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Crowd of parents wants to know, but it's too early to provide some answers

Former Gibbs School, August 2015,Finegold Alexander Architects' sketch last January envisioning the entry to the renovated Gibbs School.

UPDATED, June 15: The number of questions outpaced answers for an estimated 90 people jammed into the School Committee Room on Tuesday, June 13, seeking to learn what they could about the Gibbs and its educational mission.

One answer is nearly certain, and Superintendent Kathy Bodie had it: "This building is being renovated, but it is not changed."

That is, its structural envelope is to largely remain as it was when it became the Gibbs School in the 1920s. Changes will be taking place inside -- in the physical plant and in classroom attitude -- as well as in the neighborhood.

The majority-female audience were bright and eager to learn, based on the questions asked. The teachers that night were Kristin DeFrancisco, principal at Hardy who will take over at a renovated Gibbs in September 2018, and Bodie.

Another near certainty: Renovations are to start June 30. After that, much remains to be assessed and communicated.

The return of the Gibbs to classrooms, after nearly three decades of other uses, is the answer to an overexpanding Ottoson Middle School. When the town's public schools open in 2018, all sixth graders will be attending the East Arlington school between Foster and Tufts.

Here is a summary of some of the questions raised and their answers at the event presented by Vision 2020's Education Task Group, the public schools and the Gibbs Parent Advisory Committee.

How will the renovated school look?

After Scott Lever of the Vision 2020 group provided background about how the year-old process involving the public has progressed -- including a film last November and a visioning session the next month, he introduced Rebecca Arnold of the parent committee.

She enthusiastically explained a series of drawings, comparing existing conditions and those devised by Finegold Alexander Architects. The overall impression was as if the bright light of modernity had flooded halls and rooms dimmed for decades.

Slides reflected much discussion of color, in displays attractive to sixth graders, but in others made less muted, in deference to those who would be there year after year -- the teachers.

In the main lobby, the notion of a graffiti wall had been scrapped in favor of a display area for more-formal student art.

The floor color, fashioned to distinguish clusters, looked like a muted version of the painter Piet Mondrian had been let loose, to positive effect.

Asked for more specifics about bigger-picture design, DeFrancisco said the architect is expected provide final plans as the school years ends (the last day is June 23).

Asked whether the renovation would follow LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (a rating system devised by the U.S. Green Building Council to evaluate environmental performance and encourage sustainable design), Bodie said the hope is LEED gold by completion, projected by August 2018.

She said the architect and contractor are working together on the project, a procedure to be followed as the rebuilding of Arlington High moves along.

What size will the school be?

As for size, the renovation is designed for 500 students, Bodie said, though more are possible. She said that projections for the next decade show that enrollment could top 500 by 10 to 20 students.

What about pickup, drop-off and other transportation issues?

As question veered toward transportation, the evening moved into murky areas.

One reason, Bodie said, is that Tufts and Foster are one-way streets that run in directions opposite from those needed for optimal pickup and drop-off. Changing that means redoing numerous streets in East Arlington.

Details about this well as busing remain to be worked out. Bodie said the administration is looking into the possibility of a fee-based bus.

As to cycling, bike routes and walking, Bodie said she has asked the selectmen's Transportation Advisory Committee to address these issues.

"The area will clog up quickly," she said, referring to morning and afternoon neighborhood traffic.

What is the principal aiming for?

For a good chunk of the 90 minutes, DeFrancisco outlined her goals and tried to answer questions. Bringing more than two decades of experience to the Gibbs experiment at a number of Arlington schools, she commented with characteristic humor that she is trying to be in them all.

She discussed her mission and the school's -- to provide an an age-appropriate transition for sixth graders to Ottoson -- adding that she had "homework" for the audience: What do you want the communication about Gibbs to look like?

She reviewed those who have come together in committee to shape the mission. All are listed in the full presentation >> 

Focusing on one -- "Culture and Climate," led by Denny Conklin, the social-studies chair -- she called it a "little bit more touchy-feely," because it aims to deal with the feeling inside a classroom. She added that she is "very pleased with this work."

The principal reserved her unrestrained enthusiasm for the responsive classroom, an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning.

On such emotional intelligence, she said, "I could go all night." Calling it one of best trainings she has had in 21 years, she said all teachers going to the Gibbs have had it.

Among other advantages, she said, the approach gives teachers time to test the mettle of smaller groups of students.

Diversity, ACE, SPED?

Asked what strategies are in place to address diversity, DeFrancisco the matter a "district conversation" and did not think new hires would be needed.

Bodie clarified that, saying a nurse would be hired and that the current 3 1/2 clusters were expected to expand to four. As to diversity, Bodie noted that it is a district goal.

To questions about including ACE and accelerated math, DeFrancisco said she did not yet know.

Asked why if special-education students were regarded as "integrated," were then separated, Bodie explained that a student's individual education plan may require pullout from class for support. Guidelines about this, she said, come from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

As to how such extracurricular activities as orchestra and theater would play out, Bodie said it remained to be seen, but that a children's theater could be at Gibbs.


To a question about an after-school program, Bodie said the current director, Todd Morse, would include Gibbs, but she did not yet know about the program for seventh and eighth grades in 2018.

Vision 2020's Education Task Group plans to have future public sessions as the renovation proceeds.

The names and contact information for the members of the Gibbs Parent Advisory Committee have been requested, so that the public can offer further feedback to them.

