F amily and friends of Matt Waite, as well as crew members from his business, MWE Construction, along with Mettawee Community School staff members and students, and many members of the community-at-large, gathered recently in the library of the Mettawee Community School to celebrate the dedication of the Matt Waite Exploration Center.
Waite, a lifelong learner and supporter of education in his hometown of Pawlet and surrounding communities, died in an accident last May.
The school’s new exploration center, home to some new computers, a scanner/printer, an iPad, and dozens of new books, was made possible through the more than 70 generous donations coming from families, friends, individuals, couples, businesses and farms, in and outside of Vermont, including a middle school in Virginia.
Mettawee Community School Principal Nancy Mark began the dedication by citing Waite’s love of learning and his commitment to education, and her deep appreciation on behalf of the school for the family’s selection of the library as a recipient for donations made in Matt’s memory.
Kellie Baker-Waite took the opportunity to recall her husband’s love of books and of reading, and his need to have the facts when faced with an unknown topic area. Kellie Baker-Waite concluded by saying she believed that her husband would show his appreciation for being honored in this way, “… with his infectious smile.”
Kellie Baker-Waite served for many years on the UD #47 School Board (the governing body of the Mettawee Community School). She said on behalf of herself, and the Waite family: “The girls and I feel this is a wonderful way to honor Matt, especially with his love of books and such a thirst for knowledge. This truly warms our hearts to have this area dedicated to him.”
A dedication plaque has been installed in the exploration center.
Joining Kellie Baker-Waite at the dedication were her daughters Emily, who was a member of the very first kindergarten class when the Mettawee Community School opened its doors in the fall of 1998 and is a senior at Burr and Burton Academy, and Lilly, a current Mettawee fifth-grader.
Mettawee Media Specialist and Librarian Kelly Ahlfeld also spoke of Matt Waite being a, “life-long learner,” and of how the exploration center would serve as a permanent resource for those seeking knowledge and furthering one’s many interests.
The Matt Waite Exploration Center has a reading area and is equipped with new computers and an iPad for exploring technology and for creating a variety of writing, visual presentations and even music through the use of technology.
Ahlfeld added: “We were honored that Matt’s family thought of the Mettawee Community School library for donations in his memory. As a person who loved to learn, Matt was a great role model for all of us in his curiosity about so many things. We talked with his wife, Kellie, about some ideas, and we all agreed that we wanted something permanent to remember Matt. We decided to create a space that would honor his love of learning, so the Matt Waite Exploration Center is our way of sharing Matt’s love of finding things out with the children of this community.”
Mark said, “ … the exploration center is testimony to Matt’s keen interest in learning and his unwavering support of education.”
The principal added that the designated area of the library, “ … reflects Matt’s spirit of always searching for information and knowledge.”
Purchased books housed in the exploration center match some of Matt’s interests and hobbies, such as race car driving, flying, motor cycles, etc.
Ahlfeld commented, “It was a joy to make decisions about books with the help of Matt and Kellie’s daughter, and Mettawee fifth grade student, Lilly.”
She said Lilly chose books that her dad would be interested in, such as books about construction vehicles and the history of flight, as well as books on basketball and motorbikes. The books each have a special customized bookplate inside marking them as one of, “those Matt books”.