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Hamden Teachers Hard at Work Preparing for Their Students

Teachers in Hamden started back to school this week and are almost ready for their students’ first day this Monday. At Dunbar Hill School, the kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers were busy today putting some final touches on their classrooms.

Below are some thoughts they shared about what they’re looking forward to this year.

Kindergarten teachers (from right) Betsy Pattison, Meghan Witheril, and student teacher Brianna Celio are ready to greet their new students. Pattison says the teachers first focus with the kindergartners on learning how to be a student, make new friends, meet new people, and learn new routines.

“We incorporate lots of ‘getting to know you’ activities at the beginning of the year,” she says.

“We also focus on building relationships with the students’ families,” says Celio. “That’s so important.”

This year the kindergarten teachers will be taking part in the Choose Love Movement begun to honor Jesse Lewis who died in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Choose Love teaches children that they have control over their thoughts and helps them choose strategies to respond positively to challenging situations.

Second-grade teacher Trish Avitable is looking forward to meeting a new group of students and their families, and seeing how her students from last year have grown.

“It’s always fun to hear their stories about what they did over the summer,” says Avitable.

Chris Prevost, who teaches fourth grade, says it’s not just the students who get excited for a new school year. “New kids, new class, I’m ready.”

Unique Johnson, a recent Quinnipiac grad, is starting her very first year teaching. In the past, the fourth-grade teacher has been a paraeducator, student taught, and interned.

“I’m so excited to finally have my own classroom,” she says. “I can’t wait to meet all of the kids.”


Gym teacher Tom Cottiero is new to Dunbar Hill School this year, but not to Hamden. He’s taught at several schools in the district over the years, most recently at the middle school.

“I’m glad to be back with the little kids,” he says.

He has a variety of fun team-building activities planned for the first week, and soon will start preparing the older students to run the mile in November.

Art teacher Elisa Vegliante plans to get busy with her students their very fist day back. This year the focus of the Connecticut state standards for visual art is on responding in art.

“We create art all of the time, but the responding focus allows us to work with classroom teachers to talk about famous works of art and create portfolios,” she says. “It allows the children to have opportunities for peer assessment and self assessment.”

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