Full June 13 program >>

Jan. 23, 2017: Parents react to first look at planned changes for former Gibbs
Regan Shields Ives narrated a presentation of these slides (large file)
Slides shown labeled Finegold Alexander of Boston and New Vista Design in Jamaica Plain
Dec. 18, 2016: Visions and revisions: Dialogue about education seeks to map fresh course

This announcement was published Tuesday, June 6, 2017, and updated June 14 as a full news summary. It was updated again, to clarify copy.

Public schools hire director of performing arts; formerly served in Belmont

Bill Pappazisis 90William Pappazisis / Photo by Carla DeFord

UPDATED, June 15: William Pappazisis has been hired as the director of performing arts for kindergarten through grade 12, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie announced Thursday, June 8.

Pappazisis held the position of director of fine and performing arts in the Belmont Public Schools for 11 years after holding administrative positions in fine arts and music in Westborough.

Most recently, he has been directing education programs for the Handel & Haydn Society. 

Asked to comment, Pappazisis wrote in an email June 9: "I am delighted to join the Arlington Public Schools as its director of performing arts.

"What’s most impressive to me is the community’s continued commitment to providing students with a high-quality education in the arts, both in the schools and through its many cultural organizations. I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity to work together with educators, families and community partners to enhance and deepen teaching and learning in the performing arts for Arlington’s youth."

Rob Spiegel, head of schools' human resources, reported June 15 that the position is part time (0.6 full-time equivalent), and the pay is $61,200 for the work year.

"The position has been unfilled for the past two years," he wrorte. "Principals have assumed responsibility for the supervision of music teachers."

Previously, Pat Tassone was the director of performing arts for the district. He held this position on a part-time basis from 2008-2015. Before 2008, he was a full-time employee as a performing arts director and teacher for many years.

The administration received 16 applicants for the position. 

Pappazisis's background

He taught music in Massachusetts and Connecticut public schools at the outset of his career.

Pappazisis' education included undergraduate and graduate degrees in music education from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford and the New England Conservatory of Music, respectively.

In a statement, Dr. Bodie expressed her pleasure at the hiring: "Bill Pappazisis brings a long and accomplished career in administering music education and performing arts programs. Mr. Pappazisis will support Arlington's high-quality performing arts faculty as it continues to maintain high standards and ongoing curriculum development."

The news summary was published Thursday, June 8, 2017, and updated June 9, with a quotation, as well as June 15, with background.

$16.8K in spring foundation awards aim to seed innovation

Supports diversity, reading, preschool, ukelele, 360 camera

AEF logo

Each year the Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) offers two opportunities for teachers, administrators, parents and community members who work for or collaborate with the Arlington public schools to apply for Innovations in Education grants.

In 2017, the AEF has awarded a total of $30,619 in such grants, designed to encourage innovative teaching and learning within the town's public schools. This spring alone, AEF awarded $16,831 for the following eight grants, aimed a enhancing the classroom experience across all school levels:

Rainbow Alliance: a Brackett after-school club will help fourth- and fifth-grade students gain a better understanding for the LGBTQ+ community.

Independent Learning Through Google Read and Write Pilot: High School special-education students will independently engage with texts on a deeper and more targeted way.

Unity Public Art Project: The high school will engage in an interactive public art project expressing community and diversity by exploring labels used to describe ourselves and others.

Heart Rate Monitors: Ninth-grade physical-education students will gain a more concrete and personal experience when learning about heart rates, training zones and cardiovascular fitness.

POSE -- Preschoolers Organizing Selves Everyday: Menotomy Preschool students will benefit from mindfulness practices and skills that promote school readiness and self-regulation.

Ukulele Hero: Bishop fourth graders will learn the ukulele, bridging a gap in music education between grade three recorder instruction and grade five drum instruction.

360 Camera Pilot Program: The high school visual arts curriculum will be enhanced by Vuze, a 360 camera that will open up entirely new filmmaking options for students and faculty.

Virtual Reality in Foreign Language Classrooms: High school Spanish students will be immersed in language and culture when they watch 360 degree videos tied to the curriculum. 

This news release was published  Monday, June 5, 2017.

More than 300 graduate from Arlington High School

Procession at 2015 Arlington High School graduation. / Bob Sprague photoProcession at 2015 Arlington High School graduation. / Bob Sprague photo

UPDATED, June 7: Arlington High School heard a range of speeches on Saturday, June 3, as 307 students were listed in the program as graduates of the class of 2017.

Awards Night recipients >>

Principal Matt Janger made provisions for taking the event indoors in case of rain. Drops fell about 11 a.m. after commencement was set up.

The sun came out. Seats were wiped off, and by the 3 p.m. start, clouds had rolled in. Yet, for the shower of speeches, the weather held.

Later, after words of hope and humor, the rain fell.

