Principal’s Newsletter – June 18, 2010

Dear Oak Hill Families,

Reflecting Back:
The 2009-2010 school year is quickly coming to a close! As I complete my first year at Oak Hill, I want you to know that I am honored to be here as your principal. It has been a pleasure to join a faculty that understands what motivates middle schoolers and to see how well our staff strives to meet the varied needs of our students.  Our students have been welcoming, some shyly, others making connections through humor or by offering a quick, “Good morning” or “How’s it going?” And I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting parents at the Back to School Picnic, morning and evening coffees, concerts, sports matches, Newton Serves day, events for incoming 6th Graders, and most recently, at our Field Day. We will continue to explore ways to open up the school to parents.

With Appreciation:
My colleagues and I offer our most sincere appreciation to all Oak Hill families who contributed time and funds to support our school including Creative Arts programs, the Back-to-School Picnic, NewtonServes gardening and painting projects, Book Fair, Spirit Wear, Teacher & Staff Appreciation Lunches and Cookie Treats,  Field Day,  the 8th Grade Dance, tile decorating and ‘Moving On’ ceremony, to name a few! All of us – staff and students – are fortunate to have your on-going support!

After 2 and 3 years respectively, PTO Co-Presidents Maryanne Weiss and Chris Hill will step down. Both of these parents have worked tirelessly for many hours behind the scenes to support our school. In my first year here, they offered history, information and guidance throughout the year. I extend my heartfelt thanks to these giving parents for their extraordinary leadership and support on behalf of us all.

Thank you also to Judie Samuels and Bruce Henderson, who will continue as Co-Presidents joined by Josh Weiss and one other Co-President, soon to be determined. As always, the PTO welcomes your participation so let them know if you would like to help in any way.

Congratulations to MA Teacher of the Year Finalists for 2011:
Team 6-2 teachers Mr. Jonathan Roy and Mr. Ben McGraw were recently honored at the State House in Boston for having been selected as one of five finalists for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award. This was the first time that a team of teachers was selected. This is a great honor for our school and the city of Newton and a tribute to these fine educators. As Secretary Reville said at the ceremony, “The classroom teacher is the single biggest factor in the success of students. Massachusetts is a leader in education reform and performance because of the hard work of our teachers. I’m thankful for the efforts of these exemplary teachers we celebrate today and all of their colleagues statewide.” Congratulations to Mr. McGraw and Mr. Roy!

Staffing Updates:
It is an honor and a privilege to recognize and thank Ms.Maureen O’Connor for 7.5 years of dedicated service as an 8th Grade History/Social Sciences teacher at Oak Hill Middle School and prior to that, for 4 years at Day Middle School.  An educator for over 35 years, Maureen has had a varied career teaching history at the middle and high school levels, ELL at the secondary and college levels, and has offered GED preparation. Her diverse experiences contributed to her sage understanding of students and their needs. We will miss Ms. O’Connor and wish her well as she starts on the next phase of her life.

Congratulations also to Mr. Tom Spellman, our senior custodian, who is retiring after 41 years of dedicated service in the Newton Schools. Tom has been the senior custodian at Oak Hill for the last 13 years. Before this, he worked at various elementary schools and at Newton North High School. A genuinely kind person, Tom has always been willing to help people. His playful wit surfaces as he loves to toy with words, correct grammar usage and sayings learned over time. He looks forward to travel and more leisure time with his family. Thank you, Tom!

Departing Teachers and Staff:
Thank you to Mr. Eric Lass, Math, and Ms. Linda Belamarich, History & Social Sciences, for serving as long-term substitutes this year on Team 7-1. They ably filled in for Mrs. Szeto who retired and Ms. Pilley who had a beautiful baby girl this spring. Mr. Lass has accepted a position teaching 7th and 8th Grade Math at the Runkle School in Brookline. We wish him well! Ms. Belamarich will rejoin us next year in another role – as an ISS (substitute) teacher for 3 days each week, so we do not need to say good-bye!

We also bid adieu to Ms. Amy Aransky, Physical Education and Wellness. Amy will assume a full-time position at Newton South High School, where she previously taught. We will miss her though we are happy that she will have a full-time role. A new .6 teacher will soon be hired in Amy’s place.

Also moving on to other endeavors are some of our assistants: Ms. Kim Harrison, Ms. Andrea Stein, Mr. Andrew Taytslin, Ms. Jessica Scott, Ms. Rachel May and Ms. Jennifer Baverstam, ISS. We thank each of these staff members for their contributions to Oak Hill.

New Teachers:
We welcome Mr. Evan Janow as a Grade 6 ELA/Social Studies teacher. Evan is certified to teach Grade 6 and comes to us after teaching Fifth Grade in Chelsea for the last 6 years. Prior to that he worked as an assistant at Oak Hill, so he is acquainted with our school community. He brings a passion for working with middle school students. After we hire one more Grade 6 ELA/SS teacher, Mr. Janow will be assigned to one of the Grade 6 teams.

Joining Team 7-1 is Ms. Mary Swedberg, who is returning to the Boston area after working in Texas and Illinois. She brings 7 years of experience teaching math to students in Grades 6-9. Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Swedberg worked in the business world with a B.S. in Economics and an MBA. According to former principals, Ms. Swedberrg is highly regarded as a hands-on collaborative teacher who incorporates a strong repertoire of instructional strategies in her teaching.

