LUDLOW, Vt. – Black River High School and Middle School are introducing six new members of their faculty and staff to the community.
Victor Cucullo teaches high school physical education, and Jillian Getman instructs high school English.
Erin McCall is the library media specialist, Cynthia Wubbenhorst works in life skills in Special Education, Joseph Gurdak has returned as athletic director, and John Davis is the Dean of Students.
Victor Cucullo graduated from Black River in 2011 and attended Castleton University, where he studied health and physical education. He completed his student teaching at North Clarendon Elementary School and Springfield High School, where he said the staff seemed “welcoming and friendly.”
The influence of his mentors throughout his student teaching experience prepared Cucullo for his job at Black River, which he said was a perfect match. As a physical education instructor, Cucullo said he wants his students to make healthy lifestyle changes, share the games and fun they have in class with friends, and achieve a balance in their life for long-term fitness.
Jillian Getman grew up in New York and double majored in adolescent education and English at SUNY Geneseo.
Since then, she has been a teacher’s assistant, long-term substitute, and social worker, but she always strived to achieve her dream of being a high school English teacher in her own classroom.
In a small school, Getman has seized the opportunity to personalize her curriculum to fit the needs and interests of her students, while learning from
them every day.
At Black River, Getman feels that everyone is part of a family, “where you care about your students and your students care about you.”
She plans to take advantage of the intimacy and the potential of unique local experiences to personalize the education she’s providing to prepare her students for their lives beyond high school.
Erin McCall earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Media studies from Suffolk University in Boston, and continued her studies at Simmons College where she earned her master’s in library and information science.
McCall has worked in libraries, interned at The Weekly Dig and Ace Ticket, hosted the Morning Show on a radio station in her hometown, and spent the past two years as a Middle School Library media specialist in Wakefield, Mass.
Her philosophy is that “school libraries should be the hub of the school and create a culture of reading and learning,” and she hopes to transform Black River’s Library Learning Commons to fit into that vision a little more as a student-centered environment, where students can read, learn, research, and study.
Cynthia Wubbenhorst has earned degrees in education, English, special education, and counseling psychology, and her certificate in human wellness and development.
She started teaching high school English on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota, taught at ChesterAndover Elementary School in an alternative classroom for emotionally disturbed children, worked with mentally ill adults as a clinician at Vermont Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, and taught special education at Charlestown Middle School and Rutland Middle School.
As a teacher, Wubbenhorst has adopted the Circle of Courage from the Lakota tribe’s virtues, which are belonging, mastery, generosity, and independence. She also incorporates mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation.
Wubbenhorst said she is an interactive, handson teacher
and she believes that “positive reinforcement stimulates the brain,” so she tries to channel her positive energy to every situation.
At Black River, she hopes to build a more personal relationship between parents and the school, and network within the community to build lasting relationships with kids.
Black River also hired Joseph Gurdak as athletic director. He graduated from Black River in 1965 and joined the U.S. Air Force, where he served for three years during the Vietnam Conflict.
He graduated from Castleton College with a major in education, a concentration in science and a minor in Math, and then taught science and social studies at Cavendish Elementary School 5th and 6th grades.
He continued his teaching career at Black River, where he taught middle school science and then high school general biology for a total of 39 years.
During that time, he was athletic director for 20 years. Gurdak retired eight years ago, but he has since done substitute work and has now returned as athletic director.
He hopes to continue former director Patrick Pullinen’s program and build on it, involving more students to continue Black River’s tradition of sports.
John Davis has worked in education for more than 20 years, teaching mainly high school English. Davis taught in several districts in Arkansas, where he also worked as an assistant to a principal, instructional facilitator, and literacy specialist.
He recently worked at Springfield High School, where he taught English and was the codirector of an alternative education program.
Davis said he is looking forward to being involved in the Two Rivers Supervisory Union’s shift to projectbased learning and performancebased education. He wants to ensure that each Black River graduate has the skills to either advance their education or contribute to the workforce in a meaningful way.