Seven new school leaders have been hired by Supt. Almi Abeyta this week, with an eye at furthering diversity and inclusion at the top of the ranks in the Chelsea Public Schools – something teachers challenged district leaders on at a School Committee meeting in June.
Abeyta said Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) is proud to welcome a talented and diverse group of leaders to CPS this school year, which will start remotely and hopefully phase into in-person learning later in the term. This year’s leaders come from within CPS and from outside, she said.
“We have worked hard to recruit the brightest and most diverse group of leaders to serve in our schools,” she said. “Our recruiting efforts have drawn candidates from around and outside of Massachusetts to work in our wonderful community of Chelsea. We are excited to welcome such accomplished leaders to our team.”
She said the schools prioritize an inclusive working environment and values the diverse backgrounds and characteristics of all people. As such, a goal of CPS is to diversify District staff, she said, noting that a diverse staff will better reflect the District’s diverse student population. This was something Abeyta said earlier in the summer they were going to work on, and this was the first effort at that.
Of those seven leaders hired, five were people of color. One candidate grew up in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea Public Schools, being promoted from within. Another hire was promoted from within as well. All of the others were from outside of the district, though one hire began her teaching career in Chelsea more than 20 years ago.
The new leaders include:
•Eyal Bergman, Superintendent Resident
Bergman’s background is in community-based work. He started his career in the nonprofit world working with adolescent Latino youth doing after-school programming, gang-prevention work, and community organizing. When he was asked to collaborate with school staff to help strengthen relationships between families and teachers, he quickly realized how much he loved that work. He decided to switch into school-based settings, and most recently he was the founder and director of the school district’s Family & Community Engagement Office in El Cajon, CA (just outside of San Diego). The goal of this work was to support both families and educators to deepen trust with each other so that they could partner as a team in support of students.
His parents and extended family are all from Argentina so he and his brothers grew up speaking Spanish. He has always enjoyed working in the Latino community and that is why he is excited to be in Chelsea. He is now a doctoral student doing his residency in CPS for the 20-21 school year.
•Dr. Tamara Blake-Canty, Literacy and Humanities Coordinator 5-12
Dr. Tamara Blake-Canty served as a principal of an elementary school in the City of Boston and a middle school principal in the City of Cambridge. She has served as a school leader for almost twelve years. Under her leadership she was able to improve an under-performing school to a high performing.
Dr. Blake-Canty worked with Dr. Maria Brisk (Boston College professor and Former Chair of the Lynch School of Education) for over a decade with improving the academic performance of second language learners using Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). They also presented their work at conferences throughout the country.
Dr. Blake-Canty obtained her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has also garnered a CAGS in Urban Leadership from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2008. She holds a master’s degree in Urban Education from Wheelock College in Boston and an undergraduate degree in Child Psychology from Emmanuel College.
•Trelane Clark, Principal, Hooks Elementary School
Trelane Clark has been serving students and teachers in the field of education for just over 23 years. After attaining a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and African American Studies and Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education, Clark embarked on her teaching career in the Boston Public Schools. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to teach students in a variety of public, private, urban, and suburban settings in Virginia, Washington, DC, Boston, and its surrounding areas. Since matriculating from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, Clark has served as an assistant principal for the past nine years. Her professional mission as an educator is to inspire educators to teach from the heart, model resiliency, lead with integrity, value relationships, and ensure equity for students, families, and educators.
•Blanca Restrepo, Principal, Berkowitz Elementary School
Blanca Restrepo immigrated to Chelsea from Colombia at a young age and graduated from Chelsea High School. Restrepo has been working for the Chelsea Public Schools for 26 years. Restrepo attended Boston University and received her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Language and Literature. She began her educational career in Chelsea as a paraprofessional then went on to become a teacher. After having been in the classroom for many years, she went on to pursue her Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Salem State. Upon completion, she was hired as the ELL teacher and then as the Literacy Coach for Hooks Elementary School. In 2017, Restrepo completed a CAGS in administration from the University of Massachusetts- Boston and became the Sokolowski School Assistant Principal.
•Jessica Pepple, Assistant Principal, Browne Middle School
Prior to becoming Assistant Principal at the Browne Middle School, Pepple was the Vice Principal at Prospect Hill Academy’s Upper Elementary Campus, leading teachers around the SEL framework and culturally responsive teaching for grades 4th through 6th. Pepple also served as their math interventionist- helping teachers and students to become more proficient in using critical thinking skills to understand math concepts, while integrating RTI intervention. Two years ago she migrated from Orange County Public Schools, where she spent four years as the district instructional coach for the School Transformation Office, successfully creating a climate focused on student achievement in Central Florida, through designing data tracking tools, standards-based instruction, and curriculum for underperforming schools. Jessica currently holds an Ed.S in Educational Leadership and an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources.
•Camilo Machado, Assistant Principal, Sokolowski Elementary School
Mr. Camilo Machado immigrated from Brazil a little over nine years ago. His interest in education flourished during his time learning English. His experience attending an adult ESL school encouraged Machado to pursue his dream of becoming an educator and serving students that were going through a similar experience. He began his educational career in Chelsea as a paraprofessional in 2015 at the Hooks Elementary School. In 2016, Machado attained a master’s degree in Education with a major in English as a Second Language and joined the Hooks EL Team.
•Jody Klein, Assistant Principal, Kelly Elementary School
Jody Klein is very excited to join Chelsea Public Schools as the Assistant Principal at the Kelly School. Klein is back to where she started her career in education and is thrilled. She taught in Framingham as a 4th grade dual-immersion teacher and has been a teacher and administrator in Newton for 20 years. In Newton, she began a high school literacy program, created a summer program for English learners and taught the SEI administrator courses. Additionally, she teaches in the Brandeis Teacher Leadership Program and mentors teacher leaders.