, Salem, MA

August 23, 2013

There's a new crop of teachers in Onion Town


---- — DANVERS — They rode on a school bus, met their mentors and ate pizza in the cafeteria of the newly renovated Danvers High.

No, this was not an incoming crop of freshmen, but a group of more than 20 new Danvers teachers taking part in an orientation program, which also paired new teachers with veteran educators.

Classes in Danvers start Sept. 4, Superintendent Lisa Dana said.

While these teachers may be new to their positions, not all of them are new to the system.

Several have worked part-time for the schools, graduated from Danvers High or have relatives who work for the schools, Dana said.

New high school nurse Susan DeBenedictis graduated in the class of 1975 at Danvers High. She grew up in Danvers, and attended the former Tapley and present Great Oak schools before attending Danvers High. For 20 years, she worked as a clinical chemist before going to nursing school, becoming a nurse and working for more than 10 years. She always wanted to be a school nurse, she said.

“I just love children and I love Danvers and I’m invested in the community,” DeBenedictis said.

Rookie teacher Max Travers’ father was a longtime “engineering for design” teacher at the high school who has since retired, Dana said. Travers served as a teacher’s aide for a number of years, became certified to be a special education teacher, and will work with the life skills program this year.

Hannah Lombard, who worked as an elementary aide, is the daughter of Jim Lombard, who is charge of the high school’s TV studio. She will be a second-grade teacher at Smith Elementary School.

Dana said there is a balance of new teachers and their varied experiences.

“We have teachers coming from out-of-state, one of the teachers grew up in Connecticut,” Dana said. Patrick Haigh hails from Vermont and will be teaching at Danvers High. New Holten Richmond Middle School French teacher Emilie Rey is a native speaker of the language, Dana said.

Mark Atkinson, a new Danvers High teacher, is a native of Massachusetts who previously taught in California.

“Some of them could have been positions from last year, so for example, the P.E. teacher at the middle school, he was hired in December when Roger Day retired,” Dana said of physical education teacher Devin Anno. “So, this is his first opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts about the district. So he’s here for new teacher orientation. Brynn Sweeney was a student teacher with us. Brynn filled in for a long-term subbing position last year. She’s now hired as a special education teacher at Thorpe School,” Dana said.

Amber Adair was a long-term substitute who landed a special education teacher job at the Riverside School. Lisa D’Orlando was a computer paraprofessional who filled a position last year and is now a new teacher at Holten Richmond.

“So that is a nice thing, too, that being able to have someone come into the district as a teacher’s aide and then they finish up their credentials and they have really gotten to know the system. It’s a win-win situation that way,” Dana said.

Yesterday also served as a way to introduce Sarah Redman, the new middle school curriculum director, and Julie Posternack, the new elementary curriculum coordinator. Both started in Danvers in 2006, Dana said, and have worked their way up through leadership mentoring programs.

“I have big shoes to fill, so Mary Wermers did a great job,” said Redman, formerly an eighth-grade English teacher in Danvers. “This is a new challenge for me, so I am excited.” Wermers is now the K-12 curriculum coordinator. Posternack, for her part, was formerly the elementary math coach and is a former Smith School fourth-grade teacher.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

New teachers in Danvers for 2013-2014

Amber Adair, Riverside Elementary; Devin Anno, Holten Richmond Middle School; Mark Atkinson, Danvers High; Karin Butterworth, Holten Richmond; Stephanie Conelias, Holten Richmond; Kaitlin Connell, Holten Richmond; Lisa D’Orlando, Holten Richmond; Susan DeBenedictis, Danvers High; Andrew DeCola, Holten Richmond; Amy DiCicco, Highlands Elementary; Patrick Haigh, Danvers High; Hannah Lombard, Smith Elementary; Bailey Malone, Smith; Dylan Malynn, Danvers High; Courtney McKallagat, Riverside; Emilie Rey, Holten Richmond; Juliana Robbins, Danvers High; Bethany Schundler, Great Oak Elementary; James Sullivan, Danvers High; Brynn Sweeney, Thorpe Elementary; Amy Synenki, Holten Richmond; Maximillian Travers, Danvers High; Lauren Tully, Riverside; Gillian Twombley, Danvers High; Cathy Carey, Riverside.