New leaders in place as Yarmouth schools reopen, respond to flu threat
YARMOUTH — The school year will begin on Monday, Aug. 31, with a new superintendent, new principal, additional staff and an H1N1 influenza virus safety procedure for staff and students.
New Superintendent Judy Paolucci said she is excited about the beginning of the school year and has been busy preparing for the last few months. She has met teachers and staff, School Committee members and administrators and said she is pleased to be a part of the Yarmouth district.
To begin the school year, Paolucci said nurses and staff are prepared to help inform students and staff about the H1N1 virus. After a meeting with high school nurse Margi Moran Tuesday, Paolucci said a plan has been set in place for teachers and parents to follow in the event of a flu outbreak.
"All the nurses in the district are informed of the proper procedures and have attended the H1N1 summit held by the sate," she said. "They know virus symptoms and how students can stay healthy. There has been a lot of planning."
She said the district expects to have an influenza clinic for students in the fall, pending receipt of materials from the state.The flu vaccine will not target H1N1, but will help protect students form the regular seasonal flu virus. Parents of students in kindergarten through grade four are encouraged to attend the clinics with their child. There will be no cost for the vaccine, but a permission slip or refusal form must be signed and returned to the school nurse.
"We don't want to cause any undo panic, but do expect flu cases to increase," she said. "We need to be prepared and parents need to know how to react."
She said parents will receive a letter informing them how to cut down the rate of flu transmission and how to stay informed. The letter will also be posted on the district Web site.
"We will utilize the training our staff has received to teach students about proper hygiene," Paolucci said. "There is a need for vigilance, not panic, and with the right information, can help slow the spread of this virus."
Throughout the district, Paolucci said, the 2009 -2010 school year will start with staffing changes and additions.
At the Rowe School, Catherine Gloude has left after leading the school as principal for four years. Gloude accepted a position as principal of a large elementary school in Massachusetts, Paolucci said. In her place, lead language arts teacher Ellen Honan will work half-time as the interim Rowe School principal and half-time language arts teacher.
In a newsletter posted on the district's Web site, Paolucci called Honan a "superb facilitator, a knowledgeable and skillful educator, and a thoughtful decision-maker."
She said with the help of first-grade teacher Sandy Warren and Harrison Middle School Principal Bruce Brann, they reviewed 14 applications and interviewed five candidates, including Honan. She said since Honan is familiar with the school, students and staff, she is a perfect fit.
Honan has been working in the district for nearly 30 years, and until this year has worked as the kindergarten through fourth-grade lead language arts teacher. Her position has been to provide literacy support to teachers, develop curriculum with teachers, and offer ongoing professional development. There will be a need to hire someone to fill her role at the elementary level, but Honan said the transition will be seamless.
"There is great consistency within the district," she said. "This is a wonderful learning opportunity for me, and a great way to integrate two roles."
Throughout the fall, Paolucci will review district-wide administrative needs and will reformulate the responsibilities associated with the Rowe School principal position. After information is gathered, she will be able to look for someone to take on this role, allowing the Rowe School community the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process.
"I feel it is very important that the staff and parents of Rowe School students are a part of the decision making process," she said. "Given the time line, this makes the best sense. Ellen is already doing an amazing job."
In addition to the changes at the Rowe School, Paolucci said there is a new Chinese language teacher at the high school this year. Xiao Chunzi has recently moved to Yarmouth and is in the process of staff orientation. She will teach Chinese I and Chinese II to any interested high school students.
Other staff changes include Helen O'Hara, who has been named interim director of special education and student support services. O'Hara will replace Jane Golding, who accepted a job in Washington, D.C. She was the director of instructional support for 10 years prior to her move.
O'Hara, like Paolucci, comes from Rhode Island, and has more than 30 years experience in the field. She is "a dynamic person," the superintendent said.
Like the principal position at the Rowe School, Paolucci said the director of instructional support position will be reassessed, and will be posted for in the fall.
For bus schedules, back-to-school updates and the safety procedures visit the Yarmouth School District's Web site, district.yarmouth.k12.me.us. The School Committee will also meet Thursday, Aug. 27,at 7 p.m. in the Log Cabin to announce new hires and hear reports from administrators.
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.