Meet Mr. Matzdorff: Lead Physical Education Teacher

IMG-0008Mr. Matzdorff is a native of Groton, CT — the “submarine capitol of the world.” He graduated from Liberty University in Virginia with a degree in Kinesiology with a teacher licensure. While at Liberty, he met and married the love of his life. Since graduation, he has spent the first three years of his career teaching the elementary students of Lynchburg, VA, building PE curriculum, and leading a morning fitness program to encourage healthy living and physical fitness. He is always smiling and passionate about most things in his life: coffee, New York sports, the outdoors, and — overall — his family. Mr. Matzdorff currently resides by the ocean on Cape Cod with his wife, Melody, his son, Oliver, and his boxer, Mia. 

Why did you choose the Alma team? 

I chose the Alma team because of their desire to better themselves and most importantly their scholars. Just from conversations with future coworkers I could tell that this was a school making a difference in a lot of children’s lives. I was inspired by their mission to send every scholar to college. It is evident that this is a school that is passionate about seeing their scholars succeed in every aspect of life. A school that always puts their scholars first, maintains a high academic standard, while also having fun in the process is a school I want to teach at! 

What do you hope to contribute to Alma? 

I hope to bring more energy and ideas to the Physical Education program! I hope to bring a sense of belonging and community to all of the classes that I teach. I want every scholar to learn how to be healthy and make good decisions, while also realizing that being healthy is a fun thing! I want every scholar to know that I am there to help them succeed! 

What is your top goal during your first year with Alma? 

My number one goal during my first year with Alma is to give every scholar an understanding of what it means to be healthy and physically fit — While also learning every scholars name!

What teacher made a difference in your life — how? 

My old track coach (Coach Kosta) made the biggest difference in my life. He taught me how to strive for greatness and give every race (and everything I do) my all. When I was captain of the team he showed me and taught me what it meant to be a leader. All of this helped mold me into the person and teacher that I am today.

Why did you become involved in education? 

I became involved in education because of all the teachers and coaches I have had throughout my life. They showed me how to learn while having fun, they cared about me and pushed me to do my best. Because of their impact in my life, I now have a passion to do the same for upcoming generations.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college? 

I went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. I really liked how Liberty was a medium-sized school with a real community feel. The classes were small and the professors really made an effort to know you. It was a very exciting campus where I met some lifelong friends and my wife! Overall, it was a wonderful experience! 

What is your favorite place?

One of my favorite places to be is on a boat — doesn’t matter where! I love the water and anything that has to do with it!

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is pizza! Specifically a pizza called the Molokai from this little hole in the wall pizza place in Lynchburg. It has pineapple, bacon and barbecue sauce!

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Ouimet: K-1 Academic Dean and K-3 Math Specialist

Something fun I truly enjoy is building strong relationships with students and connecting with them once they have left my classroom/school. I believe that keeping that on-going open communication is supportive to the success of students and LOVE hearing of former students overcoming specific barriers, achieving milestones, and just the general cool things on their journeys. This picture is of myself and a former student who popped into my office one day to surprise me and tell me about his new accomplishments and ask for advice on job applications. It was an absolute joy to be one of his references.

Something fun I truly enjoy is building strong relationships with students and connecting with them once they have left my classroom/school. I believe that keeping that on-going open communication is supportive to the success of students and LOVE hearing of former students overcoming specific barriers, achieving milestones, and just the general cool things on their journeys. This picture is of myself and a former student who popped into my office one day to surprise me and tell me about his new accomplishments and ask for advice on job applications. It was an absolute joy to be one of his references.

Ms. Ouimet grew up in Berkley, Massachusetts. She lived in Berkley until she was 14 years old. At this time, her dad received a job transfer to Chicago, Illinois and her entire family relocated there. She went to high school at St. Francis College Prep in Wheaton, Illinois. She then attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She earned an undergrad degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in reading.

After graduation, Ms. Ouimet’s entire family moved back to the Massachusetts area. She worked as a preschool teacher for three years and then took a kindergarten teaching job at Lincoln School in Providence. During this time, she earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Lesley University in Cambridge. Ms. Ouimet was looking for specific areas of special education and chose to relocate back to Davenport, Iowa to pursue a career in emotional and behavioral supports. She taught as a K-5 sub separate teaching for students with behavioral disorders for two years. She then worked as a Crisis Interventionist for a middle school program for students with behavioral disorders. During that time, she earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Special Education Leadership. Ms. Ouimet then took a job as a School Administrative Manager at an elementary school. After doing that for two years, Ms. Ouimet realized that she missed being in the classroom and chose to return to teaching. She worked as a High School Transition Specialist and taught all subjects in a alternate school for students who were expelled from their normally assigned public school.

Why did you choose the Alma team?

I had been on the lookout for a job in the Massachusetts area. My mom, dad, sister, brother and soon-to-be niece are in this area and I felt a strong desire to relocate and be within a close proximity to family. I felt very passionate and dedicated to the work I was doing in Davenport and was waiting for a job that called my name and made leaving my work in Davenport “worth it.” Alma was that job for me. My mom is actually the one who found the job description and sent it to me right away. One of the components that stuck out for me was Alma’s search for someone who had “infectious joy” and was willing to go above and beyond. These are two things I strive for on a daily basis. Once I started visiting the school, meeting the Alma staff, understanding the Crew Code, mission statement, etc, I saw a clear vision of myself growing and developing here at Alma Del Mar.

What do you hope to contribute to Alma?

I absolutely love working with scholars and forming strong relationships that have a positive impact on scholar growth and achievement. I have an extensive background in the areas of Trauma Informed Care, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and Responsive Classroom Techniques. I would like to contribute different aspects of these resources, model relationship building skills, demonstrate compassionate conversations and build scholars up to feel successful and motivated to learn.

What is your top goal during your first year with Alma?

My top goal for my first year at Alma is to create the most effective relationship with my directs and provide the most appropriate and meaningful support to them and their scholars.

What teacher made a difference in your life — how?

I had many influential teachers throughout my academic career. In particular, my 5th grade teacher, Ms. Hadley, was the teacher that sparked my love for learning. When I think back on all my favorite books, my favorite science experiments, my favorite history lessons, my favorite field trips; all of those experiences were part of my 5th grade year. Why? Because Ms. Hadley found a way to making learning engaging. She captivated her classroom and used a hands-on approach that was especially helpful to my “off task” and excitable nature. She is the reason I wanted to become a teacher. She is also the one who made me realize that I had a world full of potentials just waiting to be met. For the first time, I felt like an accomplished student and carried that with me for years to follow.

Why did you become involved in education?

Since a young age, I knew I wanted to be an educator. I was always hosting a session of “school” in my basement at home, making sure the neighborhood kids knew the rules we had to follow, loved to laugh and play, and always wanted to encourage and lend a helping hand. I was a struggling student myself and needed extra support in the areas of reading comprehension and organization. Because of my own challenges, I have a passion for advocating for students and helping student eliminate or climb over specific barriers that prevent him/her from reaching their fullest potentials.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. It was the perfect school for me and I feel so thankful to have had the opportunity to earn my degree from such a wonderful school. I loved the small classroom sizes and the feeling that each teacher new my strengths, areas of improvement and professional goals. In addition, St. Ambrose had a fantastic learning disability program that offered support for my struggles with reading comprehension which really helped to bridge my achievement gap.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

What is your favorite place?

My favorite place is White Horse Beach in Plymouth, MA during low tide at sunset.

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Mr. Schaefer: Fourth Grade Lead Teacher

FB_IMG_1532394592926Mr. Schaefer grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts and attended Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth where he played lacrosse. He attended college at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Every summer throughout high school and college Mr. Schaefer worked as a YMCA summer camp counselor. Upon graduating college he served with City Year Boston in the Boston Public Schools before he began work in Boston as a 4th grade teacher.

Why did you choose the Alma team?

I chose the Alma team because of their hard work and enthusiasm. It is something infectious that I am excited to be a part of. It was also an opportunity to teach and live in a community that I have connections to.

What do you hope to contribute to Alma? 

I hope to contribute to its strong literary culture and students love of learning through reading.

What is your top goal during your first year with Alma?

My top goal during my first year of Alma is to build a strong class culture that promotes a love of reading and creates lifelong readers.

What teacher made a difference in your life — how? 

Mr. Ganter was an English professor in college that had a profound impact on me. He taught me that reading simply isn’t reading books, but investigating and exploring the context, history, and technique involved in reading and writing.

Why did you become involved in education?

I’ve always believed that education was the pathway to anyone’s preferred future and my years as a summer camp counselor taught me that adults can have an indelible impact on the lives and interests of children.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to college at St. John’s University. What I liked about school was the robust English program as well its value of service to others as part of its culture.

What is your favorite place / food / book / music / art? (choose two)

My favorite book is “Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis. I find that Bud is a character that most people can relate to as a child in some sense. My favorite music to listen to is Bob Dylan. I really enjoy his lyrics and ability to make fun songs out of traditional song formats.

Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Meet Ms. Prego: Fourth Grade Co-Teacher

This is a picture of me and my friends, Joe and Thomas, after we hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado!

This is a picture of me and my friends, Joe and Thomas, after we hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado!

Ms. Prego grew up in Medfield, MA and went to public school until high school, when she attended Ursuline Academy. She spent a lot of time at sports practice for things like track, soccer and rowing. Ms. Prego has three younger sisters and two silly dogs. She lived and taught in Denver, CO for the past three years.

Why did you choose the Alma team?

I wanted to join the Alma team because I really liked the sense of energy and passion I felt when I visited, and even just checked out the website. This crew seems like a team that really strives to bring its mission to life, rather than it just being words on a page. I wanted to be a part of that! An added bonus is the school is close to home!

What do you hope to contribute to Alma? 

My hope is that I can add to the already vibrant joy that is Alma, and I really like teaching expeditions. I’m hoping I can bring my experience with expedition work to strengthen what Alma already has in place.

What is your top goal during your first year with Alma?

My biggest goal for my first year to is to establish consistent and open communication with parents, and to strengthen my differentiation strategies in the classroom.

What teacher made a difference in your life — how? 

My sophomore year English teacher had a huge impact on me. I remember after I went to get feedback on a paper she asked me something along the lines of, “are you satisfied?” I think I shrugged, as high schoolers tend to do. She replied, “Well I think you’re a beautiful writer, but this doesn’t reflect that yet.” After that conversation I spent a lot more time on writing, something I always loved, but wasn’t really confident in. She empowered me to work harder.

Why did you become involved in education?

I stumbled into education during my senior year of college. I met these teachers who were so passionate and joyful about their profession and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I wanted to be as invigorated as these people. I applied to a two year teaching fellowship and after my first year I was so excited to start the next year. I haven’t lost that excitement. Now, I want to stay in education because it’s a crucial part of change. We need to guide our students and teachers to use their voices and be leaders in their communities. That empowerment happens at home and in the classroom, so I want to be a part of making sure that happens. We really need confident leaders today.

Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?

I went to the University of Notre Dame. I think what I liked most about ND is that it forced me to question things and take different perspectives. It also forced me to become a really resilient football fan, because our team tends to lose in really big games.

What is your favorite place? 

My favorite place is at the top of a hike, my current favorite is the top of Mt. Huron in Colorado. You can see everything and it’s pretty humbling.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling depending on the day.

 
Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew

Save the Date: Alma del Mar Class of 2026 Graduation

save the date

Last week of school details

Week of June 11th — 15th:

  • Q4 Interim Exams
  • Passage Portfolio presentations (more information to follow)
  • Tues. 6/12—End of year trip!  All day Fieldwork.
  • Fri. 6/15—Last day of school for 8th grade class.  Scholars may wear “Sunday best” attire to school that day.

 

Week of June 18th – 22nd:

  • Optional attendance (more information to follow)
Posted in Ops @ Alma

What is Crew?

At Alma, our work is often complex and highly interpersonal. It’s also creative and performative. We must make sure we are creating an ecosystem in which creative people can thrive while doing highly complex, interpersonal and performative work. Because when our teachers thrive, our scholars thrive. It’s this notion that leads us to our Crew Code – a set of guiding principles focusing on our staff’s behaviors and beliefs that contribute to the culture at Alma del Mar. 

Below is one staff member’s take on one of our guiding principles: Crew.

Hi, everyone. My name is Nurse Tara. And let me start by pointing out how impressive that my mom knew I was going to become a nurse and named me Nurse Tara. I’m introducing myself more out of a residual habit of public speaking etiquette and less out of the need to actually do so because you all know me. And, beautifully, I know you as well.

This? This familiarity? This is an absolute revelation to me. In my previous work for another school system, I spent approximately 10 months working with a group of teachers and other staff members and by the end of my year there I can say I knew probably 5 staff members by name. I did my job, I served my students. I did my paperwork and doled out band-aids and ice packs and sage advice. I made my same corny jokes, and used my same skill set. But nothing about that job felt the same as this career that I have at Alma. I felt isolated. In a building full of instructional staff I felt “other.” I felt, every single day on the short ride to work that I would rather be just about anywhere else. So, what makes the difference?

Right from the start, I had the opportunity to experience Alma culture during my first Alma Institute in August. On my very first day I camped out in my office and calmly assessed (panic face) the state of the records, supplies, all that good stuff. And periodically throughout the day teachers and admin staff popped in to say hey and make me feel welcome. “What is this?” I wondered to myself. Day two I participated in an event in which we all received awards in a mock town hall. My award was in the area of “Crew.” And that was the answer to both of the questions I’d asked myself. What makes the difference? What is this? Crew.

Well sure, yea. Crew. Awesome. But what is “Crew” and what does it really mean? I started to see examples along the way as I started putting roots down. Cake in the break room with a little note welcoming anyone to grab a piece. Birthday songs at morning huddle with much more enthusiasm that most groups of adults can muster before 8 am. Invitations to join colleagues for a drink. A beach PD day with games and smiles and for me, not one awkward moment of feeling like an out of place middle schooler holding a lunch tray and asking for permission to sit at the cool kids’ table.

So, by the start of September I knew what crew was, but it wasn’t until mid-November that I really started to understand what crew meant. I had to have emergency surgery for my inflamed and infected gallbladder. Don’t worry, we have since parted ways and are no longer on speaking terms. I texted Marko while hopped up on morphine, so worried that I was going to be in trouble for having to call out for so many days on zero notice. Instead of a reprimand, I was met with reassurance and encouragement. Within a few days the eternally sunny Jess Summers had signed me up for a meal train. That’s when it happened.

Crew flooded into my home and into my fridge in the form of homemade soups, com bread, roasted pepitas, hot dish, Chinese food, baked French toast, tacos, mac and cheese, cookies, brownies. You name it and there is was on my doorstep in the arms of a colleague who asked how I was doing and if I needed anything. Crew filled up my inbox with emails and texts to let me know that I was missed and that all our kiddos were safe and healthy.

Crew was knowing that I mattered, and that I was supported by the people who I worked with, even when we weren’t at work. At the risk of Trademark infringement, I’ll even say Ohana means family and so does crew.

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Where would your curiosity and love of learning take you?

Something that makes Alma del Mar a unique place to work is that our teachers are given the opportunity to fuel their passion and deepen their content knowledge.
 
Where would your curiosity and love of learning take you?
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For Kate, our middle school art teacher,
it took her to a museum in the heart of Paris,
where she stood in awe of Monet’s water lilies.
 
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For Ned, our fifth grade literacy teacher,
it sent him to historic sites like the Edmund Pettus Bridge
and Ebenezar Baptist Church.
 
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For Nathalie, our first grade co-teacher,
she found herself on a cross-country journey
to research some of America’s most beloved symbols.
 
At Alma, we invest in our teachers not only as educators, but also as lifelong learners. We enable our teachers to look beyond the typical professional development opportunities and actually explore. These adventures, dubbed Almazing Fund trips, are funded by a donor-supported effort to give our incredible educators the chance to experience the world around them and how it relates to their curriculum.
 
These experiences not only deepen our teachers’ understanding of the curriculum they teach but also fuels their passion for the content. We know that when our teachers get excited about the content they’re teaching, our scholars will too.
 
But we’re not done yet.
 
Interested in joining a crew that is always striving to deepen their learning? Check out our openings!
 
Posted in Alma Profiles

March is Spirit Month at Alma

Spirit Month

For the past 6 years, Alma has had the traditional 1 week of days where scholars could dress up according to day. But this year, we decided to spread out the fun! Every Friday in March, we will have a Spirit Day.

Please work with your scholar to plan a simple homemade costume.  Items around the house make great costumes!

Please note the following costume guidelines:

  • Scholars may not wear masks or fake blood (other face paint is ok)
  • Scholars may not bring weapons of any kind (fake or real)
  • Scholars may not wear jeans or flip-flops
  • All items must be appropriate for school (for example, no tube tops/spaghetti straps)
  • Must wear or bring appropriate shoes for P.E. and recess.
  • Costumes may not interfere with movement or safety (scholars will have Physical Education as usual)

Scholars who do not meet behavioral expectations the day before the event will not be permitted to participate. If a scholar is on red, receives a Community Violation, or earns an In School or Out of School Suspension the day before the event, they will not be allowed to participate. Middle school scholars who are On the Dock will be allowed to participate. Classroom teachers will contact families the day before the event to inform them if their scholar is not able to dress up.

March 2

Pajama Day

March 9

Mismatch Day

March 16

Crew Day

March 23

Famous People Day

Stay comfy all day long while wearing your pajamas to school. Go all out with onesies, sweatshirts or fuzzy pants. Wear whatever crazy clothes you want! Mix and Match everything, from crazy socks to mismatched leggings. Sport your school spirit by wearing your college colors. Go head to toe and show your school pride. Who’s your favorite famous person? On this spirit day, you can dress up just like them. From Rosa Parks to Beyonce, show us who’s your favorite.

 

Posted in Ops @ Alma

Alma 7th grade scholars make warm gesture

A group of seventh grade scholars at Alma del Mar Charter School will donate 15 fleece blankets to The Donovan House, a sober transitional housing program for women and their children in New Bedford. This group, known as the Colby College Crew (named for the Alma Mater of their crew leader, Emily Darrow), held a series of bake sales in December to raise money to buy fleece for the blankets. They worked on the blankets every morning in January and are now looking forward to donating the blankets to be used during these cold winter days. The Colby College Crew’s project is just one of many service projects that middle school scholars developed at Alma del Mar. In sixth grade, scholars collected winter clothing items that were then donated back to other Alma del Mar families in need.

Pictured below are Cesar Ruiz, Emanuel Matias, Vado DaRosa, Anthony Woodis, Ty Velez, Kyanna DaSilva, Kyla Lopes. (front row) Franklin Salvador, Justin Andrade, Nazyia Andrade, and DeAni Mota.

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Posted in Team

Meet Ms. Brainard: 4-5 Academic Fellow

IMG_7371
IMG_7371Rachel was born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut and recently moved to New Bedford to teach with her boyfriend, Gabriel. She attended Central Connecticut State University earning a degree in English Literature. Rachel enjoys kayaking and spending time with her cat, Carlos.
 
Why did you choose the Alma team?
I chose the Alma team because I wanted to work with a school that was making a real impact in the community- not just talking about it. When I first became introduced with Alma del Mar, it was clear the teachers all have one thing in common; they put their students first. I am excited to be a part of such a dedicated group of educators.
 
What do you hope to contribute to Alma? 
I hope to bring additional light and positivity to Alma. I want to be an adult that scholars can look up to and rely on each and every day.
 
What is your top goal during your first year with Alma?
My top goal during my first year with Alma is to grow relationships that will last a lifetime. The most exciting part of teaching is to watch students grow each year and guiding them along their path to college.
 
What teacher made a difference in your life — how?
If it wasn’t for a wonderful teacher from Middletown, Mrs. Cannata, then it wouldn’t be possible for me to help students as I do today. While I was growing up, I struggled with reading. Mrs. Cannata worked with me, one-on-one, from kindergarten until fifth grade. Not only did she teach me how to read but she also believed in me.
 
Why did you become involved in education?
My grandmother, who raised me, taught me the value and importance of education at a young age. While she only attended school until the fifth grade, she always reminded me that education is a gift and pushed me to work hard. She is a constant reminder of why I have become involved in education. 
 
Where did you go to college? What did you like about your college?
I attended Central Connecticut State University for college. I loved the freedom college offered. CCSU gave me the opportunities to explore different things that were important to me. From writing conferences to class trips, I feel like I was able to focus on myself through these experiences. 
 
What is your favorite place?
My favorite place is a historical site in Hull, Massachusetts called Fort Revere. It is the old remains of a military fort overlooking the Brewster Islands. It is a relaxing place overlooking the water but also full of rich history.
 
What is your favorite food?
I love Italian food, especially my Nonna’s Sicilian pizza.
Posted in Alma Profiles, Meet Our Crew
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