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New teachers, ‘level’ bleachers occupy Hudson Board of Ed

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HUDSON–New faculty and staff, new bleachers and new immigration policies received attention at the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting Monday, August 14.

The District administration introduced seven new employees: six teachers and a food services director. The teachers are:

• Dierdre Donnelly, who will teach special education ELA in intermediate grades. She comes from teaching special education in the New York City schools. She said her goal was “to set the highest standards for my students so they can reach their potential.”

• Brian Hoolihan, who will teach 7th grade social studies. He said his goals include “to share my passion and enthusiasm for social studies with my students.”

• Alyssa Moore, who will teach first grade. She graduated from Hudson High School in 2010. She comes from teaching in the Albany area. She said her goals include “to make a difference in every child I have.”

• Beth O’Brian, who will teach Special Education. She comes from Questar III BOCES.

• Jennifer Talma, who will teach Spanish at the high school. She comes from five years teaching in the Taconic Hills district. Before that, she taught in Albany schools. “I feel as if I’m coming home,” she said. “The people I’ve met make me feel I’m already here.” She said her goals include to “give kids opportunities to” go into the community “and use the language.”

• Hope Van Tassel, who will teach speech at both the primary and intermediate schools. She said her goals include to “help improve communication skills.”

• The district’s new food service director, Brian Bateman, will replace Cathy Drumm, who retired this year. He comes from the Coxsackie-Athens District, where he held a similar position but with a smaller student body, Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier observed. Before going into food service, Mr. Bateman was a chef.

Dr. Suttmeier said one of the things that pleased her about the new hires in their interviews was their wanting to work in the district. “They know we’re a district on the rise,” she said. “And they know we have a diverse population.”

With retirements and newly hired teachers, “the number of people we’ll have at new teacher orientation is the largest ever,” said Coordinator of School Improvement April Prestipino.

In other business, Dr. Suttmeier announced that work has begun on the lines for the new track, the new high school gym is nearing completion and the driveway will be in next week.

The district does have concerns about seating capacity and the field of vision for spectators at the new field. The new bleachers hold the same number of seats–300–as before, but the new field lacks the sidewalk area that overflow crowds used at the old field. Under consideration are getting portable bleachers, with a seating capacity up to 200.

In addition, at the old field, “We’ve been used to a bird’s-eye view,” observed Dr. Suttmeier. At the new field, the spectator area is more “level,” and she acknowledged that “We can’t rebuild the hillside view.”

The superintendent also said that the district had ordered standard football bleacher construction but that George Keeler, district superintendent of buildings and grounds, is looking into for “raising the bleachers.”

Also at the August 14 meeting:

• Ms. Prestipino announced, “The number of immigrant students coming into the district has slowed lot, for political reasons. But we’ll continue serving the ones we have, giving them what they need”

• Dr. Suttmeier said, “We call all students Blue Hawks,” whether their shine is in sports or arts or academics. She called the new construction a “symbol of the district’s turnaround. It’s time for us to reinvent ourselves. It’s time for us to shine.”

The next meeting of the Board of Education will take place Monday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the junior high school library.

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