New Student Services Staff

Dear Parents of MERSD Special Education Students,

We are excited to welcome your children back to school tomorrow.

The District has hired several teachers, counselors, teaching assistants and therapists to replace departing Student Services staff and address changes in student needs and enrollment. The following is a list of new staff members for 2017-2018:

Essex Elementary

Annie Harutunian, Occupational Therapist:  Annie is an experienced occupational therapist and ABA therapist whose prior experiences include positions in the Brookline Public Schools, Integrated Learning Academy in Newton, and Melmark New England.  Annie graduated from St. Michael’s College with a bachelor of science in biology and psychology and completed her master’s degree in occupational therapy at Tufts University.

Lauren Kaye, Teaching Assistant:  Lauren brings experience in public and private special education programs to her new role as a teaching assistant in the SWING program.  Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Endicott College and she is currently working toward her master’s degree in special education from Endicott.

Memorial School

Ruth Amigo, Teaching Assistant:  Ruth returns to MERSD after serving as an elementary teaching assistant in Boxford last year.  A graduate of University of Massachusetts Lowell with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Ruth has previously taught students with disabilities at the Boston Higashi School and Guild for Human Services.

Diane Clarke, Elementary Special Education Tutor:  The District welcomes Diane Clarke as a special education tutor for Memorial School.  Diane holds a master of education degree in special education from Simmons College.  She has previously worked as a special education teacher in Gloucester Public Schools and served as a long-term substitute special education teacher and liaison during Lauren Lyons’s maternity leave last spring.

Debra Patuto, Elementary Special Education Tutor:  Debra officially joins Memorial School after spending last year as a special education tutor for Essex students during Melissa Goldner’s maternity leave.  Prior to working in MERSD, Debra served as an elementary inclusion classroom teacher in Chelmsford and Brookline.  She holds a master’s degree in elementary and special education from Lesley University and a bachelor of science degree in communication disorders from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Rene Puopolo Smith, IRWL Teacher:  Rene Puopolo Smith brings 16 years of experience in education as a special education language based program teacher, school psychologist, and team chairperson to her new role on the IRWL team.  Renee’s background includes positions in Lincoln Public Schools, Barnstable Public Schools, and, most recently, Marblehead Public Schools.  She holds a master of education degree from Endicott College, a master’s degree and certificate of advanced graduate study in school psychology from University of Massachusetts Boston, and a bachelor of arts degree in special education from Boston College.

Meghan Walsh, IRWL Reading Specialist:  Reading specialist Meghan Walsh has spent the majority of her career in Marblehead Public Schools, where she has served as a language based program teacher, reading specialist, teacher trainer, consultant, and, most recently, literacy coordinator and coach for language based programs.  Meghan holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary and special education from Wheelock College and a master of education degree from Simmons College.  She is a certified special education teacher, reading specialist, and Wilson Reading program certified, with additional training and expertise in all Lindamood Bell reading programs, Lively Letters, and RAVE-O reading methodologies.

Middle School

Alexander Elia, SAIL Teacher:  Alex is a talented teacher who has previously worked as our SAIL teaching assistant and REACH instructor for Brookwood School.  He earned his master’s degree in education from Endicott College.    

Alison Foreman, Speech and Language Pathologist :  Alison joins the MERSD as a speech and language pathologist clinical fellow.  She has previously completed clinical internships at the Center for Stuttering Therapy at Boston University, Boston Medical Center, the Ely Center, and Edward Devotion School in Brookline.  Alison completed her master of science in speech and language pathology at Boston University and earned a bachelor of science in communication disorders from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Kathleen Mikulski, Special Education Teaching Fellow:  Kathleen holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Endicott College and licensure in elementary education.  As a master’s student at Endicott College this year, Kathleen is pursuing dual licensure in special education and mathematics.

Karen Muniz, Special Education Reading Tutor:  Karen Muniz is a certified special education teacher with extensive reading training, including Lindamood Bell LIPS and Seeing Stars, Wilson, and Orton Gillingham.  Karen graduated summa cum laude from the Bachelor’s degree program at Salem State University and holds a master’s degree in special education from Fitchburg State University.

Emily Pecora, Special Education Teaching Assistant:  Emily joins the SAIL program after serving as a counselor for the Family Continuity Program in Peabody for four years and working as Director of Operations for a family business.  Emily is a graduate of Boston University, where she earned a bachelor of arts in psychology.

High School

Kimberly Maloney, Special Education Teaching Assistant:  Kim is an experienced teaching assistant who has previously worked as an academic staff member for Coastal Connections and paraprofessional for the Triton Regional School District.  She earned a master’s degree in elementary and special education from Lesley University and bachelor of arts in education from New England College.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, and successful school year.

Allison Collins, Ed.D., Director of Student Services

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