eventually, together, they lowered the hoop slowly to the ground.

Rodman, who watched from the corner of the room, said, “Equally as important as the activity is the reflective piece at the end – to talk about what works and what doesn’t work, about what they were thinking during the activity, and what they can to do make it better.”

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