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Schools open Tuesday

by Tom Chillemi

The school bell will ring on Tuesday, September 8, for approximately 1,210 students of the Middlesex County Public School System.

It’s been a busy summer for administrators, teachers and staff who are ready for the first day of classes at all three schools on September 8.

Leadership has changed with the addition of two new principals and three new assistant principals.

Good state Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores mean that all three Middlesex schools are “fully accredited” for the 2009-10 school year.

Additionally, Middlesex High School and St. Clare Walker Middle School earned all of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program.

The Middlesex School System also welcomes 16 new teachers, and several new instructional support employees.

Read profiles and see photos of new teachers and administrators, along with back-to-school messages from school principals and the superintendent, on pages A3 and B3 inside this weeks issue of the Southside Sentinel.


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New teachers at St. Clare Walker Middle School include, from left, Tricia DiFulvio, 8th grade civics; Victoria Lyall, 8th grade math; Ashley Gibuad, special education; and Timothy Drummond, choir. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)
St. Clare Walker Middle School welcomes three new teachers and a new assistant principal, Tracy Seitz, in the 2009-10 school year.

Seitz, who is originally from Northumberland County, moved to Deltaville in 1979 and entered the 7th grade at St. Clare Walker Middle School when it was located at Cooks Corner. She graduated from Middlesex High.

Seitz started teaching at Rappahannock Central Elementary in 2001, the last year it was open. She also has taught special education at Middlesex Elementary since it opened in 2002.

Seitz holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Mary Washington College. She earned her master of special education from Old Dominion University. She is currently enrolled in the M.Ed. Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership Program at The College of William and Mary.

In her free time, Seitz enjoys reading, boating and being with family and friends.

Seitz and her husband Paul live in Deltaville with their son, Jacob, who will attend MHS this year. Their daughter Shelby is a freshman at Ferrum College.

Tricia DiFulvio will teach civics and economics. She has a degree in education from Illinois State. Her hobbies include weight training and reading. She has five large rescued dogs and she cheers for “anyone playing the Eagles.”

Victoria Lyall will teach 8th grade math. She holds a BS in mathematics from The College of William and Mary. She enjoys gardening and is currently building her own home.

Ashley Gibuad will be a special education teacher. She holds degrees in special education and childhood education from Canisius College. She enjoys playing sports, and anything to do with the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Buffalo Bills. She also has 124 pairs of shoes.

“Historic achievements at St. Clare Walker”

by Dr. James Lane
SCW principal

St. Clare Walker Middle School achieved all benchmarks to remain fully accredited by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The school community is most  proud of the significant gains in achievement that led to the school making  AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) under the Federal No Child Left Behind  statutes for the first time since the 2007-08 school year.

The major focus of the past year has been increasing mathematics achievement at the  middle school. The school raised mathematics achievement by 17 points,  increasing from 71 to 88 percent of students passing the latest mathematics  Standards of Learning (SOL). In one grade level, achievement climbed nearly 40 percentage points, which is truly a historic gain in achievement, especially since this grade level’s performance is almost 25 points over the state average. Congratulations must go out to all of our students and teachers last year!

The middle school staff has now turned its attention to continuing these successes into the 2009-10 school year. We have worked hard on our new  schedule, which will feature a transition to block schedule classes following the success of the transition to block schedule mathematics classes last year. The block schedule will be similar to the high school in social studies, science and electives.

We also spent a great deal of time working with students this summer to help  them prepare for the upcoming school year. The “Middle School 101” program was sponsored in partnership with the Middlesex Kiwanis Club and gave  rising 6th-grade students an opportunity to learn about the school, meet teachers, and become comfortable with their new setting before attending school in  September.

Additionally, the “Summer Reading and Wellness” program offered students of all middle school grade levels an opportunity to sharpen their  reading skills while remaining in shape for the summer. Both programs were a great success.

St. Clare Walker also welcomes four new staff members—Tracy Seitz as assistant to the principal, Tricia DiFulvio (8th grade civics), Victoria  Lyall (8th grade pre-algebra and Algebra I), and Ashley Gibuad (special  education). All four have already become excellent additions to our staff,  so please welcome them to the SCW community.

