Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Superintendent Devine's Opening Day Remarks

Hull Public Schools
Opening Meeting
August 28, 2017

Good morning and Welcome to the Hull Public Schools 2017-2018 school year.  I am truly humbled to be standing before you for the first time as your Superintendent of Schools.

I have asked the staff member who has been with the Hull Public Schools the longest to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance this morning.  Please welcome to the podium a woman who was an amazing French teacher and is an even better special education teacher  – Madam MaryLou Galuzzo.

That video is by a man named Matt Harding and was recorded in 2012.  In it he visits 55 countries on six continents – including Columbia, Serbia, Rwanda, Lebanon, South Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela, Syria and North Korea.

I used to watch that video with my daughters when they were younger and that video came to my mind as I thought about the events of this summer and our opening meeting today.  Think about it – this young American went all over the world – to countries where Americans are loved and where we are hated – and got all types of people to dance with him.  They were Muslim, Christian, Jewish, black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, disabled and fully-abled.  But they all danced together to make a beautiful mosaic of a video.  As we go into this year – I ask that you all remember that there is so much more that unites us then divides us.  More on this video later.

Last Wednesday, the HTA President and I spent more than an hour talking about our schools, our students and the special place that is Hull.  It was a great conversation about how we can all work together because we all want what is best for our students.  Although I know there will be times that we disagree about how to best serve our students, I know that the relationship that Debbie and I have built over the years will allow us to respectfully work through differences so that we can continue to ensure that all Hull students receive a world-class education.  Please welcome to the podium HTA President Debbie McCarthy.  

I consider myself blessed to come to work every day here in Hull for many reasons.  One of those reasons is that I get to work with one of the classiest, strongest, dedicated and most intelligent women I know.  Please welcome my colleague, confidant and friend, our assistant superintendent – Mrs. Judy Kuehn.

Good morning!

Welcome to the 2017 – 2018 school year! 

It is an exciting time for our district and it is awesome to see all of you!  

Each summer I am reminded of the uniqueness of our profession.  Not many occupations have a natural pause where all of us including students, have the opportunity to reflect, recharge and start fresh! I hope each of you were able to enjoy the long days of summer and feel energized for the meaningful journey you will take with each of your students this year.

Regarding professional development, in June, I was extremely pleased that many of you participated in SMART Board, Google Drive and Twitter trainings.  This year we have a meaningful professional development program planned thanks to your survey responses.

Some of the highlights include Sarah Ward at the Jacobs School and our full day of professional development in November has been structured using the build your own schedule model.  Some of the session topics will include social emotional learning, SMART Boards, various levels of Google Drive, Calm Classroom, Twitter, working with traumatized children, reading strategies, and time for independent projects.  

One of the district goals this year is for all of us to gain a deeper understanding of social emotional learning and strategies to utilize in your classrooms.  To achieve this goal, each of us will participate in a book study using the book Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom.  Your principal will give you more information on how the book study will be implemented in your building.   I am thrilled to tell you that one of the authors, Dr. Brady will be facilitating the social emotional learning sessions on November 6.

Another important topic for me to address today is my career path.  I have taught first, second and fourth grade, special education at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, served as a coordinator of a alternative middle school, was a special education administrator in Sharon and came to Hull as the Director of Student Services in 2008.  I have been the Assistant Superintendent since 2013. 

But as many of you know, I was hoping to be the next Superintendent.  However, that did not happen and as the Hull Times headlines read Two Super Candidates and One Superintendent and that was Mike Devine.  Even though the outcome was disappointing, I am blessed and have achieved more in my career than I ever imagined.  

I feel like the women in Chicopee who won the lottery and that the District has won the lottery because your Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for many years have been close colleagues who plan to continue to work in a truly collaborative partnership.  I would like to share a quote by Billy Alexander which reads “We can’t always choose the music life plays for us but we can choose how we dance to it!  I have chosen to dance on as the Assistant Superintendent with my partner Superintendent Devine as my lead.  Oh the places this District will go with us as your leaders!  

This experience was truly a reminder to me of the importance of modeling grit and resilience for our students.  I am totally committed to continuing my work in Hull and it as an honor and a privilege to partner with our new Superintendent, Mike Devine!  Life is good and the Hull Public Schools rocks!

Thank you for all you will do this year on behalf of your students! 

Have a wonderful school year!
Happy News
In keeping with tradition, I want to now share happy news from the past 12 months.

