Virtual Learning Timeline
October 5, 2021
Dropping off a refilled water bottle and overhearing my son’s teacher say, “Look at all of these stories flying out of your brains!” (as she watched her virtual students type in real time in Google Classroom) makes me miss being an elementary educator. I’m also incredibly appreciative of the flexibility and innovation our teachers have demonstrated over the past year and a half. My son’s class is quarantined as a result of nine positive cases in his class (as last reported at last night’s School Committee meeting). I am grateful for the committee members who questioned the distancing between seats within classrooms and whether masks should be worn outdoors when students are unable to adequately distance from one another. Being in constant communication with the Health Department (as our district leadership is) to make these determinations, and many others, is vitally important as our schools encounter new and/or worsening scenarios. Watertown’s efforts to ensure the safety of our school communities are commendable and it is clear the emphasis is to keep our children learning in-person this year as much as possible, but it is also important to recognize when choices regarding safety protocols may need to be reevaluated and possibly altered. We are all still learning how to best serve our students amidst a global pandemic and I am grateful for our district leadership’s collaborative efforts and their willingness to pivot when a situation necessitates it.
Faire on the Square and Campaign Kickoff Event
September 25, 2021
I loved spending the day with so many members of our community at the return of the Faire on the Square! Thank you to everyone who stopped by my table to chat, ask questions, and spin the wheel of fun! Based on the school subject the wheel landed on, participants were given a trivia question (and any assistance needed to help answer) to be entered into a free raffle for a giant popper toy - my own children insisted this would be the best possible prize and it seemed many of our attendees agreed!
Also, thank you to everyone who attended mt Campaign Kickoff Event! It was such an honor to share the evening with current and former Town Councilors and School Committee members as well as a number of my esteemed fellow candidates and many of my amazing supporters. I enjoyed being able to discuss my vision and priorities for WPS schools (which I plan to unveil many more at upcoming public forums) and I was grateful to receive valuable advice and feedback. I also shared what the most meaningful part of this campaign has been for me thus far: seeing my children take an interest and become active participants in this process. They make me so proud every single day and I'm grateful that this opportunity has introduced them to another facet of my identity. I hope I'm making them proud.
Theater Productions focused on Social-Emotional Development
September 22, 2021
I've shared in past entries that one of my most memorable experiences as a Cunniff elementary student was the opportunity I had to narrate our third grade play. The learning experience was something that I hoped to be able to provide for my future students one day. I was thrilled to find scripts titled "Character Matters" from a company called Bad Wolf Press. "Character Matters" (I and II) uses familiar fairy tale characters to hone in on numerous social and emotional lessons including tolerance, responsibility, listening, dealing with anger and having the courage to do what you think is right. At the same time, these productions have the added benefit of improving reading fluency, vocabulary, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork.
The play is 30 minutes long and my team teacher and I were given permission to hold practice with our classes for the last half hour of every Friday throughout the year. My students could not have been more engaged or learned more from this experience! They often asked to play the soundtrack during rainy indoor recess days to sing along and I even found myself humming the catchy tunes while driving or grocery shopping! I'll also never forget that the two times the future superintendent did a walk-through of our school happened to be the dress rehearsal and final performance days so I was dressed up as Snow White for both!
The level of pride I felt for each and every student at our performances on the big stage in the high school was palpable. I still hear from former students and their families that these performances were among the most meaningful learning experiences of their academic careers. Below is a news article from the first production that my team teacher and I produced with our students (at this time, I went by my maiden name of Holt). Since my departure when my son was born, I am overjoyed that my former third grade team has continued to put on yearly spectaculars and also purchased more Bad Wolf scripts for their repertoire!
Finding creative and engaging ways to work on social and emotional development with students is something that I'm very passionate about and I would certainly be an advocate for these types of learning experiences to be implemented in WPS, either during school or as an after-school enrichment opportunity.
Students will blow the house down with ‘Character Matters’
Annoucement of Watertown Endorsements
September 19, 2021
Watertown teachers and firefighters are two groups that I hold very near to my heart. I could not be more grateful to have been endorsed for School Committee by both the Watertown Educators Association and the Watertown Firefighters IAFF Local 1347.
Signs are up!
September 18, 2021
Thank you to everyone around Watertown for displaying my yard signs! We are awaiting another shipment and will be delivering to all of the newly requested addresses on Monday and Tuesday of this week. I am so grateful for the support and kind words about my signs. I loved designing it and also appreciate all of the feedback I received from the many "focus group members" who I consulted. It was quite the busy Saturday with another full day next Saturday at the Faire on the Square! Let the race begin!
