Registration Now Open for Scharfman Memorial Run

Photo: A scene from last year’s Dan Scharfman road race.

Runners and residents can now register for the Foundation for Belmont Educations third annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Run being held on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. at Belmont High School’s Harris Field, 221 Concord Ave.

What is now a fall staple on the road running calendar, this family-friendly event offers a 5k and a 2k course that takes runners through a scenic route past many of the town’s schools as well as the Payson Park Reservoir and Clay Pit Pond. Awards follow each race’s end, including prizes for children of all ages.

The race is held in memorial of Dan Scharfman, a Belmont School Committee member, long-time runner and a dedicated advocate of technology and innovation in education. Last year, more than 500 runners raised $25,000 for the Dan Scharfman Education Innovation Fund in support of the FBE’s Innovative Teaching Initiative, a multi-year, $450,000 program providing teachers with the training resources that support math, science and reading instruction.

Registration for the USATF-certified and sanctioned event is available through the FBE website:

Contact: Amanda Theodoropulos, Foundation for Belmont Education, or call 617-947-4633.


Excellent Educators: Inaugural Set of Belmont’s Outstanding Teachers Honored

Photo: The Foundation for Belmont Education’s “Outstanding Teachers of the Year Awards” (from left) Belmont Superintendent John Phelan, Suzanne Lijek, Audrey Ruddock, Steven Tenhor, Danielle Pandolfo, Ben Ligon, Katharine Caritey and Foundation for Belmont Education President Jamie Shea. 

The six teachers representing each of Belmont’s public schools are different in age and experience, what and who they instruct, and how they arrived at their careers in education. 

The one thing Katharine Caritey, Audrey Ruddock, Steven Tenhor, Danielle Pandolfo, Ben Ligon and Suzanne Lijek do have in common now is being honored as Belmont’s most exceptional educators.

On Thursday night, April 30, at Chenery Middle School, the sextet was recognized by the community at the Foundation for Belmont Education‘s inaugural “Outstanding Teachers of the Year Awards.” 

“It’s so great to shine a nice positive spotlight on teachers,” said Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan, whose experience with a similar awards ceremony in Milton where he was the assistant superintendent sparked the Foundation to start its celebration. 

“When I heard that … I said this is something that we have to do,” said Jamie Shea, president of the Foundation.

Nominated by students, parents and community members, the teachers were recognized for the extraordinary contributions they make every day to their students and the greater community.

“The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates but the great teacher inspires. And I think what we are going to see tonight is teachers that are truly inspiring,” said Hal Tovin, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Belmont Savings Bank, the night’s sponsor which has given more than $40,000 to the FBE. 

With their families, town officials, colleagues and a smattering of the boisterous students they teach, each of the honorees spoke about being a teacher.

Katharine Caritey, Burbank Elementary, Grade 2

Katharine Caritey, Burbank Elementary, Grade 2

“I love being a second grade teachers because of my students, their families and my colleagues,” said Caritey, whose second-grade class from the Burbank Elementary – where she is known for her “unparalleled ability to deeply understand personal styles, personalities and needs … of every single one of her 23 children” – came en masse to cheer for her.

Audrey Ruddock, Butler Elementary, Kindergarten

Audrey Ruddock, Butler Elementary, Kindergarten

“People always asked me why I wanted to be a teacher and teach kindergarten and the only thing I always say is ‘Because I love it,'” said Ruddock, who not only teaches at Butler Elementary, but attended the school as did her three sons.

Steven Tenhor, Wellington Elementary, Grade 4

Steven Tenhor, Wellington Elementary, Grade 4

Called “engaging, understanding, effective and caring,” Wellington School’s fourth grade teacher Tenhor wanted to thank especially “my kids, because you guys are the reason I get up in the morning every day … and makes everything possible.”

Danielle Pandolfo, Winn Brook Elementary, Grade 3

Danielle Pandolfo, Winn Brook Elementary, Grade 3

“When I asked my students at morning meeting what to say tonight, one student said, ‘When in doubt, practice, prepare and then perform’,” said Pandolfo, who teaches third grade at the Winn Brook. She particularly thanked her teaching colleagues, “each one who could be up here” who “pushed me to become a better teacher … I would like to share this award with them, my friends who became family.” 

Ben Ligon, Chenery Middle School, Grade 6 (Math)

Ben Ligon, Chenery Middle School, Grade 6 (Math)

Ligon actually named the 12 fellow educators he worked with since coming to the Chenery 15 years ago to teach 6th-grade math after discovering how much he wanted to teach by speaking at a Career Day event. He said he loved the school community so much, “I married you,” referring to meeting his wife who was then a colleague. “How many people can say they met their spouse in sixth grade, raise your hand?”

