AMESBURY — Election Day in Amesbury also means professional development day for teachers in the Amesbury Public Schools, which also means students have the day off.
“We use the day for a myriad of opportunities that are school-based and instructional-based,” Assistant Superintendent Deidre Farrell said. “The calendar reflects a professorial development day for teachers and paraprofessionals in order to ensure that we provide teachers with the opportunity to develop instructional strategies and opportunities to understand the Common Core. We need a day to focus on those initiatives.”
Since adults over 18 will be voting in the Amesbury High School cafeteria, Election Day gives the district the opportunity to gather their professional staff together to cover a day’s worth of required professional development hours. The elementary schools will also use the day to offer parent/teacher conferences. Since the high school will be out of session for the day, the other schools follow suit.
“There are some logistics for the schools to be concerned with,” Farrell said. “Transportation, the serving of lunches and some logistics as far as insurance is concerned for both the elementary and the middle and high schools. It can be challenging for parents. But it also allows faculty and staff to be together for common planning around professional development for common teams, instructionally.”
The Newburyport public schools will also be out of session today, both for teacher professional development and voters going to the polls at the Bresnahan Elementary School (as well as four other city locations.) As an Amesbury resident, mom of a 5- and 3-year-old, a voter and a Bresnahan reading teacher, Kelly Garbarino gets to experience it all.
“I am very glad that my child is not in school while it is open to voting. I don’t want strangers to have access to my kids,” Garbarino said. “As a teacher, you have to have professional development. In my experience typically, the voting takes place in one end of the building and the teachers are on the other end, so it is not an issue.”
Garbarino will be attending her professional development day along with the rest of her district’s teachers at the Nock Middle School today and said she has the benefit of a pre-existing plan to help with her kindergartner.
“I happen to be very lucky in that we have an amazing family babysitter,” Garbarino said. “So my kids will be with a babysitter. On days when she is not available, I scramble around to find a friend, a play date, a favor swap, something along those lines to occupy my kids. And if I can’t do that, my husband takes a vacation day. It is certainly not how we would prefer to use our vacation time. But they are our children. We gave birth to them, so they are our responsibility.”
While she said that she would like to see a better option for local cities and towns other than school buildings when it comes to polling places, Garbarino understands that municipalities have to make do with what they have.
“The professional development that we do is really, really good and required and necessary,” Garbarino said. “You can’t meet the Common Core standards and all the changing and growing needs of education without getting trained in things and having that time to learn.”
Those who are watching the kids and are not looking to spend the day cooped up in the house also have a few options available to them in Carriagetown. The Amesbury Public Library will be offering its usual “Tuesday Mother Goose on the Loose Babytime” from 9:45-10:30 a.m., as well as the “Twos on Tuesday: Storytime for Two-Year-Olds” from 10:30-11:15 a.m. But the library will also be offering an all-day “Kids’ Craft: Beans!” craft-making that, according to library director Erin Matlin, is appropriate for kids 2 to middle school age.
“Since it is all day, it really does accommodate for their schedules, if they have other plans for that day,” Matlin said. “So that is a good thing. We try to plan things so that parents can come in and do an activity or participate in a program with their children, or even teens or adults. Unfortunately, at this time we don’t have anything teen or adult, but mostly we do plan things for the children to allow the parents or guardians to bring them in and be able to have an activity during the day or all day in this case. Our children’s librarian (Clare Dombrowski) is very aware of that and she does plan accordingly.”
Cider Hill Farm saw an uptick in school-aged business during the traditional apple-picking season in September and saw some extra families trying to beat the weekend crowds on Sept. 9, primary election day, according to manager Denny Durocher.
“We will probably sell more doughnuts (today), so people come in for the doughnuts,” Durocher said. “Other than that, there are no other special activities. We still have the pigs and the goats for a couple more weeks before they go to a farm for the winter.”
As the owner of Leo’s Super Bowl for the past 22 years, Mike Leo has seen plenty of election and teacher professional development days come and go and said his bowling alley will be ready for business, running their well-known cosmic bowling, at 9 a.m.
“It’s par for the course, but there will be a little bump (in business,)” Leo said. “Obviously, the kids are out, so there will be some families here to do a little bowling and enjoying the day. It is not like a weekend or anything, but we will get a little bump.”
With temperatures expected to be in the mid-50s, Leo might not see a huge uptick in his business today, but it will be more than a usual Tuesday afternoon.
“If it was a rainy day, then we would gear up for a busier day,” Leo said. “If the weather is good, there will be less people here. If it is raining, there will be more. Once we get into the winter, those are the much busier months.”