Dear Mater Christi Families:
I am writing to give you several updates about changes to our faculty and staff for the upcoming school year. As you know, our school had to fill several positions over the past few months, and I am pleased that we were able to hire knowledgeable, skilled, and mission-centered professionals who are excited about being part of the Mater Christi family.
After much thought, reflection and consultation with our Board of Directors, as well as some of my colleagues in the field, I have decided that a full time principal will not be hired. As president, I will serve as the head of school; having both internal and external responsibilities. To support our faculty, staff, students and their families, our school will have an administrative leadership team comprised of two part-time assistant heads of school, as well as a Director of Student Support Services.
I have appointed two of our outstanding teachers to serve as the Assistant Heads of School for the 2016-17 academic year. Ms. Amanda Barone will serve as the Assistant Head of School for grades Preschool-5 and Mr. Tim Loescher will serve as the Assistant Head of School for grades 6-8. Since I began visiting Mater Christi this spring, I have been impressed with both Amanda and Tim’s leadership, commitment to excellence, and desire to help me move our school forward in a strategic and intentional manner. Each of these positions will be 60% administrative and 40% teaching. The administrative focus of these two positions will include working with teachers, curriculum and instruction development, as well as supporting students and their families. With regard to teaching duties, Mr. Loescher will teach two sections of middle school math and Ms. Barone will teach some of the reading/language arts curriculum for our first and second grade students.
In order to better support student learning at all grade levels, I have asked Mrs. Carole McLenithan to continue in her role as Director of Student Support Services and take leadership for all our teacher’s aides. This will enable us to develop greater structure for our paraprofessionals, which in turn will provide more opportunities for small group instruction for our students in both reading and mathematics based on assessed needs. For the 2016-17 academic year we are adding an additional teacher’s aide, and we are planning to develop a tutor-mentor program wherein volunteers from our community and local universities are trained to assist in classrooms as needed.
I wrote to you earlier this spring and shared that enrollment drives our staffing. Given our current enrollment numbers, Mater Christi will have one section of each grade from preschool through grade 5 for the coming year. Since our enrollment in grades 6-8 is larger, we will have more than one section in these grades.
As for our new faculty and staff, I am pleased to announce the following people will be joining our team for the upcoming year:
Mrs. Jenn Behr will be returning to the role of Director of Development. Her strong connections with our community as well as her knowledge, skills, and abilities related to fundraising made her an ideal choice for this position. From my first conversions with Jenn, it was clear how much she loves Mater Christi and wants to work collaboratively with our community to ensure its financial viability and sustainability through strategic fundraising.
Miss. Melissa Campbell will serve as a member of our grade 4/5 team. She will be responsible for teaching math, science and some language arts for our fourth and fifth grade students. Melissa graduated from the University of Vermont one year ago and has spent the past year working at the Barre City Middle snd Elementary School with children who have learning challenges. Melissa is highly student-centered and is committed to our mission as a Mercy school, as well as passionate about fostering a love of mathematics and science in students.
Mr. Zak Farnham-Haskell will serve as our school’s physical education teacher. Zak is a 2014 graduate of the University of Vermont and was an NCAA All-American in track and field. Zak most recently served as a physical education teacher at Neshobe School in Brandon, Vermont as well as a strength and conditioning coordinator at HammerFit Athletic Club. Zak is committed to nurturing our students and making a difference in their lives. Zak spent several days with us at the end of the school year and was a natural at connecting with and supporting our students.
Ms. Sue Hulslander will be returning to Mater Christi to run our school’s lunch program. Sue is well known and loved by many of our families and is well known for her delicious lunches and connectedness with Mater Christi students. I am confident Sue will immediately restore our school lunch program to a model of excellence as she provides nutritious and delicious lunches for our school family.
Ms. Kristen Lee will serve as our preschool teacher after having most recently served in this capacity at the Renaissance/Heartworks School. Kristen has 15 years of teaching experience which includes multi-age classrooms, children with special needs, and children in Pre-K through third grade. Kristen has developed a faithful following of parents in the Burlington community. In fact, many of our parents recommended Kristen to me. Kristen’s love of preschool age children and her ability to easily and genuinely connect with parents made her an exceptional choice for this position.
Mrs. Jonnifer (Jonnie) Moorhead will serve as one of our middle school math teachers. She also most recently taught at the Endeavor School and came highly recommended by parents in our own community who are familiar with her teaching approaches and abilities. Her love of middle school students and her gifts and talents related to teaching middle school mathematics made her an obvious choice for this very critical position.
Mrs. Melissa Senesac has been hired to serve as our marketing and enrollment coordinator. Melissa is a parent at our school, and last year she assisted with our afterschool program. Melissa has a professional background in sales and customer service and possesses a strong commitment to our mission as a Mercy school. Her love of Mater Christi, along with her warm, genuine, and approachable disposition made her an unanimous choice to serve as the ambassador to new families who will explore and enroll in our school in the future.
Mrs. Sara Tobasko will serve as our middle school English teacher following the recent resignation of Mr. Patrick Welsch who recently accepted a position at Rice Memorial High School. Sarah comes to us from the Essex School District having served as a long-term English substitute, as well as another position that focused on working with students with learning disabilities. The faculty who interviewed her were very impressed by her depth of knowledge, her commitment to meeting students on their learning continuums, and her desire to work in a highly collaborative middle school environment.
We are currently conducting final interviews for a part-time general music teacher. As someone who is passionate about the fine arts, we are talking with several candidates who have the ability to build a solid general music program that will complement our school’s band program that has been under the guidance of Mrs. Barb Heath for 20 years. Hiring this part-time person will also free up Mrs Heath so she can focus solely on her first love; instrumental music. Once our hiring is complete for this position, I will share this news with you.
In the next few weeks we will be posting pictures and bios on our school’s website of each of our new staff members so you can learn more about these individuals who have made a commitment to serving students at Mater Christi.
As the head of school at Mater Christi, I believe it is imperative that all new teachers and staff are well supported and guided throughout their first year. All new faculty and staff will go through an orientation in August, be assigned a mentor teacher, as well as be observed multiple times during their first year at Mater Christi. Each new staff member will also as be evaluated after three months, as well as in the early spring. I firmly believe that both new and veteran faculty and staff are deserving of high-quality professional development, supervision and feedback so that each of our faculty and staff are empowered to fully use their gifts and talents in service to our students.
In closing, I ask for your continued prayers and support as we prepare for the 2016–17 academic year. As a school that was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, we have a rich history in the heart of Burlington, and I am both hope-filled and optimistic that if we work together as a community of faith, we can ensure a promising future for Mater Christi School.
Continue to enjoy these wonderful summer days. I will continue to be in communication with you to keep you informed about our busy summer at Mater Christi.
Patrick A Lofton, Ed. S
President/Head of School