Fall 2009 Undergraduate Class Notes
Class Scribe: Alyssa Greeley
Sherri Bresette Ahlers, who lives in Lawrenceville, NJ, with her husband and their children, Nicholas and Kaitlin, says that she has the best job coaching and training teachers through an organization called Children's Literacy Initiative, which is based in Philadelphia. In addition to leading workshops to help teachers understand the best practices in literacy, she offers them hands-on support in their classrooms. She enjoys connecting with many of her Wheelock friends on Facebook. Gretchen Carney lives in Boston with her boyfriend of more than 10 years and loves being back in the city. "It's so funny that I work around the corner from Wheelock," she wrote. "I am the practice administrator for a private dental office in Brookline. I go by the campus on a daily basis during my commute. It's amazing to see the changes."
Lisamarie Horne-Titus and husband Jim welcomed their third child, Clare James, on Aug. 29, 2007. She still teaches at the Wawaloam School in Exeter, RI, and her older children, Jimmy and Sarah, are very involved in 4-H. Her family enjoys going to local fairs in their new camper. She remembers camping with her roommate Katrina Docekal Fleming '92 and her family many years ago, and she wishes that she had more time to keep in touch with Whitney Clarke Marzano '90 and Claire Weinraub Boeck.
Sarah Rice Patt has been teaching at the Landmark School in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA - an easy commute for her from Wenham - since the summer of 2008. "Landmark School is really an exceptional place - very supportive of their students and faculty, especially those like me returning to work after taking 11 years off!" she wrote. Landmark also is providing a chance for Sarah to earn a master's in Special Education through Simmons College - professors go to her campus - and she has completed three courses so far. Her husband and her three children have been supportive and are doing great. Lisa Grossman Smith resides in Marblehead, MA, with husband Michael and their daughter, Emme. She has been the director of the infant and toddler program at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore for the past seven and a half years.
I (Alyssa) took a trip to London and Paris in May and had a fab time going to West End shows, taking a flight on the London Eye, seeing Queen Elizabeth's bling bling at the Tower of London, exploring museums, enjoying the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, cruising along the Seine, and people watching at cafés!
Class Scribe: Christine Smith Imani
Hello, fellow Wheelockians.
I (Christine) am so pleased to be writing this summer note from the restful and relaxing west coast of Florida. I am on vacation in Cape Coral with my mom and dad, my sister, and my youngest child, Ellie. Ellie, who is now almost 3, astonishes me with her quick learning. I am in awe of typical development having spent so many years embedded in special education and parenting children with disabilities.
I have lots of news from Facebook and encourage you all to reconnect with all of us through this easy networking tool. Tammy Ford McHugh continues to live in Switzerland with her fabulous husband, Ken. They have four children. Tammy teaches and runs her own school. She welcomes any connections over Facebook. Sarah-Jane Wade, as I still call her, makes her living in Phoenix, where she works for Banner Health. She and her partner, Shari, welcomed me to visit, and I gladly took them up on the offer. Sarah-Jane was an excellent tour guide and treated us to amazing sights of our amazing country. LaWanda Finley '93 communicates her amazing energy over Facebook with ease. I can just feel her boundless laughter when we chat. LaWanda is well: She shares her life with her partner and continues to teach for Boston Public Schools.
Kelly Walsh has taken on an adventure. She up and moved to San Antonio with the love of her life. She is happy and is now engaged. Congrats, Kelly. Jennifer Roscoe Repeta makes her home in East Bridgewater, MA. Jen runs and owns her own day care and manages the lives of her family. She has three children. Dina Rinaldo Hurley '92/'01MS is married and lives happily in Salem, NH. Dina has three children. Colleen "Ween" Brennan Martell continues to live out loud in Michigan with her terrific husband, Dennis. She spends her time and life energy teaching, staying healthy, and having fun with family and friends. Carole "Beany" Barrett Petrillo has been married for 13 years and has an 8-year-old daughter who has made her into a soccer mom. It's true and she loves it. Carol teaches preschool for Andover, MA. Jennifer Kneeland Pujo added daughter Vivian to her family in January. She joined sister Sonia, almost 3. "Sonia is a fabulous big sister, and Vivian lights up at the sight of her," Jennifer wrote. "Both girls put a smile on our faces every day." Caitlin Waddington welcomed a beautiful baby boy named Peter.
