2017-08-25 / Community

Cape Elizabeth community welcomes new school staff

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

CAPE ELIZABETH – Pond Cove Elementary School will be under completely new leadership this school year after the resignations of principal Kelly Hasson and Theresa Curran. On Aug. 14, the Cape Elizabeth School Board filled those voids with Jason Manjourides and Sarah Forrey-Pettit, respectively. Hasson worked at the school as a first and second grade teacher from 1984 to 2005, before returning to Pond Cove as principal in 2012.

Manjourides most recently worked assistant principal in Falmouth while Forrey-Pettit comes from Belmont, Massachusetts where she spent the last two years as the assistant principal at Wellington Elementary School.

“We were very impressed with the application submitted by Jason Manjourides. Jason is the assistant principal at Falmouth Elementary School. We were very impressed by his experience at the school, primarily responsible for grades (kindergarten) to two and how connected he is to the children and supportive of the teachers,” said Interim Superintendent Howard Colter. “He is someone who is known to be accessible and responsive to the needs of parents and the community.”

Prior to taking on the Falmouth position in 2014, Manjourides spent two years as a K-5 assistant principal at Rowe Elementary School in Norway and two years as a K-5 assistant principal at Songo Locks Elementary in Naples. Manjourides has also served as a Title 1/Reading First literacy interventionist at Rowe Elementary School, a Title 1/reading recovery/ small group intervention teacher at Oxford Elementary School in Oxford and a therapeutic foster parent at Youth Alternatives Ingraham in South Portland. He started his education career as an elementary school teacher at Crescent Park School in Bethel between 2000 and 2004.

Manjourides said he was attracted to the position in Cape Elizabeth because of the department’s “great reputation for academic excellence and for providing a quality experience for students.”

“The interview process for the position was very thorough and I had the opportunity to meet many teachers and parents. The process confirmed that Pond Cove would be a great fit for me. This community cares a great deal about their schools,” Manjourides wrote in an email to the Sentry. “Accepting a principal position this time of year could be challenging, but the Pond Cove and district-level staff have been extremely supportive. We are well prepared to welcome our students on opening day.”

Manjourides said he is excited to start working with students, families and staff at the school and “build upon the wonderful programming currently offered.”

“I am hopeful that all stakeholders can approach the challenges we face with a growth mindset. I also feel that it is very important to celebrate our accomplishments,” he wrote.

Manjourides originally went to school for environmental planning and policy, earning his bachelor’s degree in that field from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1999, but quickly found himself on the education path.

“After graduating from college with a (bachelor’s degree) in environmental planning and policy, I substitute taught at the elementary level for a period of time. I quickly felt that many students were not meeting their potential, perhaps because traditional school was not a fit for them. I then went back to school to pursue my master’s in education (from the University of Southern Maine). My hope is that I can support a differentiated approach for all learners,” he wrote.

Colter said he was also impressed with Forrey-Pettit’s experience as an administrator and educator. Forrey-Pettit has spent the last three years as the assistant principal in the Belmont and Somerville Public School System after serving as intern principal at Wellington Elementary School. Forrey-Pettit has also worked as a district autism inclusion specialist in Belmont, an intervention specialist at West Chester, Ohio, a special education teacher in Provo, Utah and site coordinator at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Provo.

“She has a strong background with students with exceptional need and we feel she will be an asset to us and the larger community,” Colter said, adding Manjourides and Forrey-Pettit will “be a great team.”

Forrey-Pettit, like Manjourides, was also impressed with the schools and the town, which she calls “breathtakingly beautiful and charming.”

“While researching Cape Elizabeth schools it became clear that the schools have a rich reputation as high performing and rigorous. It is also evident that the community highly values and supports the schools, which is imperative to the success of any educational system. I was impressed by the interview committee – the questions they asked were focused on best practices in the field for educators and what is most effective to meet the needs of students,” Forrey-Pettit wrote in an email to the Sentry. “The staff I’ve met so far at Pond Cove are dedicated, highly qualified and energetic, which are qualities I value. It is a tremendous honor to join the Cape Elizabeth team.”

Forrey-Pettit said she would like to continue the work school staff members have done to improve reading and writing instruction through The Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University’s Teachers College, as well as “expanding our work in social emotional learning to continue to build those competencies in students and staff, with the overarching goal of fostering an emotionally safe place for children to learn and to improve students’ ability to problem solve, empathize, and persevere to work through challenges.”

Like her principal, Forrey-Pettit did not originally set out to be an educator, but quickly fell in love with the educational field.

“As a young undergrad, I dreamt of becoming a Broadway star. However, while working as a professional aide in a school (the job that helped me pay for college) I was assigned to work in a special education classroom. It was that experience that helped me realize my calling to be an educator,” she wrote. “From that point on, theater became my hobby and education became my life. This work inspires, invigorates and gives me great satisfaction every day. I love working with young children especially because the developmental milestones are exciting to watch and be part of.”

“Children bring so much joy and humor to each day. In this work there is rich and meaningful fulfillment that comes from seeing children conquer challenging skills and master difficult concepts,” she continued. “The ‘aha!’ moments happen in every area of learning – academic, emotional, behavioral, relational. Education is my passion and elementary school is my niche. I love everything about it.”

The board also hired Troy Eastman, who has served as principal at Oxford Hills Middle School for the last decade, to replace former Cape Elizabeth Middle School PrincipalMichael Tracy. Eastman started his education career as a special education teacher at Livermore Falls Middle School before transitioning to a special education teacher in Buckfield and then as an assistant principal for Raymond School Department.

“Troy is a seasoned administrator. He is very much a child advocate and he is known for being connected to his faculty and involving them in decision making,” Colter said. “He is someone who has a lot of enthusiasm, energy and great ideas and someone, we think, who will connect very strongly with our faculty.”

Despite the top level turnover at the two schools, Colter is happy where the school department is starting the year.

“We are in good shape and very fortunate,” he said.

Cape Elizabeth Schools open for students in grade one through 12 on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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