C&I Who We Are
Ever wonder who the faces are behind Manchester's Curriculum & Instruction Department? Take a look below to learn a little bit about each of us - who we are and what we do for Manchester Public Schools.
Dr. Amy Radikas is entering her fifth year serving as Manchester’s Deputy Superintendent, Curriculum & Special Services. Prior to her role in Manchester she worked for six years at the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) supporting Connecticut’s 15 Priority School Districts through needs-based professional development sessions and facilitated data team meetings. Before her job at CSDE, she worked for 15 years as a classroom teacher, reading consultant, and a PK-5 District Language Arts Coordinator.
The most important aspect of her career has been the professional relationships she has developed with legislative, executive, administrative, and teaching colleagues, as well as with parents and students.
Dr. Radikas has been fortunate to share these experiences with her husband of nearly twenty years, Raymond, and her two daughters. Both she and Raymond are the youngest siblings in large families, thus their weekends tend to be filled with family functions and dinners or sporting
events with their children.
Jane Morano serves as the administrative and functional point person as Executive Assistant for the Curriculum and Instruction department. She is a wealth of knowledge and able to assist with such topics as Protraxx, CMT, SBAC testing, New teacher orientation, Teacher of the Year programing and much more. Jane oversees requests to implement Creativity Grant proposals, innovative ideas generated from teachers to provide student success. She organizes professional development workshops for teachers by finding comfortable, appropriate environments that promote collaboration and growth. Overseeing the ordering and delivering of instructional materials is a large body of her work. Instructional materials assist teachers in providing engaging, meaningful instruction and receiving these items in a timely fashion is crucial.
Born and raised in the town of Manchester, she has served the town for 13 years, working exclusively for Manchester Public Schools for 8 years. After graduating from Manchester High School, Jane lived in Germany for a year which gave her the opportunity to sight-see throughout Europe. She moved back to town to raise her family and graduated from Manchester Community College with an Associate degree in General Studies. Jane has three beautiful grown children and two dogs, Daisy and Tucker. In her free time she enjoys movie dates with her husband, spending time with her family, reading, baking, cooking and various arts and crafts projects.
Pari Ghetia is the Director of Teaching & Learning, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics).
Pari has worked in Manchester since 2008 and previously served as a classroom teacher, math specialist and resident principal. Throughout her career she has enjoyed making connections, communicating and collaborating with students, families and colleagues to cultivate trusting relationships within the community. She and her husband are both from Connecticut and enjoy light traveling as well as spending time with friends and family
Nichole Greco has served as the administrative assistant to the Director of Teaching and Learning, STEAM since September 2015. During her time, she has coordinated district-wide professional development programs relating to STEAM. In addition, she coordinates STEAM initiatives like the Annual Science Fair with Invention Convention and Robotics
Prior to joining Manchester Public Schools, Mrs. Greco was a Marketing Coordinator for a nationwide technology and business consulting services firm. Mrs. Greco holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Albertus Magnus College.
Diane Sheehan-Burns is the Director of Teaching & Learning, Humanities PreK-12 for Manchester Public Schools.
Diane has been with the Manchester Public Schools for 26 years. She began her career as a classroom teacher then moved onto becoming a curriculum director, building principal and now, most recently, as the Director of Teaching & Learning, Humanities. She resides in Manchester with her husband Dan and daughter, Dylan Marie, who is a graduate of Manchester High School.
Cherie Gabriel is an Administrative Assistant in the Office of Teaching and Learning supporting Diane Sheehan-Burns, Director of Humanities. She assists with all things Language Arts, Social Studies and World Language such as helping facilitate monthly curriculum academies, correspondence throughout the departments and helps with various projects as needed. In addition to her role in Humanities, she is also a point person in helping manage the distribution of Public and Non-Public Title funds within the district.
Cherie joined Manchester Public Schools in November of 2014. After several years in administrative roles across different industries, she found this great opportunity in the Manchester Board of Education’s Central Office.
Cherie is a dog lover and has an Italian Greyhound named Cosmo. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, cooking and also runs a small photography business.
