Art Education

Art Education at HJMS

Art education empowers students to create and respond to art in a supportive environment, emphasizing inquiry, creative thinking skills, experimentation, reflection, care for materials, skill development, self-expression, and collaboration.

LOGO_ArtsoniaClick on the artsonia graphic to go to an online gallery featuring the art of Henry James students.

SIMSBURY ARTS ACADEMY This website is updated often with brand new programs in the arts, many designed for 7th and 8th graders.

Scholastic Art Awards 2019

Congratulations to our Scholastics Art Awards recipients from SHS and HJMS!

Scholastic Art Awards slideshow

Art Department Faculty

Kristie Arbesman

Laurel Archambault

Stephanie Lauretano

English Language Arts

The English program recognizes the diversity of its learners and individual strengths, interests, and abilities of middle school students. Students will read with understanding and respond thoughtfully as they enhance their writing skills. They will understand and appreciate texts from a variety of literary periods and genres. In addition, students will continue to read informational texts to help support their understanding of the historical context of the literature read. Developing skills to read, write, speak, listen, and view texts to construct meaning enables students to become independent, lifelong learners.

Level I English/Language Arts is designed for high achieving students who consistently demonstrate superior ability in written expression, who are highly motivated and consistently responsible, and who have a sincere interest in reading. At this level, students are expected to be independent learners, apply their knowledge, and also manifest the ability to work in collaborative groups. Students must demonstrate evidence of abstract reasoning and higher order thinking skills, including inferential, interpretive, evaluative, and analytical skills.

Level II English/Language Arts is designed to instruct and challenge students in written expression and motivate students to develop a sincere interest in reading. Students develop skills as independent learners, apply knowledge, and work in cooperative groups. Students will continue to develop abstract and higher order thinking skills, including inferential, interpretive, evaluative, and analytical skills, helping them grow into mature and independent learners.

English Language Arts Department Faculty

William Antonitis

Department Supervisor
English, Blue Team

Sean Hogan

English, Green Team

Dawn Medve

English, Yellow Team

Dana Pescatello

English, Red Team

Kelly Reese

English, Orange Team

Allison Young

English, Purple Team

Family and Consumer Sciences

The Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum prepares students to function in an ever-changing world, as they learn how to manage their life and work effectively. Our goal is to assist students in becoming productive, contributing members of society. Through experiential learning, students work in an active, product-oriented setting which develops responsibility, motivation, creativity, interpersonal skills, problem-solving strategies, time saving techniques, and many other life skills. Lab work, projects, and hands-on activities guide learning.

FACS Department Faculty

Sara Garthwait

Sharon Geoghan

Diane Rigby

Department Supervisor

Health Services

Health Services Staff

Margie Esthus

Health Aide

Suzanne Sinacori


Patricia Warner


Library Media Center

LMC Staff

Lisa Anderson

Library Assistant

Peg Grocki


The mathematics courses for grades 7 and 8 are student-centered and are aligned with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards and Connecticut State Framework for Mathematics. Math classes in both grade 7 and 8 incorporate a variety of teaching strategies in order to meet the needs of all students. The objectives are to develop critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills, and to learn how to communicate mathematically.

We offer two levels of math as an additional way of meeting the developmental needs of our students at the middle school level. Placement is based on standardized achievement test results, district assessment performance, classroom performance, and teacher recommendation.

Mathematics Department Faculty

Scott Behringer

Math, Yellow Team

Nicole Criss

Math, Orange Team

Emily Levis

Math, Green Team

Melissa Luke

Department Supervisor
Math, Blue Team

Judy Narvesen

Math Tutor
Special Services, Math

Rebecca Rosenthal

Math, Purple Team

Debra Schott

Math, Red Team

Music Education

The music education program is designed to engage students in a broad depth and breadth of musical experiences. While at Henry James Memorial School all students are required to participate either in band, orchestra, chorus, or music technology. To be a member of the band and orchestra, a student must have prior instrumental experience and in some cases may be required to participate in an audition process.

At Henry James, students have the opportunity to participate in both an instrumental ensemble (band or orchestra) and chorus. Although we will make every effort to accommodate students who would like to participate in two groups, this may not be possible in all cases. If a student selects more than one music choice, the number of days in the individual course will be reduced.


Band 7

The seventh grade band is a continuation of the elementary school band program. Students refine their performance skills, learn to be self-reflective through ensemble critiques and gain an understanding of the diverse nature of the music they perform. To provide small group instruction to musicians, lessons are a required component of the instrumental music program. Lessons occur on a rotating basis to minimize the impact on any one class. Students can be excused from lessons for tests, quizzes, exams, special review sessions or circumstances determined appropriate by the instructor.

