By Ann Needle
A new school year is always a fresh start, but some years offer more challenges than others. This year, even as the Nashoba District absorbs a new administration, students can expect mostly familiar surroundings and faces in the classrooms.
At Center School, perhaps the biggest changes are happening in Special Education staff. Center Principal Ross Mulkerrin explained that three SPED teachers from last year relocated out of state with their families.
The new special educators stepping in are Victoria Frenkel for kindergarten through grade 2, coming from the Arlington and Hopkinton public schools; Kathleen Conley in grade 4, previously working in the Arlington Public Schools; and Bianca Maynes teaching in grade 5, coming from the Brookline Public Schools.
Mulkerrin acknowledged, “It is a challenge to have three new special educators starting at once, [but] we are very fortunate to bring in the skills and abilities that these new staff have.”
Another notable change will be the retirement of Literacy Specialist Robin Brissette. She has been at Center for more than 20 years both in that job and, previously, as a teacher in kindergarten and first grade. Mulkerrin said that Brissette will be at the school through mid-October to help train her replacement, Kristin Unger, who moved here with her family last year from Westchester, PA, where she was also a reading teacher.
Center has one new classroom teacher, Allyson Gill, who is joining the second grade team after teaching in Lancaster for the last few years. Mulkerrin noted, “Center School staff that have worked with Mrs. Gill, or have had their own children in her class, speak very highly of her.”
Mulkerrin reported current enrollment at 608 students, with four to five classrooms per grade. While there are very few building changes, the cracking and heaving in some of the sidewalks around the school is being fixed. At last week’s closing meeting of the Stow Elementary School Building Committee, town Building Inspector Craig Martin said the sidewalks should be fixed by the Aug. 31 opening of school, and the cost covered under the Center School project budget.
A Familiar Scene at Hale and High School
Hale Middle School Principal George King noted two new staff members for the upcoming year. Nate Melbourne is the new seventh grade math teacher, joining Hale from the Brookline schools. Kyle Moulaison is stepping into the new position of technology integration specialist created for the Nashoba middle schools.
Population-wise, King said the seventh grade continues to be the large “bubble class,” with almost 115 students. There were no major changes in the school building over the summer, “just a nice shine on what was there,” King remarked.
Nashoba Regional High School’s staff changes start in the front office with former Social Studies Teacher Stephen Cullinane, who has become an assistant principal. He stepped in for Kerri-Ann O’Donnell, who left last school year. Stow residents Mary Redford and Ann DeCristofaro retired after several years as Math teachers, along with Academic Support Center Director Michelle Hoover, reported NRHS Principal Dr. Parry Graham. Also retiring this year was Technology Teacher Linda Offt, with Jacqueline Carter taking her place from the English Dept.
“We don’t have many new classes for this coming year, especially since we added so many classes in the previous couple years, but there are a couple that seemed to be popular when students signed up,” Graham observed. The new classes he noted are Digital Photography 2; Advanced Placement Computer Science; and Living Locally, which studies local history.
With about 1,020 students at the high school this coming year, “Our incoming freshman class is smaller than previous classes, but we are anticipating an especially large freshman class a year from now, so this is probably the smallest we will be for the next several years,” Graham said.