"My first year of running my home day care has been more successful and fulfilling than I could have ever imagined," Jennifer Croce wrote. She and husband Karl enjoy being self-employed and having freedom over their schedules and work. They are homeschooling daughter Anna this year and are glad to be spending more time together and "following [their] own paths in life." In May, Jeanie Morse Pettengill wrote: "As you remember, my 4-year-old daughter, Lyndsey, was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia in March of 2008, and we are very happy to be able to say she is doing well. We are one year into treatment, and we have one year left. We have met some truly amazing people during this journey. We are so fortunate to be in Boston and have access to some of the best hospitals and care in the country. I truly believe my Wheelock education has helped me to get both Lauren and Lyndsey through this rough patch. I am thankful to have had such a strong background in childhood development and education. This has been a blessing to us. Keith and I thank everyone for their kind words and prayers and look forward to being able to report more good news. I hope you are all well."
Class Scribe: Nina Mortensen LaPlante
After getting a B.S.W. at Wheelock, Joanna Simmons Abrahams went to law school. Currently, she is working in the legal office at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, DC. Joanna says that, under the new administration, it is an exciting place to work because lots of change is afoot. In March, she and husband Adam celebrated the first birthday of their second daughter, Kayla. Their first daughter, Eliana, turned 3 in June. Joanna says she and her husband have their hands full but are loving life.
As of 2007, Kim Sherman Boit has lived in Iowa. She just loves the area and not having hurricanes. She thinks they will be there for five years. Her husband will be moving to Virginia to work for the Navy for two years, and Kim and their children have opted to stay in Iowa to give them some stability. Kim's children are 10 and 6 and are loving the snowy winters and mild summers. She hopes to join the teaching field again next year. Kim says, "Life is good." Debbie Cooper Crane is doing well and has been busy with her family. Jason is 12 and Rachel is 9. Both are active and are doing well in school in addition to their various sports and music activities. Debbie still enjoys teaching Music Together and has taken up running again. She plans to run the Tufts 10K for Women in Boston this fall. She also has enjoyed going back to the theater both on and off the stage. Debbie and Steve are still going strong after 15 years of marriage. She has loved connecting with classmates on Facebook and has created a group for our class and encourages you to join.
Jenn Whinnem Gerber and husband Ben welcomed another daughter to their family last May. Luca XiaoTian joined big sister Bella in Fuzhou, China. Jenn says Luca is a very happy, energetic 3-year-old, and Bella has become the ultimate big sister. They couldn't be happier. Alice Fisher Lisotto and her husband welcomed their son Hunter Robert on March 23. He joined big sister Amanda, 6, and big brother Douglas, 2. Alice continues to enjoy teaching 3- and 4-year-old children - this being her 13th year at Beulah Christian Preschool. Norma Cañas McBride wrote, "Hello, dear classmates! All is well in Southern California." Her two boys are growing quickly. Jake is 4, Jesse is 2, and she is a very busy mommy. She continues to "stay home" with them and loves it most of the time. She just can't believe we all left Wheelock 16 years ago. She reminds us not to worry - "We're not getting old, just wiser!"
This fall, Amy Hambleton Signore will begin her 17th year of teaching! She says that time goes by too quickly. A few years ago, she switched from teaching third grade to fifth grade, and she is really enjoying it.
I (Nina) am loving being the mom to two wonderful boys, Jarrod, 5, and Ethan, 1. I am still teaching third grade in Natick and loving it. I get to see Jenn's daughter Bella every day at our school. When she says, "Hi, Auntie Nina," I am reminded of how far we have come since our Wheelock days. I am so thankful we still have such strong ties together whether it is getting to see each other's children grow or keeping in touch through our news and updates. Be well!