Band 8

The 8th grade band builds on the knowledge and skills learned in the 7th grade instrumental program. It offers the students the opportunity for more extensive experience with a wider variety of concert band literature. Students participating in the grade 8 band are prepared for future involvement in the band program at Simsbury High School. To provide small group instruction to musicians, lessons are a required component of the instrumental music program. Lessons occur on a rotating basis to minimize the impact on any one class. Students can be excused from lessons for tests, quizzes, exams, special review sessions or circumstances determined appropriate by the instructor.

Music Department Faculty

Marilyn Cannata


Charlotte D'Aleo


Ryan Ford

Lisa Grant


Richard Griswold


Jason Stammen



Chorus 7

Students enrolled in grade 7 chorus will learn a wide variety of skills, including vocal technique, musical interpretation, and music literacy. Students will develop critical listening skills by analyzing and evaluating their own performances and the performances of others. From the diverse repertoire that is studied, they will gain an understanding of music from varying cultural, historical, and stylistic perspectives.

Chorus 8

The 8th grade chorus program builds on the knowledge and skills that are taught in the 7th grade program. Students participating in 8th grade chorus are prepared for future involvement in the choral program at Simsbury High School.

String Orchestra

String Orchestra

dents refine their performance skills, learn to be self-reflective through ensemble critiques, and gain an understanding of the diverse cultural, historical and stylistic nature of the music they perform. Grade 8 students are prepared for future involvement in the string orchestra program at Simsbury High School. To provide small group instruction to musicians, lessons are a required component of the instrumental music program. Lessons occur on a rotating basis to minimize the impact on any one class. Students can be excused from lessons for tests, quizzes, exams, special review sessions or circumstances determined appropriate by the instructor.

JoAnna Ferrari's Teacher Website (to come)

Orchestra at Henry James Memorial School

Music Technology

Music Technology 1

2 days per cycle

Music Technology 1 blends a student’s knowledge and skills in music with modern technology. Students use keyboards and computers to learn to perform with appropriate keyboard technique, and understand sequencing and multi track recording. They learn to compose and improvise music, build on music literacy skills, learn to critique compositions and performances, and gain an appreciation for the diverse cultural, historical and stylistic music they perform and compose. Unit assignments are modified based on each student’s ability. Prior instruction is not required, but is welcome.

Music Technology 2

2 days per cycle

Music Technology 2 builds on those skills taught in Music Technology 1. Students participating in Music Technology 2 are prepared for future involvement in the music technology program at Simsbury High School.

Physical Education and Wellness

The Physical Education and Wellness program has been created based upon the SHAPE America and National Health Standards.  Through a variety of different units, students will receive instruction that focuses on the core concepts of accessing health information, self-management of healthy behaviors, analyzing internal and external influences, communication skills, decision-making, goal setting, and advocacy. Students receive essential information and skills to make decisions that pertain to their physical, social, emotional, and mental health.  In addition, students participate in lifetime fitness and team-related activities that encourage the HJ Way, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Students are given opportunities to build and expand their skill set to create the foundation for becoming lifelong healthy and active individuals.

Physical Education and Wellness Faculty

Courtney Galotti

Alexus Mazza

Christopher Medve

Amy Muska

K-12 Department Supervisor

Bill Sickinger

Niko Zimmitti

School Counseling

See also School Counseling Department website

The school counseling program is designed to work in conjunction with all school services to provide an environment conducive to helping middle school students achieve success. All seventh and eighth graders are assigned to one of three school counselors for their two years at Henry James Memorial School. Students often have concerns about their transition, schedule, family or friends. The middle school counselors are trained to give assistance on these issues. Students are encouraged to speak to their counselor individually or in small groups as issues arise.

A developmental guidance curriculum is implemented by the counselors throughout the year and is encapsulated in our Student Success Plan (SSP). As part of the SSP, all students will create a Personal Learning Plan with their counselors in both grade 7 and grade 8. Students will set personal, academic, and career goals while exploring their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Topics such as respect, responsibility, goal-setting, tolerance, and problem solving are discussed in both grade 7 and grade 8. Individual groups in transition, divorce, bereavement, stress, anger management and problem solving are held during the year as needed. Students may ask for or be referred by their teachers or parents for these groups.

