Racist, ‘Painful’ Grafitti Found At Wellington Elementary

Photo: The Wellington Elementary School

Graffiti described as “racist, devaluing, painful to read, and unacceptable” was discovered on the face of the Roger Wellington Elementary School on Monday, March 29.

Belmont Superintendent John Phelan made the “deeply upsetting” announcement in a late-night letter to the community, noting that “several inappropriate terms” were written on the school’s exterior, one being racist.

Phelan said his office immediately contacted the Belmont Police who are investigating the incident.

“The Belmont Public Schools stands in solidarity with and in full support of our Black and brown families,” said Phelan.

The graffiti was discovered by fourth graders who told Wellington Principal Heidi Paisner-Roffman as part of the school’s “seeing something and saying something” policy.

“It is extremely important to mark these moments of racism in our community,” said Phelan in his message. “Our grade 4 students had the integrity to mark this moment by telling their principal; we as school and community members must also call out this action as hurtful and unacceptable.”

Phelan said Principal Paisner-Roffman will be working with her staff to talk with all Wellington students in the coming days about this issue in an age-appropriate manner. She will also be reaching out the families of the students who found the graffiti to inform them.

Hateful graffiti is not a new phenomenon in Belmont. On July 4, 2008, racist notes were found at the Wellington playground while homophobic and racist comments were discovered in a Chenery Middle School bathroom in November 2018.

After such an incident, Phelan said the schools “are grateful for our growing relationships with community partners who share our values of zero tolerance for racist behavior” including Community Organized for Solidarity, Belmont Against Racism, and the Belmont Human Rights Commission.

“[They] are doing excellent work educating our community and calling attention to important issues, and we are appreciative of their advice and partnership,” said Phelan.

“We look forward to continuing this important conversation about race, respect, and what it means to live in a community with one another. Please reach out to me or to any of our Principals with your thoughts as we work toward becoming a more anti-racist and inclusive community.”

Summer Recess Begins Monday At Belmont Public Schools

Photo: Final walk out of the Wellington.

The unofficial start of summer begins today, Monday, June 17 as Belmont marks the final day of the 2018-19 public school year.

Students won’t be spending the entire day in class as it is an early release for all grades.

Belmont High School: 10:30 a.m.

Chenery Middle School: 11 a.m.

Burbank, Butler and Wellington elementary schools: 11:40 a.m.

Winn Brook: 11:50 a.m.

Some of the elementary schools will have a final walk out of school of the 4th grade students who will be heading to the Chenery Middle School in the fall.

While school is officially “out” for summer recess, there is one final student event taking place: On Saturday, June 22, Belmont High’s boys’ and girls’ rugby squads will complete in the MIAA Division 1 state championships at Curry College in Milton.

And for parents anxious for a return to normalcy, the 2019-2020 school year for 1-12 grades will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 4, with a half day. Kindergarten students will be starting either on Sept. 5 or 6 for a half day.

Long Time Wayland Educator Selected As Next Wellington Principal

Photo: Dr. Heidi Paisner-Roffman (YouTube)

The Wellington Elementry School has its principal as Dr. Heidi Paisner-Roffman accepted an offer with the Belmont School District, according to a district press release on April 1.

“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Paisner-Roffman to the district as she begins her work in July,” said Mary Pederson, the district’s director of human resources.

Paisner-Roffman has spent the past 18 years in the Wayland Public Schools, for the past three years as the assistant principal at the Claypit Hill Elementary School. Since last year, she has been the district’s K-12 English Learners Program Coordinator. Her tenure in Wayland was punctuated by a three-year position in the School of Education at Boston College between 2013 and 2016.

She started teaching in Wayland in Sept. 2001, as a Special Education Teacher in the elementary schools, going on to chair the SpEd teams and supervising assistant teachers. Paisner-Roffman began her teaching career in 1998 as a first-grade teacher in the New York City Public Schools.

Paisner-Roffman matriculated at Barnard College where she earned bachelor degrees in Psychology and Education. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education and Teaching from the Bank Street College of Education and was awarded a Ph.D.in Curriculum and Instruction from Boston College.

Wellington Walk: Celebrate International Walk To School Day This Wednesday

Photo: International Walk to School Day.

Wednesday, Oct. 3 marks the 22nd International Walk to School Day, which has become an annual event of pedestrian fun for students, parents and staff of Wellington Elementary.

For nearly a decade, the Wellington has celebrated the day with “celebrity walkers” – teachers, staff, town officials, and a few celebs – who lead groups parents and students from designated locations east and west of Common Street down to the Wellington. 

Beginning in 1997, Walk to School Day is a global event that involves 4,800 schools in more than 40 countries who are all walking and biking to school on the same day with the goal of beginning a worldwide movement for year-round safe routes to schools for walkers and bike riders. The event is sponsored by The National Center for Safe Routes to School which is committed to empowering communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe, appealing, preferred choice for families.

Want to join? Here are the locations; you can walk from as far away as Grove Street and Unity Avenue (that’s a hike!) to as short as School and Goden streets. Come join the fun.


Ms. Becca Pizzi

World Challenge Marathon Women’s Champion

Ms. Colleen McBride

2nd Grade Teacher

7:30 a.m.

Grove St. and Unity Ave. triangle

Fire Chief David Frizzell

Belmont Fire Department

Mrs. Susan Tudisco

Retired SPED Professional Aide

Mr. Craig McMahan

Music Teacher

7:45 a.m.

Elm St. and Lewis Rd.

Mr. John Phelan

Belmont Schools Superintendent

Mr. Steven Tenhor

4th Grade Teacher

Mrs. JoAnn Papalia

Retired Main Office Clerical Aide

8:00 a.m.

Payson Rd. and Common St.

Ms. Aimee Doherty

Physical Education Teacher

Mrs. Melissa Hart

Belmont Soccer Assoc. Board Member & Coach

8:00 a.m.

Oakley Rd. and Payson Rd. triangle

Ms. Mina Vahedi & Ms. Lindsay DeBello Kindergarten Teachers

Mr. Ray Johnson

PTO Co-President

8:05 a.m.

Horace Rd. and Brettwood Rd.

Mr. Stephen Lambert

Wellington Interim Principal

Ms. Annemarie Stewart

Wellington Assistant Principal

Ms. Sheila Walsh

Wellington Guidance Counselor

8:15 a.m.

Hillcrest Rd. and Common St.

Ms. Joanna Kaselis-Tzouvelis

Mrs. Ali Skelly

Pre-K Teacher

Mr. Jason Greenwood

Speech Therapy

8:15 a.m.

Orchard St. and Amelia St. triangle

Mrs. Kristen (Mrs. B.) Bell

1st Grade Teacher

Ms. Ellen Fink

Kindergarten Teacher

Ms. Christina Cammarata

Art Teacher

8:15 a.m.

Hillcrest Rd. and Goden St.

Ms. Meghan Clow

3rd Grade Teacher

Mrs. Meryl Junik

PTO Co-President

8:15 a.m.

Clark St. and Thomas St.

Ms. Rachel Overbeck

Children’s Librarian, Belmont Public Library

Officer Kristine Pugliese

Belmont Police Department

8:20 a.m.

School St. and Goden St.

The Moozy Cow

Moozy’s Ice Cream and Yogurt Emporium

“Joey” Launch Mascot

Launch Watertown

8:20 a.m. Waving to greet everyone

Entrance to Wellington School


Three Finalist Up For Wellington Elementary Principal Post

Photo: Wellington Elementary School.

They have met with teachers and staff, a parents group and administrators. And the selection of the next principal of the Roger Wellington Elementary School is in the home stretch with one of three candidates to be selected to take the reins from Amy Spangler, who left after five years at the school. The finalists will soon meet with Belmont Superintendent John Phelan who will make the final decision in the next few weeks. 

The three finalists are:

  • Martha Wiley of Oxford
  • Jody Day Klein of Newton
  • Allison Franke of Somerville

Wiley is the principal of the Clara Barton Elementary School which is part of the Oxford Public Schools. Wiley has been leading the 3rd- through 4th-grade school since July 2016. She came to her current position in central Massachusetts from the Fitchburg public schools where she spent nearly five years as assistant principal of the K-4 Reingold Elementary. For 17 years, she was an elementary school teacher in the Northborough district.

Wiley has a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an M.A. in Elementary and Middle School Education from Cambridge College and an Educational Specialist degree from Bay Path College.