Class Scribe: Heidi Butterworth-Fanion
Kelly Lisi-Saunders and husband Peter have been blessed with another beautiful little girl: Angelina Dorothy was born on Easter Sunday, April 12. Big sisters Isabella and Rylie are thrilled with her, and Kelly is really enjoying having a baby in the house again. In May she was finishing up another successful year of homeschooling, and she said she has enjoyed meeting other homeschooling families in and around Goffstown, NH. Suzanne Tyrrell McCollum wrote to announce the newest addition to her family: Brendan was born on Feb. 6 and welcomed home by big brother Logan. In late spring, everyone was doing well and Suzanne was looking forward to some sleep.
"He is a pure joy, and we couldn't be happier!" Jennifer Polish Rosen wrote of her and husband Dan's new son, Austin Louis, born on March 31.
Class Scribe: Katelyn Guiney Wojnarowicz
Julie Price Barber and husband James were married in June and honeymooned in the Dominican Republic. They are now residing in Lewisburg, TN, an hour south of Nashville. Jacque Silcock Butler and husband Brian had their third child, William "Will" Flagler Butler, on March 5. He joined Ava, 5, and Allegra, 2. Since the Butlers' move from Houston to Glenwood, IA, to be near Jacque's family, they are enjoying being in a smaller city and loving their new environment. Jacque is still a stay-at-home mom and also works part time in the fitness industry. Rachelle Basich Doring wrote of the "break (if you will)" she's been taking for about a year from being a child care provider: "Instead, I have been following in my father's footsteps, which has been photography! I absolutely love it! Those who knew me well would know how much I loved having my camera handy!" She has been photographing events with another photographer in her area, and they also shoot children and "non-event photography." Check out www.glenncuddihyphotography.com. Son Anthony starts fourth grade this fall, and son Zander enters kindergarten. Rachelle welcomes friends to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Joan Green Normand brings us up-to-date. In 1997 she married Michael, the following year they had daughter Michaela (who reminds Joan daily that she's almost a teen), and four years later they had daughter Chelsea. Joan has had several jobs within the counseling field through the years when she hasn't been taking time off to be with her girls, and her current position is her favorite so far: She is the assistant to the school adjustment counselor in an Alternative Learning Program for seventh- and eighth-graders (mostly boys). She thinks the time might be right soon for her to go back for her master's. "I miss my Wheelock friends and hope I can reconnect with them in the near future," Joan wrote.
Class Scribe: Kerrie Ryan Gerety
Leslie Peabody Brissette has been living in Wisconsin since 1997 and married to husband Chris since 1999. She received a master's in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University in 2005 and has been teaching first grade at Milton East Elementary School for eight years - and still loves it every day. She has two teenage stepchildren and an 8-year-old daughter. "I would love to network with other first-grade teachers who are alumni of Wheelock about current literacy practices in their classrooms," Leslie wrote. "I also would love to hear from old friends [at firstname.lastname@example.org] and reconnect!" Amanda Cunningham was in touch from Santa Monica, CA, where she recently purchased a condo. "It feels great to finally be done with apartment living!" she wrote. Westside Motorcycle Academy is doing well and expanded last fall, so they now have locations in Brentwood and in Inglewood at the Great Western Forum.
Dana Brown Doherty has been very busy the last few years! In June 2006, she married Neil, a major in the U.S. Army, and gained a daughter, Abby, now 11. Since then, she has given birth to daughters Brighid Lauren (March 2007) and Kellyn Gene (May 2008) and left teaching to be a stay-at-home mom. She is looking forward to returning to teaching when Neil finishes his military career. He is now stationed at Fort Hood, TX, and the Dohertys live in Harker Heights, TX, but they miss Boston a lot and hope to move back to New England someday. Safiyyah Ar-Raheem Hines recently told us about the poetry book she wrote (spring magazine), and she was in touch with Wheelock in June to let us know about her second book, a domestic violence self-help book called How to Escape Domestic Violence and Live to Tell About It. She invites classmates to visit her website at www.authortree.com/daydreaming. Karen Joe-Yen '96/'99MS sent news on behalf of both herself and Anton Joe-Yen '99/'04MS: "We have had a wonderful beginning with our precious Sean, who turned 1 in June. We look forward to his wonderful smiles and laughs every day."