I thank our hiring teams for their careful consideration of many candidates and for the time they have devoted to this important hiring process:

  • Math: Brian Marks, Kirsten Turner and Nina Campolito-Bennes.
  • ELA/SS: Jon Roy, Andy Wood, Sherri Cohen, Anne Mikulski, K-8 ELA Coordinator.  (We are still in the process of interviewing for one additional Grade 6 position.)

Staffing Configurations:
Looking forward to next year, we have made some staffing changes (marked with a * in the table following this letter) to match faculty strengths with incoming student needs. The staffing configurations for next year are listed at the end of this letter. It is possible that further changes may occur over the summer.

Last day of this school year:
School will close at 11:30AM on Monday, June 21 for all students and faculty. Lunch will not be served on this last day. Report cards will be mailed home the last week of June.  Please see the links to summer reading lists at the end of this email.

School Opening in September:

Team Placement:
In the last week of August, please look for the school handbook that will arrive at your home by mail. The mailing label will list your child’s assigned team and the homeroom classroom where your child will report on the first day of school. Students will receive schedules on the first day, Tuesday, September 7, 2010. School starts promptly at 8:00. Students should plan to be in school at 7:45 in order to be ready to start learning at 8:00.

Supply Lists:
Supply listswill be posted on the school website. Once your child receives his/her schedule on the first day, please check the supply lists for all your child’s teachers so that you do not duplicate supplies.

Visiting Day:
Please feel free to stop by school on Tuesday, August 31, 1:00-3:00. Teachers may not be present and rooms may not be organized. The visiting time allows students to find their homerooms and to get a glimpse of the school layout if they are unfamiliar with the school.

Curriculum Night:
All parents are invited to Curriculum Night on Tuesday, September 21, 7:00-9:00 PM. There will be a meeting for Grade 8 parents about Nature’s Classroom in the auditorium, 6:00-7:00PM.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Oak Hill and look forward to next year! My best wishes to you and your family for a safe, relaxing summer!!

Eva Thompson


Oak Hill Middle School Staff Configuration — 2010-11

Grade 6

Jennifer Ames, Guidance

Grade 7

Ariel Bernstein, Guidance

Grade 8

Katy Oliver, Guidance

Team 6-1:

· Paul Lyons, ELA/SS &

Russ Hunt, Math/Sci.

· Tierney Leary, LD

· Amy Geer, Asst. Principal

Team 7-1:

· Trudi Sacks, ELA

· Anita Pilley, SS

· Mary Swedberg, Math

· Marianne Marks, Sci.*

· Deb Sayles, LD*

· Caren Bobroff, INT*

· Amy Geer, Asst. Principal

Team 8-1:

· Maureen McCann, ELA

· Carol Kappel, SS

· Brian Marks, Math

· Jen Dempsey, Sci.

· Nina Bennes, LC*

· Amy Geer, Asst. Principal

Note: our ELL and Inclusion programs have not yet been placed on Teams. Teams are heterogeneously formed and balance numbers of students in various school regular and special education programs.
Team 6-2:

· Jon Roy, ELA/SS &

Ben McGraw, Math/Sci

· Kerri Clifford, LC

· Ken Yee, Asst. Principal

Team 7-2:

· Eric Arnold, ELA

· Cleo Syph, SS

· Kirsten Turner, Math

· Bob Golden, Sci.*

· Rebecca Mayrand, LC*

· Ken Yee, Asst. Principal

Team 8-2:

· Monica Swain, ELA

· Helena Sweet, SS*

· Matt Timmons, Math

· Jessie Cadigan, Sci.

· Laura Potensky, INT

· Laura Deschaines, LD

· Ken Yee, Asst. Principal

Program Key

Ø        INT = Integrated

Ø        LC = Learning Ctr.

Ø        LD = Citywide Program

Student Services

Asst. to the Principal:

· Shari Engelbourg

Speech & Language:

· Courtney Beckerman

· Meta Millen

· Polly Struthers

Inclusion Facilitators:

· Kerri Clifford

· Jess Wadden


· Cascia Partensky

Team 6-3:

· TBD, ELA/SS  &

Andy Wood, Math/Sci

· Sherri Cohen, LC

· Amy Geer, Asst. Principal

World Languages


· Yuanchao Meng

FAA(Fine & Applied Arts)

· David McCoy, Ind. Tech.

· Caleb Cutler, Music

· Roy Miller, Music

· Marie Shaw, Drama/Video

· Sheila trunk, Art

Physical Education Health & Wellness:

· Krystyna Chmielinski

· Kevin Drinan


· Carley Gibson – Health

Team 6-4:

· Chuck Bunting,

ELA/SS & Norma

Sullivan, Math/Sci

· Jane MacNeil, INT

· Ken Yee, Asst. Principal


· Kaihla Olivar

· Isabelle Ronfard


· Mark Coughlin

English Language Learners Program:

· Rachel Izrina

· Lynn Scheller


· Elizabeth Matera

Computer Specialists:

· Thomas Buchau

· Rosa Sterk

Team 6-5:  New Team

· TBD, ELA/SS  &

Stephanie Finegold,


· Amy Geer, Asst. Principal


· Cathy Aliaga

· Ileana Martinez

· Alison Mulligan

· Kaihla Olivar


· Rolanda Prophete,


· Melissa Wong, METCO


· Sue Riley

Summer Reading Lists:

For entering Newton South freshmen: