10/30/15

Judy Simpson, building sub, Martin Elementary

Judy spent years in the corporate world and has served as an ordained minister at a church in Bloomfield for 23 years. But this great-grandmother found herself yearning for a different form of meaningful interaction and began subbing in January. “I love kids,” she says, and is happy to have found a home at Martin. “I enjoy it here very much.”

10/29/15

Leon Haberski, security guard, Illing Middle School

The unflappable Mr. H has been at Illing for 11 years. “For me the key to working with our students is to respect and listen to what they have to say,” he says. “In return they give respect right back to you.”

10/28/15

Nilsa Taylor, HR specialist, Central Office

“There are so many layers, so many facets of what our department does,” says Nilsa, who ticks off a few -- the hiring process, certification, training and compliance, ensuring due process and more. She works with certified staff, which currently numbers 720. “The best part of my job is meeting new employees,” she says. “They are the faces of the future of the district.”

10/27/15


Courtney Bonneau, Physical Education teacher, Martin and Keeney


Her grandfather was a  janitor at Keeney and Washington back in the late 70’s, her mom (Bev DiTarando) a secretary at Illing for 15 years, her dad a noon aid at Buckley and current Field Day volunteer and her sister a building sub at Illing for a year. “Working in town is like a family business or right of passage,” says Courtney, who also oversees an elementary Unified Sports program pairing regular ed and special ed students.

10/26/15

Sam Warner, science teacher, MHS

Sam is in his third year and teaches biology, animal behavior and marine science. He’s also an advisor for the ski club and self-professed “big outdoorsman.” Says Sam, “The best thing about the high school is the diversity of the students. It’s awesome.” The worst thing? “It’s almost too big. You just don’t get to meet everybody here.”

10/23/15

Tajae Stringer, Alumna

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. “That’s so true,” says Tajae, who graduated from MHS in June and is now a freshman at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. She flew home for Homecoming weekend, proudly wearing the tiara and sash she was given last year, when she was named Homecoming Queen. “I  love being back, seeing my family and so many friends and my teachers. I really miss MHS.”

10/22/15

Raeqwan Jordan, senior at MHS

Rae has spina bifida and needs a wheelchair to get around. “I used to be like ‘why me?’” he says. “But as I got older, I began to understand, and it’s not so bad.” Rae loves country music -- George Strait in particular -- and plans to go to college next year. He’d like to someday be a guidance counselor (“because I could be a support system for younger children”) or a music teacher (“because I love to play my guitar so I would love to pass on my knowledge to students that are willing to hopefully get better at their instruments.”)

10/21/15

Fellicia Ayers, ELA teacher, Bennet Academy

An MHS grad (Class of ‘94), Fellicia taught in both Hartford and New Britain before returning this year to teach at Bennet (where she went to middle school). This photo was taken during Bennet’s recent march down Main Street to see The Wall That Heals. “"It was a moving experience.” she said, adding that many students  were in search of a particular soldier --  either a family member, a friend, or someone they looked up online to locate on the wall. “It was great that there were Veterans there for the students to talk to as well.”

10/20/15

George Sweetland, third-grade teacher, Buckley Elementary

“The most important message I can bestow on my class is responsibility,” says George, who tries to show students the positive effect their actions and effort can have on their future. “My students know that they must take a highly active and responsible role in their learning on a daily basis.” Principal Matt Daly says George has built wonderful relationships with all his students and families and is “a true asset to Buckley School.”

10/19/15

Kim Aiken, crossing guard

This is her eighth year stationed at the corner of Cedar and Pleasant, where from 7:45-9:30 a.m. and 2:30-4 p.m. she makes sure Washington Elementary School students can cross safely. “It’s a really great job,” says Kim, who lives just a half-mile away and has a daughter in third grade at the school. "I’m outside 3 ½ hours a day and meet lots of kids and become friendly with lots of parents.”