Having completed her "monstrous recovery" following son Asher's birth last Thanksgiving, in the spring Robin Fradkin Matthews was loving being an at-home mom (teaching for Drexel University only online), and she and her partner, Marcia, were "deliriously in love with [their] boy." Robin wrote, "I am also loving reconnecting on Facebook with lots of Wheelock friends who are moms and benefiting from the wisdom of their experience!" Heatha Galotti Normandin has been working at Ellis School in Fremont, NH, for the past 13 years as a special education teacher and a classroom teacher; she had a full inclusion second-grade class in 2008-09. She and her husband of 13 years and 8-year-old daughter, Willow, live 10 minutes away in Danville, and Willow keeps busy on a dance team.
Ines Soto Palmarin has co-founded Gathering of Hearts, an organization that helps the impoverished people of the Mississippi Delta. She first visited the area last October "to take a break from the nightmare" of having lost husband Jorge to cancer that May, as one newspaper story put it, and was moved by the poverty she saw to try to help the people there as a way both to heal and to honor Jorge's memory. Ines and her Gathering of Hearts partner, genealogist and researcher Antoinette Harrell, have now been to the Delta monthly to deliver food, clothing, furniture, books, and toys to local residents, and their trip in February included leading a convoy of politicians, community leaders, social workers, and scholars to several counties to try to raise awareness of the harsh poverty that persists in some rural areas of the South. Their goal is to persuade government officials to enact new policies that will help poor rural Delta residents. In June, Ines and Antoinette teamed up with new Gathering of Hearts - California Chapter representative Patrick Wilkes and more than a dozen organizations for the Poor People's Campaign Public Hearing in Lambert, MS. More than 350 citizens attended and spoke on the lack of housing, employment, education, and public transportation.
On sabbatical from her position as a school psychologist in the Wilmington, MA, Public Schools, Rebecca Snelgrove has been taking classes in the Clinical Psychology Psy.D. program at Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology since September. "Ahh, back to the poor grad student lifestyle," she wrote in the spring. She bought a townhouse in Tewksbury in October 2008, so she's putting her Licensed Mental Health Counselor license to work at a counseling agency while in school. Rebecca and sister Laura Snelgrove had an interesting adventure in Egypt in the summer of 2008 and traveled to Peru this summer.
Class Scribes: Christine Barry Beaulieu and Jillian Kaufman
Anita Anderson Castillo shared some highlights of her wedding day, Aug. 22, 2008: "Nancy Williams was the best maid of honor a girl could ask for! Kerrianne Cronin Simoneau '98/'99MS was a long-distance bridesmaid, giving birth at the exact moment I was being announced into the reception as Mrs. Castillo. (She claims she was wearing the bridesmaid gown during the delivery!) Although I didn't cry during the ceremony, getting Kerrie's message that night made me cry with joy! What a blessed, wonderful day we shared!" Anita, an eighth-grade language arts teacher in Mahwah, NJ, also had a great work-related story: "I was asked to be the guest speaker for ‘The Future Teachers of America' club at the high school, where the students had many questions about teaching special needs students. The class adviser later contacted me, excited to share that three students decided to pursue a degree in special needs. She commented, ‘That Wheelock passion of yours really is contagious.'"
Kerrianne Cronin Simoneau '98/'99MS wanted equal time telling the tale from her perspective: "I gave birth to our first child, our ‘precious angel,' Ella Rose Simoneau, on Aug. 22, 2008, the same day I was supposed to be a bridesmaid in [Anita's] wedding! I was due around the time of her wedding and very sadly (at my OB-GYN's request) had to bow out of the festivities. Little did I know, we'd have festivities of our own that very day! While I'll always be sad that I missed Anita and Diego's special day (she looked so gorgeous!), I'll be sure never to forget their anniversary! Ella Rose is truly the best. My husband, Tim, and I feel so blessed to have a beautiful, happy, and loving baby. And I've noticed she spends lots of time watching other children - perhaps a future Wheelock student."
