Faculty and Staff
Principal, Ms. Susan Degnan
Hello, I consider myself fortunate to be principal of Saint Peter School. Our school has a very warm, welcoming, and caring environment. We are academically challenging, while meeting the needs of all students. Our school families come from all walks of life and all over the world. Saint Peter School has a vibrant, caring faculty and staff, and extremely supportive school community.
My career has been spent doing what I love, working in Catholic education. I am a firm believer that every educator must continue to learn. I have continued to broaden my education and experience, earning Masters degrees in Education from Curry College in Milton and in School Administration from Emmanuel College in Boston. Throughout my career I continue to stay current and enjoy taking various professional development courses, including courses through the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Professional Education program. I have taught courses at Stonehill College and Merrimack College. Prior to Saint Peter School I was principal at Cheverus School in Malden and Trinity Catholic Academy in Brockton, as well as Head of School at Fontbonne Academy in Milton.
Office Administrator, Mrs. Kathy Flynn
Director of Admissions & Grade 5 Teacher, Mr. Mark Smith
Hello, my name is Mark E. Smith and I am the fifth-grade teacher and Director of Admissions here at St. Peter School. After 10 years of working in film production, I decided to change careers and work towards my Master’s degree in Education. I received my Masters in Education in the spring of 2008 from Lesley University with a focus on the creative arts.
St. Peter School offers so much more than a great education, I feel it is our goal not only to provide a great academic education but to instill and teach the core values that will benefit all the students who pass through this school for years to come. I like to think that students are constantly being challenged and engaged in my classroom, from working on a group project turning one of our literature novels into a “graphic novel”, to our overnight trip in April to Nature’s Classroom on Cape Cod. Students here at St. Peter will always be encouraged, treated with respect and challenged to be the best that they can be.
To find out more about what we do in Grade 5, please visit the Grade 5 page.
Director of Advancement, Mrs. Eve Encinas-Lončar
As the Director of Advancement, I manage and direct all of the School’s fundraising which includes the annual fund, planned giving, alumni relations, special events, capital gift campaigns, and Parent Association volunteer management. My role acts as a liaison with funding partners and organizations, lead grant-writing efforts, solicit donor funds from local community members. As a Hotel Management graduate, I bring the St. Peter School community a combination of 20+ years experience in all areas of event planning, sales & marketing, nonprofit fundraising experience, and business development.
On a personal note, I have a passion for “giving back” to the community as a volunteer by fundraising at local not-for-profit organizations. I enjoy spending time with my husband Marko and our two kids – Autumn and Luka. During my spare time, you might see me at Fresh Pond running with my Goldendoodle, Maxwell, since I live near Cambridge. Fun fact: I am a St. Peter School mom, too! My daughter is a St. Peter School in 2014 alumni, now attending Connecticut College.
In conclusion, you are invited to visit and see, firsthand, the difference your gift is making in the lives of St. Peter students every day. Please contact my office to schedule a visit at (617) 547-0101, ext. 130.
On behalf of St. Peter School, we are grateful for your generosity towards making Catholic education accessible for future generations of St. Peter students.
School Nurse, Sheila O’Shaughnessy, RN
Hello! My name is Sheila O’Shaughnessy and I am delighted to be joining the wonderful staff at St. Peter School as one of the school nurses. After graduating from college with a degree in Psychology, I traveled around Ireland and North Africa and worked as a cook for almost two years on boats in the Caribbean. Having gotten the travel bug out of my system, I decided to go back to UMass Boston and pursue a degree in nursing. While at nursing school I met my husband and after graduating, we moved to New York City where I worked at Mount Sinai Hospital as a maternity nurse. My teenage daughters were born there, and started school in Queens, New York where there were 138 languages spoken at their school! We moved back to Boston to be closer to family and I feel blessed to be back at my alma mater, the place of my baptism and the church where my elderly parents were married over 60 years ago! I look forward to meeting all your children in sickness and in health and will do my best to spread love, kindness, and healthy habits their way.
School Nurse, Brenda Smith, RN
Hello! My name is Brenda Smith and I am so excited to be joining the nursing staff at St. Peter School! After graduating from Boston College School of Nursing I worked many years at Mass. General Hospital in post surgical care. While raising my four children in Pembroke, MA, I switched gears and worked as a school nurse for the Pilgrim Area Collaborative in a therapeutic day school called Pilgrim Academy in Plymouth. With the children grown, my husband Leo and I have now moved back into the city and are excited to start the next chapter! I have had the privilege of a Catholic School education myself, and I look forward to meeting your students and being part of the St. Peter School community!