10/16/15

Clyde Ettienne-Modeste, Social Studies teacher, Illing Middle School

“I truly enjoy working in  this district because it’s a microcosm of the United States and a great place to teach World Geography,” says Mr. E-M, who also coaches cross-country at IMS and indoor track at MHS. “Giving students the tools to be successful young adults is one of my main goals.”

10/15/15

Ken Rossignol, para educator, Bowers Elementary School

Ken graduated from Cheney Tech in 2008, then earned an associates degree in sports and exercise science at MCC. He eventually wants a career in some business aspect of sports but for three years has been happily working at Bowers. “This school is awesome,” he says. “We all get along and collaborate, and the kids are great.”

10/14/15

Erin Boyle, health and nutrition manager, Manchester Preschool Center

“I went from trauma to toddlers,” says Erin, who for 15 years worked the night shift in the ER at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford before taking this Head Start job last year. She loves meeting families and tending to young children and making them feel welcome. “That’s really important,” she says, “especially because this is their first taste of school.”

10/13/15

Russell Rogers, student ambassador, Buckley Elementary

“I always had a problem with authority,” admits Russell, who needed an extra year to graduate from MHS because of behavior that sent him to MRA. He says he’s happy to be on the “other side” now, working to keep youngsters engaged and in class. Buckley Principal  Matt Daly was an AP at Illing when Russell was in eighth grade and got to know him verrrry well there. And now?  “I’m so proud of Russell,” Daly says.

10/9/15

Allie Strauch, MELC program manager, Waddell Elementary School

“I’m all over the place,” says Allie, who is at Waddell from 10-6 each day doing “whatever they need” -- which includes coordinating activities during the afternoon sessions that are run by the Manchester Early Learning Center.. She’s also a full time (and frequently exhausted) UConn student who takes classes in Storrs from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and 6:30-9 p.m. most days.

10/8/15

Erin Ortega, Coordinator of Program Planning and Development

Erin works at both Central Office and in the Spruce Street office of the district’s Family & Community Partnership. “She does a ton of good work,” says her boss there, Scott Ratchford, who says Erin’s responsibilities range from building partnerships with those in the community sharing the FCP mission of ensuring student success, to grant writing, to developing digital communications for families including a district app (stay tuned). Says Scott: “She is a humble, big picture thinker.”

10/7/15

Ms. G’s, noon aide, Robertson Elementary

“If they see this,” she says, holding up two fingers, “the kids all know, Ms. G’s means to be quiet.” Ms G’s -- that’s what everyone calls her, although her full name Ecular Regina Bosh -- has been volunteering at Robertson for 20 years and was recently hired as a noon aide. She helps children in the cafeteria and at recess and says, “I love being here.”

10/6/15

Paul Rippington, library media specialist, Illing Middle School

The British accent is legit: Paul lived in England until he was 30 and came across The Pond for a computer programming job in 1987. He loves reading and says he works hard to stay connected to books -- and to students. “If I'm not careful it’s too easy to get held up in my office with technology,” he says.

10/5/15

Rachel Hyman, Family Resource Center coordinator, Verplanck Elementary

The entrance to a school can be intimidating to a visitor, even to a parent or guardian whose children are safely and happily inside. Rachel wants everyone to feel welcome. “Families need to realize that the school really belongs to them,” she says. “When they realize they own it, they will start to see the value of it.”

10/2/15

Brian Hughes, custodian, Manchester High School

A 1988 graduate of MHS (where he was captain of the hockey team), Brian has worked in the district for 16 years -- the last 8 at the high school. “No matter what you need, Brian will take care of it,” said MHS principal Jill Krieger. “He's a hard worker who is always positive. He is a true professional and we are very lucky to have him.”

10/1/15

Cara Christensen, teacher,  Keeney Elementary

She has been teaching for 26 years, the last 19 at Keeney. “The happiest day of my life was when I was hired to teach,” says Cara, who grew up in Manchester and was a student at Keeney way back when. “I really love what I do.”