Among the addresses were those by:

Emily Brown: How the sun found those seedlings 

Sana Mohtadi: The value of inclusion 

Tarangana Thapa: Satisfaction is a threat to progress 

Michael Sandler: Bill and Lill's power of persevering 

The program included the following:

Master of Ceremonies: Robert DiLoreto, Dean of Fusco House

Processional: Entrance of the Class of 2017

Presentation of Colors: Arlington Police Department Honor Guard National Anthem

Arlington High School Band Welcome

Matthew Janger, Principal, Elementary School Faculty

Appreciation Awards Announcement, introduced by Julius Rosenthal, secretary of the Class of 2017

Community Recognition: Jeff Thielman, Chair, Arlington School Committee

Class Achievements, Kathleen Bodie, Superintendent of Schools

Remarks: Elsa Rothenberg, president, Class of 2017

Remarks: Emily Brown, president of the Student Council

Faculty speaker: Michael Sandler, introduced by Sarah O’Connell, secretary of the Class of 2017

Honors speaker: Tarangana Thapa

Honors speaker: Sana Mohtadi

Interlude: AHS Madrigal Choir, conducted by Senior Zachary DeBesche

"Reap What You Sow" by Pepper Choplin

Presentation of diplomas: Matthew Janger, principal; Jeff Thielman, chair, School Committee

Presentation of class gift and conclusion: Elsa Rothenberg, president of the Class of 2017

Readers: Veronica Tivnan, Dean, Downs House; William Mc Carthy, vice principal;

Diploma assistants: Susan Briggs, Danielle Rakowsky

Graduation coordinators: Joanna Begin 

More information is available here >>  

This news announcement was published Wednesday, May 31, 2017, and updated June 7.

Students shine at AHS: Awards, scholarships for 2017

School-awards logo

Awards Night was held at Arlington High School on Thursday, June 1, and the following received recognition: 

The program notes that scholarship awards total about $500,000. 

Elementary School Teacher Recognition Awards

Rebecca Bell, Bishop School

Nicole Feroleto, Brackett School

Adriane Dipasquale, Dallin School

Maggie Trivino, Hardy School

Christina Perkoski, Peirce School

Paula Smart, Stratton School

Siobhan Foley, Thompson School

Nanta Hardesty, Ottoson Middle School

Scholarships, awards descriptions, presenters

  1. Ida Robbins Scholarship presented by Kirsi Allison Ampe, member, Arlington School Committee
  2. E. Nelson Blake, Jr. Memorial Book Awards presented by Kirsi Allison Ampe, member Arlington School Committee
  3. Felicia M. DeLorenzo Scholarships presented by JoAnn DeLorenzo Crimmings
  4. Marky G Foundation Scholarship presented by Ryan Gillis
  5. Robert “Bobby”McGurl and the McGurl Family Veterans Scholarship presented by Michael McGurl, Nancy Mahoney and Betty Jane Livoti
  6. Catherine J.  Malatesta Memorial Scholarship presented by Gregg Malatesta & Jennifer Goodwin
  7. Harry Haroutunian Scholarship presented by Jan and Tim Haroutunian
  8. Amy Walsh Memorial Scholarship presented by Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Walsh
  9. Betty Fiorenza Memorial Scholarship, presented by Ann, Elizabeth and Hannah Langenfeld
  10. Dr. Robert A. Provost, Jr. Memorial Scholarship presented by Robert Provost III
  11. Katherine Wall Memorial Scholarship presented by Jeannie Wall and Kaitlyn Malone
  12. The Pizzi Foundation Scholarship presented by Janet Pizzi
  13. Teres Mathai Scholarship thru the  Mass 911 Fund presented by Kim Cayer
  14. East Cambridge Savings Bank Scholarships presented by Natercia Calisto & Patricia McGovern
  15. Courtney Lynn Jones Scholarship presented by 12 Points Wealth Management
  16. Arlington Center for the Arts Scholarship Award  presented by the Arlington Center for the Arts
  17. The Catherine Brescia Memorial Book Award and Scholarship presented by David Ardito

      Outstanding Achievement in Art presented by David Ardito

  1. Bob Havern AHS 67 Scholarship presented by Ned & Tim Havern
  2. Griff Strong Scholarship presented by Dan & Ginny Griffin
  3. Friends of Arlington Hockey/Bertagna Memorial Scholarships presented by Joe Bertagna, Carol Bertagna Distefano and Robert Bartholomew
  4. Brackett School PTO Scholarships presented by Robert Bartholomew 
  5. The Mary Nolan Scholarship presented by Jeannie & Dianna Jamgochian
  6. Vito Sammarco Memorial Scholarship presented by Sandra Sammarco
  7. Shoot For The Cure Scholarships presented by Dianne Mucci & Jenn Tripp
  8. Joan Gallagher Scholarship Award presented by Richard Gallagher
  9. Armstrong Family Scholarship presented by Richard Gallagher
  10. Rev.Martin Luther King Jr  Birthday Celebration Committee Scholarship presented by Pearl Morrison
  11. The Dottie Maher Memorial Tennis Scholarships presented by John Maher and Mary DeCourcey  
  12. Arlington Soccer Club/Sam Oliver Memorial Scholarships  presented by Steve Klosterman, Maureen Oliver
  13. Arlington Boys Youth Lacrosse Club Scholarships presented by Eric Smith and Jen Butler
  14. Arlington Girls Youth Lacrosse Club Scholarship presented by Eric Smith and Jen Butler
  15. Performing Arts Parents Association Scholarships presented by Karen Schoomaker
  16. Pasquale Tassone Scholarship presented by Karen Schoomaker
  17. James F. Leverone Memorial Scholarships presented by Nanci Ortwein