Growing up, he said he never wanted to be a teacher seeing his parents, live long educators, always working and caring about students. “Any talent I have in the classroom was nurtured by them,” he said to his mother and father, who wore an “I’m Ben’s Dad” button. 

Suzanne Lijek, Belmont High School, Science (Biology)

Suzanne Lijek, Belmont High School, Science (Biology)

Belmont High School Biology teacher Lijek was in several other careers before noticing how much she loved creating “Science Camps” over the summer vacation for her two daughters and their friends.

The very first teacher to be awarded an “Outstanding Teacher” honor, Lijek said she “wished everyone could do this in their lives, finding a career that really makes you happy, and … share what you love with someone else.”

Excellence: Foundation Honors Inaugural Group of ‘Outstanding’ Belmont Teachers

Photo: Belmont High Biology teacher Suzanne Lijek named one of “Outstanding Teacher of the Year.”

Suzanne Lijek had no idea why Principal Dan Richards had called her down to the main office for a “meeting.” 

The AP Biology teacher at Belmont High School was preparing for the day’s classes when when she headed to the offices at 9 a.m. on April 15. 

It was only when she was ushered into the guidance room did she suspect that something was amiss.

Inside were many of her students, colleagues, Superintendent John Phelan and members of the Foundation for Belmont Education along with flowers, balloons and a certificate.

After a few seconds of being surprised, Lijek was informed by FBE President Jamie Shea she was the very first honoree of the foundation’s “Belmont’s Outstanding Teachers of the Year” award. 

The six honorees, from each of Belmont’s public schools, were recognized for their excellence in the classroom and for consistently making a difference in the lives of Belmont’s children. Recipients were nominated by students, parents and community members. 

“Teachers don’t receive the recognition they deserve in many places in the country, so this is a great opportunity for Belmont to tell them how important they are,” Phelan told Lijek and those assembled.

Shea noted that Lijek was the very first recipient of the award that the FBE hopes to make an annual event.

“I’m happy to receive this award because it validates the work all teachers do,” Lijek told the Belmontonian. 

In addition to Lijek, the 2015 honorees – all who were told in person at their schools – are: 

  • Katharine Caritey, Burbank Elementary, Grade 2 
  • Audrey Ruddock, Butler Elementary, Kindergarten 
  • Steven Tenhor, Wellington Elementary, Grade 4 
  • Danielle Pandolfo, Winn Brook Elementary, Grade 3 
  • Ben Ligon, Chenery Middle School, Grade 6 (Math) 

The ceremony to honor Belmont’s Outstanding Teachers of the Year award winners will be held on April 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School. The award celebration, sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank, is open to the public. 

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Limited Tickets Remain For Foundation for Belmont Education’s Spring Fling

Photo: The highly entertaining Neal Fay will be this year’s auctioneer at the Foundation for Belmont Education’s 16th annual Spring Dinner.

Don’t be left out in the snow: a limited number of tickets are still available to the Foundation for Belmont Education’s 16th annual Spring Dinner set for Saturday, March 21.

And it would be wise to get those tickets soon as the price of tickets will increases March 2, from $125 to $150.  

You can obtain tickets here.

“Mad for Education” is this year’s theme for a night of dinner, dancing and a fast-paced auction led by Neal J. Fay.

The event takes place at the Belmont Hill School from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information, e-mail the FBE at

Tickets Now On Sale for Foundation for Belmont Education’s Spring Dinner

The social event of the year in Belmont is just around the corner as tickets are on sale for the Foundation for Belmont Education’s 16th annual Spring Dinner set for Saturday, March 21, the first day of spring.

You can obtain tickets here.

“Mad for Education” is this year’s theme for a night of dinner, dancing and a fast paced auction led by Neal J. Fay.

The event takes place at the Belmont Hill School from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Early bird tickets can be purchased until March 2. It’s advisable for anyone thinking of attending to obtain their tickets early since for the past five years, the event has been sold out before the early reply date.

For more information, email the FBE at

Cityside Subaru ‘Shares the Love’ with Foundation for Belmont Education

Belmont’s Cityside Subaru has selected the Foundation for Belmont Education as its first local non-profit organization to benefit from the Subaru “Share the Love” fundraiser, a national initiative by the car manufacturer that has donated more than $25 million to local charities across the U.S. during the past four years.

Under the program, consumers who purchase or lease a new vehicle can select the Foundation as their charity of choice, and Subaru will donate $250 to the foundation, which supports educational excellence and enrichment in the Belmont public schools. The “Share the Love” event began Friday, Nov. 20 and runs through Friday, Jan. 2, 2015.

The FBE is one of five charities that area residents can choose to give to and the only local option; the remaining four are national charities selected by the car manufacturer.

Subaru is aiming to raise $10 million this year for charities across the U.S., double last year’s donation. Over the past four years, the Share the Love program has raised $25 million. Cityside Subaru has contributed approximately $260,000 to that effort.