9/30/15

Christine Munoz, secretary, Manchester Regional Academy

Her days are consumed by phone calls, purchase orders, attendance issues, registration questions, discipline and, well, more phone calls. “My heart is full when I leave here every day, knowing we as a staff gave all that we had to try and better the lives of our kids,” says Christine, adding, “We can't fix all their problems but we don't let them face them alone.”

9/29/15

Ashley Bell -- math teacher, Manchester High School

“The huge diversity here makes our school the most welcoming place,” says Ashley, who coaches cross-country in addition to teaching. “I truly believe that education is the key to success and while teachers make a lasting impact on their students lives, my students have an impact on my life that makes me want to teach forever!”

9/28/15

Janet Starr, social worker, Martin Elementary

A lot has changed during the 16 years Janet has worked in town, but her challenge remains the same: Helping students deal with whatever issues might interfere with their education. “Sometimes they just need someone to talk things out with,” she says.

9/25/15

Kathy Hackett, numeracy coach, Verplanck Elementary

Kathy spent 26 years teaching kindergarten through third grade, so she knows first-hand what it takes to become a more effective instructor. "Professional development is an ongoing need for all teachers,” she says, adding, “We want to provide the very best for all our scholars." As  an instructional coach, she is a ready resource for her colleagues:. “We are teachers who support teachers.”

9/24/15

Stephanie Case, third grade teacher, Robertson Elementary School

She sometimes morphs into Judge Case (wearing a robe and banging a gavel) and asks her students to present evidence that supports their thinking. Other times she is Dr. Case (lab coat and goggles) to spice up science lessons. "The students get a kick out of it and it helps them stay focused on their work."," says Stephanie, who is in her seventh year at Robertson.

9/23/15

Patricia Allen, parent volunteer, Keeney Elementary

Patricia, shown here with third-grade daughter Elizabeth, has held positions in the Keeney PTA but is now mostly focused on coordinating the after-school running club. She loves volunteering and says simply:,“My motivation is really just how can I help to improve the quality of life at the Keeney Street School.”

9/22/15

Hassan Robinson, Assistant Principal, Bennet Academy

“I like working with sixth-graders because they are still trying to figure out who they are,” Hassan says. “You can help mold them, but they really need role models.” He makes an excellent one and students are especially impressed when they learn he played minor league baseball in the Houston Astros organization.

9/21/15

Tim Levesque -- School Resource Officer, MHS

Tim is an MHS grad (Class of ‘04) who as a student had just one detention --  when he was a freshman, for skipping study hall and going to the cafe instead. He has worked for the Manchester Police since 2008 and has been an SRO at MHS for three years now. “Kids are always going to make mistakes,” Tim says. “The key thing is to learn from them.”

9/18/15

Sue McClure -- Assistant Payroll Coordinator

Everybody likes payday, even people in the payroll department. Sue has been in her current position since 2010, having come to the district four years earlier as a time and attendance clerk. When not on the job, she enjoys camping, skiing and beach trips --  or just spending time with her friends and family (she has two sons).

9/17/15

Teri Thompson (left) and Janice Foster -- Cafeteria workers, Highland Park Elementary School

They have been working together at Highland Park for the past seven years -- Janice as the kitchen manager and Teri as a general worker -- and have a regular routine, preparing breakfast for about 70 students, then lunch for 200, then about 40 for an early (3:30 to 4 p.m.) dinner. And what menu item do kids enjoy the most? Teri and Janice agree: “They like pasta.”

9/16/15

J’roose Orbe -- third-grader, Washington Elementary School

“J'roose comes into my class everyday with a huge smile on his face,” says his teacher, Lindsay English. “He always gives his best effort, is always engaged and excited about whatever I am teaching. J'roose also has a huge heart and is very selfless. He is always asking how he can help me or his peers. He is a friend to everyone and makes sure that everyone always feels included.”

