MSSM sees changes, welcomes new staff

     LIMESTONE, Maine – A number of changes are noticeable as the new academic year gets underway at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, with officials welcoming several new hires.

      The following are new to the school this year.

     Erich Hunter will oversee the operation of the MSSM Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity created to support the operation of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, as its president and CEO.

     His responsibilities include allocation of grants and scholarships, as well as the promotion of the school to corporate, governmental and nonprofit partners.

     He has a bachelor of science degree in public administration from the University of Maine at Augusta. Prior to coming to MSSM, Hunter served as a professional fundraiser with local and statewide non-profit entities, including United Way, The Combined Federal Campaign and the American Folk Festival.

     Hunter and his wife, Holly Hunter, have two children, Devon and Riley. The family resides in Orrington.

     Todd Smith will serve as mathematics instructor. Smith has been teaching mathematics and science for the past eight years in Texas, and prior to that served as an officer in the Navy. Smith has a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Southwest Texas State University and a masters of arts in mathematics from the University of Houston.

     He resides in Limestone with his wife, Tracy; son, Ioan; and daughter, Aida. He said he and his wife own property in Grand Isle, where they hope to eventually retire. Smith said he’s fluent in only one language but likes to practice using four others. “I’m very excited about living in Maine and working at MSSM,” Smith said.

     Millie Rhodes has been hired as a math instructor. A graduate of SUNY Binghamton (the State University of New York), she holds a BA and MA in math and an MAT in education/math. Most recently, Rhodes worked at Southern New Hampshire University, as well as Southern Maine Community College and Central Maine Community College as math instructor. She has also taught at high schools in the area.

    Rhodes and her husband, Dr. Mark Rhodes – who also serves in MSSM’s math department – live with their four children and dog, Blammo, in Limestone.

     Hendrik Lenferink joins MSSM as physics instructor. “I’ll be teaching freshmen physical science, as well as an advanced course in geophysics,” he said.

     Prior to coming to MSSM, Lenferink taught mathematics at the Maine Maritime Academy. He holds a masters’ degree in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

     He lives in Limestone but is originally from Down East Maine, and grew up in the Blue Hill area.

     Dr. Sarah Bernard will teach two sections of physics and one section of chemistry. She has a PhD in chemistry from Boston University.

    Bernard, who resides in Limestone, is no stranger to the institute, having once been a student. “I started here right out of grad school. I’m an MSSM alum, Class of 2003,” she said.

     Pamela J. Snow Sweetser joins MSSM as its U.S. history instructor, and will also teach advanced placement U.S. history. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in colonial U.S. history, and is currently ABD in U.S. women’s history at the University of Maine at Orono.

     From 1970-2004, Sweetser taught English and history at Hampden Academy, at Fort Fairfield High School from 2004-10, and in 2010 retired from public education. She also does adjunct work at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle.

     Sweetser resides in Presque Isle with her husband, Wayne Sweetser. The couple have two grown sons and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she and her husband co-own Raymond Brook Farm, LLC, and Snow Country Creations in Presque Isle, marketing naturally-raised beef, wool products from rare-breed sheep, and hand-made soap.

     Cynthia A. Berube will teach English composition and honors English composition. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with two certifications: one for elementary education and the other for grade 7-12 English.

     “I’ve been teaching since 2000 – two years for SAD 27 in Fort Kent, third grade and junior high English; 12 years of high school English for SAD 33 in Frenchville; and one and a half years of high school English for Eastern Aroostook RSU 39, Caribou,” she said.

     Berube and her husband, Michael Berube, reside in Limestone.

    Dr. Sarah Ruddy has been selected to teach composition and literature.

     “My specialties are poetry and 20th century American lit, and I also study, write about and work with film, particularly documentary,” she said. Ruddy holds a BA in creative writing and an MA in poetics, both from the University of Maine, as well as a PhD in literature and cultural studies from Wayne State University. Before coming to Aroostook County, she taught at Wayne State University, the University of Maine, and the University of Maine at Augusta.

      She has also worked as an associate producer of film and commercial projects, as the head producer of the Camden International Film Festival, and as executive director of the Strand Theatre, and has written for various publications.

     She moved here from Camden and before that lived in Michigan. Ruddy now lives in Limestone with her partner, Patric Hamilton, also new at MSSM, and their two cats, Ozzy and Boo.