K1, Ms. Julie Songer
Hi, I’m Julie Songer and I’m thrilled and blessed to be coming on board as a Pre-K teacher at St. Peter’s School.
I have 29 years of experience working in the Early Childhood Education field, with the bulk of the years spent in the Kindergarten classroom in a Catholic School. I know that my background will help students as they prepare for the rest of their elementary years.
I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education K-3, as well as Young Children with Special Needs (3-7 years). Music is a great love of mine and I plan to integrate that into the curriculum.
I look forward to partnering with parents and my colleagues in an effort to best prepare students for this stepping stone on their educational journey.
K2, Ms. Emily Miller
Hello! My name is Emily Miller and I am very excited to be the K2 Classroom Teacher at St. Peter School. I am originally from Boxford, Massachusetts and just recently moved to Concord. I graduated from Boston College with my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Applied Psychology in May 2017, and my Master’s of Education in Reading and Literacy in May 2018. While I was in college I worked as a preschool teaching assistant for several years at the Commonwealth Children’s Center in Boston and the Boston College Children’s Center in Newton. I also completed three full-time internships in elementary classrooms at various schools in the Boston area.
I believe that early childhood education should have equal emphasis on the academic, socio-emotional, and religious development of a child. I greatly look forward to getting to know my students and their families so that I can build meaningful relationships with all of those in my classroom community. Kindergarten will be a wonderful year of learning and excitement and I couldn’t be more blessed to be in this position.
K2 Aide, Mrs. Kathy Smith
My name is Kathy Smith and I am the aide in the K2 classroom. I graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science degree. After working for Verizon for many years, I was fortunate enough to stay home with my children while they were young. During this time I discovered the world of non-profit and education. As a site coordinator for Boston Partners in Education, I promoted reading as a fun and relaxing as well as a learning activity. I was also the Director of Religious Education for Saint Peter Parish for 3 years. The highlight of each year was First Communion in May. I am a big advocate for St Peter’s education. My son and daughter are both graduates of St Peter. Their education has been academic, spiritual, social and cultural. They have had an enriching experience in the St Peter environment.
Grade 1, Ms. Rachel Sminkey
Welcome! My name is Rachel Sminkey and I am so blessed and excited to be the first grade teacher here at St. Peter School. I have earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Wheaton College and a master’s in Elementary Education from Lesley University.
First grade is an exciting time as children embark upon new adventures in the world of learning. I am looking forward to a very exciting and productive year working with your child. I will strive each day to make learning a fun and enriching process for your child. I believe we are a team, working together, to help your child thrive academically. Our collaboration is a key component of a successful year.
Grade 2, Miss Carly Conway
Hello! My name is Carly Drew Conway and I am so excited to be teaching second grade at St. Peter’s! I grew up in Wellesley Massachusetts, but left the area to earn my Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Delaware. I am currently enrolled at Lesley University and in the middle of the Masters of Elementary Education Program.
I am not new to St. Peter’s, I was a substitute teacher last year and could not be more grateful to have my own classroom and be a part of such an amazing school. I believe that open minds and curiosity are the best learning tools and have created a safe environment for my students to further their creativity and thinking in order to reach their fullest potential.
Grade 3, Ms. Taylor Petersen
Hello! My name is Taylor Petersen and I am the third grade teacher at Saint Peter School. You may remember me from last year when I taught Elementary science! I am originally from Arizona but I moved to Washington for college. I received my B.A. in psychology, an ELL endorsement, and an elementary education certification. I then moved to Massachusetts, during which time I completed my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Lesley University.
I am thrilled to be teaching such an important grade level. I believe that a well organized environment with clear expectations can help any learner realize his or her full potential. There is a world of potential within every child! We just need to work together to find the learning style that work best for each student.
Grade 4, Ms. Natalie Dieckman
Hello! My name is Natalie Dieckman and I am thrilled to be teaching 4th grade this year at St. Peter School. I grew up in Connecticut, but came to the Boston area for college and have been here ever since. I attended Boston College where I received both my B.A. in Elementary Education and my M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. While I was in college, I worked in the Newton and Brookline Public Schools, as well as student taught at Brimmer and May School in Chestnut Hill.
I believe in creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive classroom community where every child can achieve success. I look forward to working with each and every student to unlock their fullest potential, foster creativity, and promote independence. 4th grade will be a wonderful year full of learning, excitement, and fun!