Additional Scholarships and Awards

AHS Class of 1930 Scholarship

AHS Class of 1955 Scholarship

Ann Rosalie Pierce Memorial Scholarship

Arlington Chamber of Commerce Scholarship

Arlington Education Association

Arlington Association of School Secretaries

Art Coughlin Holovak-Logan Memorial Scholarship

Ed Burns Scholar Athlete Scholarship

Edward A. Bailey Scholarships

Ellen E. Sweeney Scholarship

Frank Roberts Memorial Book Award and Scholarship

Harry Jean Memorial Scholarship

Henry Ottoson Memorial Scholarship

John L. Asinari Memorial Scholarship

Joan Flanagan/Hardy PTO Scholarship

Joseph J. Keating Jr. Scholarship

Karl Kaprelian Memorial Scholarship

Kathleen Crawley Memorial Scholarship

Kenneth J. Simmons Memorial Rotary Scholarship

Mary Lou Serra Sheehan Scholarship

Muthiah Sisters Scholarship

Nicholas Iacuzio Memorial Scholarship

Peirce School/Alanna Demella Scholarship

Principal’s Scholarship

Professor and Mrs.Takaji Matsushima Book Award

Sharon Boyle Memorial Scholarship

Symmes Arlington Hospital Nurses Alumni Scholarship

Thelma Sonnichsen Scholarship

Tower Mothers Club Scholarship

Virginia Leonard Memorial Scholarship  

World Language Awards ~ Spanish - Latin - French – Mandarin – Italian

Zonta Club of Arlington Scholarship

Francis E. Thompson Scholarships *

Gold ~ Silver ~ Bronze

 *Francis E. Thompson Scholarships are a gift of the Thompson Family, funded by the family fortune created in part by the sale of Moxie.  Moxie, a carbonated beverage, is considered to be the first mass produced soft drink in the United States.


This list of awards was published Friday, June 2, 2017.

New directors of guidance, world languages announced

Sara BurdBurd

The Arlington public schools have announced hires for two key positions.

Starting in September, Sara Fernandes Burd will be the new director of guidance and social-emotional learning, and Dawn Carney will be the director of world languages.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie reported in news release Thursday, May 25.

Burd has the same position in the Reading Public Schools. She also serves as a commission member on the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Commission on Safe and Supportive Schools and is a member of the Council of Distinguished Educators, which advises the National Commission for Social Emotional and Academic Development

Burd is also an adjunct professor at Lesley University's Institute for Trauma Studies in its Graduate School of Education. She is familiar to many Arlington educators, as the instructor for Lesley's Impact of Trauma on Learning course, which has been offered in the Arlington public schools.

Carney comes to the district from the Brookline public schools, where she has worked since 2008 as the curriculum coordinator for world languages in grades K-8. Carney will oversee the Arlington world-language curriculum and faculty, which is available in grades six through 12. Arlington offers courses in French, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and Latin.

Before working in Brookline, Carney was a French teacher in the Lincoln public schools, and a French teacher in Wellesley Middle School.

She has a master in educational leadership from Endicott College, and a master of Arts with a focus on French from Middlebury College.

In the release, Dr. Bodie welcomed both.

This news announcement was published Thursday, May 25, 2017.

5 finalists for assistant superintendent visited here

Dr. Laura ChessonChesson

UPDATED, May 25: Five finalists for assistant superintendent for the Arlington public schools have been announced. One will be chosen to occupy the position now held since 2012 by Dr. Laura L. Chesson, who is leaving in June to become the new superintendent of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District..

Each plans to visit the district starting Tuesday, May 23, to meet with School Committee members, parents and community members in the School Committee Room on the sixth floor of Arlington High School from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Here is the schedule:

May 23, Jeffrey Strasnick, principal of the Wildwood Early Childhood Center and Woburn St. Elementary School in Wilmington.

Wednesday, May 24, Joann Campbell Kilpatrick, principal of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.

Thursday, May 25, Michael Tracy, principal of the Middle School in the Cape Elizabeth School District in Maine.

Tuesday, May 30, Roderick MacNeal Jr., principal of the John Eliot Elementary School in Needham.

Wednesday, May 31, Thomas Martellone, principal of the Fiske Elementary School in Lexington.


In a news release issued Monday, May 22, the administration provided the following background about each:

Strasnick previously was principal of Horace Mann Elementary School in Melrose. He also worked in several Boston Public Schools, including as assistant principal at Dever Elementary School in Dorchester, and as a math coach at Dever and Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Roxbury. Earlier in his career, he taught at the Mary Lyon Model K-8 School in Brighton. Strasnick has a master of education from Wheelock College and his B.A. is from UMass/Lowell. He has also taken postgraduate courses in educational leadership at Northeastern University.

Kilpatrick is an adjunct lecturer at Simmons College at the graduate level. Before working at Acton-Boxborough, she was dean of students at Lexington High School, and before that, English Department Head for Lexington High School. Before moving to Lexington, she worked at Newton North High School. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership and development from Boston University. She earned a master of arts in teaching from Simmons College and a B.A. from University of Vermont.

Tracy, before moving to Maine, worked for the Triton Regional School District as principal of Newbury Elementary School. He also served the Gloucester Public Schools as principal of the Ralph B. O’Maley Middle School following his tenure as assistant principal. He began his educational career as a teacher at Shore Country Day School in Beverly. Tracy holds a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Boston College. He also received a master of education from Lesley College and a B.A. from Colby College in Maine.

