To: All Parents
From: Diana McGinniss, Head Teacher
Sagaponack Common School is a cornerstone of a very old and historic community. Its charm and tradition provides a safe and nurturing learning environment for the community's most precious resource, its children. Sagaponack School students have the advantage of small class sizes and low teacher to student ratios, lending to a more individualized teaching environment. Students are taught by the same teachers for four years, who know their abilities and capabilities. There is no denying that the students realize that they are valued and cherished by their families, teachers and community. They seem to arrive in September with a clear sense of who they are, what is expected of them and where they are going.
Upon visiting our one-room schoolhouse, visitors often remark about the quaintness and charm of the physical building. Visitors enjoy reading the list of teachers who have taught inside the walls of Sagaponack School. They notice the old-fashioned wooden desks, with their flip-up seats and inkwells. The teacher explains that originally the first grade students were not permitted to write with ink, hence the absence of inkwells in the first and smallest row of desks. They notice the woodstove, which was given to the school by my predecessor. The teacher points out the patch in the ceiling where the original woodstove stood. The unfinished portrait of President George Washington is also a favorite. Each school was given copies of this portrait during the early 1900's. The guests enjoy hearing the sound of the school bell ringing. History is important. However, I am quick to point out that we are a public school. We have computers and laptops with wireless Internet capability for each student. Sagaponack School employs a full staff of professional teachers, with master's degrees. The students perform a concert in the winter and an outdoor play in the spring every year. The children each write, illustrate and bind four books a year, participating in the "Budding Authors" program at the Hampton Library each year since its inception. Learning is continual and advancing into the future.
The aspect of parents, grandparents and other ancestors sharing the same desks as our present day students gives them a sense of belonging. Alumni visiting their grandchildren's school plays and "Annual Grandparents Thanksgiving Luncheon" is unique to Sagaponack School children. The alumni show the children where they sat and did their work, where the teacher sat and held their group lessons. They share games they played and funny stories of their lives in "our" school, of days gone by. Their faces show the happiness and fondness they still have for "their" school. Our children tell of funny events and games they still play today.
Former students are encouraged to visit. They tell stories about what it was like when they were at Sagaponack School. These children and young adults are encouraged to share their experiences of how their current schools are both the same and different from Sagaponack School. It is amusing to hear comments pertaining to how small the desks and the sink are now. We are always happy to hear about their past and present experiences and successes. They are forever important to us.
I often tell people that I have the best job in the world. I have taught at Sagaponack School since September, 1992. I have been the Head Teacher since September, 1998. I work in a community that values its history and present day school. I am employed by the Board of Trustees and a Superintendent who are genuinely child oriented, while upholding their duties to the community. I work as part of a team with parents who value education and the academic progress of their children. Most of all, I teach children who love to learn. My students never cease to make me smile and teach me something new every day.