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Hamden Heroes

We Proudly Recognize Our Amazing Students and Staff!

Hamden's Heroes is a new program that recognizes outstanding students and staff from each of our schools. "Heroes" are selected for their caring attitudes and contributions to their schools. Every year, principals of each school will select one student and one staff member who exemplify personal traits that contribute in a big way to the positive cultures of their schools (and often the greater community). These individuals are truly heroes, and we are so lucky they are here in Hamden! Our Heroes serve as wonderful role models for their peers... and for all of us. Congratulations Heroes!!

Hamden Heroes will be honored at Board of Education meetings, with each school's heroes being honored in a specific month.   

May Heroes: Alice Peck, Shepherd Glen, Spring Glen

Mia Civitello, Perjah Delgado, Gretchen Ferri, Melissa Holt, John LaBorde

Mia Civitello is a kind and compassionate student who strives to be her 'best self' each day. She works hard in all of her classes to progress and develop her understanding, skills and strategies. Mia is an outstanding member of the Spring Glen School community. She volunteers as a kindergarten helper and delivers breakfast in the morning to classrooms. Mia has made the most out of her 6th grade year and has shown tremendous growth academically and socially. The Spring Glen community wishes Mia the best of luck in 7th grade and beyond!

Perjah Delgado is a young lady that excels in all academic areas. She also embraces the arts, especially music. She works diligently because she wants to be successful. Perjah is a role model for her peers and is always willing to help others, because it is the right thing to do…not because anyone is watching. Perjah is the first person to put the needs of others before her own.  She is the product of a loving family that exemplifies what it means to give of yourself…she is an amazing young lady and is a true HERO. 

Gretchen Ferri is a social worker, who has redefined the job description by continually going above and beyond what is expected. She is an inspiration to her colleagues.  Regardless of the time of day, Gretchen is always there to help.  Gretchen can be seen collecting toys for families at holiday time; she arranges food donations for families at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. She jumps in at a moment’s notice, and is always willing to help whenever she can and whoever she can. Gretchen is an exceptional member of the Shepherd Glen staff and a true Hamden Hero.

Melissa Holt is a gifted special education teacher at Alice Peck Learning Center. She goes to great lengths to get to know her students and develops quite elaborate, customized incentive programs for each student. She supports her students outside of school as well. She often attends their dance recitals, team games, birthday parties, just to name a few. Melissa has a calm and direct presence that is extremely effective in gaining her students trust and cooperation. Melissa has been successful in transitioning students to cooperative regular education placements. Alice Peck is certainly lucky to have Melissa on their team.

John LaBorde began working in Hamden Public Schools 24 years ago. He has worked in various buildings and has been at Spring Glen for 8 years. John serves on our school safety committee and is always willing to help. He is the gold standard of custodians. During the summer he and his partner Kevin, work tirelessly to make the school look brand new. In fact, John doesn’t take a day off all summer, so he can ensure the building is ready to open. He takes great pride in his work and it shows each and every day. Spring Glen is lucky to have John as a member of their team.

April Heroes: Ridge Hill and HCLC

Rich Carleton, Allya-Lorenne Chetlen, DeJaun Jackson, Lori Robyn

Allya-Lorenne Chetlen is a motivated student who consistently seeks opportunities to become involved in a variety of clubs and activities in and out of school. During her two years at HCLC, she has contributed positively to the school community and serves as a role model for her peers. Allya is a considerate, kindhearted individual who knows how to set and reach personal goals. Equally as important, Allya is a good friend who is always willing to help others.

Rich Carleton is always present, and always such a presence! Rich serves as a paraprofessional at the Hamden Collaborative Learning Center, where his contributions as an educator continue to positively impact student learning. Rich prides himself on his excellence attendance, punctuality and doing the best job possible. He is a committed member of the HCLC staff, with an outstanding work ethic and always willing to offer assistance to anyone. Rich is someone everyone can count on.

DeJuan Jackson is a wonderful young man who is a leader by example to his sisters and his peers. He consistently demonstrates respect, responsibility and having a positive attitude - three qualities Ridge Hill wants for all of its students. DeJuan's character is what sets him apart - he is the type of person who does the right thing even when no one is looking.  He has been seen serving as a great role model to his peers and has been known to quietly show them the right way to behave to help them stay out of trouble. If having a positive attitude and working hard will bring success, there is no doubt DeJuan will be extremely successful in his future.

Lori Robyn makes Ridge Hill principal Karen Butler recall a Maya Angelou quote: “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” This quote perfectly describes why Lori was chosen as Ridge Hill's staff Hamden Hero. Lori has been a part of the Ridge Hill School community for over 25 years as a parent, a part-time tutor and now as a paraprofessional; but these titles do not tell the full story. Just as a hero in a movie or book often saves, Lori has saved many a teacher, and administrator, whether it’s offering wise advice or plain old common sense; leaping in to do tasks, seen and unseen, without being asked; or using her gift of creativity to create something that’s needed or simply because it will simply bring a smile to someone’s face.  She makes Ridge Hill better for all.  

