Tag Archive | "Sean Kelly"

Pierson Eases Into the Tech Revolution

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Technology is ever evolving. From smart phones to laptops to netbooks, it has pervaded every aspect of our lives, including the classroom. But Pierson teacher Sean Kelly believes this trend will make school lessons more efficient and interactive. Kelly is trained as a history teacher but will spend the majority of his time this year acting as technology coordinator for Sag Harbor teachers.

In the first few weeks of school, Kelly has spent much of his time acclimating teachers to their new Toshiba laptops, introducing them to the nuances of certain software and hardware, and helping them use LCD projectors and SMART boards in the classroom, in addition to teaching two history courses. For Kelly, technology should heighten students’ educational experiences and facilitate educators’ ability to clearly convey a lesson.

“I need to make sure the teachers have all the necessary skills with hardware and software so that technology isn’t an obstacle or a burden,” said Kelly during an interview in his Pierson office with three computers resting on his desk.

In fact, contends Kelly, technology will make teaching easier and more efficient. He explains that with an LCD projector, which can be connected to a computer, teachers can project the screen from their laptops onto a screen in the classroom. The teacher no longer needs to print out and distribute packets, and can instead simply email a presentation to the student.

For the teacher who loves to roam the room and doesn’t want to be positioned next to the SMART board during a class, Kelly whipped out an AirLiner, an interactive slate that works with the SMART board, from atop his desk. The AirLiner allows teachers to interact with the SMART board remotely. They can stand at the back of the classroom and will still be able to manipulate the SMART board.

“We are encouraging faculty members to become active learners,” said Kelly. “It is gratifying to me to help my colleagues with what could potentially be very frustrating.”

The second aspect of his new title, and the one Kelly is most excited about, is integrating technology into the curriculum. As of yet, Kelly has had only a few opportunities to explore this side of the position.

“We have such a stockpile of teacher talent here . . . and I get to work with them to help demonstrate their skills through technology,” added Kelly.

Recently, one teacher came up to Kelly asking for help with a lesson on Pakistan. The educator wanted to illustrate the geography of the country to his students. Kelly showed the teacher how to use Google Earth to show a 3-D representation of the terrain and interlinked the interface with relevant websites. As the year progresses, Kelly is looking forward to spending his time on projects of this ilk.

Although technology is embedding itself into the educational setting at a heightened speed, Kelly believes the pedagogy of teaching will remain the same.

“Back when they had chalk on a slate I guess they thought everyone didn’t need ink and pen . . . Ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought that we needed to be hooked up to the Internet. Education has always done a fairly good job at keeping up with the technology of the time. Maybe it is happening at a faster pace, but through technology there is a reiteration of the same philosophical goals of teaching,” said Kelly, who graduated from Pierson. “The teachers I had, they were good teacher back then and they are the same good teachers now.”

Student Teachers: Pierson Grads Come Home to Teach

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Pierson alumni, and current teacher, Sean Kelly was just 14-years-old when his family moved to Sag Harbor from a rural, landlocked town in Ireland. Although, his new home and old stomping grounds were separated by thousands of miles, Kelly says both shared a tight-knit community. This close sensibility allowed Kelly to flourish at Pierson High School and he was soon playing on sports teams and garnering a stellar academic record. Kelly graduated in 1999 and went on to earn a Bachelors degree at Harvard University, but soon returned to Pierson to teach social studies.

Above: Government and Economics Teacher Dr. Jon Baer. 

 When Kelly became a member of the high school faculty, he joined dozens of former alumni who currently work for the district as educators, administrators, custodians, kitchen help and school board members. Of the nearly 40 alumni who work for the district in some capacity, many of them say they were drawn to Sag Harbor because of the close-knit school community.

Above: Social Studies Teacher Sean Kelly, then and now. 

 “I feel very blessed to work for the school. I always knew that I wanted to invest my life in Sag Harbor because of the location and the community,” said Kate Berkoski, a fellow 1999 Pierson graduate and current fifth grade teacher. “Every teacher I had from kindergarten through sixth grade is still working at the school.”

 “The teachers really try to do something more than educate. They try to give students an experience,” continued Berkoski, referencing programs such as the annual fifth grade Wax Museum and the recent Ellis Island project where children mimicked the journey of turn of the century immigrants.

 Dr. Jon Baer, Pierson’s government and economics teacher and a member of the class of 1963, fondly recalls how his English teacher, Helen Muller, inspired him to pursue a degree in education. Dr. Baer, however, pursued this career later in life after spending years in the army, earning masters degrees in education and political science, a doctorate in political science and working for the local radio station WLNG until 2000.

 “It was kind of my dream to teach English because of my teachers from Pierson,” contended Dr. Baer. “The school is very cozy and friendly.”

 Although Dr. Baer fostered close relationships with a few select teachers, he says on the whole, teacher and student dynamics were more formal in the past, which is noticeably different today.

 “[Now] teachers can joke around with their students. There isn’t that barrier and I think it is that sense of community [between teacher and student] that leads to less drugs and violence in our schools,” opined Dr. Baer.