A Day of Remembrance
Happy First Day of School!
September 8, 2021
Welcome back to these Cunniff Cougars and all WPS grades 1 through 12 students!
To our new students having their orientation visits today in Preschool, Pre-K and Kindergarten... welcome to the WPS community! I am so happy you are here.
Wishing you all an exciting, safe and memorable school year.
Candidate Interview with Mr. Kaprielian
September 7, 2021
I would have loved to relive the glory days of Raider News in the same studio with Mr. Kaprielian, but we made the best of it on Zoom! I was the first of the 25 total candidates (Town Council, School Committee and Library Trustees) to be interviewed. Stay tuned for the whole candidate series in October, along with individual 90 second snippets for each candidate. I will post when they begin airing!
You know you're from Watertown if you recognize these references...
August 28, 2021
Everybody comes from somewhere. Everybody has roots. Mine happen to be from Watertown. And simply stated, I am proud of that fact. So much so that I coined my campaign website after it. I chose the name “always a Raider” (www.alwaysaraider.com) because my life experiences in this town are ones that I carry with me in everything I do. I acquired additional facets of my identity as an Eagle while attending Boston College and as a Panther while teaching first and third grade. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend and a student. I have become a graduate, an educator, a wife and a mother. Through it all, Watertown has always been my home.
1. My maternal grandfather over 50 years ago in front of his sub shop on School Street, Jack & Mary's
2. Helping paint the top of the old bleachers at Victory field with my WHS senior class in 2003
3. A portrait of my paternal great-grandfather who immigrated from Greece to Watertown in the early 1900s
“Watertown Career Showcase”
When there isn't just one "right" decision
August 17, 2021
Annual Superintendent's Evaluation by Watertown School Committee
August 10, 2021
One of the responsibilities of our School Committee is to evaluate the performance of the superintendent. The recent composite evaluation for Dr. Galdston, including a selection of undisclosed comments from individual members, can be seen here.
Antiracist education and our Watertown Police Department: Why I’m a supporter of both
A message from your friendly, neighborhood PTO Co-President
August 4, 2021
I’ve enjoyed my involvement with the Cunniff PTO over the last four years, having joined when Will started Pre-K in September 2017. I quickly jumped aboard as Secretary the following year and served for two years before being elected as Co-President in June 2020. Being an active member of the PTO has given me an inside look at our elementary school and I’ve had the pleasure of building many wonderful relationships with staff, students and families. Ms. Ciarlone starts every meeting with a comprehensive update of what’s happening at the Cunniff and also provides district-level news. We spend the remaining time brainstorming ways we can support and celebrate all of our amazing teachers and children.
July 28, 2021
I recently took time to reflect on my years as a WPS student and I came up with a list of some of my favorite memories. By sharing these experiences, it is my hope that you can learn more about me as a person and why I care so deeply about this community and our schools!
Cunniff Elementary School:
Kindergarten with Mrs. Boyd - The K classroom at Cunniff in the early 90s was EPIC! Fun fact: Recent Cunniff families and students know it as Ms. Lucas' former art room. I remember the classroom had three distinct sections separated with room dividers and there were endless opportunities for multi-sensory learning through play. I still have my writing journal for inventive spelling that I've shared with my own children. Also, I won a district-wide contest and my drawing was used as posters all around town for the WPS Art Show held at the Watertown Mall.
1st grade with Mrs. Tavitian - Learning how to read was so special and having the opportunity to later teach first graders to do the same was truly magical. It was so fulfilling to witness children come to understand written language as they took solid steps toward fluid reading.
2nd grade with Mrs. Mandile - Two words: Worldly Wise! I used to ask for extra copies of workbooks to play “school” at home! I can also remember doing phonics screenings individually in the hallway with Mrs. Mandile.
3rd grade with Ms. Depeters - I was cast as "Ms. Jingle" (a teacher who was putting on a performance with her class and only spoke in rhyming monologues) in our holiday play. I still remember my opening monologue and I'm always happy to recite it so feel free to ask!! I also did a US Presidents report on Ulysses S. Grant and when I needed to come to school dressed as the part for the presentation, I shocked everyone by wearing a life size $50 bill!! I looked up to all of my teachers, but I had such a fondness for Ms. Depeters. I think she unknowingly helped shape me into the teacher I later became and I coincidentally ended up teaching third grade for a majority of my time as an educator. A few years ago, I received a message that meant the world to me from one of my former students and it also reminded me of how thankful I am for my own third grade teacher:
(P.S. Of course I remembered her!)
