Ready Or Not, It’s Back To School Time At Monomoy

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Monomoy Regional School District

Seventh grade peer leaders (standing, from left) Kassandra Cruz and Alli Miller show the ropes to incoming students (from left) Julianna Ware, Riley Vath and Jack Sheeran. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

Fresh off the holiday weekend, Monomoy students and teachers will be back in the classroom on Tuesday, Sept. 3, with kindergartners starting Thursday and preschoolers the following Monday.

There have been some infrastructure changes in the district, starting with the change to the Cape Cod Collaborative for bus service. The new buses have improved fuel efficiency, enhanced safety features, and the ability for audio and video monitoring, officials say. There will be a new Head Start preschool program at Chatham Elementary, and new infant, toddler and preschool programs from the YMCA at Harwich Elementary. Work will begin soon on a new playground at Chatham Elementary, and planning is underway for a similar project at Harwich Elementary.

The district is refining the curriculum to make it more focused on students’ needs and interests, Curriculum Director Mark Smith said.

“It is important that our curriculum reflects the cultural values and perspectives that our students bring with them into our schools, and gives them a window into the values and perspectives of others,” he said. There will also be an increased focus on STEM classes in the elementary schools, and Monomoy Middle School was selected to participate in a pilot program with the Gilder Lehrman Institute that uses the musical “Hamilton” to bring lessons on history, government, civics, and the arts to life for students.

The high school will continue to expand civics education with Project Citizen, and there will be new advanced placement computer science courses offered at the high school to students as early as freshman year. The high school has launched new programs to reduce the prevalence of vaping, and will conduct its biannual youth behavior risk survey this fall. The Monomoy Lighthouse Leader Mentoring Program, launched last year, will expand this year to involve more students with school-based mentoring supported by caring adults from the community.

There are three new staff and faculty members at Chatham Elementary School this year. School nurse Kate Petrucci has worked as an obstetrical nurse at Winchester and Falmouth Hospitals, as well as an operating and charge nurse; art teacher Karen Beaty comes to Monomoy from the Nantucket Schools and before that, the city of Newton; and Emily Nyerick will now be a science teacher, having served previously as a math teacher and a teacher with Mass Audubon.

There are many more new faces at Harwich Elementary, where former instructional assistant and substitute teacher Shannon Wragg will teach first grade, and Wendy Moore will begin as a special education teacher in the first grade. Coming to Harwich from the Brooklyn, N.Y., public schools, William Weimer is a new science teacher, and Jennifer Campbell is a new grade 3 special education teacher, having previously taught in the Lexington schools. Cynthia Carey, formerly of the Lynn public schools, joins the faculty as an English language learners teacher, and Sarah Abney and Kelly Kelley are joining as instructional assistants. A Harwich Elementary alumna, Rachael Speakman is returning as a special education teacher, and Liz Hoff joins the faculty as a technology and computer science teacher, having previously taught Spanish at Monomoy High. Formerly a special education teacher, Erin Senior has been hired as a reading specialist, and several teachers, including Jackie Cleary, Ashley Cook and Pat Smith, are changing between grade levels at the school. Previously a special education teacher, Mary Anne Bragdon will now serve as a math specialist, and former Monomoy High physical education and wellness teacher Marcus de la Vega has joined the Harwich Elementary faculty as a phys ed teacher. New cafeteria workers this year include Monika Appleton, Kelly Rugg and Patricia Monfette, and Dylan Piknick joins as a full-time custodian.

At Monomoy Middle School, Ross Duggan joins as a math teacher, having previously taught at a charter school in Lawrence, and having served as dean of students for Roxbury Prep School. Formerly an English as a Second Language teacher in Spain and a math interventionist in Lawrence, Ariana Starling joins as a health and physical education teacher. Emily Pandiscio, who has a background working with students with autism, joins as a special education teacher, and Kara McDowell joins as administrative team chair, having worked previously with the Latham Centers. Having interned for the past year at a junior high school in Sturbridge, Jillian Scaficchia starts this year as a school psychologist, and former Chatham Elementary teacher Christine Hughes-Prince has been hired as Spanish teacher. Melissa Hyer-Mitchell, an employee of Gosnold on Cape Cod, joins the staff as a mental health counselor as part of the district’s partnership with Gosnold, and former Harwich Elementary School nurse Carol Fiocco joins the nursing staff at the high school. Bridget Newhard is a new instructional assistant, having come from Chatham Elementary, and Patrick Senior is a new custodian, having worked for IBM for 25 years.

At Monomoy High School, Sarah Ancahas starts as an instructional assistant, having done similar work at the middle school; Carolyn Barr starts as an English teacher, having taught for many years in Falmouth and Mashpee. Coming from Bourne High School, Reuben Bowman begins as a math teacher this year, and Mark Caruso starts as an instructional assistant, having been a school-to-work transition coordinator in Connecticut for nearly 30 years. Former Harwich Elementary English Language Learner teacher Beth Connors joins as a reading teacher, and former Leominster High School teacher Caryn Cosentino joins as a math teacher. Holding degrees from Chapel Hill and Vassar, David Driscoll joins as a Latin teacher, and Diana Evans is starting as an instructional assistant as she works to become a certified history teacher. Beth Herbst and Gavin Williams also join as instructional assistants; Jazmyn Jones begins as an English Language Learner teacher; and Adam Legg moves from the middle school to the high school as a physical education and health teacher and coach. Pauline Linnell joins the high school faculty as a French teacher, Aimee Mann begins as a physical therapist, Aldona Pauliukonis joins as a special education teacher, and Jenn Peterson is the new administrative assistant to the athletic director. Jennifer Pomocka-Coyner is a new intensive special needs teacher with the SAND program, and Daniel Schwartzman is a wellness teacher; he is also a yoga teacher and co-owns a yoga center in Brewster. Jennifer Stevens, having relocated to the Cape from California, starts this year as a special education teacher, and former Foxborough math specialist Suzan Zavatsky joins as team chair.