9/15/15

Rebecca Schwalbendorf -- Para educator at Buckley Elementary School

A district employee since 2002, Rebecca works primarily with students with complex learning profiles and varied skills and abilities, including some who are nonverbal. “Sometimes I just give a hug, or a smile, or a mint, or a sticker, or a high five,” she says. “That can be all a student needs to get in the right frame of mind.”

9/14/15

Vonetta Romeo-Rivers -- Director of Performance, Evaluation & Talent Development

“I love, love, love recruiting and working with our brand new teachers,” says Vonetta. “I see it as a win for our community, our society, our children that these talented, passionate people chose to be educators. They keep me energized and focused and remind me every day that every child deserves a great teacher. But when I need my heart warmed I sneak away to preschool and Kindergarten classes -- ‘Pete the Cat,’ anyone?”

9/11/15

John Robichaud -- Assistant Superintendent, Mail Services

No, that's not his real title. But, as John says, it sounds better than "the mail guy." Joking around comes easily to John, a trait that has made him a welcome sight as he crisscrosses town delivering and picking up envelopes and packages. "Seeing different people makes my job enjoyable," he says.

9/10/15

Jean Galper -- Nurse at Bowers Elementary School

“Everything has changed here but I’ve stayed the same,” said Jean, who in her 27 years at Bowers has been through two building renovations and worked with four principals. She does everything from perform CPR to hand out snacks to hungry kids. “Nurses do whatever we have to to keep the children in class learning.”

9/9/15

Scott Goldsmith, School psychologist, Manchester Regional Academy.

Stick out your right index finger. Hold up your left thumb. Then, when Scott says “go,” switch them. Not so easy, eh? That’s one of the many experiential activities that he uses to connect with students and get them talking about dealing with stress and frustration. He’s even published a book on the subject.

9/8/15

Susan Eden -- Special Education Teacher, Manchester Preschool Center

An Ellington resident, she has "happily and proudly" taught in the district since 1982 and likes this quote (from Rita Pierson of TED Talk fame): "Every child deserves a champion -- an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."

9/4/15

Cathy Mazzotta (left) and Kate Dias -- MHS math teachers

Need a judge for the Mr. MHS competition? A chaperon for a prom? An actress for the Murder Mystery fundraiser?  A helping hand on Freshman First Day? These two will be there. Together. Smiling. Always.

9/3/15

Christopher Pattacini, chairman of the Manchester Board of Education

His youngest child is a senior and will be his third to graduate from MHS. "But I feel like I have 6,000 other kids to care about," he says. "That's what makes his position so rewarding."


9/2/15

Natalie Pacheco -- MHS senior

A four-year member of the cross-country team (and captain this season), she is also a basketball star, a terrific student and a great kid. "She's everything you hope for in a student-athlete," said Lindsey Boutilier, the MHS athletic director

9/1/15

Luis Moyano -- Coordinator of Title I Programming and Outreach / Central Office

Born in NYC, Luis loves the tranquility of CT. He’s passionate about playing golf and soccer (here shown kickin’ it with kids at the Squire Village barbecue) as well as hanging out with friends and family. And yes, the last name might sound familiar. He is the husband of Sinthia Sone-Moyano, principal of the Manchester Preschool Center.

8/31/15

Kimberly Loveland -- Principal of Waddell Elementary School

Why did she wear the Waddell mascot costume to convocation? "Our work as educators is serious and important," Kim said, "but you have to find ways to have fun!"

8/28/15

Katie Morin -- Music Teacher at Washington School

She has come full circle, having attended Nathan Hale, Bennet when it was BMS, then MHS (Class of ’98). As for teaching back in Manchester? “I’m ecstatic to be singing back home!” she says.

08/27/15

Mike Menefee -- Social Studies teacher at Illing Middle School

A teacher for 12 years, all at Illing, Mike is known for his
concerns about character. “I try to give kids lessons that will help them prosper over their lifetime. They may not always understand the meaning in seventh grade, but someday they will.”

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