Class Scribe: Aimee Farrell Dos Santos
Stacy Zimov Belliveau and husband Lenny had their third daughter, Brienne Zoe, on Feb. 19. Stacy is currently staying home with the girls and enjoying her time with them. Ali Thomsen Hutchinson is excited to begin a new position in the Newton, MA, Public Schools as a special education teacher this fall. "After teaching in Marlborough, MA, for the past two years," she wrote, "I'm looking forward to a shorter commute from Jamaica Plain to Newton." Jacquelyn Klein, a kindergarten and second-grade Hebrew school teacher at Central Synagogue in New York City, was honored by the synagogue for her devoted service in June. She was invited to a festive cocktail reception with the board of trustees and was then recognized and honored at a service afterward. Congratulations, Jacquelyn! Staci Ruben moved in with her boyfriend, Rich, in July. They live in Jamaica Plain, MA. Emily Studebaker Valentine wrote of the birth of Jacob James on May 31. "Big sister Samantha was 14 months old when Jacob was born, so we certainly have our hands full!" she wrote. The Valentines are planning to move to Connecticut later this year to be closer to family.
Addison Caroline Dos Santos was born June 12, 2009, weighing 7.3 pounds and with a full head of hair. We (Aimee, husband Peter, son Rylan, and Addison) are all happily adjusting in our new home we bought this past fall in Bethel, CT. I am writing a "Mommy blog" (www.mommasjunebugs.blogspot.com) for some part-time income. It is a website all about my life and parenthood.
Class Scribe: Carrie Watson
Heidi Benton Fleury and her husband welcomed Natalie Jeanne Fleury on Jan. 29. In early May, Heidi wrote, "She is now 3 months old and absolutely wonderful!" B. Scott Higginbotham is now executive director of Nepenthe House ("seven halfway houses for men exiting the prison system") in Lake Charles, LA, where he manages a staff of 25 plus eight counselors. We are sorry to report that Scott's partner, John, whom many classmates knew when they lived in Boston, died in February 2008.
Erin Blake Connolly e-mailed to announce the birth of her daughter, Niamh Bridget, last Nov. 11 in Boston. Kimberly Carvalho Moreira has been working at Bright Horizons in Cambridge, MA, since graduation, has worked her way up to program coordinator, and hopes to become a center director in the next year. Husband Paul, whom she married in 2007, became a firefighter for the city of Somerville last year. Deborah Wegener is starting a new job in the Brookline Public Schools this year: She's teaching fourth grade at Amos A. Lawrence School.
Molly Rearick '03/'04MS, director of communications at Train 4 Autism, is also a lecturer in the graduate autism certificate program at California State University, Los Angeles.
In June, Constantina "Dena" Kostka '04/'06MS wrote: "Newton-Wellesley Hospital will be sponsoring my trip with Operation Smile to Kenya this coming August. I will be the child life specialist on the trip working with an interdisciplinary medical team to repair cleft lips and cleft palates. I will be there for 10 days, and from what I have heard from other CCLSes who have done such missions, it will be a life-changing experience and a testimony to the work of child life specialists!"
Congratulations to Rosa Del Rosario and Basilio Jaime, who were married June 20 at the Lawrence Heritage State Park in Lawrence, MA. Lauren Willette Strob wrote about her past few busy years: She had her first child, son Boston, in April 2007; married Eric Strob this past January; and now has two stepdaughters, Kelley and Katie.
Emily Hodgkins has been teaching at a New Haven, CT, public school for the past three years. In May, she wrote: "This fall I am getting married to Miguel Adelino. From my freshman year at Wheelock until graduation, Miguel was a frequent visitor to campus, and many members of the Class of 2006 will be attending our wedding in Hampstead, NH, on Oct. 10, 2009."
Alexis Will Dunn wrote, "Grant [Dunn] and I are alumni of Wheelock - where we met - and just married on June 13, 2009!"
Earlier this month, Ashley Dowd wrote: "I have been invited to the Peace Corps and will be leaving for Macedonia on Sept. 11, 2009. I will be using my educational background as a resource English teacher in an elementary setting."
Lori Thames, a recipient of an Early Educators Scholarship while at Wheelock, got a chance to thank Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick for the part he played in making the scholarship possible while speaking at a "summer town hall meeting" the governor hosted in early June. Lori had been taking night and weekend college classes as she could over the years, she explained in her speech. However, thanks to the scholarship, she was able to enter Wheelock in 2006 - and graduated this past May. Additionally, she has maintained her position as director of the Children's Center at Project Hope in Dorchester, a nationally accredited child care center for homeless and low-income children, ages 0 to 6.