Grade 5, Mr. Mark Smith
(See bio under Director of Admissions)
Grade 6 English/Language Arts, Literature and Religion, Ms. Theresa Hopp
My name is Theresa Hopp and I teach 6th grade English Language Arts and Literature, and Religion. I grew up in Los Angeles, CA and attended Cal State Northridge University where I graduated with a B.A. and Master’s Degree in English Literature. Many years later, my family and I moved to Cambridge and joined St. Peter Parish. I volunteered as a Religious Ed. teacher and realized that I loved being in the classroom. It was here that I discovered my passion for teaching and my desire to use God’s gifts in a meaningful way. I went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from UMass Boston. Before becoming a proud member of the St. Peter School community, I was a high school ELA teacher in private, special ed. school in Newton, and later taught middle school ELA in Brookline Public Schools. I am excited to be a part of SPS and look forward to a blessed and joyful school year!
Grade 7 and Middle School Math and Religion, Mr. Robert Gray
I received a B.S. from Boston College and a Masters Degree from Suffolk University and have taken post-baccalaureate classes at Bridgewater State College. For many years I worked for the Gillette Co. in Boston and I was also a ten-year member of the Adjunct Faculty at Suffolk University. I live with my wife in Norwood, MA, and am the father of two grown sons.
I teach Mathematics and Religion to grades 7 and 8. The Mathematics curriculum includes pre-algebra for advanced students and basic seventh and eighth- grade math for on-track students. Both courses include the operations of math for whole numbers, integers, and fractions and decimals. In addition, the concepts of currency, measuring, equations, word problems, and geometry are studied. In summary, the seventh and eighth-grade classes enjoy a rich and full academic challenge supported by a Catholic-Christian atmosphere that stresses self-discipline and character development.
Grade 8 and Middle School ELA, Mrs. Beth Adams
My name is Beth Adams. I am the 8th grade homeroom teacher, and I teach 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts and Literature. In the fall, I also oversee the high school application process and write recommendations. In the spring, I organize Awards Night and the Graduation Ceremony.
I graduated from Occidental College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Comparative Literature. After college, I attended a two-year teacher education program at the Rudolf Steiner College and received a high school teaching certificate. I later earned a Master of Arts in Human Development, with an emphasis on adolescent development, from St. Mary’s University. I am also certified by the state of Massachusetts to teach English Language Arts in grades 5-12.
Over my career, I have taught middle school and high school humanities in both public and private schools. In addition to teaching in the classroom, I spent many years leading wilderness trips for teenagers. I also volunteer for a local organization that educates people about climate change and works to ensure a healthy and livable climate for all children and future generations.
It is a pleasure to teach at St. Peter School.
Elementary Science, Grades 1-5, Dr. Max Ciarlet
I am Max Ciarlet and I am excited to join the St. Peter community as the Elementary Science teacher for grades 1 to 5. My initial vocation was to become a school teacher but life took me in a different direction to become a scientist. After obtaining my BSc in Biological Sciences and my PhD in Microbiology/Virology, I became an Assistant Professor in the Molecular Microbiology and Virology Department at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas). Subsequently, I joined Merck to pursue another dream of mine: To develop a safe and effective vaccine against the main causative viral agent of gastroenteritis in infants worldwide. This vaccine has been licensed in almost every country in the world and is helping to save thousands of children lives in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and several chapters in scientific textbooks and one encyclopedia. After working for nearly 25 years developing vaccines, I realized that it was time to start making a difference here at home, with all our children in the St. Peter community. It is a privilege to join the staff of St. Peter School and be an integral part of what makes St. Peter such a special and warm place where our children thrive together within a Catholic environment. I will be using the Nancy Larson Science curriculum as baseline, and I will help the children discover their passion for their scientific selves through plan lessons to add real-world relevance and practicality, and connect science with other disciplines with the goal to allow students to combine several school subjects in a creative, well-rounded investigation. I am a firm believer that children become effective students and analytical thinkers when they learn to integrate different fields of knowledge.
Middle School Science, Grade 6-8, Mrs. Ashley Davis
I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY and received my degree at Eastern Michigan University in elementary education and integrated science.
Yes, I am a Bill’s fan!
I have recently completed my Masters degree in science education at Lesley University. I have been lucky to have had a variety of classroom experience. I believe that teaching is what I was born to do and hope to make learning an engaging experience for all students.