      Patric Hamilton joins MSSM as English and drama instructor. He graduated from The University of Maine at Orono in 2000, with an MA in English with a creative writing focus. His last teaching position was at John Bapst in Bangor. He has also directed several theater productions and has coached both cross country and outdoor track.

     Hamilton has written several volumes of poetry and is currently working on finishing a murder-mystery trilogy set in Maine.

     Jason Desneiges will serve as French instructor. He holds a BA in French from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, a BA in K-12 education from the University of Maine at Presque Isle, an M.A. in TESOL from Grand Canyon University, a graduate certificate in North American Francophone studies from l’Universite de Moncton, holds translator and interpreter certification, and his EdD from Grand Canyon University is currently in progress.

      “I’ve been teaching K-12 French for 17 years and have been a community college instructor for two years,” Desneiges said. “At MSSM, I will be teaching all levels of French, from most basic language and grammar [to] language and literature classes. I will also teach humanities classes when needed.”

     Desneiges, who resides in Woodland, will also serve as student adviser, as well as French Club organizer.

      Andrew Sullivan has been selected as the music instructor for the band, chorus and strings programs. “In addition, I’ll be working with the students to provide live music and several performance opportunities for applicable school and local events,” he said.

     For the past four years he was the strings instructor for the Caribou elementary, middle and high schools. Sullivan holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from the University of Maine at Orono.

      He resides in Caribou with his wife, Stephanie Sullivan, and their four children – two boys and two girls.

     Jessica Damboise, RN, BSN, will serve as the director of health services. She has a BSN from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Before coming to MSSM, she worked at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle and was a public health nurse for Maine CDC.

      “I have a long list of duties but to sum it up, I am the school nurse,” she said.

      Damboise lives with her “spoiled dog” in Connor Township.

      Marie Beckum joins MSSM as its summer programs director, overseeing all aspects of administration and programming for six weeks of kids’ camps, ages 10-14, and one week of STEM educators’ camp.

      Her responsibilities include strategic planning, budgeting, communications, marketing/public relations, program development and staff recruitment and training. She holds a BS in actuarial science from Ohio State University and has completed courses towards a masters’ degree in teaching, with a specialization in mathematics.

      “I have many years of experience with 4-H camps, as well as experience teaching science and social studies at the middle school level,” said Beckum. She has also served as the director of the 21st Century Grant program in Limestone and Caribou, planning and implementing both after school and summer school programs.

      Beckum and her husband, Thomas, live in Caribou with their 2-year-old daughter, Scarlett. Beckum said she is an avid runner and skier, and has served as coach for cross country, track and field and alpine skiing in Aroostook County.     

Cindy Farley has assumed the duties of registrar, evaluating and maintaining all course information and student records, keeping and disseminating confidential student records and public class and course data. She also submits academic reports to the proper organizations, MSSM’s Executive Luke Shorty and Dean of Faculty Deborah McGann. Farley also provides administrative support to the dean of faculty.

      Farley holds a bachelor of science degree in business from the University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, Kentucky, and has a master’s in secondary education from Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky. She and her husband, Wayne, reside in Woodland.

     Heidi St. Peter has been hired as bookkeeper for the business office. She previously was bookkeeper for Limestone Community School. She holds an associate’s degree in human services from the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

    She lives in Limestone with her husband, Scott — route supervisor for Hedrich Vending — and their three daughters: Annie, 18; Alyssa, 17; and Abigayle, 8. When not at work, she loves to spend time with family and friends.

      “My oldest daughter, Annie, just graduated from LCS and was awarded some very prestigious scholarships, including the Mitchell Scholar and Aroostook Aspirations; she’ll be attending UMPI where she’ll study social work. Alyssa is going to be a senior at LCS this year and just finished an internship at Northeast Publishing in which they did an article in a recent Aroostook Republican – she’ll be taking an MSSM math class this year. And Abigayle is the reigning Little Miss Limestone and just completed two weeks at MSSM Summer Camp and absolutely loved it,” said St. Peter.

      Kathy McCarty joins MSSM as administrative assistant in the Admissions Office. She holds a B.A. in English writing from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. For the past 12 years, she served as a staff writer for The Star-Herald.

      McCarty and her husband, James, live in Washburn with their four cats and two dogs; they have a daughter, Traci, and 11-year-old grandson, David, who reside in Presque Isle.