New at the helm: Meet Barbara Ripa and Monica Zanin



The 2012-13 school year in Berkshire County brought a number of changes in administrative staff at local schools, from both the K-12 sector and in higher education.

The Learning page is running a series of articles briefly highlighting these new administrators and what they've learned since being on the job, based on their responses to a brief e-mail questionnaire.

This week's report is the fourth installation in the series and features two administrators based in Richmond: Barbara Ripa, superintendent for Richmond Consolidated School and Hancock Central School, and Monica Zanin, principal for Richmond Consolidated School.

The whole series can be read online at

The next group of profiles will run April 16.

Meet Barbara Ripa

Position: Superintendent of schools serving the towns of Richmond, Hancock and New Ashford, including Richmond Consolidated School and Hancock Central School. Her position is 0.6 of a full-time post. She spends two days a week at Richmond and one day a week at Hancock.

Hometown and current town of residence: Ripa grew up in and commutes from South Hadley.

Previous position: She served as assistant executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, and has previously been a superintendent for Hampshire Regional School District and School Union 66.

A favorite thing about your new job: It's been great getting to know these beautiful communities and the people here. I'm a country girl. I understand small towns. There's so much warmth here.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: Hiring a permanent principal was our biggest project of this year. For the rest of the year, it's about getting to build on different projects.

We have a new middle school system at Richmond and I'm very pleased with the staff and their willingness to make this a fully developed model.

[Principal] Monica [Zanin] is working with teachers to take a look at instruction and data and determine how we need to differentiate instruction to better help our students. We're also transitioning to the new teacher evaluation model from the state.

Also, we have two longtime staff retirements coming up, Ellen Campbell, our art teacher, and Kathy Massimiano, our instructional technology specialist. So we'll be looking at how to develop those roles down the line in terms of doing more integration between technology and art.

In addition, we also have a grant and will roll out new technology for grading and safety.

Meet Monica Zanin

Position and school: Principal for Richmond Consolidated School.

Hometown and current town of residence: Zanin grew up in and also currently lives in Lee.

Previous position: She was the head of guidance and instruction at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield.

A favorite thing about your new job: Richmond Consolidated School has so much to offer. You don't often see grades pre-K through 8 in the same building. Our middle school students have the opportunity to take ownership of our programming and collaborate with each other to plan and work with our elementary students on many different activities and lessons.

Most recently our eighth-grade students led a science lab experiment with our third-graders. It's refreshing to see the older students presenting and leading a lesson along with collaborating with the younger students.

Richmond Consolidated also has a complete visual and performing arts program embedded within the school day for all grades. We collaborate with community programs such as IS183 Art School, The Colonial Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Group and Shakespeare & Company. We also offer chorus, concert and jazz band along with multiple dance and multicultural programs all occurring during the school day.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: The new state standards ask that students demonstrate a deeper level of mathematics, reasoning and understanding. The skill set we already nurture in our humanities program translates readily into student success in these areas. Achieving fluency and using creativity in the application of multiple strategies and different approaches in problem solving is the key to giving students the tools they need to persevere as math gets more challenging.

My goal is to continue providing opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues on instructional best practices. Professional development next year will focus on new and innovative approaches to math instruction. We also will continue to use data-based decision making to drive our instruction and meet the needs of all learners. Our plan is to expand our instruction beyond the classroom to include families in game nights, author visits, and hands-on learning experiences -- all focused on math.


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