Six members of our community have new babies.
Katie Perniola – gave birth to August Joseph last June.
Lauren Snowdale had Andrew Thomas last October.
Brandon Sullivan became the proud father of  Benjamin Francis last December.
Jessica Scott had Grayson Jeffrey in March of this year.
Meghan Preble welcomed her son William Gerard this past May.
Colby Bartro’s daughter Cornell (Nell) Tallman entered the world last month.

Six members of our school community got married this year.

Cooper Marshall
Keryn Murphy (Leonard)
Brandon Sullivan
Alison Simons
Katie Sowyrda
Philippa Young

And two earned Advanced degrees this year:
Katie Sowyrda – Master’s Degree from Lesley University
Jean Massilli – C.A.G.S. from UMASS Boston

New Staff Bios:

This year, we have 2 new administrators 10 new teachers, 2 new long-term substitutes and 5 new paraprofessionals joining our schools.

When I call your name – I would ask that you stand and give a wave.  And then you can be seated so you don’t have to stand for too long!

Dr. Paula Girouard McCann has come out of retirement to serve as interim principal of Hull High School.  Dr. Girouard McCann retired from Hingham High School last month after 17 years.  She was an English teacher, department head and vice principal at Milton High School for 18 years prior to going to Hingham High.  Dr. Girouard graduated magna cum laude from Boston College and then earned her master’s degree and her doctorate from UMASS Boston.  Paula has chaperoned school trips all over this country and the world, taking students to  England, France, Germany, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and China and  many US cities including Nashville, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Disney World.  Her dance video will be available next year.  Just kidding.  Welcome Paula!

Ms. Kimberly Bothwell has accepted the position of assistant principal of the Memorial Middle School. Ms. Bothwell has earned degrees from Bridgewater State University, Lesley University and Framingham State University.  She has been an English teacher at Randolph Community Middle School for the past 13 years.  While at Randolph Community Middle School, she also served as a literacy coordinator, ELA coordinator and team leader.  She is also an avid Patriots fan and has watched the Pats play in 9 different NFL stadiums.

Edward Cameron will be joining the high school staff as a special education teacher. Mr. Cameron has been a substitute teacher and volunteer coach at Hull High School during the past few years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his master’s degree from Northeastern University. Mr. Cameron lives in Hull and is a 2011 graduate of Hull High School.  When asked for a fun fact about himself, Eddie replied “I turned down the role as playing slot receiver for the New England Patriots and catching touchdowns from Tom Brady the GOAT. I made this sacrifice in order to come back and teach at my alma mater, where I was the best athlete the school has ever seen.”  As you can see, Eddie has a vivid imagination!

Stephanie Harris resides in Marshfield and will teach mathematics at Hull High School.  Ms. Harris earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bridgewater State University.  She completed her student teaching last fall and finished out the year as a long term substitute math teacher at Scituate High School. Ms. Harris has been a mathematics tutor since her freshman year of college. A fun fact about Stephanie is that 5 hours after she interviewed with me for her job at Hull High School – I saw her on her first night as a hostess at my favorite restaurant.  Awkward for both of us!

Julie Krzanowski joins the Hull High School faculty as a .6 English teacher.  Ms. Krzanowski graduated from Lesley University, where she received her bachelor’s degree.  Ms. Krzanowski has gained experience by serving as a long term substitute English teacher for the past two years in East Hartford, CT, Stoneham, MA, Lexington, MA and at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.  A fun fact about Julie is that she has lived in five different places during this past year.

Laura McElroy resides in Weymouth and will be a special education teacher at the Memorial Middle School.  She earned her bachelor’s degree at Bridgewater State University and her master’s degree from Eastern Nazarene. Ms. McElroy has been a student teacher at the Jacobs Elementary School since January.  Before coming to Hull she was a paraprofessional at the South Shore Educational Collaborative in Hingham. One of Laura’s memories?  During my first week of kindergarten, one of my new friends got sent to time out. So I asked my teacher if I could go to time out also to keep her company.  I don’t know if that is true friendship or just someone looking to get out of class!

Jennifer Olivieri lives in Hull and has been working as a long term substitute teacher since October 2016 and has officially accepted the position of physical education/wellness teacher at Hull High School. Ms. Olivieri is a graduate of Boston University.  She is the president of the Hull Boosters Club and plays for the Boston Rengades, Women’s Professional Football Team.  And I can tell you that she is the only one that has ever submitted to me a letter of recommendation written by someone who won a Superbowl.

