The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 21, 2007


Meet the new teachers at Carlisle School, Part 1

The new school year has brought some fresh faces to Carlisle School. The Mosquito will introduce a few each week in the upcoming issues.

Name: Linda Vanaria

Current Position: Kindergarten teacher

Previous Position: Inclusion kindergarten teacher, Newton public schools

Education: B.A., M.A. Lesley University in early childhood education

Prior to working in Newton, Vanaria had taken time off from teaching to be at home while her children were growing up. She spent many years as a parent volunteer in the Bedford schools, and served on the school committee.

She said her transition to the Carlisle School went well. "I couldn't ask for anything better." She enlisted the help of her husband and two children, ages 22 and 26, in setting up her classroom, which she says is slightly larger than her previous classroom in Newton. Fellow kindergarten teacher Suzanne Comeau is her mentor, but "the whole team is wonderful" and supportive, she said. She enjoyed the "mini-conferences" the team held with parents at the start of school. "Kindergarten is a big transition," for parents and children, she said. "My goal is to help kids and parents to be comfortable."

She said she likes having two full days of kindergarten as well as the three half days. In Newton, Vanaria explained, the kindergarten schedule included four full days out of five days. She is interested in exploring the possibility of adding more full days in Carlisle, and has volunteered to research grant funding through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Name: Connie McGrath

Current Position: Fourth-grade special educator

Previous Position: Special educator grades 3, 4 and 5, Sprague School, Wellesley

Education: M.A. in moderate special needs from Lesley University

McGrath said her first two weeks have been "wonderful," and she finds the students are eager learners. Her transition was smooth, she said, and helped by meeting with the fourth-grade team during the summer. "The teachers work so hard," she said. "They had school on their minds even during their time off." She said she appreciates the Carlisle model of special education, in which a special educator is assigned to a specific grade level, versus multiple grades. This allows more contact time with students, she explained. McGrath has written a book, The Inclusion Classroom Problem-solver, which will be released this fall. The book is a guide to setting up a permanent inclusion classroom, she explained. She said she chose Carlisle because she wanted more face-to-face time with students. McGrath lives in Sudbury and has two daughters, one at Lincoln-Sudbury High School and the other at the University of Vermont.

Name: Ken Ashe

Current Position: Fourth-grade teacher

Previous Position: Classroom aide, fourth grade, Carlisle School

Education: B.A. hotel management, University of Massachusetts; M.A. candidate in education, Simmons College

Ashe has worked at the Carlisle School for at least four years, first as a permanent substitute and then as a classroom aide. He is taking education courses at Simmons College, but his course work is "on hold," he said, until "I get organized here." He passed the Massachusetts Test for Educator License (MTEL) in January.

The transition to his own classroom was "very good," he said, "but it is a handful trying to get my legs firmly on the ground." Last year he worked with fourth-grade teacher Liz Gray. Their classrooms share a wall and a door, which allows him to pop over to get some guidance when needed, he said. He explained his goal for the year is to instill curiosity in his students. "I hope the kids have fun," he said. Ashe lives in Devens.

Name: Jenifer Pray

Current Position: Kindergarten/first grade special educator

Previous Position: Pre-kindergarten - second grade special educator, Bridgewater/Raynham Schools

Education: B.S. early childhood education, B.A. history, Bridgewater State College, M.A. candidate, special education, Bridgewater State College

Pray is the special educator for both kindergarten and first grade, though she pointed out only kindergarten has students who need services at the moment. She noted the interviewing process was "welcoming and warm," which influenced her decision to work in Carlisle. She works closely with the kindergarten and first-grade teams, meeting with them to discuss students' needs. She enjoys the mentoring process, and meets with her mentor once a week during lunch. "We have so much support," she said. Pray said she has recently married and moved to Lowell from Taunton.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito