Changes at Hollymead

Dear Hollymead Families,

Every year we see changes in staff and organization of our school.  This year is no different.  We embrace changes as they help us to gain new perspective and allow for professional and personal growth.

Kindergarten:  As many of you already know, Mrs. Dixon retired at the end of last year after spending 30 years at Hollymead.  We will miss her experience and expertise.  The kindergarten team this year will be Beth Kohler, Joanne Kohlmann, Glenn Bernhardt and Susan Peck.  Susan has been eager to teach kindergarten.

First Grade: Angel Feero who was on maternity leave second semester has decided to be a full time mother for a while.  I am sure that sometime in the future we’ll be welcoming her back to Hollymead.  The first grade team this year will be Julie Lindenbaum, Maria Ellis, Whitney Hinnant and Emily Ann Throckmorton.  Ms. Throckmorton is joining us as a new teacher from JMU.

Second Grade:  Many of you might not know that Patti Shifflett accepted a position as an Instruction Coach for the 2015-2016 school year.  We wish her the best in her new role in Albemarle County Public Schools.  The second grade team will be Cindy Groeber-Fard, Lauren Santana, Leslie Anderson and Hollyday Marks.  Ms. Marks was a kindergarten teacher at Stone-Robinson last year, but has experience in second grade as well.

Third Grade:  Last year third grade was a three member team, but is four this year.  The team will be Claire Neill, Kristin Kress, Sarah LaPrade and Cindy Hersman.  Sarah LaPrade is returning to Hollymead after a year as an Instructional Coach.  Ms. Hersman was a long term substitute last year in special education and first grade.

Fourth Grade:  This is the only team at Hollymead unchanged from last year!  The team will be Jeff Matriccino, Terry Gallagher, Becky Brown and Sarah Parsley.

Fifth Grade:  At this point 5th grade is a 3 teacher team this year (this could change).  The team will be Jonathan Whitehead, Kim Blevins and Anna Snyder.

Physical Education:  Due to enrollment we are adding a part time PE teacher.  Luke Noble will be spending afternoons at Hollymead after teaching at Woodbrook in the mornings.  The PE team is Barbara Rosen, Jack Carroll and Luke Noble.

Gifted Resource Teacher:  As most of you know, Jacqui Cecalupo retired at the end of last year.  Lisa King, formerly fifth grade teacher, is stepping into this role.

Office:  Also due to enrollment increases we have some additional help in the front office.  Diane Symmes, will be a part member of the office staff.  Some families who’ve been around for a while might remember Diane from before the redistricting to Baker-Butler 4 years ago.  For the last couple of years she has been substituting in the office as well.  We are thankful for the experience and knowledge she brings with her.

In the next post, you’ll find short biographies and pictures of new additions to Hollymead.

The first day of school is only 13 days away.  Enjoy the last days of summer.

Your partner in education,

Nancy Teel, Prinicpal



Parent Portal and Classroom Placement

Dear Hollymead Families,

Welcome to the new school year!  This is such a busy and exciting time for all of us.  Please read the information below regarding Parent Portal.

What: Parent Portal is your source for student information regarding attendance, lunch account balances, grades, and teacher comments and all ACPS schools are now using it. Parent Portal will also be the main way we will communicate home room teacher assignments this year. Many of you may already be familiar with Parent Portal as it has been used in all of our middle and high schools for several years.

Why: Albemarle County Public Schools is committed to sharing information with parents and families in an effective and efficient manner. We also are working to be a “paper light” organization and this is one way that we can meet both of these objectives. Through your Parent Portal account you will be able to access all attendance information as well as teacher comments, and in the upper grades you can check assignments and scores. Additionally you can use this platform to email teachers.

How: If you already have your Access Key for your Hollymead student(s) then you simply need to log on to access information. If you do not yet have the Access Key for one or more Hollymead students you will need to get your Parent Portal Access Key by coming to school during office hours (7:30-3:30) prior to August 13th. This information may only be given in person as you will need to sign that you have received it. We are not permitted to provide it over the phone or in any other way. After receiving your Access Key you will have access to Parent Portal through many platforms including computers, smart phones, and tablets.

If you have any questions please contact the school at 434 973-8301.

Your partner is education,

Nancy Teel, Principal

Hollymead Elementary School

Great First Week of School

August 22, 2014

Dear Hollymead Families,

It has been a wonderful 3 days of school and I’m sure the next 177 will also be great!  I’m always amazed that by 8:30 on the first day of school the halls are quiet and there is a busy hum in all the classrooms.  Ms. England and I have made short visits to all the classrooms this week and have seen lots of great learning. Of course we will continue classroom visits throughout the year.  We have also seen lots of happy families helping their children adjust to the new school year. Thank you for that and for helping them become more independent now that school is underway. It is wonderful to see even our kindergarteners overcoming anxiety, happily learning and enjoying new adventures.