“We are excited to be able to provide local residents with an opportunity to directly give back to their community through Subaru’s Share the Love program,” said Rick White, Cityside’s general manager and co-owner. “We are proud to be part of the Belmont community, and are pleased that through this innovative fundraising initiative we can show our support of its fantastic school system.”

In partnership with the Belmont Public School system, the Foundation for Belmont Education supports the community’s interest in ensuring that educators and students alike are given the best tools, technology and training that foster innovation and love of learning. The FBE’s partnership with Cityside Subaru is reflective of how the Belmont community is coming together to support innovative curriculum enrichment across the school system.

Named Subaru Dealer of the Year in 2010 by, Cityside Subaru is located at 790 Pleasant St. (Rt 60).

Painting the Town Scary: Belmont Center a Window to Halloween

Maeve Miller, 10, decided to take a different tact on just what to paint on the large window at Starbucks in Belmont Center.

“It’s a monster cake,” said the Belmont resident as she slowly applied green paint onto the glass while amused patrons sat inside with their coffees. The resulting art work produced a Frankenstein-type monster with a squiggly mouth at the base of a frightening pastry.

All day Saturday, Oct. 25, Belmont Center businesses up and down Leonard Street saw their windows transformed into pumpkin patches, ghostly havens and other scenes of specters and ghouls during the second annual Belmont Center Halloween Window Painting Contest.

Kids from second to eight grade – with parents in tow – paid for the privilege to express their scary vision of Halloween on the town’s main drag. Unlike the first contest that took place on a cold and dank fall morning, this Saturday was warm – maybe a bit too warm as windows on the sunny side of the street began flaking under the cloudless sky – and allowed many strollers to come out to see the kid’s artistic prowess.

Halloween-season window painting has a long tradition in other towns – several of Newton’s villages have participated for the past 15 years – and was brought to Belmont with the help of the owners of A Chocolate Dream.

Sponsored by the Belmont Center Business Association, the event’s proceeds were donated to the Foundation for Belmont Education.

Scary Businesses at Belmont’s Second Halloween Window Painting Contest

Leonard Street businesses will have their windows transformed into pumpkin patches, witch covens and scenes of specters and ghouls as the second annual Belmont Center Halloween Window Painting Contest will be held on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The contest is open to artists in second to eighth grades.

Sponsored by the Belmont Center Business Association, the event’s proceeds are being donated to the Foundation for Belmont Education.

Rain date Sunday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Register at: A Chocolate Dream, 68 Leonard St., 617-484-4119.

Register before 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, the fee is $10 per child per window After the deadline, the fee is $15 per child per window. Checks can be made payable to: BCBA or cash

Window Painting Contest Rules:page1image10232 page1image10392

  • Each artist will be assigned a 20″ x 36″ space on the outside of a merchants window in Belmont Center.
  • Sill, wall, and sidewalk areas below window MUST be covered and taped with newspaper.
  • Each artist supplies his or her own tempera (NOT ACRYLIC) paints, brushes, newspaper, rags, and masking tape. All work needs to be done freehand and have a “Halloween” theme.
  • Official rules and regulations will be given out when you register and must be followed closely to avoid disqualification.
  • Windows will be painted on Saturday, October 25th, any time between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. all work must be finished by 3 p.m.
  • The rain date for painting will be Sunday, October 26, 9am – 3pm. You will receive an email by 8am on Saturday, Oct. 25 if the event will be postponed because of weather-related conditions.
  • Windows are assigned on a first come, first served basis. One window will be assigned to each participant. Due to the popularity of this event, we cannot honor requests for specific windows.
  • Prizes will be awarded for each grade.
  • Winners will be notified by e-mail.

Members of the Belmont Center Business Association: Alchemy, A Chocolate Dream, Bells and Whistles, Belmont Citizens Forum, Belmont Dramatic Club, Belmont Farmer’s Market, Belmont Historical Society, Belmont Orthodontics, Belmont Savings Bank, Bessie Blue, Brugger’s Bagels, Cambridge Savings Bank, Champions, Coldwell Banker, East Boston Savings Bank, Hammond Real Estate, Henry Frost Children’s Program, Ingram, Rettig & Beaty, Inc., Irresistibles, Kashish, Lawndale Realty, Leon & Company, Nicks, Paprika Kids, Patou Thai, Pilates, Ponte & Chau Consulting, Inc., Rancatore’s Ice Cream, Refresh Therapeutic Massage, Revolve, Robert’s Salon, Rotary Club of Belmont, Subway, Thirty Petals,The Toy Shop of Belmont.


‘I Ran the Dan’: Second Scharfman Memorial Run Tops First

There were parents who could run very fast and teachers who are strictly middle of the pack, youngsters who could out race most adults and a pair of superheroes – those would be The Mighty Thor (Ed Chen) and Captain America (Mike Worthington) – all who came to Belmont High School’s Harris Field on Sunday to race either over five kilometers and a flat mile.

The racers also brought a great deal of heart as more than 700 runners – both fast and not so fast – participated in the second annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Run 5K on a brilliant autumn morning, Oct. 5.

“We even had more people come out than last year that is fantastic and the day is gorgeous, so it was perfect running weather. We’re thrilled,” said Jamie Shea, president of the Foundation for Belmont Education.

The race is held to raise money – with the hope to top $20,000 from this year’s race – for the foundation’s education innovation fund, the goal of the man for which the race is named.

Dan Scharfman was a school committee member and a long-time supporter of education and the performing arts who sought to bring technology into the classrooms by teaching Belmont educators “the tools and the practices that they need in order to bring innovative techniques into the classroom,” said Shea.

After his untimely death from a heart attack in Jan. 2013, the FBE decided to hold a road race in Scharfman’s memory – Dan was a dedicated ultra-distance runner – with the aim to assist in the foundation’s four-year, $450,000 Innovation Teaching Initiative campaign. This spring, the foundation funded $50,000 for professional development in all grades and curriculum.

For Iris Ponte, leading the four-member Henry Frost Children’s Program team, the race was to remember “Dan, who was an awesome guy.” She can recall when she was a lifeguard at the Underwood Pool, “we would keep the pool open for him so at the end of his big runs he would come flying into the deep end almost every evening.”

“The town has not been the same without him,” said Ponte.

It’s that sort of memory that Rachel Scharfman hopes the annual race will rekindle each year it’s run. Rachel – who with her brother, Jacob (who also sang the National Anthem), aunt and mother, Muriel Kummer, participated in the race – recalls her father being a community leader, runner, friend and, now, an inspiration.

“His biggest passions are combined today in this one event,” she said.

“I know once a year, this town will gather to support the Dan Scharfman Education Innovation Fund. We’ll come together not to mourn but to carry forward Dan’s great loves; running and education.”

Moved up from November to October, this year’s race would be competing with nearly 30 established road races in the crowded fall running calendar. In addition, several long-standing charity events were taking place in Boston and surrounding communities. But came they did, in greater numbers than the first race.

With the help from the Belmont High School Volleyball team – which was spread around the course as marshals and timekeepers – and a hoard of volunteers, the race was successfully completed under a bright warm sun on the cool fall morning.

Racers climbed from Harris Field to the Payson Park Res before starting back down Goden Street before taking a lap around Clay Pit Pond and returning to Harris. The one-milers sped around the “Pit” before sprinting home.

Along the route, the runners passed four of Belmont’s six public schools in another tribute to Scharfman.

As for the winners, Chris Leitz of Watertown (in 17:26.1) took first followed by Belmontian’s Joe Shaw and Belmont High senior cross country captain Ari Silverfine. Rachel Henke of Cambridge (20:15.9) was the top woman with Belmont teacher Sara Saba-Sher second and Christy Lawrence third. In the one mile, Chris Burge broke six minutes by a hair in 5:59.4 followed by Shea Brams in 6:10.4.

“It feels great to finish in the top three,” said Silverfine, just as the race announcer urged all the runners to tell their friends “I ran the Dan!”

“But this is real special because I know the Scharfman family and Dan was a great man.”

Second Sharfman Memorial Run for Education Set for Oct. 5

Rather than chance a run through a snow storm, the organizers of the second annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Run have moved up the date of the 5 kilometer race by a bit over a month to allow runners and walkers an enjoyable way of spending an early fall Sunday.

In fact, said race co-director Charlie Conroy speaking before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, June 9, the race’s new date of Sunday, Oct. 5, was nearer to the date the organizers wanted to stage the run/walk in memory of Belmont School Committee member Dan Scharfman. But due to a great deal of community activity in completing the new Joey’s Park adjacent to the Winn Brook School that took place over the holiday weekend last year, the inaugural race took place on Sunday, Nov. 17 under dark clouds.Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.45.24 PM

This year, the race will take place at Harris Field on Sunday, Oct. 5 with the 5K race beginning at 9:30 a.m. and the 1 mile walk at 10:45 a.m.

Runners will take off from Harris Field and then up the hill on School to Payson then back down on Oakley and Goden before going once-around Clay Pit Pond before finishing at the field, passing the Burbank, Chenery and Wellington schools in honor of Scharfman.

 The proceeds from the races fund the Dan Scharfman Education Innovative Fund for the Foundation for Belmont Education’s Innovative Teaching Initiative. This initiative combines two of Dan’s passions and education priorities: professional development for teachers and school technology.