Welcome Back!

August 26, 2016

Dear Spofford Pond Students and Families,

Welcome back to the new school year! This is a very special time for students and staff to share a new beginning with one another!   The first days of school are always special as we come together again and look to the year before us with our dreams and aspirations.   With the new year, I have much “news” to share with you about staffing and programs offered for students.

With regard to staffing, I am pleased to warmly welcome our new staff members who will be terrific additions to our Spofford Pond staff. First, I would like to welcome Superintendent Scott Morrison, Assistant Superintendent Matthew LaCava and our Director of Technology, Steven Guditus! We look forward to a terrific school year under their leadership! We have several new staff at Spofford Pond School and they are:


Grade 5/6 Special Education Teacher

Ms. Haley Osowski

Ms. Osowski recently received her Master and Bachelor of Education from Endicott College.  She spent the 2015-2016 school year at Proctor School as a Reading Fellow in a “Learning Center” classroom.

Music Teacher

Mrs. Lidia Matthews

Lidia received her Master of Music Education from the Moscow State Pedagogical University and her Bachelor of Music Education from Moscow Pedagogical College #7 “Maroseyka”. She is certified in the state of Massachusetts to teach general music.  Lidia has had experience teaching in the communities of Danvers, Newburyport, Concord and Andover.

Speech/Language Pathologist

Nicole George

Mrs. George received her Bachelor of Science from State University of New York at New Paltz and her Master of Science from Emerson College.  Her most recent experience is working as an SLP for Newburyport and Salem Public Schools.

Grade 5 Long Term Substitute-Special Education

Mrs. Cynthia Wilkinson

Mrs. Wilkinson has received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and her Master of Education from Gordon College. Cynthia was a paraprofessional in Peabody before completing her student teaching at Spofford Pond School this past school year.

Grade 6 Long Term Substitute

Mrs. Laura Valzania

Mrs. Valzania received her Master of Education from the University of Hartford.  She has had recent experience teaching two long-term leaves at Spofford Pond Elementary School.  At our school, Laura taught in grade five during the spring of 2016 and prior to that completed a full year of teaching in grade six. She will take over for Mrs. Sheldon’s maternity leave mid-fall. 

Education Support Personnel

Denise O’Connell

Mrs. O’Connell has worked in our school as a cafeteria supervisor since March, 2015.  We are looking forward to working with Mrs. O’Connell in this new role!

 Paula Sordillo

Mrs. Sordillo has been a regular substitute in our building. We are excited to officially hire her as a full time staff member!

New Programs

We have a few new programs in our school this year. I have outlined these exciting programs for you below.

Science from Scientists: We again thank B.E.S.T. and our School Committee for sponsoring an incredible learning opportunity and partnership with “Science for Scientists” within our school for the second year! This will now be a fifth and sixth grade science partnership with “Science from Scientists”. It is an opportunity to have two “Scientists in Residence” work with all of our grade five students for the entire school year two days per month. For grade five, scientists will be responsible for conducting lab experiments with the students that align with the pacing of the current curriculum. Our sixth grade students will work with the scientists for four days this year. They will work to prepare for a science fair later in the school year. We are very excited to have this wonderful opportunity for our students and staff. For more information, please go to: http://www.sciencefromscientists.org/

Community Read: This September, our school will be participating in the first “Tri-Town Community Read” program that will focus on the themes of positivity and optimism by reading Life is Good: The Book by the Jacobs brothers, founders of Life is Good®.   This program will run for the entire school year! Our teachers have been give copies of the book and many have already read it over the summer. Our students will learn about the “10 superpowers of optimism” found in the book through planned classroom activities. The superpowers include: Openness, Creativity, Gratitude, Compassion, Authenticity, Love, Fun, Humor, Simplicity, and Courage. The public libraries in Boxford, Topsfield and Middleton have purchased several copies of the book for community members to borrow. I encourage you to participate in the read with us! It will be a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children about the themes in the book at home!