Thursday, August 28 is Back to School Night for third to fifth grades from 6:00 to 7:30 in the evening.  Kindergarten to second grade will have Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 9 from 6:00 to 7:30.  Teachers at each grade level will prepare a presentation to inform parents about everything from curriculum to homework and then parents have an opportunity to ask questions.  Please put those important dates on your calendar.

Also, please help us provide the safest environment possible for students and staff.

  1. If you walk your dog to school along with your child, keep your dog on a short leash. Adults should be holding the leash, not children. Do not leave your dog unattended. Some of our children are afraid of dogs and for this reason we encourage you to keep them at a distance.
  2. If there is a dog in your car, we ask you to park and walk your child to the crosswalk in the front of the school. Staff members will not assist students if there is a dog in the car. This is for the safety of our staff. With window tinting we are not always aware of a dog in the vehicle.
  3. Do not get out of your car in the Drop-Off Lane. Children should be seated on the right hand side so we can help them out of the car at the sidewalk.
  4. Do not drop off students in the parking lot because that would require them to cross traffic without an adult. Instead, park and walk your student to the crosswalk or, if possible, use the drop off lane.
  5. Please only cross the street at crosswalks. Our children are watching us and will mimic us.
  6. Drop Off and Pick Up are the only times cars should be in the fire lane. Cars should never be left unattended in the fire lane.

We realize you are entrusting us with the most precious part of your lives.  Thank you. We take this responsibility very seriously.  Please contact me if you have questions, suggestions or concerns.

Your partner in education,

Nancy Teel

Welcome to the 2014 – 2015 School Year


I hope everyone has enjoyed a summer of fun and relaxation.  Here at school we have been busy getting ready for the beginning of school.  We’ve had a busy summer with Summer School, Extended School Year Program, Parks and Recreation Playground Program, Ms. Foster’s Art Camp and Camp for Real.

What is new at Hollymead?  There are a few changes.  As most of you are aware,  Mary Anderson, the music teacher for the last two years, has moved to an Instructional Coach position.  I am excited to introduce you to Sonia Azaravich, the our music teacher.

Sonia Azaravich had been teaching choral and general classroom music at Rockfish River Elementary School in Nelson County for the last four years.  She has also been a part of Music Education Center teaching staff since the fall of 2010, as an instructor of piano, violin, and voice.  Sonia has been playing the piano since she was 9 years old.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Marywood University in Scranton, PA.  Before teaching in Virginia, Sonia taught in Central Pennsylvania as a substitute teacher for two years, and was a long-term substitute elementary music teacher for one full year.  She recently acquired her Master’s Degree in Music Education with certification in Kodaly Methodology from The Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT.  Besides her love of music and teaching, Sonia enjoys running, cooking, gourmet coffee (a.k.a. Dunkin Donuts!) and spending time with her two cats (Java and Spresso). She is currently training for the Steamtown Marathon (26.2 miles!) in October.

Sonia Azaravich

Sarah LaPrade, fifth grade teacher, also moved to an Instructional Coach position.  She has been replaced by Anna Snyder, a  transfer to Hollymead from Greer Elementary School.

Anna Snyder is originally from Norfolk, Virginia and has been teaching for 16 years.  She has taught in Norfolk, Fairfax County and Albemarle.   “I love living here in Charlottesville and enjoy taking advantage of all that this area has to offer, be it hiking, with my dog Oliver, swimming in the surrounding watering holes , working in my garden or spending time with family and friends.  When the weather turns too cold or rainy to enjoy the splendor of the mountains, I can be found enjoying a new book as I am an avid reader. I love teaching students about Virginia History and the events that shaped the Commonwealth. I look forward to getting to know the students and families at Hollymead and I begin this new and exciting adventure.”

Anna Snyder

Also new to Hollymead is Rebekah Saunders. She grew up in Lynchburg in a family of educators.  She spent nine years in Pennsylvania and Ohio, then came to Charlottesville ten years ago to work on my Masters in Reading Education at UVA.  During that time she met her husband, and has worked in Charlottesville City, Greene County, and Albemarle County.  As a Reading Specialist, Rebekah has worked with Kindergarten through fifth grade as a Title 1 teacher, Intervention Specialist, and PALS teacher. Her son is in pre-school and her daughter is starting Kindergarten at Cale this year.   Her family has two yellow labs that enjoy hiking and exploring with them.   Rebekah will be teaching math and reading in third grade.


Some teachers are also changing grade levels.  Pattie Shifflett is moving from first to second grade, Susan Peck, returning after a leave of absence, is moving to third grade, Lauren Santana is moving from third to second grade and Kim Blevins is moving from second to fifth.

I am looking forward to an exciting year of learning for all students.



Hollymead Teachers Participate in STEM Workshop





Walmart 087  Walmart 012

Walmart 094

Hollymead Elementary School is so fortunate to have many, many parent and community volunteers.  Volunteers help in classrooms during academic times, plan extra curricula activities in classrooms, help with team building day and field day, shelve books in the library, assist Mrs. Foster’s art classes, supervise on field trips and so much more.

