WATERTOWN — The Board of Education, meeting Monday, October 13, congratulated Lori Birtwistle as the 2020-2021 Paraeducator of the Year.

Ms. Birtwistle has been with Watertown Public Schools for 16 years, 11 at Watertown High School.

The education board noted, “She brings a specific skill set to support students within the math and science courses but can also be found working with individual students and small groups to provide academic remediation and practice across all content areas. Ms. Birtwistle knows that learning requires effort, organization, and confidence so she is constantly working to help restart students so that they get the most out of each school day.”

Ms. Birtwistle will represent Watertown Public Schools to be considered for the statewide Anne Marie Murphy Paraeducator of the Year Award.

The Watertown Board of Education also recognized the other seven nominees for the award: Nanette Brodeur, Susan Chowaniec, Gail DeFrancesco, Rose Farrow, Wendy Goodman, Roseanne Mancini and Amy Mordarski.

During the meeting, Superintendent John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D., confirmed that a member of the school community recently tested positive for Covid-19 and anyone considered a close contact has already been notified.

John Trumbull Primary School would reopen on October 14.

On that same day, a committee to consider the Watertown High School mascot would meet for the first time.

Dr. Ramos concluded his report by noting that the Board of Education has moved out of Munson House to the new town hall.

Chair Leslie Crotty said the superintendent search committee met during the first week of October and Mary Broderick, Ed.D., of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Search Services has created a posting for the position, which has been shared with the public.

Applications are due by Friday, November 6.

Ms. Crotty explained the importance of developing a leadership profile for the position, which will be informed by focus groups and an online survey.

She encouraged everyone to participate in these ways, which is accessible on at www.watertownps.org, Twitter, and Facebook.

In other business, the board approved Janelle Wilk to fill the position of board vice chairman, to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Thomas Lambert.

Ms. Crotty said Ms. Wilk joined the board in 2013, representing the board in strategic planning, hearings, and union negotiations.

She was a proponent of full day kindergarten, capital improvement planning, expanding student access to services, and increasing security at every level.

The board also approved Cathie Rinaldi to fill the position of board secretary, which had been held by Ms. Wilk.

Ms. Crotty commented that Ms. Rinaldi has served on the board for five years, advocating for math and science proficiency, discipline strategies, transparent communication, and school security.

She has brought the perspective of a teacher to her board responsibilities. 

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