The Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF), Wellesley College and the Wellesley School Committee earlier this month honored 10 staff members who have worked 25 years in the Wellesley Public School system .
The Chair Ceremony, attended by more than 120 supporters, featured toasting and roasting of honorees with skits, poems and speeches. Honorees receive captain’s chairs embossed with the Town of Wellesley seal.
Kirsten Blackwill, Grade 7 Social Studies Teacher
Kirsten came to WMS after two years of teaching 7th grade at the American School in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has taught 7th grade American History ever since. This subject never feels stale to Kirsten because of current events connections to civics and cultural awareness, and since modes of instruction and assessment are always changing. Kirsten loves to read, especially mysteries with British detectives, and enjoy spending family time with her husband, Jim, and 8th grade daughter, Ellie. Speaking on behalf of Kirsten was Liz Aceti, Grade 7 ELA teacher, and longtime colleague and friend.
Jayne Byrne, Sprague Grade 3 Teacher
Jayne Byrne did her graduate work at Schofield with Ginny Balicki in 1992 and then started permanently at Hunnewell in 1993. She taught at Hunnewell for 9 years, then moved to the ‘new’ Sprague when it opened and has been there since: 16 years. Jayne loves technology which is one of her specialties as a classroom teacher. Speaking on behalf of Jayne was Penny Copplestone, retired WPS teacher who is still a guest teacher for WPS.
Kathleen Derian, Grade 8 Science Teacher
Kathleen Derian has worn many hats during her career at WMS. She has worked on teams of 2, 3 and 4; taught 6th and 8th grades and has taught both English and Science. She has been honored to work with many wonderful colleagues and kids …AND has loved every minute of it.
Speaking on behalf of Kathleen Derian was Tara Dufour, Wellesley Middle School Guidance Counselor who has worked with Kathleen in both the sixth and eighth grades.
Holly Holmes, Hunnewell Instructional Library Assistant
Holly Holmes has held a variety of positions in the Wellesley Public Schools, mostly at Bates, including Elementary building assistant, teaching assistant in a classroom, and Special Education elementary floating assistant throughout all 6 elementary schools. In 2003, she became the Instructional Library Assistant at Bates and in 2013, she moved from Bates to Hunnewell, where she continues to work in this capacity. Speaking on behalf of Holly was Liz Rey, the current Bates Librarian and Roxanne Scott the current Hunnewell Librarian.
Deb Levine, High School Special Ed Department Head
Debi started her career at the Hardy School as a special educator and team leader; she then moved to the Middle School as a special educator for 8 years, and has been the High School Special Education Department Head for the past 10 years. Debi is now retired and is enjoying biking, running and has started taking furniture refinishing classes. Speaking on behalf of Debi was Dr. Jamie Chisum, Principal of Wellesley High School.
Jen MacPherson, Mathematics Elementary Department Head PreK-5
Jen MacPherson began teaching at Hunnewell School under the leadership of Ellen Cunniff. She along with fellow honoree, Jayne Bryne, and retiree, Roberta Maguire (also present), were hired together to open multi-age classrooms at Hunnewell. Jen taught a 4/5 classroom at both Hunnewell and Sprague Schools. In 2004, she took on the role of Elementary Mathematics Coordinator and is now the PreK-5 Department Head for Mathematics. Speaking on behalf of Jen MacPherson was Moe Henzel, who has been teaching grade 4 at both Hunnewell and Sprague Schools for 24 years. She and Jen taught together at both schools.
MaryAnne started in her position in the Athletics office in 1993 after teaching nursery school for 9 years. She fell in love with Raider sports and the student-athletes who quickly became her extended family. She takes great pride in her student-athletes and their achievements, but mostly their visits to her office to ‘check in’. Many alums make sure they stop by her office when they come back to visit WHS and many current and past student-athletes consider ‘Mrs. Mac’ their second mom. Speaking on behalf of MaryAnne was WPS Athletic Director John Brown.
Ilene Sharpe began her teaching career in the spring of 1979 as a student teaching at the Wellesley ‘Junior’ High and Senior High Schools. After some time away, she rejoined the Wellesley Public Schools as a long term substitute teacher and library paraprofessional at Wellesley High School. She then moved to the Wellesley Middle School Family & Consumer Science Department and eventually became a part of the Fitness and Health Department. Ilene believes passionately in providing a place for her students to explore and discuss health related topics that may empower them to lead safe, healthy and happy lives. Speaking on behalf of Ilene was Dr. Sandra Nicolucci, former Director of Performing Arts for the Wellesley and Brookline Public Schools, and Ilene’s former colleague and supervisor in the Brookline Public Schools.
Also honored but not present at the March 14 ceremony:
Jenny Leung, Grade 1 Teacher at Upham Elementary School
Jenny was hired by WPS at the age of 21 and has taught her entire career here and only at the wonderful Upham School. She taught kindergarten for her first 8 years, then 7 years in grade 2 and has been 11 years (so far) in first grade. Her absolute favorite part of her work is teaching kids to read each year.
Kristen Snyder, Special Education Teaching Assistant, Wellesley High
Kristen also came to Wellesley right out of grad school and has worked at the High School ever since. She has worked in different Learning Centers, and has been a one-to-one teaching assistant at times. She enjoys her time in classrooms, but has also spent many years on the basketball court as the teams’ official scorekeeper.