4th grade with Ms. Callahan - I can vividly picture Ms. Callahan's morning messages and how her handwriting always looked so beautiful on the CHALKBOARD. Education has come a long way with smart boards! I received mine through a grant that I wrote in 2010 and being able to incorporate it into my daily teaching was just as exciting and enjoyable for me as it was for my students!
5th grade with Ms. Hallal - So many memories from 5th grade, but I'm pretty confident that we had the most unique class pets of all time: cockroaches! I kid you not. We even made little obstacle courses for them on our tables using dictionaries. In my future classroom, I stuck with butterflies and ladybugs, but I utilized many of the same learning opportunities about life cycles, habitats and anatomy that I did in 5th grade. During this year, I was also published in Highlights Magazine for a poem I wrote called "Inside My Pocket" and I later used it as an anchor chart when teaching poetry to my students. They always got a kick out of the fact that it was something I wrote when I was younger!
Watertown Middle School:
6th grade - My homeroom teacher was Mrs. Donato and I couldn't have been more thankful for her warmth, support and encouragement in helping me transition to a new school with all new routines. I had my tonsils removed during sixth grade after years of recurrent strep throat. Mrs. Donato visited me during my recovery with homemade vanilla ice cream and a book on how to make friendship bracelets with supplies. It meant so much to me then and still does to this day. She always went above and beyond and she was a true gift to Watertown Public Schools! I'm so appreciative to see the same level of care and dedication from the many wonderful Watertown teachers my children have had so far.
7th grade - Ms. Lorigan stands out to me as someone who was born to be a teacher! I remember her Social Studies classes would absolutely fly by. She took the time to actively listen to all of her students and showed us that she cared about what we had to say. I felt so validated as a student and valued as a person before I could even put those feelings accurately into words. Meeting the social and emotional needs of students is so vital and I could always call on my experience with Ms. Lorigan to want to do the same for my own students, just as I plan to help ensure for all WPS students.
8th grade - I fell in love with Washington DC after our weeklong class trip to our nation's capital. Ryan and I visited again shortly after we got married and we look forward to taking our kids soon! I also remember how exciting it was to have classes in the newly constructed section of WMS as an 8th grader. I can't wait for so many WPS students to share that same experience with the impressive buildings being constructed in Watertown now and in the years to come.
Watertown High School:
9th grade - I was elected Secretary of the Class of 2003 as a freshman and served in that role all four years of high school. I loved being a part of student government and collaborating with my peers to help create meaningful and memorable experiences for our classmates. I also had the opportunity to co-host the Fine, Applied and Performing Arts Awards Ceremony at WHS as a freshman.
10th grade - I was one of two sophomores to make the Varsity Girls' basketball team (K&J!). Also, as a vegetarian since age 8, I decided to show up in full medical scrubs for fetal pig dissection day. Thankfully, I had the most patient, helpful and respectful lab partner ever!
11th grade - I was a member of Tri-Hi-Y beginning in junior year. Community service has always been something that is very important to me and I had plenty of opportunities to participate in events held by the Watertown Rotary Club with my dad having served as an active member for many years. I also volunteered to teach CCD to 6-7 year olds at St. Patrick's Parish as an 11th grader. Fun fact #2: We had our junior prom at the same venue that Ryan and I got married at in 2011!
12th grade - I conducted a field study on Canadian Geese at the Charles River in Environmental Biology with Mr. Wilson. I had the opportunity to present my findings at a science convention held for local high school students at Boston College and this experience cemented by desire to attend there. My family received my acceptance letter that spring and casually called me to join them downstairs in the kitchen. When I saw them all dressed in Eagles attire, it went without saying that I had been accepted and that day still stands as one of my favorite memories of all time! Fun Fact #3: I am likely one of a very small number of WHS graduates (if not the only one) who wrote two senior thesis papers. Completing one as a senior was a graduation requirement, but I was interested in taking both AP English and Humanities and the assignments were not the same for both courses. After conferring with the guidance department and leadership, I was permitted to use the same Virginia Woolf novels for both, but incorporated an analysis on related artwork for my Humanities project. It may go without saying that writing is one of my favorite pastimes so I didn't mind the extra work!