MacNeal came to Massachusetts from West Bloomfield, Mich., where he was also a school principal. Before that, he was an assistant principal in the Southfield Public Schools, which is where he also began his teaching career. MacNeal is pursuing a doctorate of education from Boston College. He also earned a master of arts in teaching from Wayne State University, where he also earned a certificate in education administration and supervision. His B.A is from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Martellone previously worked at the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a manager in urban and district assistance. Before that, he held educational positions in Maine. He was principal of an elementary school in Turner, assistant principal and principal in Hallowell and a classroom teacher in Lewiston and Auburn. He holds a master of science in educational administration from Capella University and a certificate as educational specialist from Walden University. He received his B.S. from Keene State College.

The School Committee was told April 13, about Chesson's move. She was named a week earlier in favor of Jodi Fortuna, the superintendent of Hudson Public Schools. 

The Groton-Dunstable Schoool Committee voted April 26 to accept Chesson as the new superintendent, Arlington's committee learned April 27. She plans to remain in her current position until the end of June.

April 13, 2017: Schools' assistant super here until June before leading Groton-Dunstable

The news summary was published Monday, May 22, 2017, and updated May 25.

DON'T BE A DUMMY: Crashed car at AHS displays safety plea

Display of crashed car with driver dummy at AHS, May 2017.

5 students get grants

To coincide with the national Click It or Ticket campaign, as well as with prom and graduation season, the Arlington Police Department has delivered a crashed car display to Arlington High School to remind students to always wear their seat belt.

The display -- delivered Tuesday, May 23 -- is the result of a partnership between the Arlington Police Department, the Highway Safety Division of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and AAA. It features a wrecked car with a crash dummy stuck in the windshield.

Its purpose is to serve as a highly visible reminder of the danger of driving without a seat belt, and it will be on display on the front lawn at AHS until Sunday, May 28.

From left: Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger, students Karlos Boehlke, Timothy Mahoney, Haley Hirsch, Nicholas Karalis, Arlington Police Captain Richard Flynn and School Resource Officer Stephen Porciello. (Courtesy Photo)From left, Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger, students Karlos Boehlke, Timothy Mahoney, Haley Hirsch, Nicholas Karalis, Capt. Richard Flynn and Stephen Porciello, school resource officer. / APD photo

In addition to the display, the Arlington Police have awarded five AHS students with fully funded grants to attend "In Control" crash-prevention training. The grant recipients were chosen from a large pool of applicants and presented with certificates and vouchers Wednesday, May 24, morning during a ceremony at the high school.

The fifth student receiving a grant, Michael Graham-Green, was unavailable for the photo.

"Both of these programs reflect our commitment to keeping teenage drivers safe every time they get behind the wheel," Chief Fred Ryan said in a news release. "This time of year though, it is especially important to remind them how big of a difference wearing a seat belt can make, and to empower them to stay safe by helping them learn practical skills to avoid crashes."

For more information about the "In Control" training, click here >>

This news announcement was published Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

Wayland superintendent to lead Schools for Children

Dr. Paul Stein, Lesley EllisStein

UPDATED, May 16: Schools for Children Inc. has named Dr. Paul Stein as executive director, succeeding Dr. Ted Wilson, who has served as the nonprofit's president and executive director for the past 30 years.

Schools for Children operates the Lesley Ellis School, which is moving from Foster Street to Winter Street in East Arlington, and Dearborn Academy, which is moving to Newton.

Stein is coming from the Wayland Public Schools, where he served as superintendent for six years.

 "Paul joins us at a critical strategic juncture for the Schools for Children organization," Peter Prodromou, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Schools for Children, said in a news release Monday, May 15. "We are clearly growing and changing -- welcoming new leaders, moving programs to new homes, and expanding and enriching the education and services we offer to students and their families. We welcome Paul's fresh insights and experienced guidance as we move ahead to the future.

"At the same time ... we acknowledge that we would not be where we are without the exceptional service, dedication and leadership of Ted Wilson. For the past three decades, Ted has consistently worked hard, and with compassion, to ensure that the organization he leaves behind is best positioned for a bright and stable future."

Wilson is retiring and plans to be a consultant.

Lesley Ellis, forced to leave the Foster Street location to make way for the renovation of the former Gibbs School to become a sixth grade, is moving to the Dearborn space.

Stein is leaving Wayland June 30. His career includes numerous roles in administration, teaching and special-education services. Before his work in Wayland, he served as deputy superintendent of Newton Public Schools. He is the past principal of Day Middle School, Newton, and past house administrator of Pollard Middle School, Needham. 

He began his career as a teacher in alternative, special-education school settings, and served for a number of years as the director of Full Circle High School in Somerville.

"I am an admirer of the schools and programs supported by Schools for Children and am thrilled by the opportunity to work with an organization that is involved in such diverse areas of education," Stein said in the release.


In a latter last October announcing Wilson's retirement, Prodromou provided a selection of accomplishments:

"From his earliest days with Schools for Children, Ted has played a critical role in creating financial stability and establishing a high-level of professionalism throughout the organization.

"After leading the acquisition/merger of a Boston-based non-profit, Ted took on the challenge of managing and ultimately selling the Spirit of Massachusetts, a 125-foot wooden sailboat and 'Tall Ship' central to one of our earliest programs. Schools for Children used the boat to offer students unique maritime learning experiences for several years. This same acquisition brought a deed to space in the Navy Yard that has evolved into our Seaport Academy.