The school counselors and other support team members (administration, school psychologist and social worker) meet with the teams on a regular basis to discuss student performance and behavioral and social concerns. This process is called "Hands Up" and encourages discussions of all students several times a year. Classroom interventions are suggested that help to ensure that all students experience success. The School Counseling Department organizes and supports programs during the school year, including: Grade 6-7 Transition Programs, Grade 7 Orientation, Leadership Academy, Choice activities, Lunch and Learn, CMT preparation and Grade 8-9 Transition Programs.

The school counselors consult regularly with parents and teachers. Team conferences are arranged either by contacting the student’s team leader or the individual counselor. Appointments may be arranged by calling the school counseling office at 860-651-3341, ext. 2.

School Counseling Department Staff

Alexandra Bond


Christopher Hall


Sarah Maher

Coordinator, (Q-Z)

Vicki Thibault



The science curriculum is designed to develop the students’ natural curiosity about living things and the world around them, to teach students how to discover those answers, and learn that through science, lives and society can be improved.

Throughout the year, students become familiar with problem solving and the scientific method of inquiry. This enables students to design, develop, and carry out their own investigations. Technology (computers, internet, Smartboard presentations and computer simulation programs) is incorporated into the curriculum in a useful and meaningful way, with an emphasis upon science processing skills. Emphasis on understanding science and its place in society (and our everyday lives) helps students realize the value of learning science. The courses also foster the development of good study habits, organizational skills, self-discipline, and responsibility.

Science Department Faculty

Douglas Haddad

Science, Red Team

Jennifer Holzman

Science, Yellow Team

Petra Jaeckle-Baldwin

Science, Green Team

Elaine Kotler

Science, Purple Team

Gregory Kuhr

Department Supervisor
Science, Blue Team

Timothy Walczak

Science, Purple Team

Social Studies

The social studies program is designed to promote an understanding of the world, human interaction, cultural diversity, and cultural heritage. Additionally, the program provides students with the knowledge and understanding of the past and the present in order to predict and plan for the future. At Henry James Memorial School, social studies fosters the recognition of inter-relationships among the sciences and humanities and provides students the necessary understandings to become responsible citizens and communicators.

Social Studies Department Faculty

Allan Amundsen

Department Supervisor
Social Studies, Blue Team

Brenna Ganis

Social Studies, Orange Team

Kelly Lester

Social Studies, Red Team

Kim West

Social Studies, Yellow Team

Lori Worthen

Social Studies, Purple Team

Kenarig Zamgochian

Social Studies, Green Team

Special Education


The Simsbury Public Schools has adopted a Scientific Research-Based Intervention (SRBI) model that includes a three-tiered system of interventions. As students move up the SRBI Pyramid, the intensity of interventions increases, and interventions become more individualized to meet the needs of students who require support.

Special education and related services are provided to students who have been identified under the following disability categories as outlined in federal and state statutes: Learning Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment, Emotional Disturbance, Orthopedic Impairment, Deaf-Blindness, Traumatic Brain Injured, Autism, Other Health Impairment (ADHD, etc.), Intellectual Disability, Multiple Disability.

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed to outline, among other items, the student’s present level of educational performance, annual goals, short-term objectives, special education instructional/related services, and any accommodations/modifications necessary within special and/or regular education classrooms.

At Henry James Memorial School, highly qualified and certified special education teachers instruct students in co-taught environments and on an individual and/or small group basis to assist them in developing academic, social/emotional and/or compensatory skills. A number of special education programs are available for students based on individual need. Students are included in regular academic and elective courses to the fullest extent possible as determined by the Planning and Placement Team (PPT).

Parents having questions about the availability, appropriateness, or adequacy of Special Services Programs for their child should contact the principal or the Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services, at 860-658-3873. A brochure, "A Parent and Student Guide to Special Education in the Simsbury Public Schools," which explains special services and outlines procedural safeguards for parents, is available in each school. A copy may also be obtained from the Department of Special Services. In addition, information on special education services can be found at our website ( by clicking on the "District/Special Services" link.

Special Services Staff

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Jessica Anastasio

Special Education Teacher

Mary Boucher

Reading Coordinator

Martha Brueckner

Special Education Teacher

Maureen Casey

Occupational Therapist

Deborah Cervas

Inclusion Consulting Teacher, System-wide

Catherine Cestone

Speech & Language Pathologist

Cindy Claffey

Family School Counselor

Tracey Goolsby

Special Education Teacher

Erica Heuschkel

Math Tutor

Tracy McConnell

Special Education Teacher

Student Academic Interventions and Support

Tier 1 Intervention through Hands-Up Universal Screening

  • Hands-Up is a planned, focused, and efficient early intervention process
  • Allows for Team teachers, Special Educator on team, counselors, support staff, and administrator to screen, plan, and implement intervention
  • Includes realistic and measurable documentation
  • Identifies educational trends within the team
  • Allows for shared communication home
  • Hands-Up is an invaluable practice at HJMS in identifying students that need support

