Category Archives: Cool Careers

Wayne Kermenski named principal at Hawlemont

Wayne Kermenski interned as a principal at BSE this year.
Wayne Kermenski interned as a principal at BSE this year.

HE CAME TO BSE in early 2014 from Mohawk, where he had been a science teacher, to intern with Principal Joanne Guiguere.

While he was here he got experience being a principal, and made lots of friends in the 4-5-6 pod particularly. When he announced to the school assembly on Jan. 14 that his work here was done and he was sad to be leaving, he added that he was going back to teach at Mohawk.

But it turns out Wayne Kermenski has taken on an even bigger job in the district: he’s now the principal at Hawlemont Regional School in Charlemont.

According to Superintendent Michael Buoniconti, the appointment was effective Feb. 2. The former principal at Hawlemont, Travis Yagodzinski, had announced he was leaving Hawlemont due to personal reasons, Mr. Buoniconti wrote Hawlemont families, explaning that he had sufficient time to prepare a graceful transition.

“Please be informed that I have appointed Mr. Wayne Kermenski to become the next principal of Hawlemont…  Mr. Kermenski has been a member of the Mohawk educational team since 2007. Wayne is a certified science teacher with a strong background in project-based learning, which I believe will be an outstanding match with Hawlemont’s developing agricultural program,” he added.

Mr. Buoniconti noted that Ms. Guiguere, Mohawk’s most experienced principal, is a former longtime principal of Hawlemont.

“It has been a pleasure having him as an intern. I saw him less as a learner and more as a co-principal. I’ll miss him and look forward to seeing him as a principal,” Ms. Giguere said.

Meanwhile, Jacqui Goodman, fifth-grade teacher, said she looked forward to having Mr. Kermenski stay involved in a wind turbine project he initiated, and which will see many of our students compete at the KidWind Challenge at the Science and Sustainability Expo March 7 at Greenfield Community College.

‘He’ll be missed…’

In part because of his easy nature and clear dedication, BSE’s staff and students say they’ll miss seeing Mr. Kermenski day to day.

Here is a sampling of quotes from other folks who said he’d made a big difference here:

  • Trish Perlman, sixth-grade teacher: “Any school that has him as a principal is very lucky.”
  • Clayton McCloud, sixth-grade student: “Learning he was leaving was very upsetting because he was a very nice person.”
  • Reuben Bassett, sixth-grade student: “He was a very good teacher for the short time he was here.”

    — By Areia Heilman, Joy Bohonowicz, and John Snyder

‘All of our boats are handmade…’

Emily starts taking apart a Brodbeck canoe. Brodbeck was a Boston builder. On their website, Emily and Dylan say, “This canoe, along with other Brodbecks we have worked on, are about the best built canoes we have ever seen.”
Emily Schoelzel starts taking apart a Brodbeck canoe. Brodbeck was a Boston builder. On their website, Emily and Dylan say, “This canoe, along with other Brodbecks we have worked on, are about the best built canoes we have ever seen.”

Eliza logo

SHELBURNE—Emily and Dylan Schoelzel build and repair canoes and small wooden boats. Their business, Salmon Falls Canoe, is located in the barn at their home, which is brightly lit and smells like freshly cut wood.

“I grew up as a little girl going to a canoe camp in the summer and wanted to try it out,” Emily says. “I learned woodworking from Dylan, who had been doing it for three years, but I had done art for college so I already had the basic idea. I have been building and fixing canoes for about 16 years now.”

The couple use machines, such as a table saw, and hand tools, such as a hammer and sandpaper.

A lot of the canoes have a canvas shell that keeps the water out.

Here’s how it works:

“We fill the canvas on the canvas canoes with a paint filler that looks like paint but is made of different things, then we let it dry so the water doesn’t soften the boat. The canvas can rip if you scrape it across a sharp rock. If the rip is small, you can attach a piece of bandana to it with special glue; if the rip is really big, you have to get a new piece of canvas,” Emily says.

All of their boats are handmade, and it takes a long time to repair or build them. According to Emily, it takes 60 to 100 hours to repair a boat and 80 to 120 hours to build one, which for both is about four to six months when spread out.

Emily and Dylan deliver the boats as they finish them. They work on the boats year-round, except in the summer, when they work at Keewaydin Canoe Camp in Ontario, Canada.

Emily says her favorite parts of her job are the beginning building process “and when the customer comes to see the finished canoe.”
The most difficult part, she says, is doing a good job on every part of the boat.

You can learn how to build boats like theirs. Emily and Dylan teach classes on it.