Extended Studies Program: This year we will return to our Extended Studies Program. This program endeavors to target fifth and sixth grade students and will advance the following goals:

  • Provide highly motivated, skilled and independent students with additional time during the school day for further exploration and deeper development of topics that interest them and that also address grade level standards for learning.
  • Collaborate with educators in grades 5 and 6 teams, in order to provide extension units and share the responsibility of addressing learning standards presented in regular classroom curriculum units with those students in the ES program.
  • Support classroom curriculum by developing and executing extensions of learning in ELA, Social Studies, Science, etc. as they address both Common Core and State Standards of learning.
  • Differentiate instruction with a small group of students.

Students apply each term to be considered for this program. The application process includes teacher recommendations. Students who participate will attend during the RTI block for 30 minutes weekly. Students will continue to work on Extended Studies projects in their classrooms during the RTI block on the remaining four days.

Science Pilot: This year, we will be piloting new science programs across all six schools in the Tri-Town School Union. Teachers in our school in each grade level have been selected to pilot two programs during the school year. The pilot will offer us the opportunity to make the best decision regarding program selection for the 2017-2018 school year program purchase. The first pilot will take place from September 6th – October 19th with the Pearson-Interactive Science Program and the second pilot will take place between October 20th and December 9th with the McGraw Hill-Inspire Science/iScience Program.

The following teachers are participating in the pilot:

Grade 3: Mrs. Holt

Grade 4: Ms. Maltz

Grade 5: Mrs. Bouffard

Grade 6: Ms. Stewart

Grade 3 Fundations: All of our third grade classrooms will be using The Wilson Fundations Program for teaching phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling. This is a K-3 program and it is used at the Harry Lee Cole School in grades K-2. It is wonderful that we will be now implementing it in our third grade classes to give our students the full K-3 learning experience.

Communication: Newsletter: I will also be returning to an newsletter format for parents each month. This will be published electronically and in hard copy! I recognize that we can all become overwhelmed with electronic communications, therefore, I will provide this in both formats for you

School Calendar: We will continue to have our online school calendar (using Google) to list upcoming events. There will continue to be a link on my blog– under the tab “Calendars” at the top of the blog. There will also continue be a link on the school website under the “Quick Links”.

Blog: I will continue to have a Principal Blog. Please sign up for my blog by going to this link and entering your email on the left side of the blog at: www.spoffordpondprincipalblog.com Please note that by doing this you will receive emails from blog updates.

Facebook Page: I plan to continue to update parents about school events through this page as well as through my blog.

Dates & Reminders:

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.

Important Dates:

9/6 First Day of School for Students with a 1:15 dismissal. Lunch will be served.

9/12  Open House for Parents Grades 3 & 4 Spofford

9/13  Open House for Parents Grades 5 & 6 Spofford

9/27  School Picture Day-more information to follow

9/30  Early Release & Fall Fundown at Spofford

I have some homework for parents before the first day of school:

  1. Please also check the bus routes on the school website:


  1. 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). https://schools.whitsons.com/ma/boxford-elementary-schools?page=menu
  1. Our handbook can be accessed through this link:  http://www.tritownschoolunion.com/sites/tritownsu/files/file/file/16-17boxfordhandbook_0.pdf
  2. You may elect to sign the handbook signature pages electronically this year through the link below or opt to send back the hard copies of the signature pages you will receive during the first week of school. https://docs.google.com/a/boxfordschools.org/forms/d/1ym73gT4iDvkYgmlU2JroQGokzhRHGC7pOh6nfUCbuZw/edit
  3. The Free and Reduced Lunch Form can be found through this link:http://www.tritownschoolunion.com/sites/tritownsu/files/file/file/boxford_free _reduced_2016-17.pdf

Lastly, on a personal note, my family and I are very excited to be welcoming another boy to our family later in the year! I will be working with Superintendent Morrison to secure an interim principal while I am on leave. I expect to be out for 8-12 weeks between the beginning of January and return in early Spring. More information regarding the interim principal will be forthcoming.

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.