Our New Faculty & Staff Members Look Back

in Spring 2024 by

As the 2023-2024 school year draws to a close, we asked some of our new faculty and staff members and those in new roles to reflect on their experiences at Park. Their insights provide a glimpse into the Park community and the joys of connecting with students and colleagues. From events like Grandparent’s and Special Friends Day to creative projects such as the Grade 8 play, their reflections highlight the atmosphere that makes Park a special place. Here’s what they had to say about their first year with us in new roles and what they’re looking forward to in the future.

Sophia DiNinni, Grade 2 Teacher 

One of my favorite days this year was Grandparent’s and Special Friends Day. I enjoyed getting to know my students’ grandparents and seeing the joy on their faces when showing them their classroom. It really puts things in perspective why the kids are the way they are and the value of family connections in the classroom. It truly makes the classroom a more unified community and something I truly value personally.  

Next year, I’m looking forward to getting to know more Park families and being reunited with the grade K class I had my first year at Park. I’m also looking forward to growing current connections with colleagues and forming new ones.

Jason White, Grades 5&6 Math Teacher

While I knew Park was a special place before I started, I wasn’t prepared for how tight-knit a community Park is.  It’s such a special experience that students can grow together from Pre-K to 8th grade.  When you see the students interact with each other, it feels like a big family!

Two things really stood out this year. The first was Yule Festival. It was incredible seeing the whole community come together and celebrate!  The second was our Desmos Design Project in 5th and 6th grade math classes. Students plotted points in the coordinate plane to create images using the online platform Desmos. It was an amazing intersection of mathematics and creativity, and I was blown away by the incredible, imaginative, and highly detailed works of art that students produced!

Since I teach 5th grade and 6th grade, I will be teaching current 5th graders again next year.  I’m looking forward to continuing their journey in math as we explore 6th grade concepts and ideas!

Nell Broley, Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher

I have been surprised at how seamless the transition felt. When I left Park 16 years ago (from fourth grade!) I could not imagine having the level of comfort and collegiality I had with my team back then ever again, and yet here I am, all those years later and I feel the same familiarity and camaraderie. The generosity of my new colleagues is unmatched. Our teaching (and learning) styles compliment each other so well. It is a completely different team, but I feel right at home, again. 

My favorite experience so far this year has been working through the GGHH (Gods, Goddesses, Heros and Heroines) projects with the students. Their creativity and excitement for learning is wonderful to experience. The trickiest part of re-entering the community is just managing logistics. It has gotten much better as the year has gone on, but in the beginning I frequently found myself in the wrong hallway, on the wrong floor looking for people who are no longer here. I cannot wait for next year. Now that I have lived through (almost) a full year I have a much better sense of how the year will flow. I am finding my feet again, and I am so grateful to be back in this community. Park is a truly special place.

Caleb Hannon, ASP Faculty & Grade 2 TA

I was pleasantly surprised by how interwoven and connected the community is. Standing during Yule Festival and hearing everyone sing “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” and celebrating May Day was different from what I have experienced in other school communities. The spirit of tradition and togetherness is amazing, and it flows through every student and teacher.

My favorite experience this year was taking over as a TA for the second grade and working with the second-grade team. Each class has been a unique learning experience, and it’s exciting to see how second grade functions across different classrooms. I’ve enjoyed making friends of all different ages and being part of a community that includes everyone.

Working with all grade levels was more challenging than I expected at first but it was also fun switching between grades and adapting to their different needs. It’s been rewarding to bridge connections across grade levels. I take a lot of pride in introducing an eighth grader to a first grader and seeing them recognized as experienced mentors.

I’ll be at Summer At Park for all eight weeks this year, and I’m excited to get back to working with the students. Even though Winter and Spring breaks are needed, I find myself missing the community and the students. I love being here so much and can’t wait to see the second graders take on third-grade roles and grow into their new grade levels. That’s going to be really fun to watch.

Karolyn Maws, Learning Specialist (Literacy Focus)- Academic Support

The faculty here is so warm and welcoming. I felt connected to many folks across all divisions and have continued to make connections all year long. It is a very supportive environment.

I loved Yule Fest. It was really fun to see enthusiasm and engagement from the youngest to the oldest. The SpongeBob Squarepants Musical was amazing. The music and theater programs at Park are very strong.

Next year I am looking forward to learning new things, collaborating with teachers on literacy initiatives, knowing what to expect every day, and meeting many more students.

TJ Liquori, Theater Tech Coordinator

The community at Park has been incredibly welcoming, patient, and kind. In taking on a new role at Park that hasn’t existed before, I have felt supported and encouraged to take time to absorb and adapt to the community’s needs, and to learn from successes and mistakes.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating the set for the 8th grade play, Beware the Jabberwock, in collaboration with students, Kyra Fries (drama director), and Paul Theriault (set painter). Balancing natural textures and materials with a magical and otherworldly story helped the students in the production feel at home on stage. It gave them freedom to move, act, imagine, and make magic for themselves and their audience. 

Next year, I look forward to applying a lot of learning from my first year at Park to make the drama program, performing arts, and school events even more successful. I also look forward to building stronger relationships with my amazing colleagues so that we can continue to best support and educate our creative students.