"Ted encouraged us to acquire additional space adjacent to the SFC offices and, after surveying the market, led the effort to create our unique STEP program, which has remained as a gold-standard program for the past 20 years.

"He transformed and grew our core programs, including Dearborn Academy, which has evolved into a renowned therapeutic day school; the Lesley Ellis School, which grew from a preschool program to an award-winning independent day school now serving students from PS to Grade 8; and Seaport Academy, now a highly respected program focused on the needs of young men. Most recently Ted expanded the Schools for Children portfolio into high-quality afterschool programming by bringing Winn Brook under our umbrella."

Schools for Children is a Massachusetts nonprofit organization creating and managing great schools and educational services, currently operating several schools, a before- and after-school program and a Short Term Educational Placement service. Schools for Children also develops new education services and innovations and consults with other schools, districts and human service providers to enhance the quality and performance of their programs. 

May 11, 2016: Dearborn Academy to head to Newton, making way for Lesley Ellis move

This news announcement was published Monday, May 15, 2017, and updated May 16, to add comments about Wilson and to correct the headline.

Schools' assistant super here until June before leading Groton-Dunstable

Dr. Laura ChessonChesson

Committee praises her 5 years

UPDATED, April 28: Dr. Laura S. Chesson, assistant superintendent of Arlington public schools since June 2012, is leaving to become the new superintendent of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.

The School Committee was told Thursday, April 13, about the impeding move. Chesson was named a week earlier in favor of Jodi Fortuna, the superintendent of Hudson Public Schools. 

The Groton-Dunstable Schoool Committee voted April 26 to accept Chesson as the new superintendent, Arlington's committee learned April 27. She plans to remain in her current position until the end of June.

"The last five years have been amazing," Chesson told the Arlington committee. "This team is one you dream about."

Committee Chair Jeff Thielman responded: "We are lucky to have you."

Committee member Bill Hayner, who had taught in Groton-Dunstable for 28 years, said that when he was contacted during the superintendent search, he told the inquirer: "I wish I could tell you something negative."

Kind words from Bodie

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie praised how Chesson led "a lot of wonderful initiatives," including the "leap in technology." Bodie cited the money to do the job from capital planning and "leadership from Laura."

The search for a new assistant superintendent is underway, with a committee including Jacob Levy, teachers' union president.

Bodie said she expects the committee to interview nine or 10 candidates.

Hayner volunteered to be the School Committee representative.

As reported earlier, previous Groton-Dunstable Superintendent Kristan Rodriguez resigned last July, and Bill Ryan has served as the interim superintendent since early January.\

In January, Chesson was among three finalists for Concord superintendent, but Dr. Laurie Hunter, assistant superintendent in Duxbury, was chosen.

In a statement to YourArlington in January, Chesson wrote: "My time in the Arlington public schools has been personally and professionally fulfilling. The community, staff and students are outstanding. It was a very difficult decision to choose to explore this opportunity. If not selected, I will continue to serve the Arlington public schools with pleasure."

Chesson was highly involved in improving classroom technology as well as in putting into effect the ever-changing platforms for student testing.


The Lowell Sun has reported that the the Groton-Dunstable School Committee chose Chesson based on her ability to meet challenges and inspire.

Committeeman Peter Cronin said those who work with Chesson said: "At the end of the day, she gets things done," the newspaper reported.

After spending the first decade of her career in the private sector, Chesson taught eighth-grade English, math and science in New Mexico.

Following that, she taught in Hudson and Boston, including music and writing. She later became an assistant principal at Leominster High School and principal of Maynard High School, from 2008 to 2012, before taking her current job in Arlington.

At Maynard, she faced a notable decision -- having to suspend a group of Maynard football players who came intoxicated to a homecoming event in 2010, even though that meant canceling the Thanksgiving game with Clinton, because Maynard would have too few players.

She called it was one of the hardest decisions of her life and she stands by her choice, The Sun reported. Chesson said she didn't want to risk having those students harm themselves with further risky behavior.

Groton-Dunstable committee member Marlena Gilbert said those who work with Chesson described her as "the glue that holds the district together," the paper said.

That committee has entered into negotiations with Chesson for the position before a start date is determined.

This brief new summary was published Thursday, April 13, 2017, and updated April 28, to add details. Freelancer Jo Anne Preston contributed to this report.


GOLD: Magazine ranks AHS No. 12 in state

US News logo

The annual ranking of the nation's high schools by U.S. News & World Report lists Arlington High at No. 12 in Massachusetts. To the magazine, that's good enough for gold.

To Principal Matthew Janger, that means thanks all around -- "to our facultThe annual ranking of the nation's high schools by U.S. News & World Report lists Arlington High at No. 12 in Massachusetts. To the magazine, that's good enough for gold.y, students and community for once again rising in the state and national rankings! I am so proud of this school and community!"

The survey says students take advanced-placement course work and exams at a participation rate of 68 percent. The student-body makeup is 49 percent male and 51 percent female, the magazine says, d the total minority enrollment is 21 percent.

AHS is ranked No. 358 nationally. Schools are ranked based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college. Read more about how the magazine ranks high schools

Neighboring districts ahead of AHS are Lexington, at No. 7, and Belmont, at No. 7.

Neighboring districts behind AHS are Winchester, at No. 30, and Somerville, at No. 69.