  • Tier 2 and 3 Interventions

    Student Intervention Team (SIT)

  • The SIT meets weekly and reviews all SIT referrals/cases
  • Referrals are submitted by student’s team in conjunction with the school counselor as part of the Hands-Up process
  • Tier 1 interventions must be implemented and documented in order to bring a student to SIT
  • The SIT will make recommendations for further supports and interventions
  • The SIT will seek information from teachers and staff in order to monitor outcomes

  • HJMS Intervention Programs

    TIER 2 READING is designed to provide students with opportunities to practice, use, and apply a wide range of reading strategies to literature and content-based materials. Through continued teacher modeling and guided practice, students will be able to independently use multiple strategies to improve their understanding of text. Critical thinking and responding to text are emphasized.

    TIER 3 READING Students recommended for Tier 3 Reading will receive an intensive 90-minute reading and language arts intervention designed to improve reading and writing abilities using a research-based program. This comprehensive literacy curriculum targets the needs of struggling readers and accelerates progress toward grade-level proficiency by using a sequential, skill-based instructional format that addresses all learning styles. Students receive direct, explicit instruction in the six important areas of reading and language arts: phonemic awareness and phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and writing.

    English Language (EL) Program

    The primary focus of the Simsbury Public Schools EL program is to ensure that all English Language Learners receive high quality instruction that will result in English language proficiency. Trained EL tutors have been designated to support identified students. EL student support services are determined through the collaboration of the EL tutor, designated Reading teacher, and classroom teachers based on data from the LAS Links testing, as well as state and district assessments. EL student support services at HJMS may include individual/small group instruction with an EL tutor, Tier 2/Tier 3 Reading, Academic Support Center tutoring, and/or classroom modifications monitored by the Reading teacher.

    Academic Support Center (ASC)

    The Academic Support Center (ASC) offers additional support to students who have been identified for the intervention based upon state and district assessments, as well as classroom performance in the areas of language arts, math, and/or content areas. The intervention program provides students with additional practice, reteaching, and opportunities to transfer and apply skills independently. Interventionists deliver focused, research-based instruction and monitor student progress to measure understanding and to adjust instruction. The program also helps students develop study skills, including work completion, organization, planning, note taking, and studying for tests and quizzes.

    Student Success Center (SSC) Afterschool Program

    The SSC provides a supervised afterschool homework completion intervention. Students are recommended by their team or through SIT. The goal of the program is to assist students with completing daily homework assignments. Students receive help in organizing their materials and planning for upcoming assignments. Students are monitored by the SSC staff. A student can be removed from SSC once he/she begins to consistently and successfully complete homework through SSC support, gains academic confidence, and improves grades.

    Technology Education

    Technology education is a meaningful learning experience for all students. All are provided with the knowledge and skills to confidently utilize, create, manage, assess and understand technology. Students develop the skills necessary to become technically literate in today’s ever-changing world. In technology education we emphasize academic, technical and social growth by integrating mathematics, science, humanities and engineering concepts. Through strong vertical articulation, the middle school exploratory program and the high school clusters prepare students for success beyond high school in an advanced technological society.

    Technology Education & Engineering Faculty

    Kurt Dougan


    Bryan Forman

    Paul Smith

    World Languages

    World Language Choices for Grade 7

    The world language program is designed to provide 7th and 8th grade students with opportunities to develop and expand their proficiency in the five language skill areas: speaking, listening, reading, writing, and culture. Students make cross-cultural comparisons and connections to other areas of study as they increase their awareness of the social and cultural values of other societies. Students work collaboratively to communicate in the language on a daily basis and to express themselves in new and fun ways. All students have the opportunity to succeed and are assessed in a variety of formats.

    World language is a required full-year academic subject in both grades 7 and 8. Students have the opportunity to continue with Spanish or enroll in Chinese, French, or Latin as they enter middle school in grade 7. Classes in all four languages continue in grade 8.

    However, depending on enrollments, we may or may not be able to honor each student’s first choice of language. Students will be notified if their first choice becomes unavailable.

    The World Language Connection (Spring 2018 issue) A district-wide World Language department newsletter

    World Language Department Faculty

    Adria Benard


    Marie-Line Bruhl


    Christopher Chan


    Amy Klebart

    Department Supervisor

    Lisa Martocchio


    Laura Tinnirella


    Amy Watts

    School: ext. 832