Sept. 3, 2009
By Tim Simard
Students in the Williston School District saw a lot of new faces when they returned to classes on Wednesday, including four new teachers who greeted them at Allen Brook School.
A 2006 graduate from St. Michael College, new Discovery House teacher Erin Crowley is a familiar face to some in Williston.
For the past three years, Crowley has been a paraeducator at Williston Central School, most recently at Pinnacle House. The Winooski native was also a student teacher in Williston while at St. Michael’s.
Taking over the first and second grade position in Discovery House will be Crowley’s first time in charge of a classroom, she said.
“I really like this district and how the teams work,” Crowley said.
Crowley takes the position vacated by Bonnie Birdsall, who is replacing Charles Wilson as the district’s technology educator.
Crowley said she’ll also be busy earning her master’s of education degree in reading, which she hopes to complete this school year. She got a head start on her Williston position by holding conferences with her students last week, she said.
“(The students) are going to be great this year,” Crowley said.
Teaching grades three and four in Calliope House this school year will be Sarah Schoolcraft, a 2003 graduate from the University of Vermont. Schoolcraft, who relocated to Vermont last year, said she’s excited about working within the multi-age house structure.
“I love the whole spirit of the houses here,” Schoolcraft said.
She replaces former Discovery teacher Jane Wilson, who retired last school year after 21 years of teaching in Williston.
After graduating from UVM, Schoolcraft taught in the Massachusetts towns of Grafton and Framingham. At the same time, she earned her master’s of education in curriculum and instruction, with a focus on literacy, from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass. Last school year, Schoolcraft taught at the Hinesburg Community School.
Schoolcraft said she looks forward to forming new relationships with students and her fellow teachers.
“Ideas flow not only within the houses, but also between houses,” she said.
One of two new teachers in Allen Brook’s Esprit House is Ali Schwartz, who teaches first and second grade. She takes over for former Esprit teacher Nancy Leonard, who retired at the end of last school year after 22 years in Williston.
Schwartz said the Williston school system’s excellent reputation drew her to seek a position with the district. Before arriving at Allen Brook, Schwartz taught at the St. Albans Town Education Center, working with elementary school students in multi-age learning environments.
“The idea of teams isn’t new to me,” Schwartz said. “I love the way Williston has organized their teams.”
Originally from Long Island in New York, Schwartz graduated from the University of Vermont in 1998 with a degree in elementary education. In 2005, she earned a master’s degree in reading and education from Boston University. She now lives in South Burlington.
“I’m really looking forward to becoming part of this community,” Schwartz said.
Replacing Jeanne Desilets as Esprit House’s third and fourth grade teacher is Liz Steele. Desilets taught in Williston for 33 years and retired in June.
A Wilmington native, Steele graduated from St. Michael’s College in 2006. Upon graduation, Steele looked into teaching at Allen Brook, but no positions were available.
“This school is what I’ve been searching for,” Steele said.
For the past three years, Steele taught at Blue Mountain Union School in Wells River, a pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school. Classrooms at Blue Mountain are broken up by individual grades, a change from Williston’s multi-age setting. Steele said she prefers the chance to work with more than one grade and likes being part of a larger teaching team.
“I have to say I’m really looking forward to working with my new colleagues,” Steele said.
New faces, new roles
Besides the seven new teachers in Williston (see page 13 for profiles on the teachers joining Williston Central School), there are several new staff members in the district and some who are returning.
Kristen Hult will serve as the new teaching assistant for Allen Brook School’s Discovery House.
Ally Roberts is the new teaching assistant for Allen Brook’s Esprit House after a time at Williston Central School.
Several staff members will return to the district after time away from Williston schools. Katie Webb returns as a speech language pathologist for pre-kindergarten.
Leah Joly rejoins the district as a lower house math support teacher. Cris Milks resumes her position as teacher of the Discrete Math program and as the part-time math coordinator.
Bonnie Birdsall, who last school year was a teacher with Discovery House, has replaced Charles Wilson as the district’s technology educator.
Other new staff members at Allen Brook School include custodian Wayne Pidgeon and nurse Deb Gauthier.
At Williston Central School, other new faces include Andrea Patterson, an upper house reading support teacher, Deidre Cook, a special educator with the school’s behavioral support Lynx Program, and Jamie Saylor, a Harbor House special educator.— Tim Simard, Observer staff