Dear Spofford Pond Students and Families,
Welcome back to the new school year! Between new staff and new programs offered for students, I have much to share with you about the upcoming school year! I will start by introducing the new teachers and education support personnel that we have hired. I am pleased to have the opportunity to welcome these new staff members who will be terrific additions to our wonderful Spofford Pond staff. They are:
Mr. Stephen Duffy, Grade 4 Teacher
Mr. Duffy has worked in our school system for several years as a Special Education teacher at both Harry Lee Cole and Spofford Pond Schools. Most recently, he has worked in grades 3 and 4. Mr. Duffy is certified to teach both elementary and special education. He brings an in depth knowledge of the grade 4 curriculum. Mr. Duffy will be team teaching with Ms. Davis.
Mr. Jonathan Griffiths, Grade 4 Teacher
Mr. Griffiths has most recently worked for the Manchester-Essex Regional School District as a special education teaching assistant for the past three years. He worked with grades 3 and 4 students there. Mr. Griffiths comes to us with a Bachelor of Education in Elementary and Special Education from Salve Regina University. He is completing his graduate degree in Mathematics. Mr. Griffiths will be team teaching with Mrs. MacElhiney.
Mrs. Ashley Cummings, Grade 5
Mrs. Cummings comes to us from The Bradford Elementary School, where she taught fifth grade for the past seven years. Prior to that, Mrs. Cummings taught sixth grade students in Haverhill. Mrs. Cummings has Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Elementary Education. She has her Master of Education from Cambridge College. Mrs. Cummings will be team teaching with Mrs. Wiles-Stasko.
Mrs. Amanda Wilkie, Grade 5-year long leave
Mrs. Wilkie has had her most recent experience teaching at The Summer Street School in Lynnfield. She worked as a teaching assistant in the third and fourth grade at that school. Mrs. Wilkie has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Elementary education from Merrimack College and a Master of Education from Merrimack as well. Additionally, Mrs. Wilkie completed her student teaching at The Fuller Meadow School! So, she is familiar with the curriculum in the Tri-Town School Union. Mrs. Wilkie is team teaching with Ms. Stone (who is now Mrs. O’Brien as she was married over the summer! Congratulations to the new Mrs. O’Brien!)
Mrs. Michelle Sierpina, Grade 6
Mrs. Sierpina has taught grade 4 in Tewksbury and has been a Literacy Coach for students in the elementary grades in Lawrence. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Elementary Education from Assumption College. She holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Fitchburg State College. Mrs. Sierpina will teach Science and English-Language Arts. She will team with Mrs. Magee and Mrs. Valzania.
Mrs. Laura Valzania, Grade 6-year long leave
Mrs. Valzania has most recently been substitute teaching in all of the grades here at The Spofford Pond School! Mrs. Valzania holds a Master of Education from The University of Hartford. Her teaching experience is from the Roaring Brook School in Avon, Connecticut. Mrs. Valzania has also taught upper and lower grades as a substitute in Pembroke, Bermuda. She will teach Social Studies and English-Language Arts. Mrs. Valzania will team teach with Mrs. Magee and Mrs. Sierpina.
Mrs. Elisa Sanders, Special Education
Mrs. Sanders most recently taught in a classroom for students with moderate disabilities at The Pentucket Lake Elementary School in Haverhill. Mrs. Sanders has worked as a teaching assistant in Haverhill for several years. She has also worked as a STEM teacher in an after school program there. She holds a Master of Education in Moderate Special Needs from Endicott College.
Ms. Erika Giacchino, Special Education
Ms. Giaccinno has experience as an inclusion special education teacher in Haverhill and has also taught in a multi-age grades 4/5 classroom in Gloucester. Ms. Giacchino has also been a substitute teacher at The Spofford Pond Elementary School! She holds a Bachelor of Science from Salem State University in Elementary Education. Additionally, Ms. Giacchino has her Master of Education in Special Education Mild/Moderate Disabilities from Merrimack College.
Mr. Chris Tolios, Physical Education Teacher
Mr. Tolios has most recently worked for Ipswich High School as Physical Education Teaching Assistant. He also coaches girls’ junior varsity basketball and varsity football as a defense coordinator. Mr. Tolios works in the summer as a camp counselor at a “Social Pragmatics and Creative Education Camp” in Ipswich. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and a Master of Education in Athletic Administration from Endicott College. Mr. Tolios will work at both the Harry Lee Cole and Spofford Pond Schools.
Mrs. Valerie Cinseruli, School Secretary
Mrs. Cinseruli comes to us from the neighboring town of North Andover where she worked at the Annie Sargent Elementary School as a substitute secretary and teacher. Additionally, Mrs. Cinseruli was involved in the schools as a parent to support the work of the teachers and students there. She holds her Bachelor of Science in Finance from Merrimack College.
Ms. Anu Iyer, Math Title One Coach
Ms. Iyer comes to us from Lawrence where she was a grade seven math teacher. She has had previous experiences in Westford as a Math Resource Facilitator as well. Ms. Iyer holds a Bachelor degree in Mathematics and Elementary Education from Salem State College. Additionally, she holds a Master of Science in Math Education from Lesley University.