Lastly, we want to thank all community members and parents who donated their time and financial support to restoring the garden in front of the  school. It looks beautiful and will truly help our students to know that we take pride in our school! We are looking forward to another excellent year and thank all residents of Middlesex County for their support of our school and our faculty.



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New teachers at Middlesex Elementary School include, from left, three special education teachers, Amanda Guzick, Samantha Rozakis and Nancy Galvin; and fourth grade teacher Julie Slusher. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)
Middlesex Elementary School welcomes four new teachers, new principal Jeannie Duke and new assistant principal Alicia Carter for the upcoming 2009-10 school year.

Principal Jeannie Duke was promoted to the position of principal after serving as assistant principal last year.

This is Duke’s 20th year in education. She taught grades 2, 3, 5 and 7 during her 13 years in the Gloucester Public Schools. She transferred to Middlesex where she taught third grade for 5 years before becoming assistant principal last year.

Duke graduated from Radford University with a BA in elementary and middle school education, and holds a master’s of education in administration and supervision from the University of Phoenix.

Duke and her husband Jerry have two boys, ages 17 and 8, and a 14-year-old daughter.

New assistant principal Alicia Carter holds a BA in recreation and leisure studies from Christopher Newport University, special education certification from the University of Phoenix, a master’s in educational psychology from Capella University, and a master’s in educational leadership and administration from Old Dominion University.

Carter is from Lancaster County and most recently worked in the Hampton City School System. 

She enjoys traveling, decorating, arts and crafts, and shopping. “I love to watch episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, as a stress relief,” she said. “The show’s simple life adds such a sense of calmness and laughter.”

Amanda Guzick is a third grade special education teacher with a BS in elementary and special education from Keuka College in New York. She plays golf and adopted a rescue dog named Bruno.

Samantha Rozakis will teach 5th grade special education. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education and special education from Hofstra University. She enjoys painting, playing the tuba, flute and piano, and singing. She’s a New York Yankees fan.

Nancy Galvin will teach special education in grades K-2. She has a master’s of education from VCU. Her undergraduate degree is from Virginia Tech. Glavin has lived on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for the past 15 years.

Julie Slusher will teach fourth grade. She holds a BS in liberal studies and elementary education from Longwood College. Her hobbies include baton twirling, dancing, listening to music and rooting for the Boston Red Sox. She adopted a 3-legged dog named Macho.

“Striving for Excellence”

by Jeannie Duke, Middlesex Elementary School principal

The staff at Middlesex Elementary School has been diligently working to gear up for the 2009-10 school year. Students were sent letters at the beginning of August telling them who their teacher is for the upcoming year. Everyone had the opportunity to meet their teachers at an open house on September 2.

Several changes have been made to the daily and weekly schedules to better meet the needs of all students. An enrichment/intervention block of time has been added for every grade level to assist in providing students with the best possible instruction, whether it is a re-mediation session or an enrichment session.

We have also expanded our Title I program to include math and reading in grades K-5, which will allow us to better reach our students who need additional support in those areas.

Our gifted and talented students will work with Mrs. Susan Zeliff, our new gifted coordinator/teacher at least once a week in a pull-out session to extend their learning.

Accelerated Reader will be utilized in all classrooms to enhance reading comprehension. A new Reading Room has been established that houses leveled readers, so teachers are better able to differentiate reading instruction.

Study Island will still be available for students in grades 2-5 to practice their skills in all subject areas. Odyssey of the Mind, Great Computer Challenge, and Lego Robotics will be offered as after-school enrichment opportunities.

A new “Lunch Pals” program is beginning this year. This program is designed to pair a responsible adult with a student to have lunch in our school cafeteria once a week. If you are interested in becoming a Lunch Pal, please call Karen Murphy at MES at 758-2496 for more information.

Many of our teachers took advantage of the summer break to enhance their professional skills by taking classes at RCC or by traveling to other locations to attend conferences. There are many exciting and meaningful instructional opportunities that will be available to all MES students for this upcoming school year!

The hallways are gleaming, the classrooms are ready, and the staff at MES is waiting to greet their students for the best school year ever!