March Heroes: Hamden Middle School

Michael Aceto, Paige Campbell, Lisa Liguori, Eileen Roach

Michael Aceto is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and participates in the Best Buddies Program at HMS, a program that partners students with special needs and typically abled peers to promote friendship and community. He was recently selected to be an HMS Ally and looks forward to participating in the program. HMS Allies act as positive role models and help build a sense of belonging among students, make connections between students and staff, and bridge gaps of race, class, and gender. Michael also volunteers at his church to deliver food items to the Hamden Food Pantry. Michael is a member of the HMS Baseball and Soccer Teams. He also plays travel baseball, town basketball, and town lacrosse. Michael is recognized as a wonderfully positive person and contributor to our school community.  

Paige Campbell is very involved in both the school and town community.  She is an HMS Ally.  HMS Allies are expected to be positive leaders at HMS and build a sense of belonging among students, make connections between students and staff, and bridge gaps of race, class, and gender.  She is also a member of the National Junior Honor Society, the Technology Student Association, the Yearbook club, and MiddleAct, the middle school component of the Hamden Rotary Club. Paige is also an atholete, and was the goalie on the HMS soccer team. Outside of school, she plays soccer with Hamden Soccer Association and basketball with the Hamden Regional Youth Basketball League. Among her other interests, Paige is a member of the United Girl’s Choir and enjoys acting with the Square Foot Theatre. 

Lisa Liguori began working in Hamden Public Schools over 20 years ago. She has worked in various buildings and became office manager of HMS in 1997. When talking about asked about Lisa, staff say that she is “our lifeline each day… There is only one Lisa. Think about how many staff members there are, yet Lisa makes you feel like you are the only one...” Lisa is involved in many aspects of HMS, and serves on the building Morale committee, the Safety and School Climate Committee, and the Sunshine Club. Lisa maintains operations within the building and is a source of consistency, stability, and information.  She routinely manages staff, student, and administrative needs with a depth of experience and professionalism. 

Eileen Roach was raised in Hamden and attended Church Street School and Hamden High. She attended Fairfield University, and went to New England School of Law in Boston. Eileen decided to pursue her other dream and become an English teacher. She started her teaching career at Hamden Middle School. Eileen is also a faculty advisor for the Student Ambassadors Club at Hamden Middle School. She goes out of her way to work with other members of her department and team to develop curriculum and interdisciplinary instructional approaches. Her patience, compassion, exemplary teaching practices, and work ethic make her a hero to all her students and colleagues.

February Heroes: Church Street School

Domenico Spasito and Kelly Sullivan

Domenico Spasito is a quiet leader, who leads by example and gives subtle yet powerful feedback to his peers, helping them learn and grow. Domenico is a daily volunteer assisting in our kindergarten classes, helping students pack up, prepare for home and make their way to the correct bus. He is by far the hardest worker in his grade level, and his work is always thoughtful and neat. Domenico is also a great friend to all. He never has a bad word or feeling for anyone - he is super positive all the time. He is tolerant, patient and extremely kind, and a wonderful model for all of the Church Street community.

In addition to being a fabulous teacher and  math specialist, Kelly Sullivan mentors new teachers, modeling excellent teaching practices and providing support. She is also an active member of the school data team, which analyzes student data to inform instruction. Kelly has a true vision for how strong our school can be with the right instructional practices, policies and procedures.  She goes above and beyond each and every day! Hamden Public Schools and Church Street School are extremely lucky to have her.  

January Heroes: Hamden High School

Aaron Garner, Mariam Osman, Mary Giangrande and Tim Homa

Aaron Garner, as Vice President of the HHS Interact Club, works tirelessly to find and execute projects that help our community. He is always in the center of any service activity, whether it be going to ACES' Village School to interact with special needs students, or to help the Rotary Club of Hamden with food drives. Recently Aaron organized a “shoe box” project that delivered holiday gifts to middle school students in various communities. It was very successful, thanks to Aaron and his kind-hearted and responsible efforts.

Mariam Osman is a pleasant, out-going young lady that works hard on her academic and extra-curricular pursuits. She has been a positive role model for her peers. Mariam has assisted 9th graders for several years with Freshman Orientation. This year, she was an energetic volunteer for our school wide Career Fair. Mariam has been trained through the town’s community outreach program in suicide prevention and she is a certified member of Teen CERT, a program that focuses on disaster preparedness and basic disaster response skills, including fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. 

Mary Giangrande has been a Security Guard at Hamden High School for the past 10 years. Mary is also a longtime Hamden resident and a graduate of Hamden High School. Mary comes to work every day with a smile on her face and does an amazing job making sure that our students and staff are safe. She is always willing to help any student, parent, teacher and or administrator who may need assistance. Mary questions students when she may notice they are upset or seem to not be feeling well. That’s because she truly cares about their wellbeing.  When former students return to the building and they see Mary, they often thank her for her support and encouragement during the time they attended Hamden High. 

A former Hamden High graduate, Tim Homa is a Desktop Support Specialist who has worked in the Hamden Public Schools’ technology department for 8 years. Tim helped install Hamden High’s improved wireless infrastructure, and has imaged and distributed literally hundreds of devices, from iPads to computers to chromebooks. He has even provided professional development on occasion to our teachers and other staff. Tim provides students and staff with excellent customer service – whenever anyone has a tech problem, Tim is always there and willing to help. He has a great way of validating even tech-phobic individuals, making them feel that no question or problem they may have is a stupid one. His greatest strength is the fact that he likes what he does and cares about the people he works with at Hamden High.  

December Heroes: Helen Street and West Woods Elementary Schools

Shavonne Cannon, Jesse Moye, Maya Boyhen and Anna Maria DeStefano

Shavonne Cannon is a 4th grade student at Helen Street School. She is always kind, caring and compassionate towards everyone she comes in contact with. When you enter her classroom, she is always on task, working diligently, extremely engaged and well behaved and in an extraordinary positive state of mind. We recently added a new student in her classroom and Shavonne immediately befriended her thus making her transition to our school a smooth and positive one. A day never passes that she is not smiling and passing that contagious feeling on to everyone she meets. It is such a pleasure to have Shavonne as a student and member of the Helen Street community. She is a role model for what a good student and person should be.


Jesse Moye has been a part of the Helen Street School community as both an employee and family member for many years. He serves as the lead recess aide at the school for over 10 years. Not only does he ensure that our students are safe and acting responsibly while at school he always looks out for them after school hours since he lives so close to the school. The enormous positive impact that Mr. Moye has had on the students of Helen Street cannot possibly be measured, but Helen Street is a much better school community because dedication to our students, staff and Helen Street family.

Maya Bohyen is a 6th grade student at West Woods School. When you talk with children about the concept of being a hero, one may hear stories of superheroes or adults within our community to protect others. So, how can a 12 year old girl be considered a hero? Maya possesses many characteristics that make her exceptional. Maya has a strong moral compass and is compassionate and cares of others. Maya is happy and chooses to see the good in others. Her teachers report that Maya is someone who makes an effort to understand another’s point-of-view. Maya embraces challenge, and she perseveres through struggles. Without a doubt, Maya is an excellent student and more importantly, she is a person who enriches the lives of others.

"Ms. Annie" De Stefano  has worked at West Woods School for 15 years. She is the kitchen lead for Whitson's Food Services at West Woods, and is someone who is not only dedicated to her job, but also performs great deeds and random acts of kindness without recognition. For instance, Ms. Annie worked with her teammates in the kitchen to raise and donate funds to those in need. Ms. Annie has discreetly ensured that families who need financial support get access to these resources. As she often says, “No one goes hungry in her kitchen. Ms. Annie is loved for her dynamic personality - and is approachable and welcomes all into her kitchen. Members of the community often share examples of her kindness. She treats all the students as though they were her own children, and uses her positive outlook and gift of humor to make them feel happy. She is observant and notices children who may be in need of extra TLC and provides it. Ms. Annie also encourages children to make healthy choices and promotes fruits and vegetables in such a way that even the most reluctant child is willing to give them a try. Ms. Annie is a West Woods star!

November Heroes: Dunbar Hill and Bear Path Elementary Schools

Dante Maione, Larissa Crocco, Cierra Vazquez and Sara Hernandez

Dante Maione is a 6th grader in Mrs. Chudoba's class at Dunbar Hill. Dante is a polite, respectful, hardworking young man who always does what is expected. He can be counted on to be a true Dunbar VIP and has become a member of the "Top of the Hill" club quickly. Dante starts each morning reading with a younger student - he's an amazing role model! Dante leads the Dunbar Pledge of Alliegance daily.

Larissa Crocco is a 4th grade teacher at Dunbar Hill. She was selected as a HH for her committment, dedication and passion for Dunbar Hill School. Larissa shows her dedication through serving on many committees, attending outside professional learning at her own expense, participating in PTA and seeking out grants for Dunbar Hill School. Her passion for teaching and learning is evident in all that she does.

Cierra Vazquez is a second grader at Bear Path School. She was recently featured on WTNH for her efforts to bring awareness to juvenile diabetes. (Watch the clip to really understand why Cierra is our hero!) Each day, Cierra shows courage and poise as she excels, despite the challenges of juvenile diabetes. It's impossible not to be drawn in by Cierra's engaging, caring and charismatic personality!

Sara Hernandez is a social worker at Bear Path School. Sara consistently puts the interests of students first. She guides staff through difficult situations and helps families navigate the challenges they experience as their children grow. She is a courageous, caring and all around wonderful member of the Bear Path Community.



It is the mission of Hamden Public Schools to ensure all our students learn to the best of their potential each and every day they are entrusted to our care.

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