Klein has been the interim principal of Newton’s Lincoln-Eliot School for nearly two years, after spending a decade as the director of English Language Learning in the Newton School District. She started in Newton as the World Languages Coordinator. Klein is a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Administrator Trainer for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She also works with Research for Better Teaching and is an instructor of Studying Skillful Teacher

Klein received her B.A. from Washington DC’s American University, her M.Ed. from Boston University, and a C.A.G.S. in School Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Franke is an assistant principal of Somerville’s Capuano Early Education Center, a pre-K, and Kindergarten school, for nearly four years, after working for four years as a literacy specialist at the Franklin Elementary School in West Newton. She’s held numerous posts in and out of elementary education after starting her career as a kindergarten and second-grade teacher in the Los Angeles schools for nearly four years. 

A DC native, Franke graduated with a computer science degree from Amherst, earned an Ed.M in Language and Literacy from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and a masters in organizational management from Endicott. 

Wellington Principal Spangler Leaving In December

Photo: Principal Amy Spangler

Amy Spangler, the respected and well-loved principal of the Wellington Elementary School, is leaving her position to return to the Pacific Northwest.

“I’m sad to be leaving such a great school and staff,” said Spangler to the Belmontonian at Wednesday’s annual International Walk to School event at the school.

Spangler said her effective resignation date would be in mid-December before the winter recess.

The reason for Spangler’s departure is the same that brought her to Belmont five years ago; she is following her husband as he takes a new corporate position across the country.

“Amy will be missed significantly. She runs an amazing school,” Belmont Superintendent John Phelan told the Belmontonian Wednesday. “She’s all about the students and the families. You could see that before school in the playground and inside the school when she’s with the children.”

Phelan said he is early in the process of finding a replacement for Spangler. He and his staff will first look at possible internal candidates before deciding whether to hire an interim principal or place an outside job posting. 

Phelan would like to have a quick turnover in filling the position so to allow Spangler time to mentor her replacement.

Spangler was hired in October 2012 by then interim superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston to replace long-serving principal Amy Wagner. 

Walk This Way: Wellington Send-Off Marks End of Elementary Experience

Photo: Movin’-on at the Wellington.

It was a special class of students for Wellington Elementary Principal Amy Spangler who she led the fourth-grade students on their final walk out the front door on the last day of school, Wednesday, June 21, also known as “Moving-On” Day.

“Every year we have to say goodbye to our students, but this is the class which I have known since they were in kindergarten,” said Spangler, who arrived to head the school in January 2013. 

“They were in school for half the year, but they were still very young when I first met them,” said Spangler.

“Now they are on their way to [Chenery] Middle School,” said Spangler with a smile.

In what has become an annual event at Belmont, fourth and eighth graders moving into new schools are given an opportunity to have a “final exit” from their current building. At the Wellington, the five classes of fourth graders are led out the school’s front entrance by Spangler and their teachers – Jessica Endres, Aaron Ogilvie, Erin Severy, Steven Tenhor and Christina Westfall – in front of parents and family.

Then if was off to the turf playground for icicles, a last hug, and a photo before a summer long recess. 

“It’s nice to see them one last time as Wellington students,” said Spangler.



This Daye Helps Students, Parents Navigate Safely to School

Photo: Jackie Daye, Wellington’s well-loved crossing guard. 

It may have been a rainy opening of the Belmont school year on Wednesday, Sept. 7, but for Jacqueline Daye, it was nothing but sunny greetings to everyone crossing the roads heading to the Roger Wellington Elementary School on Orchard Street.

A crossing guard employed by the town, the new school year is a return to the corner of Common and Orchard where Daye hold forth.

“Hi Jackie!” said a child, as Daye moves into traffic, halting cars and trucks with her handheld “stop” sign at the ready.

“Good morning! Welcome back, guys!”

“Hello Jackie. How was your summer,” asked a parent.

“It was great. I’m glad to be back.”

Small in stature, Daye’s easy smile and warm disposition can brighten a particularly gloom day before the students enter the classroom. From September to June, in rain, the heat and snow and on those perfect mornings and afternoons that interchange throughout the year, Daye is a constant in the Wellington community.

“I never miss a day of work,” she said. “My doctor said not to.”

For Daye, the best part of the job is “meeting the kids and the families who are excellent.”

“I meet a lot of people because of this job,” she said.

“I’m well loved around here,” Daye commented, with a big laugh.

And, joking aside, she is.

