By Melissa Domingo
As the school year begins to wind down, Summit Shasta also begins to announce changes and turnovers in the staff: Wren Maletsky, the Executive Director, will be taking a short leave, and Adelaide Giornelli, the Dean of Culture and Instruction will be stepping down and not returning this coming school year. Chelsea Watts, current AP Literature teacher, will be stepping up and will be taking the dean position.
Ms. Maletsky will also be taking a short break throughout the summer because she will be on maternity leave. She expects to return by the start of the school year. While she is on leave, Ms. Petrash will be the acting director, and she’s “gonna continue to work with Ms. Chavez, and Ms. Giornelli to lead the school.”
“Ms. Petrash and I are the co-leaders of the school, and so, because we lead the school together, when I’m stepping away, she by default becomes the person in charge of the school,” Ms. Maletsky said. Through planning in advance, Assistant Executive Director Ms. Petrash, Dean of Operations Ms. Chavez, and Dean of Culture and Instruction Ms. Giornelli will have responsibilities split up among the three of them.
Ms. Maletsky said that she had no worries in regards to how the Shasta team will lead the school: “I have, like, complete confidence in the Shasta leadership team and in all the teachers at Shasta.”
Ms. Maletsky also shared that she was anticipating graduation; she said that she was excited to recognize seniors and give out diplomas. She also hoped that students in other grades were able to attain their goal grades and transition into a relaxing summer. “Hopefully, we’ll all get to come back to the Shasta campus in August,” Ms. Maletsky said, “I know the coronavirus situation is still up in the air.”
Though Shasta will be expecting Ms. Maletsky’s return by the start of the new school year, Dean of Culture and Instruction Adelaide Giornelli will not be coming back for the new school year: “I will not be returning to Shasta next year. I have accepted a teaching position at Boston Prep, a charter school in Boston, Massachusetts.”
Ms. G. has worked with Summit for seven years; she was the “founding 9th grade English teacher when Shasta opened in the fall of 2013.” Teaching at Shasta was the first job that she had after completing her teaching program; it’s where she “spent most of my professional career and almost all of my 20s,” she stated in an email response.
Ms. G. said she “appreciated how many opportunities for my own professional development were made available to me through the Summit network.” Ms. G. recounted the years where she was given “a chance for me to learn new skills — leading workshops to train new teachers, taking on the role of a tutor coach, and ultimately to step into an administrative role at a school I had helped start only four years before.”
Ms. G. also shared her appreciation for the support that Ms. Maletsky and Ms. Petrash were able to give her, “The room for growth and exploration helped me stretch myself as a classroom teacher and the awesome leadership of Ms. Maletsky and Ms. Petrash has helped me find projects to work on and take new ideas and run with them.”
Ms. G. shared some of her favorite memories of being part of the Black Bear community: “Watching my mentor group from the Class of 2017 walk onto the stage at their graduation was the proudest moment of my life.” Ms. G. also spoke about how Shasta athletics were always a highlight for her. She shared how proud and happy she was being “in the Shasta cheering section where students are still at school at 9 p.m. on a school night just to cheer on their friends is the best place in the world.”
Ms. G. is also fond of being able to witness ”moment[s] where students just had the ability to be silly and spend time together was great.” She was also proud of being able to “watch students give impassioned speeches about topics they really cared about. It was the best way to cap off their year of learning to use their voice, and it always made me proud to see how much they had grown.”
With Ms. G.’s departure, the Shasta community will be welcoming Ms. Watts as the new Dean of Culture and Instruction. Ms. G. said, “I could never let go of Shasta if I didn’t think it was being left in the best possible hands.”
“Ms. Watts is the perfect person to step in as our Dean of Culture and Instruction,” she said, “She may be the only person in the world who loves Shasta and all of our Black Bears more than I do, and I can’t wait to see how much it continues to grow under her care!”
Ms. G. also shared encouragement for Ms. Watts, “Everything is scary the first time you do it, but nothing about this job is really going to be new for you! You know how to love students, how to hold them accountable, how to coach teachers into excellence, and how to turn a school into a home — just ask your House Watts babies!,” she exclaimed, “I can’t wait to come back and see what you, Wren, and Ava have done with this community. Also, I already placed an order for your inflatable Black Bear costume; it arrives in two weeks!”
There were also some last thoughts that Ms. G. wanted to share with the Shasta community, “All I have left to say is thank you. Whether we were close or if I only ever saw you at lunch or in your classes, you have been like family to me for the last seven years. Seriously, I’ve seen you all more than my own family! Because of each of you, I have grown so much in my time at Shasta, and the best parts of myself I think are things that I learned from you all — how to persevere through challenges, how to find moments of joy every day, and how to really take care of the people around me.”
Ms. G. continued to say, “I’m grateful to have been a part of this Black Bear family for so long, and I cannot wait to see all of the ways it continues to grow. Please stay kind, please stay curious, and please keep taking care of each other!”
As an afterthought, she also said, “I love you! And let me know if you are ever in Boston!”