Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 06-05-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JUNE 5-11, 2019 NORTH PROVIDENCE 5 Publications purchased the 50-year-old Observer newspaper in Smithfield, and the North Star of North Providence, from Kimball Burgess of Greenville. Both soon became free Breeze newspapers. Finally, in 2009, a fifth edition was added in Pawtucket. The Valley Breeze had several homes as it grew during its 23 years, most on Mendon Road in Cumberland. It moved to its current Lincoln location at 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, in 2011, where it will remain. BREEZE From Page 3 NORTH PROVIDENCE – Teresa Connors, a social studies teacher at Ricci Middle School, has been named the district's 2019 Teacher of the Year. The honor came as a surprise to Connors, a mother of three who has spent her entire 14-year career in edu- cation at Ricci. "I'm so lucky because I never wake up and say, 'ugh, I have to go to work.' I love my job and love going to work," she said. "You leave the building every day feeling like you made a difference for someone." Connors concedes she wasn't exact- ly a model student in middle school, noting that those years can be a diffi- cult time of transition for many. "I tell my students, I made it out … you'll be all right, too," she said. She fosters a sense of community in her classroom by bringing in pro- grams such as morning meditation, mindfulness practices and gratitude lessons, where students share whom they're grateful for. "I can't tell you how many kids cried at the responses," she said. She encourages peer connections by holding space for dialogue on a vari- ety of topics, allowing her students an opportunity to open up about things they may be struggling with at school or in their personal lives. During those sessions, "we've had some serious emotional moments and breakthroughs in the classroom," Connors said. "Students have opened up about things I can't even believe." These conversations with students help to develop a sense of commu- nity. "There's a certain comfort level there," she said. "They're able to realize they are not alone in their struggles. It's very powerful for students to make connections with each other, especially someone they might not normally talk to or don't seem to be friends with." She added, "It's also helpful for me as a teacher to hear these things because we as teachers don't always put ourselves in the student's shoes. When we're focused on the curricu- lum we don't always look at the indi- vidual student and why they may be struggling." Asked how she encourages that environment of trust in her classroom, Connors said, "I'm here for the kids whenever they need it," and that she shares things from her own life with her students. Her classroom is also different from other middle school classes in its employment of project-based learning, where her 8th-graders explore solu- tions to real issues impacting people around the world. The learning inspires social activism and prompts students to help make a change. Projects have included raising money for various local causes and even sponsoring the education of a 10-year-old girl from Ethiopia. As a social studies teacher, Connors said she finds it important to teach her students that they're able to "make a change on their own and think bigger than North Providence. Things like that make school memorable for the kids." Ricci's Connors is North Providence's Teacher of the Year By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com Students participate in talk on teen relationship violence NORTH PROVIDENCE – A student research project in Teresa Connors' 8th-grade classroom at Ricci Middle School culminated in May with a presentation about some diffi cult but vital topics surrounding abusive relationships. After spending months researching teen dating violence as part of their Project-Based Learning require- ment in Connors' class, 8th-graders Kiera Buttimer and Maya Warren invited the Katie Brown Educational Program to speak to their peers about ways to recognize and help prevent relationship violence. The KBEP was founded in 2001 in response to the murder of 20-year- old Katherine "Katie" Brown of Bar- rington, who was killed by the person she had dated on and off since high school. The foundation provides age-appropriate relationship violence prevention education to various demographics including 5th-grade to high school students. Warren said the talk by the KBEP's Angelica Marandola was "an amaz- ing way to spread information about dating violence." Students were given tips that "could be life-changing." Marandola talked with students about the different types of violence and signs of each, including verbal, emotional, physical and sexual violence. "Can you commit violence without speaking?" she asked students. "What can you do if someone is perpetrat- ing a fi ght? If you are experiencing bullying, what can you do? Why is asking to go through your partner's phone or share passwords not a sign of trust? What is consent?" While Connors said some of the top- ics may seem uncomfortable to dis- cuss in a classroom setting, she hoped her students would come away from the presentation more aware of the signs of violence within a relationship and an understanding that violence is more than physical. "Typically this is a problem that is more common for girls and I want them to have the self-confi dence to know that they are worthwhile and do not need to derive their value from a man. I also wanted the boys to understand the consequences of their behaviors," she said. "And while violence is more commonly directed at the girls, I think it is important for students this age to understand that both genders can (be) and are affected." Connors said she ultimately wants her students to feel "empowered and comfortable knowing they have ev- ery right to stand up for themselves. I also wanted them to walk away with a plan for themselves … I wanted them to be aware of what they could do if they fi nd themselves in this situ- ation." ANGELICA MARANDOLA, of the Katie Brown Educational Program, speaks to a group of 8th-graders in Teresa Connors' classroom about teen relationship violence. CONNORS 1180 Smith Street Providence, RI 401-861-8830 Now accepting New Patients Footcare for the Entire Family Providing compassionate and quality care for the Community over the past 20 years! Saturday appointments available Dr. Louis Simeone, DPM

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