Donais Declines Walnut Square Role to Devote Full Energy to School Committee Run

Two weeks after being named the principal at Walnut Square School as part of Haverhill Public Schools’ new “rightsizing” plan, city educator Toni Donais has decided to give up that new role in order to devote her energy full-time to a run for a School Committee seat, she tells WHAV exclusively. “After 40 years in education, I just feel like I’ve walked the walk and I’m very excited to be on the other side and get into the policies and hopefully make a difference on the School Committee,” she said. Donais realizes she’d have to sit out votes for teacher salary-related talks and other issues given the fact that her daughter, Jennifer Donais, is a math coach at Silver Hill School, but tells WHAV such ideas are still key components to her campaign platform. “I see in the school district that we need to make improvements: Everything from the class sizes to professional development to infrastructure,” Donais told WHAV. “We have some beautiful buildings and we have to have a solid plan for how we’re maintaining them.”

Donais, who pulled papers to run late last month, joins fellow newcomers Patricia McDonald and Melissa Lewandowski along with incumbents Scott W. Wood Jr., Gail M. Sullivan and Sven A. Amirian, along with fellow newcomer economist Thomas Grannemann, in the ballot bid.

Haverhill Schools Accept City Maintenance Money, But Learns State Denies Moody Fix

Haverhill School Committee members Thursday night accepted an additional $60,000 for building maintenance only to find out the state has denied money for replacing Moody School’s aging roof. Maintenance of schools again rose to the forefront as members debated whether the school department’s focus should be fixing buildings or educating students. All of this came before School Committeeman Richard J. Rosa reported the state’s School Building Authority this week inexplicably refused to pay to replace Moody School’s 28-year-old roof. He explained, “They decided that we weren’t eligible because the Moody School only enrolls pre-K students.” Rosa, an early and vocal advocate for the using the state’s Accelerated Repair Program, said the state decision makes no sense, and he knows of no limitations on how school buildings are used. School Committee member Scott W. Wood Jr. cited Superintendent Margaret Marotta’s call for more school adjustment councilors as a reason to question using extra city money for buildings.

Northern Essex Students Benefit from Cummings Foundation Grant

With a donation from the Cummings Foundation, Northern Essex Community College is able to assist more students in obtaining an associate’s degree from the institution. Earlier this month, the Cummings Foundation announced the college would receive a $25,000 donation to enhance its Promise Program, which assists students in achieving a degree from the school. In order to be eligible for the money, students must be a part of NECC’s early college program, which allows high school students to accumulate college credit, and have at least 12 credits by graduation. The students must also reside in Essex County to be considered. With this grant, students receive help purchasing textbooks and a laptop for their time at the college.

Essex County Sheriff’s Dept. Welcomes 20 Officers Following NECC Basic Training

Twenty new correctional officers are joining the Essex County Sheriff’s Department after graduating last week from the Basic Training Academy at Northern Essex Community College. Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger administered the oath to Robert Burrell, Christian Calix, John Comerford, Brian Dettorre, Kyle Houghton, Adrian Inoa, Anferne Jimenez, Christopher Jodoin, Shawn Kavanaugh, Keenan Kealey, Erik Laflamme, Terrance Lane, Alexander Nirgianakis, William Panzini, Jacob Roy, Mark Scribner, Jake Skusevich, Blake Ward and James Whitcher, Raymond Wilkins. Each had a badge pinned on their new uniforms for the first time by a special person in their life. “Comprehensive training is the key to excellence and effectiveness in corrections at every level.  We have designed a very demanding training program for recruits to become proficient in many critical areas,” Coppinger said. “Their training will continue throughout their work at the Sheriff’s Department as we are committed to building and maintaining a strong, professional team,” he added.

Poth Retires from Northern Essex Community College; Business Center Now in Her Name

Even as her retirement party was starting Monday, Jean Poth was closing on yet another donation to Northern Essex Community College. And that, says Northern Essex President lane A. Glenn, personifies Poth’s nearly 45-year commitment to the local institution. “Jean works all the way up until the very last minute. Just please know she was working on a deal in the room today and transacting business and getting an agreement from this individual. He says, ‘And you know, you’re really going to miss her.

Approval of Haverhill’s More Than $200 Million Budget Hinges on School Maintenance

Approval of Haverhill’s more than $200 million spending plan hinges Tuesday night on improved school maintenance. City councilors voted 8-1 Thursday night to ask Mayor James J. Fiorentini to add five more maintenance workers to the school department. Not counting 43 janitors, that would provide a total of 11 people including the schools’ facilities supervisor. Most councilors and the mayor told WHAV there is room for compromise. Councilor Timothy J. Jordan, however, is drawing a line in the sand over the issue.

Whittier Tech’s Grover Receives Honors as One of the State’s ‘Outstanding Educators’

A health and physical education teacher at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School was recognized last week by Gov. Charlie Baker as one of the state’s “outstanding educators.”

Roxann Grover was one of the 2020 Teacher of the Year semifinalists honored at a State House ceremony June 20. “Massachusetts teachers are instrumental in preparing the leaders of tomorrow for success after they leave the classroom,” said Baker. “We are very pleased to recognize these Massachusetts public school teachers today for the hard work, dedication and creativity they bring to their students every day.”

“It was such an honor to be nominated and then selected to the semifinalist round,” Grover said earlier this spring. “It validates the profession of health and physical education and the things we do as teachers everyday to make sure students understand that their well-being is the most important thing in their lives.”

Whittier’s Curriculum Coordinator Kelly Fay nominated Grover earlier this year, highlighting her dedication to students and wellness education for the last 40 years. She’s helped parents recognize the signs their children might be using drugs or alcohol through “Hidden in Plain Sight” events, organized walks for hunger to raise money for Project Bread and led food drives throughout the community to benefit Haverhill’s local food pantry, Our Neighbors Table.

Haverhill High Grad Pfifferling Named Schools’ New Assistant Superintendent

One of Haverhill’s Hillies is coming home to the public schools’ system starting this fall to assume the role of the district’s new assistant superintendent of finance and operations. On Tuesday, the School Committee voted unanimously to select Michael J. Pfifferling as a finalist to enter into negotiations for the role one month after contract talks broke down with Greater Lawrence Technical School’s Maria Silva. A city native now living in Groveland, Pfifferling comes to the district after six-and-a-half years as the business manager in Wakefield, where he oversaw construction of a middle school building and assisted in the opening of the Early Childhood Center at Doyle School and the Purposeful Opportunities for Successful Transitions Academy in Wakefield for older special education students. During an interview with School Committee members June 13, Pfifferling—who beat out Ian P. Gosselin for the position—was praised for his grasp on the challenges facing Haverhill’s students, said member Paul A. Magliocchetti. “I appreciate you making the distinction between equality and equity, because that’s something that we grapple with here in Haverhill a lot,” Magliocchetti said.