Mrs. Elise Everest, Education Support Personnel
Mrs. Everest comes to us from The Harry Lee Cole School where she worked as an Education Support Personnel (teaching assistant). She will continue on here in that role supporting students with disabilities in the classrooms.
With the departure of Ms. Amy Gregg, last year’s Spanish teacher, and conflicted responses in our school parent surveys on the value of our Spanish program, the Boxford School Committee, in cooperation with the School Administration, has decided to change our foreign language offering. Instead of offering Spanish as a component of the core academic day, we will now be offering the opportunity to register for Spanish, French or Chinese through classes that will be run in the mornings before school at Spofford Pond School through a company called Global Child (http://www.globalchild.com). The program was recommended to us due to the success that Topsfield has experienced utilizing Global Child’s services over the past year. We will be providing specific information about the program and how to register your children in September.
Since Spanish no longer occupies a portion of the regular school day schedule, the School Committee has been working with the School Administration to introduce a STEM program in its place. “STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.” (Tsupros, 2009) Mrs. Joyce Rains will be our STEM educator in our school. All of our students will have their STEM class once in a six-day cycle.
The STEM lessons are interdisciplinary and project based in nature. Therefore, we will be able to make many connections through this opportunity as our teachers collaborate to enhance our students’ experience. The Massachusetts STEM standards integrate disciplinary core ideas (concepts) with scientific and engineering practices (skills). The integration of rigorous concepts and practices reflects how science and engineering is applied and practiced every day and is show to enhance student learning of both. Students will be asking questions, making observations, gathering information and generating multiple solutions to define design problems and create solutions. We are very excited about this new hands-on curriculum to make connections in the STEM field. There will be multiple communications throughout the school year to inform parents about the STEM curriculum. We are looking for parent donations of supplies for the STEM program to get us started for the first projects the first term. Please see list at the end of this letter. If you make a donation, please label it with Dr. Rains’ name and bring it to the office. Many thanks!
Health and Wellness
For health and wellness, all students will continue to have Physical Education classes twice per six-day cycle this year! We will also continue to run our BOKS program before school for additional fitness opportunities for interested students. The Olweus Program will continue this year in our classrooms to address the social and emotional needs of our students. Again, the purpose of this program is to have a common language for students and staff to promote positive social behaviors, to effectively identify and stop bullying behaviors. Students will have Olweus lessons one day per week with their class.
Our technology use will continue expand this year. Students will continue to have Media class one time per week in the computer lab with Mrs. Boulay in lieu of library class. Students will continue to have access to the library and can take out books with our library assistant. Mrs. Kowsakowski will serve as our Digital Learning Specialist this year. She will work with teachers in the classrooms to assist with expanding the use of technology to enhance student learning of our curriculum. We are acquiring several new laptops and Ipads for students as we will have one laptop cart per grade level, two Ipad Carts to share and our computer lab will be outfitted with laptops to replace the aging desktops. We have expanded our band-with to support the increase level of devices in our school. Our goal is to learn more about how we can best utilize technology to teach the Common Core Learning Standards and 21st Century Learning skills. You will hear more about our technology work throughout the school year.
I will be sending out a weekly electronic newsletter for all parents this year. Additionally, I will continue to have a Principal Blog. Please sign up for BOTH the newsletter and blog by going to this link. Please note that by doing this you will receive emails from blog updates and a weekly electronic newsletter.
We have a school calendar (using Google) to list upcoming events and it also includes the “number” for each day of the week for our six-day schedule rotation. There is a link already set up on my blog—look under the tab “Calendars” at the top of the blog. There will also be a link on the school website under the “Quick Links”.
Open Office Hours for Parents
Additionally, I will be hosting open office hours for parents on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30-9:00 am. You do not need an appointment and may come directly into the school. Please just come to the front office to see me. This will help with any issue or concern that you may have. I will continue to have monthly “Principal Coffees” as well.
I have some homework for parents before the first day of school:
- Please check out our school website: http://tritownsu.vt-s.net/spofford-pond
- Please also check the bus routes on our school website and my blog for the first day of school.
- Please sign up for BOTH the newsletter and blog by going to this link.
- Please also update (if needed) your My School Bucks (Nutri-Kids) account online to ensure that is set up for your child’s lunch (if they will be purchasing lunch).
Arrival & Dismissal
Our morning arrival and afternoon dismissal procedures have remained the same. However, for dismissal, it is important that parents stay in the car line. Parents should not be parking and getting out of cars during dismissal to pick up their child. Walking through the line of cars is a safety-risk and can cause confusion with the car lines. I will be outside during dismissal to monitor student and car safety. We will work diligently to allow for a quick, efficient and safe dismissal.
9/3 First Day of School for Students with an 1:15 dismissal. Lunch will be served.
9/22 Open House for Parents Grades 3 & 4 Spofford
9/22 School pictures taken-more information to follow
9/23 Open House for Parents Grades 5 & 6 Spofford
9/24 Early Release & Fall Fundown at Spofford, School Picture Day
I thank you and our School Committee for the continued support of our school. We are very excited about the new staff and programs that are provided to us. I look forward to a successful and rigorous learning year with your children.
Kathryn Castonguay, Ed.D.
Spofford Pond School