Vonetta Romeo-Rivers is the Director of Performance, Evaluation & Talent Development for Manchester Public Schools. Her role on the leadership team is one that links the Human Resources Department with the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. She is responsible for district-wide efforts to recruit, evaluate, retain, incentivize, and professionally grow certified staff, particularly first-time and Non-Tenured faculty members throughout the district. This includes professional development for administrators on the evaluation framework and on calibration of effective teacher feedback; leading the district’s TEAM process, facilitating university partnerships with the district, developing a multi-tiered teacher recruitment program, and conducting final interviews for certified candidates brought forward to Central Office. Ms. Romeo-Rivers supports all Manchester students by being actively involved in the development and refinement of adult practices so that students have equitable access to quality learning environments in all 14 schools.
A native of Trinidad and Tobago who emigrated to Brooklyn, New York in her teens, Ms. Romeo-Rivers is attracted to the multicultural and diverse student and family demographic in Manchester. Her perspective and appreciation of the immigrant experience - which at times requires one to straddle cultures while embracing both - has served her well in her relationships with families and teachers as they work together to create the best future for children.
Prior to her current position, Ms. Romeo-Rivers was an administrator of Culture and Climate at Manchester High School, a middle school principal in New Britain, and an English teacher at Glastonbury High School. Throughout her professional journey, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree from CUNY Brooklyn College, her first Masters from Wesleyan University, her second from UCONN in Educational Leadership, and her Executive Leadership (093) certificate, also from UCONN.
While Ms. Romeo-Rivers’ professional fulfillment has been in education for the past 17 years, her heart belongs to her 5- and 8-year old sons, and her phenomenal husband, Cecil, without whom she could not do this inspiring work.
Cindy Martinez has recently joined the MPS community in August of 2015 as the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Performance, Evaluation and Talent Development. Since then, Cindy has assisted in several projects under the leadership of Vonetta Romeo-Rivers. One of Cindy's favorite collaborative efforts is: MPS A Healthy Place To Be, a Health and Wellness district-wide initiative. Other programs worth mentioning are the MCC Link program, Hi5, and TEAM. Cindy's favorite pillar is Creativity.
As the Coordinator of ESL Programs and Community Relations, Mellie Crespo is charged with developing, coordinating, implementing and supervising procedures, services and practices involving English learners (EL) in accordance with federal, state and local mandates. Her responsibilities include identifying EL students, placing and serving them in programs. Mellie also ensures assessments and reports for ELs are completed across the district. She maintains records and utilizes the data to determine if students have met the state exiting criteria. The most satisfying part of her position is the opportunity to collaborate with school leaders and teachers to improve EL learning and teaching practices. As part of this partnership she coordinates professional development opportunities specific to the needs of ELs. Mellie can be seen at various state meetings keeping herself informed of changes to local, state, and federal policies regarding ELs so that she is able to communicate to schools leaders and the ELL staff.
Mellie attended school in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico where she earned a B.S. in Natural Science from the University of Puerto Rico. She decided to make Connecticut her home to raise a family and to further her education by attending the University of Connecticut where she received her Masters degree in Education. Prior to her current role, Mellie taught in the Hartford and New Britain Public School system. After several years of teaching, and after her sons sought their own educational opportunities, Mellie decided to return to further her studies. At the University of Connecticut she decided to concentrate her studies in the two areas she felt most passionate about, English learners and family engagement. She graduated soon after with a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Bilingual/Bicultural Education. She authored a dissertation on family engagement in schools. Manchester’s commitment to ELs and their families drew her attention and soon she began teaching as an ESL teacher and coach at the high school. After teaching across all grade levels and content areas for the past twenty-five years, Mellie felt that she could share her profound understanding of urban schooling and the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students beyond the K-12 realm. She decided to teach part time in adult education. Mellie also shared her passion for teaching ELs as an Adjunct Professor at both St. Joseph’s University and the University of Connecticut. She has Collaborated on panel presentations at national and international conferences including the National Association for Bilingual Education, the Comparative and International Education Society, the International Society for Language Studies, and TESOL conferences. Mellie has also presented courses, conferences, and institutes held at the University of Connecticut. She also aspired to teach in an international setting. Mellie realized this dream when she became a teacher trainer and mentor in Rwanda as part of a partnership with the University of Hartford and the Ministry of Education in Rwanda.