In 2014, the last year for which YourArlington reported this ranking, AHS came in at No. 21 in Massachusetts, 465th nationally and No. 200 in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In 2017, AHS stood at 220 for STEM.

This news announcement was published Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

$30K foundation support boosts move to E. Arlington 6th grade

Former Gibbs School, August 2015,Finegold Alexander Architects' sketch envisioning how the entry to the renovated former Gibbs School will look.

It's not the walls themselves, but what happens within them that truly defines a school. The most complex planning for the new six-grade inside the former Gibbs School is not design plans or construction schedules -- it's the development of a unique educational model that capitalizes on the important transitional year between primary and secondary school.

AEF logo

The Arlington Education Foundation recently awarded a $30,000 grant to the Arlington Public Schools to develop a cohesive and strategic plan for the educational environment for the East Arlington school aiming to open in September 2018.

The grant will fund outside professional development for social-emotional support and project-based learning, as well as teacher stipends for the essential planning time needed to ensure successful implementation of the new school model.

District leaders are focusing on three primary areas for the new educational environment:

-- School community-building, including programs and structures for an inclusive school environment that promotes success for all students;

-- Curriculum, instruction and assessment, including structures for improving teaching and learning; and

-- Building operations, including schedule development.

'Responsive classroom' cited

Curriculum leaders have been meeting and drafting goals for the renovated school.

Schools' Superintendent Kathleen Bodie says the grant will be used to pay for stipends for 25 staff members, most of whom will be sixth-grade teachers.

Once the Gibbs School faculty and staff is set this spring, the goals will be completed and the team will begin working collaboratively and intensively over the next school year, said an April 11 foundation news release. Planning work among both general- and special-education teachers is expected to continue until the school opens.

One potential social-emotional learning approach for the Gibbs School is an approach called "responsive classroom," a method of teaching that sets the tone for a school's culture.

The evidence-based approach to elementary and middle school teaching focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning. It has been instituted fully at the Stratton and Hardy elementary schools and partially at the Thompson and Dallin.

Focusing on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning, "responsive classroom" emphasizes dignity and respect, building meaningful relationships and creating a trusting environment where students -- and teachers -- are willing to take risks in learning.

Scheduling flexibility

In addition to addressing the unique social-emotional needs of sixth graders, a school with a single grade provides more schedule flexibility than available at the Ottoson Middle School. During the planning process, the sixth-grade staff will evaluate scheduling that could accommodate longer blocks of time for project-based learning, peer support through advisory meetings and community building.

The district views a renovated Gibbs as a place to pilot new educational approaches that could eventually be expanded to the Ottoson.

Last June, voters supported the changes the town will be seeing on Foster Street when they overwhelmingly passed a $63 million debt exclusion that included $25 million to revamp the former Gibbs

The Lesley Ellis School and Arlington Center for the Arts, among others, are relocating so that the building can accommodate enrollment that is expanding at Ottoson.

With the sixth grade moving to East Arlington, seventh and eighth graders will have more room at Ottoson.

Last January, parents got their first look at preliminary designs for the renovated Gibbs from Finegold Alexander Architects

Renovation is expected to begin in late June, but before that occurs, Assistant Superintendent Laura Chesson and Vision 2020 plan to hold a public discussion about curriculum planning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, at Town Hall.

The Gibbs Schools closed in the 1980s. Since 1989, the space has been used by Arlington Center for the Arts, the Lesley Ellis School, Learn to Grow preschool and the Kelliher Center.

The arts center is raising money so it can move space in the Senior Center. Construction of a new building for Learn to Grow is underway at Broadway and North Union. Lesley Ellis is moving to Winter Street as the Dearborn School moves to Newton.

Only Eliot Community Human Services has not spoken publicly about where the Kelliher Center, a program for the developmentally disabled, will go.

Jan. 12, 2017: Parents react to first look at planned changes for former Gibbs

 Regan Shields Ives narrated a presentation of these slides (large file)
Slides shown labeled Finegold Alexander of Boston and New Vista Design in Jamaica Plain

Oct. 4, 2016: Community enrollment group sets out priorities for ex-Gibbs renovation

May 27, 2016: School Committee votes to support 6th-grade only at Gibbs
May 2, 2016: School enrollment task force chooses Gibbs option
April 14, 2016: School Committee supports educational recommendation for Gibbs option

This news announcement, including background information from other sources, was published Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

State champ Ponder hockey squad scores an honor at home

The state championship Arlington High School hockey team honored by the School Committee on March 30, 2017.

A half-century after the Arlington High School hockey team went undefeated, this year's Spy Ponder squad came home with a state championship, its first under the MIAA's "Super 8" competition.

The School Committee honored the team March 30 with comments of praise, applause and white hats emblazoned with a red AHS for each team member.

Coach John Messuri thanks the committee and Superintendent Kathleen Bodie for the support that made a title possible. He reminded Bodie that this was the third championship they have shared, as both had previously served in Winchester.

Committee member Paul Schlichtman, who attended the March 26 final against Central Catholic said his TD Garden seat was in the right spot: He saw the exciting game winner, scored 15 minutes into overtime, "turning anxiety into instant joy."

Johnny Fredericks, trainer/equipment manager, get his hat.

He called it "a thing of beauty," adding AHS beat nonpublic teams able to recruit more widely. "It shows a real love for the town and a love for the school ... a true commitment," he said. "I hope this is something you'll have all of your lives."

