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Litchfield Teachers Kick-Off the Year on a Bright Note

Litchfield faculty and staff enjoyed a rousing back-to-school welcome from HoWiE Roll, a band made up of faculty, staff, and a student, who brought a musical touch and upbeat energy to this morning’s convocation.

Band HoWiE Roll, which opened Litchfield Schools’ convocation, features music teachers Peter Perkins and Dan Porri, student Matt Bove, school nurse Theresa Simaitis, principal Kristen Della Volpe, administrative assistant Tammy Knox, and paraprofessional Jen Gleason.

Dan Porri, a music teacher at Litchfield Intermediate School who plays bass in the band, says the band initially formed almost a decade ago when Litchfield High School Principal Kristen Della Volpe came to the district. Della Volpe thought a faculty band would add enthusiasm and excitement to the first day of school, and the band has been performing at convocations ever since. They’ve added other school gigs as well, playing at a battle of the bands, the high school pops concert, and more.

English teacher and Litchfield Education Association President Lynn Rice Scozzafava addresses LEA members at a meeting following convocation.

Porri taught at Litchfield High School for the past eight years, but this year is back at the Intermediate grades 4 – 6 school where he began his career. “I like this age group,” Porri says. “They’re just starting their instruments. They’re so enthusiastic, and I enjoy being able to have that influence on them right from the start, to be able to foster a passion for music.”

“Twenty-five years and I still love coming to work every day,” says high school English teacher and Litchfield Education Association (LEA) President Lynn Rice Scozzafava.

“I love my job,” she told LEA members at a general meeting following convocation. “We all love our work. In our field there couldn’t be any other reason to come to work. We are awesomely lucky to work with great colleagues and to have the strength of our unions—LEA, CEA, and NEA.”

High school social studies teacher Kate Crowe and middle school science teacher Victoria Kasidas are looking forward to meeting their new students.

Scozzafava added, “Our students will be returning to our classrooms this Wednesday expecting, wanting, needing us to love them without reservation. They deserve our gratitude and most effective care and attention.”

“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to is all of the new faces,” says high school social studies teacher Kate Crowe.

Victoria Kasidas, who teaches science at the middle school, says, “Everything is new for us—new students, new curriculum. I’m looking forward to working together with my colleagues.”

“Back to school means a fresh new start,” says Center School third grade teacher Darlene Torrant. “It’s great to experience new ideas, learn new things, and improve my practice.”

First grade teacher Jennifer Nichols, third grade teacher Darlene Torrant, and first grade teacher Nada Noujaim teach at Litchfield Center School.

Center School first grade teacher Nada Noujaim says she can’t wait to greet her new students and explore new ideas with them. Fellow first grade teacher Jennifer Nichols is looking forward to continuing to work with Columbia University’s Teacher College. “We worked on our writing program the last two years, and this year we’ll be working on our reading program. A mentor will be coming in from Columbia to work with our students and our grade level teams.”

“I’m excited to teach a handful of classes I haven’t taught in a while,” says high school technical education teacher Johnny Kassay. Kassay will be teaching construction, mechanical engineering, and architecture—classes that all include a significant hands-on component that he says helps engage many students.

“I haven’t taught American literature in more than 10 years, I’m really excited for that,” says Scozzafava. “In this political climate it will be great fuel for conversations about literature and history and what it is to be an American.”

Scozzafava is also looking forward to the support CEA provides her local association. CEA’s Robyn Kaplan-Cho led a workshop about student assault in the district last year, and Scozzafava plans to talk to her superintendent about bringing additional CEA professional development offerings to the district in the future.

Find out more about CEA’s professional development opportunities.

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