“Jackie is just about the most amazing crossing guard ever. She’s the best,” said Stacey Conroy, treking though the rain with her children.

“She remembers everybody, she welcomes us everyday. We’d be lost without her,” said the Bay State Road resident. 

Daye is one of 16 crossing guards hired and supervised by the Belmont Police who work approximately 15 hours a week allowing students, parents and residents to make their way safely across some of the busiest streets in town.

And when Daye moves out into the roadway, it’s all business. Hands outstretched, she looks at the traffic and stops it with a flash of her stop sign. On this first day, a vehicle heading down Common to Belmont Center had inched over into the crosswalk, eager – maybe too eager – to continue his commute, using his horn in an attempt to persuade Daye to let him through.

Daye would have none of that conduct, keeping her arm outstretched with her “stop” sign in the driver’s direction accompanied with a stern look. He didn’t honk a second time.

“Ugh! Can you believe that?” a parent told Daye, who just shook her head.

“Let’s all be safe,” said Daye, then her smile returned as she waves back at a student who called out, “Hi Jackie!”

IMG_5401 IMG_5410 IMG_5420 IMG_5422 IMG_5423 IMG_5424 IMG_5430 IMG_5434 IMG_5437 IMG_5447

A Sunny Walk – With the World – to School

Photo: Wellington teacher Colleen McBride walking with a student on International Walk to School Day, Oct. 7.

“Where’s our cow?” asked second-grade teacher Colleen McBride, as she greeted the almost two dozen students and parents who were joining her for a walk to Belmont’s Wellington Elementary School on a fresh Wednesday morning, Oct. 7.

Whatever the reason, Moozy the Cow – the mascot of Moozy’s Ice Cream on Trapelo Road – never showed up so didn’t get the chance to join McBride, Belmont District Superintendent John Phelan, students and parents as they marched smartly down Common Street as part of International Walk to School Day.

Beginning in 1997, International Walk to School Day is a global event that involves communities from more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day with the goal of beginning an worldwide movement for year-round safe routes to schools for walkers and bike riders. 

This year, the Wellington walk was one of nearly 4,600 Walk to School events around the world on Oct. 7.

McBride has some experience walking to school, traveling four miles each way on foot to a village school building when she lived in Keyna working for an NGO.

“I think that getting movement in every day is vital to success in school, so I think this is great,” said McBride.

Soon, McBride’s group merged with one headed by Wellington Principal Amy Spangler and the wave of participants made it to the school where the students – refreshed and energized – were given stickers, wrist bracelets and key chains.

The cow, alas, was never found.

Taking the Happy (and Scary) Walk from Elementary to Middle School

Photo: Students during Wellington Elementary’s final walk for its 4th graders on the final day of school, Tuesday, June 22.

Sitting on the turf field outside the entrance to the Roger Wellington Elementary School on a muggy, warm last day of school, fourth-grade teacher Jessica Endres was holding court one final time with her 24 students.

“Don’t forget to come back to visit me because I’ll miss each one of you,” she told her class.

Then, with a final good-bye, Endres saw her elementary student become official middle schoolers.

“We had a great year, and it’s sad that it’s coming to an end,” she said between receiving hugs and bouquets. “They were an excellent class.”

In what has become an annual event at Belmont, students moving into new schools are given an opportunity to have a “final exit” from their current building. At the Wellington, the four classes of fourth graders are led out the school’s front entrance by Principal Amy Spangler and their teachers – Endres, Samantha McCabe, Steven Tenhor and Christina Westfall – in front of parents and family.

It’s an emotional day, for sure,” said Spangler, as the students either briskly hurried down the sidewalk or spent the time waving, saluting, dancing or blowing kisses.

“Today our kids are mixed with emotion, excited about Middle School and they’re also terrified about Middle School,” she said.

In preparation for their big move, the fourth graders spent a day at the Chenery where they were allowed them to ask any question “which is super helpful because then [Chenery Middle School Principal] Kristen [St. George] and her team can prepare the kids with real frank answers.”

As she said farewell to students she had been with for four or five years, Spangler said the end of term is always bittersweet but especially with those leaving for the final time.

“Whether it was an easy class or a challenging one, at the end of the year you know we accomplished something, they accomplished something, and we’ll miss them,” Spangler said.

“They grow on you. They’re our babies.”