Emily Pestone, a new Hull resident, will be teaching art at the Jacobs Elementary School.  Ms. Pestone earned her bachelor’s degree from Johnson State College and her master’s degree from Lesley University.  She was a Visual Arts Specialist in Weston and Belmont.  She has also taught in Nicaragua and created a cross-cultural partnership with a school in Uganda.  Her artwork has been exhibited in Boston and Vermont.  An interesting fact about Emily is that she used to live and work inside the Grand Canyon.

Amanda Remmel is a new special education teacher at the Jacobs School.  She lives in Quincy.  Ms. Remmel earned her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Nazarene College and her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.  She completed her student teaching in the Braintree Public Schools and has been a paraprofessional in the Allentown School District and the Braintree Public Schools.  Ms. Remmel played basketball at Eastern Nazarene.  Her former principal says “Amanda will be an asset to any school she joins. Her dedication and strong work ethic will guarantee her success as well as the success of the students she works with.”

Elizabeth Sypek resides in Hingham and will be a special education teacher at the Jacobs School. Ms. Sypek earned her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from Boston College.  She completed her practicum in Brookline and has worked as a paraprofessional in the Hingham Public Schools.  Haley was a Division I cross country and track runner. Her former professor at Boston College said “Elizabeth Sypek is an intelligent, conscientious, capable teacher who possesses all of the skills necessary to ensure her success as an educator.  Her warmth, enthusiasm and professionalism are outstanding.”

Carrie Tiani lives in Hull and has been working as a long term substitute speech language pathologist since February 2017 and has accepted the position of .8 speech language pathologist at the Jacobs School. Ms. Tiani earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Worcester State University.  She has been a Hull Family Network council member since 2003 and serves as a playgroup leader when needed.  Carrie’s fun fact is that her grandfather was a spy during the Second World War.

Courtney Winsor can’t be here today but has relocated to Hull from West Warwick, Rhode Island and will be a .8 occupational therapist at the Jacobs School.  Ms. Winsor earned her master’s degree from the New England Institute of Technology and is a licensed occupational therapist.  Ms. Winsor worked with disabled students, adults and veterans.  Courtney loves to mountain bike whenever she has free time.

We have two Long-term Substitutes working with us this year.

Taylor Vieira served as a paraprofessional at Hull High School last year and a substitute teacher before that.  At our Satellite Program, Taylor demonstrated that she has a true gift for working with emotionally disabled students.  She is returning this year as a long-term substitute special education teacher in the Satellite Program. Ms. Vieira received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Taylor lives in Hull and is a 2011 graduate of Hull High School.

Leslie Townsend resides in Braintree and will be a long-term substitute special education teacher at Hull High School this year.  Ms. Townsend holds a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater State University.  She has been a substitute teacher in many school districts and worked as a teacher’s assistant at Avon Middle-High School and King Philip Regional High School and most recently she worked in a Language Enrichment Program at Braintree High School.

And we have 5 Paraprofessionals joining us this year.

Danielle Hamilton recently earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island.  She will be joining the high school staff as a paraprofessional.  Ms. Hamilton lives in Abington and served as a substitute teacher in the Abington Public Schools.

Laura Leventhal is a Hull resident whose career has been working with the aging population. She recently retired from that profession to work with our youngest children.  She is joining the Jacobs School staff as a 0.8 Preschool Paraprofessional.  Ms. Leventhal holds two bachelor’s degrees, one from Brandeis University and the other from the University of Massachusetts Boson.  She earned her master’s degree from Boston University.  She worked for the Town of Dedham as Director of the Dedham Council on Aging.

Michelle Magner will be joining the high school staff as a paraprofessional. Ms. Magner earned her bachelor’s degree from Merrimack College and her master’s degree from Lesley University.  She was the co-owner and teacher at Kid’s Cove Playschool in Hingham for the past five years. She resides in Hingham.

Joseph O’Neill is not here today but will be starting work next week as a paraprofessional at Hull High School.  Mr. O’Neill received a Bachelor of Arts degree from UMASS Lowell and a Bachelor of Science degree from UMASS Amherst.  He has worked as a music instructor since 2013.  He lives in Hingham and is a drummer and guitar player.

Rachael Rusko lives in Hanover and will be joining the Jacobs School staff as a paraprofessional. Ms. Rusko earned her bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University. She completed her student teaching at the Kensington International School in Springfield, MA.