 Closer ties between the faculty and students is one change of many, adds Dr.  Baer, compared to his experiences at Pierson. Academically, Dr. Baer says the school focused on business and career training electives in the 1960s. During this time, Pierson offered classes in accounting, bookkeeping and typing. Current Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher Bethany Deyermond, who graduated in 1971, remembers learning to balance her checkbook in one class.

 According to Dr. Baer, vocational oriented courses, such as electrical shop classes, were mainly dominated by male students, while woman traditionally attended the home economics and typing classes.  


 When Terri Federico graduated from Pierson in 1983, the school was just beginning to offer special education courses and the school provided students with little help when applying to colleges.

 “They now make it easier to apply,” said Federico, who added that when she was in school Advanced Placement programs weren’t offered.

 “Many more kids go to college now than before,” said Dr. Baer.

 In addition to better preparedness for college, Kelly added that the school now offers a more diverse curriculum and elective course offerings.

 “I look at what the kids have available to them now with a certain amount of envy. They have all of these amazing extra curriculars, facilities, science labs and the library. There is such a variety of classes. There is an outlet for any individual skill — like sports, art, drama. Each individual can find a way to show their talent. I wish I had had that diverse experience, though my experience was amazing,” opined Kelly.

 Kelly says the small class size also gives the school the feel of a private institution, with which Frank Atkinson-Barnes, a social studies teacher who taught at several boarding and private schools before starting at Pierson, agreed. Several of the teachers reported that the number of Pierson students has remained relatively stable throughout the years.

 Although each alumni turned teacher fondly recalls their Pierson experiences, few expected to end up teaching in the district where they grew up. Atkinson-Barnes says he applied to schools very far from Pierson and attended college in Virginia.

 “When I left to go away to college, I don’t think I ever thought I would come back to Sag Harbor,” remembered Deyermond, though life had other plans for her. After attending college in Pennsylvania and Vermont, Deyermond transferred to Southampton College to finish out her studies and to be closer to her future husband Ed Deyermond, now a village trustee and Southampton Town Assessor.

 Others, like Federico and Berkoski, always had an inkling that their paths would lead them back to the village. Federico didn’t stray far and completed the bulk of her studies at C.W. Post and Southampton College. Although, Berkoski attended college in North Carolina, she ended up returning home shortly after graduation.

 Though teaching in the Sag Harbor school district was an unexpected turn of events for several Pierson graduates, many of them say they feel lucky to work for the school.

 “Pierson educates its students to a high enough level that the school wants them to come back,” said Kelly. “For those of us who came back, Pierson treated us so well and our experiences were so amazing that we wanted to come back.”


Teachers Play for a Purpose

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By day, they are schoolteachers but by night, two from the Sag Harbor school district play in an alternative rock band.

A pair of teachers in the Sag Harbor School District will be performing in their band, Wiggleboy, at Fiddler’s Cove on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton this Friday, February 13, to raise money for the Sag Harbor Food Pantry.

Dr. Robert Schumacher, a chemistry teacher at Pierson, decided to re-form his college band, after talking to acquaintance and owner of Fiddler’s Cove, Bob Demeri, who also offered his venue for the show.

Since re-forming Wiggleboy last August, the three-member band has always played for a good cause. Schumacher plays drums, with his brother Rich who plays guitar and co-worker, Sean Kelly on bass guitar. 

The band performed a few times last year together and over Thanksgiving, put on a show to benefit a young woman — an East Hampton High School graduate — who had cancer. 

The Teacher’s Association of Sag Harbor, TASH, had been planning a benefit for the food pantry because they learned that the food bank was low. When Schumacher heard, he offered to play at the event to maximize the money that could be raised for the pantry. 

“We recently did a food drive for the pantry at the school, but we wanted to be able to give them cash,” Schumacher said.

In 1992, when the band was formed, Schumacher was at the University of Hawaii. He played the drums and his brother, Rich, played guitar, while they took turns with vocals. The band has been defunct for 10 years, because each of the original members had their own agendas.

Schumacher recalled last year, when he learned that Pierson high school Social Studies teacher, Kelly was talented with a bass guitar and when Demeri, suggested that the band have a “reunion tour” and perform again.

It wasn’t long after when Schumacher and his brother Rich, practiced with Kelly and were able to perform their first show.

“We clicked so nicely,” Schumacher said.

Next weekend, the band will be playing purely for a 21 and over crowd at Fiddlers Cove for a $5 cover charge, which will go to the Sag Harbor Food Pantry. Schumacher said that a portion of the bar sales will also go to the Pantry as well as all of the bartender’s tips.

Joe Bartolotto, Pierson art teacher, has been known to play along with the band  and is expected to participate on four or five songs.

On Friday, other teachers and faculty will be asked to sing along with Wiggleboy during their show. And Schumacher’s other brother, Frank, will also play a few songs with the band “that’s three Schumachers if your counting,” said Robert. 

Wiggleboy plays a mix of alternative music from bands like Coldplay, The Clash, Green Day, Nirvana,  Counting Crows among many others.

“We play cover songs from six different decades,” Kelly said on Tuesday.

There would also be a 50-50 raffle, which will benefit the food pantry.

The event will begin at 3:30 p.m. and go until 8 p.m. TASH has given $200 to go towards small appetizers and other tapas menu items for the event.

Fiddler’s Cove is located at 367 Three Mile Harbor Rd in East Hampton.