Bodie thanked Messuri for his leadership.

As Messuri called out the name of the players, noting schools that seniors would be attended after graduation, Committee Chair Jennifer Susse handed each a hat.

Last to get his was Johnny Fredericks, in photo at right, whom Messuri was unsure whether to call trainer or equipment manager. He has been part of the AHS team every year since 1978.

The Red Sox plan to honor the team at home plate in Fenway Park on May 2.

"Wear your hats," the players were told.

Meanwhile, the April edition of the New England Hockey Journal features the Ponders on page one.

March 30, 2017: SUPER 8 CHAMPS: In first title match, AHS hockey wins in OT, tops Globe ranking

This extended caption was published Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Belmont dental group donates $5,000 to education foundation

Flanking Dr. Carlyn Melita are Dr. Jolle Hami, left, and Amy Speare of AEF.Flanking Dr. Carolyn Melita are Dr. Jolle Hami, left, and Amy Speare of AEF.

Dr. Carolyn Melita, of Belmont Orthodontics and Belmont Pediatric Dentistry, has long been a supporter of public education, and recently contributed $5,000 to the Arlington Public Schools by becoming the platinum sponsor of the Arlington Education Foundation.

While Dr. Melita has supported AEF for over a decade, her 2017 gift establishes a new and exciting relationship between AEF and Belmont Orthodontics and Belmont Pediatric Dentistry.

Dr. Melita is a product of public schools herself, from kindergarten right through dental school, and she is a believer in the merits of public education. Moreover, as an Arlington resident, she knows that contributing to the goals and endeavors of Arlington’s public schools is a meaningful way to give back to her community. Supporting Arlington's schools is personal as well because her two children attend the Arlington Public Schools.

AEF is thrilled that its long-term relationship with Belmont Orthodontics and Belmont Pediatric Dentistry continues to grow. Asked why she chose to increase her support in 2017, Dr. Melita responded in an April 5 news release, "I strongly support AEF's mission and the invaluable work they are doing. Supporting public education and sustaining strong schools is more important than ever and I want to continue to help in any way that I can."

Thanks to sponsorships and private donations, AEF awards about $125,000 per year to the town's public schools, funding large grants that support districtwide planning initiatives as well as smaller grants that help teachers innovate in their classrooms.

Belmont Orthodontics and Belmont Pediatric Dentistry are in Belmont Center. She partners with Dr. Jolle Hami, the pediatric dentist, and both are passionate about creating beautiful and healthy smiles for their patients. Dr. Hami specializes in the gentle, compassionate care of children. Dr. Melita works with many children, yet she also sees a large number of adults who come to her to improve their smile.

This news summary was published Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

School Committee endorses CFO choice, coming from Winchester

UPDATED, March 31: John Danizio, finance director of Winchester Public Schools, is the choice of the superintendent and a subcommittee to be the schools' next chief financial officer, and the School Committee agreed Thursday, March 30, voting, 7-0, to accept the candidate.

School Committee logo

Danizio, who has been in Winchester since 2009, was the lone candidate whom the School Committee interviewed publicly. He has been recommended by Superintendent Kathleen Bodie and a school search committee among three finalists.

Asked what attracted him to the CFO position here, he wrote March 29: "When I first heard about the opening, I started doing a little research on Arlington. As I continued to review more information, the more the appealing the position became.

"Originally, Arlington piqued my interest because this role would afford me the ability to work in a larger district with greater enrollment, a bigger budget and of course the location (I live in Woburn).

'Exciting time'

"It wasn't until I dug a little deeper that I began to realize what an exciting time this is for the Arlington Public Schools. The budget complexities, unprecedented enrollment growth, and multiple ongoing planned and potential building projects are what really sealed the deal.

"As I progressed through the interview process and got to meet with more administrators and staff it really solidified my belief that this job was a great match for my skill set. I am very excited for the opportunity. I look forward to continuing the process and hopefully becoming a member of the Arlington team."

The steps to hire Danizio include a majority vote from School Committee and successful negotiations of his contract.

If hired, Danizio would replace former CFO Diane Johnson, who left in February for a similar position at the Dr. Franklin Perkins School, a special-needs facility in Lancaster. Johnson had been CFO since 2009.


While in Winchester, the 1997 Bentley College graduate has supervised all functions of the business office, including accounts payable, payroll, benefits, grants, transportation, food service, procurement, technology and building maintenance. He has directed the budget process.

Danizio's resume says he knows many issues that Arlington schools are dealing with, including high special-education costs and increasing enrollment.

Before his Winchester job, he was the business administrator for the Salem Public Schools from November 2007 to September 2009.

From September 2004 to November 2007, he was deputy auditor for the City of Woburn, supervising daily accounting for a budget topping $100 million.

Out of college, from December 1998 to September 2004, he was controller and director of operations for Source Technology of Waltham, managing all accounting functions for the $26 million company.

Under 1993 education reform, a superintendent has the right to choose a CFO, and the School Committee may approve or disapprove the choice.

Under Chapter 71, Section 41, a School Committee may award a contract to a superintendent of schools or a school business administrator for periods not exceeding six years.

Committee member Kirsi Allison-Ampe served on the search committee and recommended hiring Danizio.

This news summary was published Wednesday, March 29, 2017, and updated March 31. 

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