In her spare time Mellie enjoys swimming, gardening, and biking. Her favorite animal is the horse, perhaps she will own one in the near future.
Teryl Croye provides comprehensive data analysis for all schools, at all grade levels, for all assessments, both aggregate and dis-aggregated by special populations with the purpose of informing continuous school improvement and a focus on closing the achievement gap. She designs reports for district wide data, school data and BOE presentations and includes tools, such as statistics, graphs, images and lists that can help those involved easily digest the data. She also assists with the installation, operation and maintenance of new technologies and trains employees in new procedures or protocols.
As a part of the C&I department, Latasha has many responsibilities. She is the Director of the Family Partnership. She is also the Coordinator of the Bowers Family Center, where she facilitates playgroups, lunch groups with 4th and 5th grade students and Lunch Bunches, where families come in to the FRC during their child’s lunch time and engage in a literacy activity, and many other things. She works closely with the Office of Family and Community Partnership. You may see her at events and meetings throughout the district, as she supports various initiatives that involve families.
Latasha joined Manchester Public Schools in July of 2014, before that she was the Family Resource Center Coordinator at Washington School, under ECHN. She graduated from the University of Hartford with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Latasha is a 21 year resident of Manchester and has always been an advocate for children and families.
In her spare time, Latasha enjoys watching SyFy movies, baking, doing crossword puzzles and organizing.
As a part of the C&I department, Heather Elsinger has many responsibilities. She is the point person for preparing and planning the UCONN SPARK summer program. She assists with the district’s TEAM program, and works in conjunction with our University partners to place student teachers & interns. She is also the district point person for Unit Planner, the district’s online curriculum warehouse. You may see her at events and meetings throughout the district, as she supports various curriculum initiatives (such as curriculum academies, District Science Fair, SBAC testing/training, K Play, etc).
Heather joined Manchester Public Schools in April of 2011. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a B.A. in Psychology. She then went back, after a few years in the corporate world, to get her certification to teach elementary education. She spent a year and a half in the elementary schools in Wethersfield & Middletown before she came to Manchester’s Central Office.
In her spare time, Heather enjoys running outdoors, teaching ZUMBA, and playing with her 3 year old pup.
Karen Gray lives her life through creative problem solving and believing in the impossible. Her role with the Manchester Public schools allows her the opportunity to delve into imagination and creating opportunities to develop the whole child. Karen works side by side with teachers to ensure that all students have the opportunities and experiences that are catered towards their individualized needs in regard to gifts, talents, areas of development and strengthening.
One area of that she engages in is "Purposeful Play" in Kindergarten and opportunities for "Imagineering" in first grade. Ensuring that their is time for children to interact socially enhances their development, creativity, critically thinking and executive functioning. She has been working collaboratively with teachers to integrate strategies that development executive functioning, which includes areas of planning, organizing, managing impulsivity and working memory. Karen provides parent workshops to engage our families in an understanding of the importance of play.
In addition, she partners with the University of Connecticut on a federally funded grant project, titled Project Spark. Project Spark works with kindergarten through second grade teachers to identify exceptional behaviors in our young scholars. This effort aligns seamlessly to her work in the arena of Gifted and Talented and Enrichment Programming for students in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade. Karen collaborates with the Enrichment teachers to ensure that programming is aligned to student's gifts and talents and that all children have the opportunity to be exposed to an enriching curriculum.Developing the whole child, includes uniting with the schools in the area of intervention service and model of delivery. Karen is probing into the work currently being done with identifying student intervention needs as it relates to their enrichment needs and examining systems to develop the whole child.
Ms. Kerri Kearney has been in education for 20 years. Prior to her current position as Supervisor of Instructional Technology for the Manchester Public Schools, Kerri worked at the high school level as both an English teacher and a Library Media Specialist resulting in a background steeped in curriculum as well as technology. Recently, Kerri lead the district's 1:1 initiative in grades 6-12. She also spearheaded the recent district-wide transition to Google for Education. Currently she is focusing on ways to use technology to support best practices in personalized learning including, but not limited to, shifting adult practice, incorporating blended learning when warranted and providing opportunities for students to create with technology, not just be consumers of it.
