By Joan Goodchild, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Heather Gablaski is no stranger in the halls at Sherwood Middle School in Shrewsbury, but she recently took on a new title. Gablaski, who served as the social studies curriculum coordinator for grades five through eight for several years, is now the assistant principal for grade six at Sherwood, a job that is giving her a new angle on education.
Gablaski has been with the district in various positions since 1997 and said her educational philosophy is to help all students feel challenged and engaged.
“I love working with students at all different levels,” she said. “I think one of my strengths is making things hands-on, helping students get interested without really knowing they are also really learning in the process.”
Gablaski believes as an administrator, she now has the chance to get to know the students from a different perspective.
“There are some parts of the job that I didn's know I would enjoy so much, like lunch duty. I's getting a chance to know the students for who they are as people, running around on the recess field,” she explained. “Now the meetings I's taking part in are focused on student needs and where they are struggling, where they need to be challenged, not so much on content, which was my focus as a curriculum coordinator.”
Gablaski said working with this age group for several years also helps her to be in tune with the unique challenges that middle-school children face.
“Social and emotional development is happening at this age,” Gablaski said. “I think kids are becoming individuals at this time in their life and sometimes struggling with friendship changes. These changes sometimes cause them to interact with different kids than they have in the past.
“Becoming your own individual is a struggle at this age because so many want to fit in with everyone else, but they also want to be their own person. And kids at this age aren's always sure how to be unique and fit in at same time.”
With that in mind, Gablaski said the teachers and staff at Sherwood strive to provide multiple opportunities for students to succeed. That means getting to know each of them so students can be assisted with gaining strengths in new areas and showing how they can shine in the areas where they already excel.
“People are different, and when we look at our differences, we can show students that we all have our own strengths, too. Each child should have a chance to be the star during the year.”