18 years ago – I started teaching at Hanover High School.  I had taught for two years previous in an alternative school in Weston, but this was my first experience in the big leagues – a public high school.  The veteran teachers at Hanover High School welcomed and embraced me and taught me more about education then any course I ever took.  John Hopkins was one of those veteran teachers and I still look at John as one of the most talented educators with whom I have ever had the pleasure to work.  John retired last spring after 36 years of teaching.  During that time, John thrice served as President of the Hanover Teacher’s Association.  In his final goals meeting with his principal last fall, John didn’t come in with measurable smart goals but with these goals for his final year as a teacher:

Goals . . . . Final goals

1. To teach with joy, presence, and passion
2. To create relationship and harmony in the classroom
3. To linger longer with what I’m currently teaching
4. To retire with dignity

There are some things we just have to do and others that we do because it is just right.  John always did what he had to do – but has always been guided by what is the right thing to do for his students.

I bet when John attended his opening meeting in Hanover last year he did not expect to be at an opening meeting in Hull this year.  But I could think of no better person to share with you his thoughts as we start our new school year.  To share a few words – it is my pleasure to introduce, New England Association of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year and Poet of the year - Mr. John Hopkins.

Let’s go back to the video of Matt dancing all over the world for a minute or two.  When asked why he started traveling all over the world to create videos of people dancing he said. “My life had become this rhythmic migration from bubble to bubble. You wake up in your apartment bubble, you get in your car bubble, you go to your work bubble, you get in your car, and then you go to you know, whatever, the outdoor shopping plaza bubble, back in your car bubble, back in your apartment bubble. There wasn’t a lot of exposure to the outside world … it’s really insulating."  Does this sound familiar to you?  It does to me.

The song that Matt chose for his video is called “Trip the Light” by Alicia Lemke.  In it she sings:

If all the days that come to pass
Are behind these walls
I’ll be left at the end of things
In a world kept small

Remember we are lost together
Remember we’re the same
We hold the burning rhythm in our hearts
We hold the flame

We’re gonna trip the light
We’re gonna break the night
And we’ll see with new eyes
When we trip the light

Think about Matt’s words and the lyrics of that song and how they relate to what we do every day.

Isn’t it our responsibility to break the bubble that Matt talked about?  To break our own bubbles and those of our students?  To expose them to new ideas, new information, new facts, new places?

As teachers, aren’t we the ones to break down those walls so that the worlds of our students aren’t so small? To let them see that not only is there a larger world off our little peninsula but also that the stewardship of that world will very quickly fall to them?

Isn’t it our responsibility to break the night and show them despite what they see and hear online and, in many cases, experience in their own lives - that those that spew hate and bigotry and anti-Semitism and homophobia and intolerance for others are the minority and that we must stand against the haters?

Who better than us  to demonstrate in words and actions -  to all of our students – from our 3 year olds to our 22 year olds – that understanding, tolerance, peaceful discourse, respect and love can and will change the world?

As teachers - Isn’t it our responsibility to give our students new eyes so that they can see their responsibility to make sure that every single student in our schools feels valued, feels a sense of belonging and feels loved?

Isn’t it our responsibility to trip the light?  We need to trip the light.  The academics that you teach our students are so important but you and I know that it is about so much more than English, math, science, social studies, Spanish, art, wellness, technology, and music.  What you do every single day is help our youth become good people.  I truly believe that all of us who work with these precious children – no matter our role – we hold that flame.  We hold that flame and must pass that flame to our students.   The flame is compassion, service, empathy, activism, a quest for knowledge, and the desire to be the best that we can be and to make our schools, our town, our country and our world a better place.  I cannot imagine a better group of educators to pass that flame on to our students.  They are so fortunate to have the opportunity and privilege to spend time with you each day, to learn from you and to have you as a positive force and role model in their lives.

 So – as we start the 2017-2018 school year – I wish you well.  I wish you happiness and joy as you spend the days with your students.  I wish you health and peace in your own lives.  And I ask that every single day, for our students and for our world, that you trip the light.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Interim Hull High School Principal Announced

Superintendent Mike Devine is thrilled to announce that Dr. Paula Girouard McCann has been named the interim principal of Hull High School.

Dr. McCann retired this June after serving for 17 years as the principal of Hingham High School. Dr. McCann is very excited to begin working with the students, parents and faculty of our school. Her first day will be Tuesday, August 15.

Please see this weeks edition of the Hull Times to read more about Dr. McCann's appointment.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Superintendent Criteria Survey

The Hull School Committee is seeking input from the community as it starts the process of selecting our next Superintendent.  We invite you to answer the following questions to provide your point of view as input to the process.

NOTE: The results of this survey are being independently received and tabulated by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees on behalf of the School Committee.  The survey will close on June 15th.

Click here to take the survey.