Middle School Social Studies, Grade 5-8, Dr. Alison MacAdams
I’m Alison MacAdams, the Social Studies/History teacher for grades 5 through 8. I’m excited to be part of this welcoming community of students, teachers, and parents! I am half Brazilian and was raised in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. Before moving to the USA, I finished high school in Paris, France, and attended one year of college at the Sorbonne. I have a B.A. in Romance Languages and Comparative Literature from Brandeis University, where I also completed the requirements towards my M.A. and PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. I love teaching and have worked with many different and diverse student populations over the years. More recently, I had been teaching college courses in writing, world literature, history, Portuguese, and education. I believe a well-educated student is one who can think critically and communicate effectively. I enjoy helping my students find connections between topics and like bringing creativity to class activities. I am looking forward to having a fantastic year at St. Peter School!
Grade K-4 Reading Specialist, Mrs. Anita Kinkead
My name is Anita Kinkead and I am excited and happy to have been asked to return to St Peter’s this school year as the Reading Specialist, Grades: K1 through Grade 4. I am a native French Speaker and have been in education since 1999. I have taught French in elementary, middle and high school settings in both public and private schools. I have completed two courses at the Carroll School in 2017: – “Assessment of Reading, Cognition, and Learning Abilities” Part I and II. My most recent job was at L’école Internationale Française in Cambridge. I hold a Master’s in Education from Cambridge College and 24 credits towards a Masters in French. In addition to French, I speak Portuguese, Cape Verdean, Wolof
Technology & Library, Ms. England-Castro
Hello! My name is Angela England-Castro and I am very excited to be teaching at St Peter School.
I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with the students in all grades. After completing my bachelors degree at Salem State College, I worked in the banking industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I also ran my daughter’s Girl Scout troop and volunteered with the various organizations my children were involved in. After realizing my true passion was working with children, I went on to complete my Masters in Elementary Education at Lesley University.
I have worked with students from first grade through high school, not only as an educator, but as a camp director as well. I look forward to getting to know all the students and their families here at St. Peter School.
Resource, Ms. Martha Gurry-Axtman
Hello! My name is Martha Gurry-Axtman and I am excited to be joining St. Peter school community.
I have received 2 Master degrees, one from Northeastern University and the other from Simmons College.My teaching experience has included work in the Cambridge Public Schools and private schools.
My roles have included classroom teacher, Academic Support/Reading Specialist and Learning Disabilities teacher.
I am looking forward to working with the 6, 7, and 8th grade students and teachers at SPS!
Spanish Teacher and After School Director, Mrs. Patricia Carazo
Hola! I am
I am originally from Madrid and came to the United States in 1996. After a career in finance, I realized my passion was teaching.
I began as a parent volunteer and room parent and then became a teacher. I have taught at Our Lady’s Academy in Waltham and St Francis of Assisi in Braintree.
I enjoy focusing on not only the language the culture of Spain and Spanish-speaking countries.
Art, Ms. Sarah Hanley
My name is Sarah Hanley and I’m so excited to be the Art Teacher for the St. Peter’s School community! I hope to allow students a safe and fun environment that allows every student a place to express themselves and be creative. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with students of all grade levels and create art in as many ways as we can. I graduated from Stonehill College in May of 2018 with a double major in Early Childhood Education and Studio Arts. I am lucky enough to have completed practicums in Brockton, Easton, and Canton, as well as working as a summer intervention teacher at Cheverus School in Malden. For the last year I held the position of Paraprofessional in a special education classroom in the Melrose Public Schools. My goal is to ignite creativity in the students of St. Peter’s School this year and that they continue that creativity in their lives outside of my classroom.
Physical Education/Grades 5 & 6 Math, Mr. Matthew O’Donnell
PE is an exciting time for each child to get out some energy. Through movement, I will provide each PE class with a fun and safe environment for each class. I am also excited to be the resource teacher as well. In the resource room I hope to provide a safe space for your child to learn and grow in different ways. In addition, I also coach varsity baseball at Matignon High School and freshman basketball at Somerville High School. I am a Lesley University graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.
Kitchen Manager/Chef, Mr. Douglas Pollander
Chef Pollander is a proud graduate of St. Peter School. He went on to earn an Associate’s Degree in Food Service Management from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, and is currently completing his bachelor’s degree there. Mr. Pollander is an energetic Chef offering over 10 years of experience in the food industry including the Daily Catch in Boston and Servizio Cafe & Corporate Catering in Burlington, MA. His blend of creativity, passion for food, and exceptional cooking skills demonstrate a hardworking, truly dedicated restaurant management professional. He has extensive experience in daily planning and operations experience and is focused on high standards for taste, quality, and nutrition.