“Anybody can come to the classes we teach,” Emily told The BSE Flow. “All you have to do is be able to follow directions. You come for 10 days and we help you build a canoe. We send you home with an almost-finished canoe; you have to paint and varnish it at home.”


For more information, visit www.wood-canoe.com.

Teaching the teachers: Pam Snow brings environmental education to life

Schoolyard ecology program coordinator Pam Snow works with a high school teacher during a tour of the Harvard Forest natural history trail.
Schoolyard ecology program coordinator Pam Snow works with a high school teacher during a tour of the Harvard Forest natural history trail.

Katie logoLOCAL MOM Pamela Snow works for Harvard Forest coordinating a program called Schoolyard Ecology. Established in 1907, Harvard Forest is Harvard University’s 3,500-acre laboratory and classroom. It’s been conducting long-term ecological research onsite since 1988. In December 2014, The BSE Flow’s Katie Martin caught up with Snow — and her daughter, Ursula — to talk about Snow’s work training science teachers in the Mohawk Trail School District and statewide, and what Ursula makes of her mother’s career.


KATIE: How did you get your start in this career?

PAM: I had been a park ranger for a long time and led tours and did educational programs and then decided to go back and get a master’s degree in education, and I taught in the classroom for a couple of years. l’ve combined the work I did as a park ranger and the work I did as a classroom teacher.

For about 10 years I’ve been working as a team with ecologists — scientists who focus on nature and are interested in how different organisms relate with one another. In my case, because I’m in a forest environment, I study certain kinds of trees, plants, and animals in the forest.

KATIE: Where do you work, mostly?

PAM: My main office is at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass., but sometimes I work remotely, by computer, from my desk at the Bridge of Flowers Business Center, above McCusker’s Market.

KATIE: Do you teach kids?

PAM: A lot of kids are the classroom ecologists for me. They work at their schoolyard. So they go out and study trees or vernal pools in walking distance of their schools. We have locations all over Massachusetts and a little in New Hampshire and Vermont.

KATIE: Did you start this program?

PAM: I was hired to do this job and there wasn’t really a program in place, so I kind of started it with the ecologists I work with. And the data manager, he’s an important person on my team also.

KATIE [to Ursula]: What is it like for you, knowing your mom’s work.

URSULA: Sometimes I help her sort certain equipment into bags that she takes to workshops to take to teachers and kids so they can measure the trees. And I get to go to all the parties they have.

KATIE: Do you like plant life and trees and stuff?

URSULA: Yeah. But not as much as she does.

PAM: She hasn’t come on fieldwork with me.

URSULA: I want to go out and try it though!

KATIE [to Pam]: Did you want to do this as a kid?

PAM: I had no idea about any of this as a kid. I never had very good science classes in my school. We never did anything real: it was all in textbooks and on slideshows, and I never was inspired by that; I had no interest in science. And somehow, miraculously, I became a park ranger and I learned about trees and became very interested in that.

This is a really great job for me because I love nature now and I want to share that with other people and get them excited about it, and I want kids to be able to learn about science in a much more fun way and get outside and do real science.

KATIE: Did you inspire someone?

PAM: I certainly hope so. I train the teachers, and the teachers work with their students directly, and they they have said their students really get attached to the trees that they’re studying. They also say they’ve become the more popular teachers in the school because then the kids know that they’re the ones who take the kids out. [Laughs.] So then the kids say, Oh, you’re the teacher who takes kids out! I want to be in your class.

[Wayne Kermenski, at Mohawk, principal at Hawlemont Elementary School now, works with Pam’s program.]

Play and exploration make nature real for kids. Teachers verify this all the time: that the program helps kids connect with nature and value the natural world, and therefore end up wanting to protect the natural world. I want people in general to build a connection with the natural world.

For teachers it’s great because their kids want to do it, so it’s something that’s exciting and interesting for them, and they can still build up all the skills they need in science.

And it does relate to the science frameworks that are current in Massachusetts, based on the next-generation science standards from the federal government. So it fits what science teachers are supposed to be doing and covering. It’s better for the older kids [grades 4-6] in the elementary level.

KATIE: How much does it cost?

PAM: All we charge is $50 for the first year that the teacher enters the program. That gives the teacher all the materials they need and training and year-round support.  They can send data to us, and questions to us.

It’s a time issue more than anything. Teachers and administrators are under a lot of pressure right now to perform on the MCAS, and at the elementary level right now the big focus is on language arts and math.

