District welcomes new teachers

Sept. 9, 2010

By Jess Sanders
Observer correspondent

This school year, the students in the Williston School District will see many new faces, as the recently hired teachers of Allen Brook and Williston Central schools settle into classrooms. After grueling interviews, these 11 new staff members have beat out more than 300 other applicants.

Upon passing through the initial 12-point checklist the administration uses for resume screenings, the applicants were invited into the school for the interview process.

“When we bring them in to interview they have to do a writing sample, they have to do a technology assessment of their technology skills, which is an online piece, and they have their interview,” said Jackie Parks, principal at Williston Central School. “If it’s during the school year, they have to teach class when they get to the finalist level.”

The exceptional applicants have been chosen, and make up the group of new teachers walking the halls of the two Williston public schools.

Kim McMahon is a new Family and Consumer Science teacher. She is from the area, currently living in Richmond, and graduated from Essex High School. Although her specialties are cooking and sewing, she enjoys doing other things outside of work.

“I love to snowboard, and can’t wait for it to snow,” McMahon said.

Jessica Stein, a new first- and second-grade looping teacher, also grew up in Vermont, though she attended college out of the state. She incorporates an educational facet into her classroom not typically found in many places.

“My other major in school was French and I enjoy incorporating the language into my classroom,” Stein said.

This is her first teaching job, and she said it is making her family proud; she is the first classroom teacher within her immediate and extended family.

Tara Weegar, a new third grade teacher, is not new to the state of Vermont, though she is new to Williston. She grew up in Burlington, attended the University of Vermont and taught at Barre Town School for two years. She followed up with a year of teaching at Malletts Bay School in Colchester.

“I love Vermont and feel so lucky to teach here. Nothing could be better,” Weegar said.

She likes to incorporate many different teaching strategies into her lessons, including drama, art and technology.

Jennifer Lyle will be working on the launch of the new preschool program located in Allen Brook School. The program was funded by an Early Education Initiative grant from the Vermont Department of Education. Though this particular program is new, she is not.

“I’ve been part of the EEE Preschool team here at Allen Brook for several years and I’m looking forward to my new role as preschool teacher,” Lyle said.

Jessica Eaton will also be teaching a first- and second-grade looping class. She is coming to Williston from Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax, where she taught fourth grade. Though she is a teacher herself, she will still be taking her turn as a student at St. Michael’s College, where she is finishing her master’s degree in education.

“My concentration is in reading because I love helping my students to ‘fall into books,’” Eaton said. “There is nothing better than helping a student learn to read and then hearing them talk about their favorite authors, character and genres as they become even stronger readers.”

Outside of the classroom, she loves to hike with her husband and dog, as well as ski and snowshoe in the winter. “I absolutely love Vermont and can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Eaton said.

Maria McCormack, teaching a first and second grade looping class, is originally from Sweden. She came to the United States to seek educational opportunities. As a teacher she loves to incorporate technology into her lessons, but has other passions outside of the classroom.

“I am a painter and belong to a gallery in New York,” McCormack said.

Other new teachers include Melissa Akey, a special educator for Synergy House, and Jenny Cianciola, who will be teaching music for grades five through eight. Bonnie Hughart is a new special educator. Sam Messer will be teaching language arts for grades five through eight. Lastly, Kate Capplemann is a new social worker for grades three through eight. Akey, Capplemann, Cianciola, Hughart and Messer could not be reached for comment before press deadline.

The school district also has 15 new paraeducators, a number that includes two new paraeducator positions.

District Principal Walter Nardelli ran through the new hires at Tuesday night’s School Board meeting. Board member Kevin Mara, appointed to last month, asked if turnover was typical this year. Nardelli called the turnover “high.”

“We were busy, doing a lot of hiring,” he said. “People want to work in Williston, it has a great reputation.”

Editor Greg Duggan contributed to this article.