VIcki. Hoovis is in her fifth year volunteering at Hollymead and is willing to help wherever she is needed.  She has already logged 60 hours this year.  Ms. Hoovis also works for Walmart/Sam’s Club and her employer supports her volunteerism in school.  In fact they support and encourage their employees to volunteer to the extent that they put money behind their support.  For every 25 hours Ms. Hoovis volunteers in our school, Walmart/Sam’s Club donates $250.00 to Hollymead.  We not only get Ms. Hoovis helping out in all kinds of ways, we get money! The money that we receive benefits students at Hollymead in many ways. Thank you Ms. Hoovis and WalMart/Sam’s Club!

Welcome to Hollymead


Hello, my name is Kim Blevins. I’m so excited to be joining the Hollymead community.

This is my 23rd year of teaching. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with students in first through eighth grade. My certification is pre-school through grade six, and I have a Master’s in Educational Leadership. I have two wonderful children, both attending UVA. My oldest will graduate this spring with a Ph.D. in microbiology, and my youngest is a freshman in the engineering program. I also have an eight month old black lab that I absolutely adore. Outside of school, I enjoy family activities, exercising, photography, and technology. I look forward to working with the teachers, students, and parents of Hollymead. Together, we make a difference.

Hollymead Playground

What a wonderful treat for our students!  Our playground for younger students is ready for the first day of school.  The older student playground should be ready on Monday.  In the meantime, teachers will use the playing fields for recess.

I want to thank Jeff Rohm and Eric White for all of their work to get this done.  They answered many emails and had many site visits to make sure everything was proceeding like it should.  If only the weather had been as cooperative as Jeff and Eric.

I also want to thank all the students, parents and staff who asked questions and gave feedback throughout the process.

New Teachers at Hollymead

Please welcome four new teachers to the Hollymead Staff.  Due to recent enrollment, the number of students keeps changing at all grade levels.  Two of our new teachers, Cindy Groeber-Fard and Claire Neill, have not been assigned grade levels.  I’ll keep you posted on their status.

Hello!  My name is Keary Pieczynski, but you can call me Mrs. Pie!  I am excited to be joining the wonderful staff at Hollymead this school year as a teacher of Special Education and Intervention.  Previously I taught special education in Richmond, VA.  I had the wonderful opportunity to stay home with my little girls for the past two years, but I’m happy to return to the teaching profession.  This will be an exciting year for all of us as we learn and grow together!


Cindy Groeber-Fard comes to Hollymead as a first year teacher and a recent graduate of Mary Baldwin College.   She is a native of Ohio but has lived in Charlottesville for the past 18 years with her husband and 3 children.  While she is new to Hollymead as a teacher, her experiences and history with the school are extensive.   All three of her children attended the school and many of you will recognize her from her work in first grade as a teaching assistant with Julie Lindenbaum.

In her free time she enjoys hiking and the outdoors, and trying to cook healthy and delicious meals for her wonderful family.   She also enjoys jogging before school as her energizer for the day and if that doesn’t work an extra cup of coffee will do.

Mrs. Groeber-Fard is thrilled to be back at Hollymead,  and is looking forward to continuing her wonderful relationship with the school.


My name is Sadai Tafari and I will be the new Speech-Language Pathologist at Hollymead Elementary for the 2013-2014 school year. I began my work at Hollymead last year towards the end of March as a long-term substitute and I am excited to be back full-time this year.

I received my Masters degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton University in the Summer of 2012, and my Bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida in Spring 2010.  As a therapist I have had to opportunity to work with various age groups from Pre-k – High School providing services to students with a variety of communicative needs.  I am currently working on completing my Certificate of Clinical Competence and will  to be a nationally certified therapist through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association before the end of Fall.

I look forward to working with some familiar faces this school year as well as meeting some new students along the way.

Mrs. Neill is excited to return to ACPS after two years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She previously taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades in Albemarle County and 4th grade at a Charter school in the Detroit area. Mrs. Neill is originally from the DC area, and enjoys music, watching the Red Sox, and traveling with her husband and their dog, Fenway. This past June, Mrs. Neill and her husband welcomed their first child, a little boy named Jamie. Mrs. Neill is very excited to be joining the Hollymead family and is ready for a great year!

My name is Maria DeRosa and I am very excited to be a new member of the first grade team! I have
taught first grade for the past six years. Four of the years were in North
Carolina and two years were in Ohio. I completed my undergraduate and graduate
degrees at Ohio State University. I moved to Charlottesville this summer with
my dog   Izzie to join my husband- to- be! I couldn’t be more excited to
be here and part of the Hollymead family!


Art Room Changes

In addition the renovation taking place in the library, there is a major change happening in the art room. As part of our Design 2015 Grant some changes were made in order to create an entrance into the courtyard outside the art room. As I watched, and took pictures of the changes taking place, I was so excited to see that not only would this provide direct access to the courtyard for students during art, but because the door is mostly glass it allows more natural light into the art room. When school begins there will be three doors leading to this courtyard – from the hallway outside the cafeteria, from the library and now the art room. I expect to see lots of students in the courtyard this year!