And it is easier to teach from a book and do really set activities when you know what the answers are going to be. With real science we wouldn’t know the answer in advance or it wouldn’t be science. In real science we’re investigating something that we don’t know the answer to. In our project we think we know, we have a hypotheses — what we think we know — but we need the data to prove it. And the students learn how that works: when you have a question you don’t know everything about and then a lot of unexpected things can happen.

And then they can collect the data and track it over time. It’s like a relay: Students collect the data in one grade level, and then they move on to the next grade level, and another grade comes up and takes the baton, so to speak, and add the data to collect to that project over time.

That all adds to the data set: Is there a long-term pattern here or not? What is the data telling us? It’s sort of solving the answer to the question.


For more information on Harvard Forest, visit harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu.

Shaping worlds

Jamey says
Jamey says…

JOSH SIMPSON and Cady Coleman’s son Jamey, 14, helps make glass planets, and even creates his own glass art. Like his parents, he’s an airplane pilot.

He told the Flow that he enjoys playing squash, Ultimate Frisbee, baseball, tennis, and video games.

The Flow asked Jamey what he might like to do for a living, given that his parents have such interesting careers. He said it might be cool to float around in space as an astronaut (like his mom), blow glass (like his dad), or even have a regular desk job.

The important thing, he said, is that he love it:

“My dad tells me, ‘Just do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’”


This is a sidebar to Katie Martin’s excellent coverage of Josh Simpson’s glassblowing work, Each fragile planet a labor of love.

Josh Simpson: Each fragile planet a labor of love

Josh Simpson
Glassblower Josh Simpson in the Planet Room with Flow reporter Katie Martin. Simpson shows how cane, crushed, colored, glass, and other materials help create unique worlds suggesting what he calls plant and animal life forms and geographic and geologic formations.

Katie logoSHELBURNE—Josh Simpson, glassblower, designs and creates many pieces in his studio in Shelburne. He works with glass to create masterpieces. Among his masterpieces, which you can see at Salmon Falls Artisans Showroom and all around the world, are his glass planets.

He also makes vases, bowls, and other glass pieces.

He gave The BSE Flow a tour of his studio, which is in a red barn, in early December. It was cold outside, with snow on the ground, but inside the studio it was warm, with three furnaces glowing orange with incredibly hot glass. The handles of the furnaces were shaped like metal dragons.

Molten glass
Spinning and shaping a primordial world in motion…

In his “Planet Room,” Simpson works very hard making cane: colorful glass rods. Then he cuts these up into circles and melts them and gold foil and other crushed, colored glass into the planets so they look kind of like barnacles.

When Simpson is almost done with a globe he breaks it off of the rod that it’s on and uses a blowtorch to shape the planet into a sphere.

Blowing glass
Josh’s son Jamey blows into a long metal rod to help puff out the planet.

When it’s cool enough he sands off the bottom — because where the glass was connected to the rod it is razor-sharp.

Simpson says it takes longer to sand and polish the bottom of the globe than to make the whole thing. He uses a spinning disk that’s coated in diamond dust to do this part.

Then he etches his name into the bottom of the globe with a drill that makes a high-pitched sound like a dentist’s drill. Each one has to be perfect before he will sign it.

Katie reacts to the sudden loud whir of an etching device Josh will use to sign off on a planet for sale.
Katie reacts to the sudden loud whir of an etching device Josh will use to sign off on a planet for sale.

It takes many steps to smooth out what was once so sharp it could cut your finger into something as smooth as a pebble.

When asked what he would say to a kid who wants to become a glass artist, he said, “Take classes. Go to school. Get practice.”

Meeting Jamey's mom, NASA astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, who says we’re on our way to sending explorers to Mars. “I won’t get there, but someone your age might. You might,” she tells Katie.
Meeting Jamey’s mom, NASA astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman, who says we’re on our way to sending explorers to Mars. “I won’t get there, but someone your age might. You might,” she tells Katie.

You have to be able to do many things at once. You have to work the molten glass in the furnace and keep it on the stick so it doesn’t fall off onto the ground, and all the while you have to shape it and watch out that you don’t burn yourself.

Glass becomes hard to work with if it is left out even though it takes so long to cool down, so it’s a pretty difficult job.

It’s no coincidence that Simpson makes glass planets and likes space. His wife, Catherine “Cady” Coleman, is an astronaut. She’s been to space several times and was on the International Space Station.

[Sidebar: Shaping Worlds, featuring Jamey Simpson]

Kara Bohonowicz photo
Kara Bohonowicz photo

With additional reporting by  Kara Bohonowicz. For more information, including videos, articles, exhibitions, and details of Josh Simpson’s globe-spanning Infinity Project, visit Josh Simpson Contemporary Glass at www.megaplanet.com.