Luis has been the coordinator for Title I Programs and Outreach since March 2015. In this capacity, Luis has helped to streamline the before and after-school programs for the nine elementary schools in the district. In collaboration with the Manchester Early Learning Center, programs are offered at all nine of our elementary schools, that are focused on providing students a place complete their homework, read, engage in enrichment activities and play recreational games. Luis also is involved in community outreach work by working closely with the Office of Community Partnerships and collaborating with community organizations who can add quality programs for our after-school students. Luis is fluent in Spanish and is frequently sought out to serve as a translator for Spanish-only speaking families during meetings and he also translates documents for families when necessary.
Prior to doing this work Luis worked in the health insurance field before changing gears to higher education. Over the last 10 years in higher education, Luis held several positions in schools such as DeVry University (NY), Quinnipiac University and, most recently, the University of Saint Joseph where he was Director of Graduate Admissions.
Luis graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a BA in Business Administration. A few years later he earned an MBA from the University of Hartford. Luis lives in Wethersfield with his wife Sinthia and two children, Jeremiah and Leilani. Luis' passions are: learning, soccer, golf, football and being a dad.
Christa Perkins is a school social worker who graduated from Springfield College with a Master’s in Social Work and has been with Manchester Public Schools since 1998. She has worked with students and families in a variety of schools in town from preschool to middle school. Recently, she became the Social Emotional Learning Coordinator for the district. In this role, she has worked to develop the system’s capacity to support the social emotional needs of all students through curriculum development, staff training and consultation with school teams.
Rhonda Philbert is the Equity Coordinator for the Department of Equity Programming, a component of Curriculum and Instruction. She is passionate in her commitment to three things: (1) respect, acceptance and inclusion of all students, families and community members, (2) high expectations for all students, (3) and the importance of understanding those from diverse backgrounds and sustaining cultural competence.
Currently, Rhonda provides leadership, communication, and guidance to educators, administrators, students and families district–wide. Her focus is to reduce/eliminate the achievement disparities by promoting pedagogical practices that will provide equitable opportunities to all students and families. This is accomplished by: (1) examining factors that create barriers for students and families impacting equitable access to opportunities provided by the district, (2) promoting culturally competent pedagogy by assisting educators with strategies that capitalize on students’ cultures, races , ethnicities, languages and experiences, and (3) by providing professional learning tailored to the needs of staff and faculty members. She is an active member of vital district–wide committees. She also collaborates with various staff members across the district to provide student leadership opportunities for all students. She especially loves her work as the coach for the MHS Steppers.
Rhonda began her employment with Manchester Public Schools in August 1996. She taught Health Education at MHS and later on at Illing Middle School. She also taught human biology, physical science and health education for Brooklyn Public Schools in New York City, at Erasmus Hall High School. She has also been employed by the Hartford Health Department as a Perinatal Coordinator and AIDS Educator.
Rhonda has a B.S. degree in Community Health Education from University of Hartford and a MPH (Master’s of Public Health degree) from Southern CT State University. In her spare time she plays Words with Friends and listens to music.
As a part of the C&I department, Kristin is working with Pari Ghetia to support Numeracy Instruction in grades K-6. She is the point person for our enVision Math 2.0 Program, the Math Workshop Model, and school Math Nights for Parents and Caregivers. She assists with the district’s Family and Community Partnership Department as she is a CORE team member. You may see her at events and meetings throughout the district, as she supports various curriculum initiatives (such as Math Curriculum Academy, Family and Community Partnership, DIT, Principal and Central Office Pause Days, enVision Math 2.0 trainings, PLC meetings, Math Curriculum Coach meetings, Math Vertical Team meetings, etc).
Kristin became a fifth grade teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in 2001. She came to us after teaching for four years in second and third grade at the Regional Multicultural Magnet School in New London. While teaching at Nathan Hale school, Kristin became a building math specialist in 2004. In 2008, Kristin joined Central Office to work as a Numeracy Trainer for all K-5 elementary schools and the sixth grade academy. In 2012, she became a math coach at Elisabeth M. Bennet Academy. It is currently her first year working out of central office as a District Numeracy Specialist for grades K-6. She graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a B.A. in Sociology and Elementary Education. She received her Masters in Education from the University of New England.