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New Middlesex High School teachers include, front row from left, Janie Alley, French; Timothy Drummond, choir; and Lisa Fleck, math; back row, Christopher DiFulvio, English; Douglas Finkel, English: and Patrick Weller, special education and boys varsity basketball coach. Not pictured are Pam Alderman, English; and Megan Cavanaugh, special education. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

Middlesex High School has eight new teachers, a new principal, Dr. Stephen Castle, and a new assistant principal, Danielle Ross.

Dr. Castle brings a wealth of experience to Middlesex High School. Just last week he successfully defended his dissertation and has officially received the title of Dr. Stephen G. Castle, Ed.D.
After completing his bachelor’s degree as a history major and education minor from James Madison University in 1995, he began teaching at Hermitage High School in Henrico County. Dr. Castle worked as a classroom teacher for six years before accepting a position as an “instructional technology instructor.”

In 2004 Dr. Castle became the assistant principal of Colonial Heights Middle School, where he completed coursework for a doctorate in administration and supervision from the University of Virginia.

Assistant principal Danielle Ross has a bachelor’s degree in government and elementary education, and a master’s in education, educational policy, planning and leadership. Both degrees were earned at The College of William and Mary.

Ross grew up in Newport News and moved to Mathews County where she worked at Thomas Hunter Middle School before coming to MHS.

Ross said she enjoys gourmet cooking [and eating] and is a Pampered Chef consultant. Her favorite TV shows include “Top Chef” and “House.”

New teachers

Christopher DiFulvio will teach English and drama. He has a BA in English education from St. Xavier University. He enjoys golf, cheers for the New York Yankees, and played Romeo at a Shakespearean Festival.

Douglas Finkel will teach 10th grade and senior honors English. Finkel has a BA from New College of Florida. He enjoys woodworking and is a nationally-recognized wood artist. His work has been featured in numerous publications, and is included in the permanent collection of the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institute.

Patrick Weller will teach special education at MHS. His BA is from Bridgewater College and he holds a master’s from James Madison University. Weller enjoys sports and will coach varsity boys basketball and girls tennis at MHS.

Janie Alley, who will teach French, holds a master’s of education from Clemson. She enjoys windsurfing and she can speak Russian.

Lisa Fleck will teach math. She holds a BS in mathematics education from the University of Pittsburgh. She likes sailing and sailboat racing.

Tim Drummond will teach chorus at both MHS and St. Clare Walker Middle School. He earned his BA at JMU. He enjoys rock climbing, is a Redskins fan, and is training for a half-marathon in November.

Pam Alderman, will teach English, and Megan Cavanaugh will be a special education teacher.

“Excellence for Each Student”

by Dr. Stephen Castle
Middlesex High principal

With the arrival of a new administration, this summer has been a very busy one at Middlesex High School. The incoming leadership team has been focusing on getting the school ready to open and preparing the staff for another successful year. It is our goal to continue to provide a rigorous curriculum that challenges each student.

Last year, MHS was able to reach a high level of achievement on the SOL tests. Our students had a pass rate of 90% or higher on the SOL tests for all four of the core academic areas. Our strong performance allowed us to be fully accredited and reach our AYP benchmarks as well. The new administration will strive to continue this high level of success and build upon it.

Our theme, “Excellence for Each Student,” reflects our belief that we will improve upon the success of the past by reaching individual students. We are blessed with a school population that is small enough for us to know each child and reach him or her in a personal way.

Our goal is to build meaningful professional relationships with students that will show them we truly desire for them to have a high level of success in our classrooms.

As your students return to school, they will notice improvements to the facility as well. Through the hard work of our maintenance department and our community volunteers, we have been able to improve the grounds and the interior of the building. The administration hopes to continue to make improvements to the facility in order to provide the best learning environment possible for our students.

In addition to the academic successes in the 2008-09 school year, MHS also performed well on the field of athletics. As always, we greatly appreciate your attendance and encouragement of our students at all of our events.

As you prepare for the year, please plan to attend our Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 22, at 7 p.m. You will be able to meet all of your student’s teachers and see how MHS is providing excellent service to our students.

posted 09.02.2009

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