Spanish teacher transitions from elementary to high school

  By Sarah Beckmann

  After spending eleven years teaching foreign language at Manchester Memorial School, Maggie Sears started her first year at the high school teaching Spanish level I, III, and IV.

    According to Sears, she “was ready for a new challenge,” and decided to take on the upper-class students.

  Sears is an undergraduate of Barnard College in New York. She spent a semester in Sevilla, Spain, during her educational career and also received her master’s degree from Salem State.

  A couple of key differences separate the high and elementary schools for Sears, such as the rotating schedule and the learning pace, she said.

  Spanish teacher Michelle Magaña emphasized these changes as well. “I think that another difficulty, which I would say for anybody coming to the high school, is the rotating schedule,” she said.

  Magaña continued, “I think [the shift in ages] is really going to be a tough part of her job…adjusting how fast to move, because she’s used to moving at a much slower pace with the little kids,” she said.  

  Sears said she is impressed with the effort and dedication of her students. “I’m used to having to push [the elementary kids] a little harder than you have to at the high school,” she said.

  Junior Olivia Bean said, “If I don’t understand something, she [will] come over and help me.” Bean also commented on Sears’ kindness. 

  Sears said she enjoys teaching in general.

  “I love learning from my students. I love inspiring kids to want to learn more about Spanish and want to travel to Spanish-speaking countries,” she said.


  1. “I have three children ranging in age from high school to pre-school.”

  2. “I grew up on Cape Ann, and I still really enjoy the beaches and the woods and the slower pace.”

  3. “Most of my friends that are Spanish-speaking are Dominican.”

  4. “One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to spend a year teaching in a Spanish-speaking country, like the Dominican Republic or Mexico.”

  5. “Probably one of my biggest dreams is to be in Mexico for El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, Nov. 1st), but it doesn’t work with a teaching schedule, so it would be tricky to pull it off while I’m working.


Student Profile: Aisling Batchelder


Isadora Decker-Lucke photo

By Isadora Decker-Lucke

Where did you go to school before this?

I went to Shore Country Day School in Beverly

What sports do you play?

Soccer, basketball, lacrosse, skiing, and Irish step dance

What is your favorite animal?

Panda Bear

What is your favorite color?


What is your favorite TV show?


What is your favorite season?


What is your favorite snack?

Popcorn with peanut M&Ms

What is your favorite store?


Are you a cat or dog person?

Dog person

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?


If you were stuck on a deserted island with one celebrity who would it be?

Zac Efron

If you had to get a tattoo what would it be of?

A butterfly

What is your favorite rainy day movie?

“The Notebook”

What is the best vacation you’ve ever been on?

When I went to Australia and played with kangaroos.

What is your secret obsession?

Painting my fingernails

What is your favorite book?

“Island of the Dolphins”



Science Department Makes New Addition to Engineering Program

By Kristiana Valenti, Independent Staff         

 After the loss of two science teachers to the faculty this year, the department has welcomed John Banister-Marx, a Stanford University graduate and former Governor’s Academy staff member, as a high school physics and middle school engineering teacher.

Banister-Marx, who says he has had a keen interest in science and mathematics since a young age, is thrilled to begin his teaching career in the Manchester-Essex school district. With 25 years of classroom teaching experience and a background that includes living in places such as California and Arizona, he has worked with a variety of different students and says he is enthusiastic about his new job at Manchester Essex.

“I love how interactive his class has been. We have all really enjoyed having him for physics this year,” Chelsea Rose, a freshman, said.  “He definitely helped made the transition [from middle school] comfortable for us.”

 Though Banister-Marx teaches engineering, he has a n alternate subject of expertise.

“I am an anthropologist by degree,” he said.

“I’m kind of a fossil guy; anthropologists learn about human evolution. But I got into engineering because I was interested in the problem-solving aspect behind it…the fact that you can get things wrong several times and keep working through it to make it better is what makes [engineering] so fun.”

                  Banister-Marx, an avid outdoorsman, moved to Ipswich from the West Coast. “My wife and I live on the Ipswich River, so we are huge kayakers. We also try to find high points in each state and climb to the top,” he says. This activity, which he also participates in with his wife, including climbing to the top of  a 14,000 foot Colorado mountain.”

. “We are also big bird watchers and have recently taken up mushroom collecting,” he said. To add to his repertoire of outdoor experiences, Banister-Marx attempted skydiving in college.

“It was great, although some of the guys that went got injured. I called my mom afterwards and said, ‘How would you feel if I went skydiving? Well, it doesn’t matter, because it’s too late!’”

         Besides being an outdoor enthusiast, Banister-Marx is a fan of rock music and inspiring movies. “I love James Taylor, The Eagles, and Jeff Beck, which is more jazzy rock,” he said. “As for movies, I recently saw what might be defined as a chic-flick, but it completely took my breath away. It was a movie called Bella”, I recommend it to everyone.”

        Banister-Marx, who laughs off the student and faculty talk that he looks like political figure Mitt Romney, says he will work on an accent and joked that he will dress like Romney as a prank someday. Though he is aware that both students and teachers have picked up on the resemblance, he is no stranger to to being asked about it. “The little old ladies at the lodge I serve meals at started that. They are always telling me I look a lot like Mitt Romney!” he said.  “I think it’s great. I smile and say ‘Yes, I’m running for office!”

Fast Facts:

1.)     Favorite singers/bands are James Taylor, The Eagles and Jeff Beck

2.)     He has been skydiving

3.)     He is a mushroom collector and bird watcher

4.)     His favorite movie is “Bella”

5.)     He is a Mitt Romney look-alike


Student Council holds annual student and staff raffle

Each year student council holds a week long raffle for students and staff of the school. This year the raffle was held on October 24th and ran the entire week. The council gets together a number of donated items and sells tickets to raffle them off. The items included multiple student parking spots, a Keurig coffee maker, gift certificates and much more. The ticket prices varied depending on the item and were either one or five dollars.


PROFILE: Olivia Dumont, scholar and athlete

Dumont’s research to determine whether an extension of the uterine incision during a cesarean section is a risk for uterine rupture during the subsequent natural birth (or VBAC) was published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Senior Superstar Olivia Dumont is one to be recognized. Field hockey captain, Co-President of National Honor Society, and a published researcher, are only a few of the many accomplishments of this young woman.

Over the Summer, Dumont participated in and internship with Mass General Hospital in Boston, MA as a requirement of her ASR (Authentic Science Research) class. Her research to determine whether an extension of the uterine incision during a cesarean section is a risk for uterine rupture during the subsequent natural birth (or VBAC) was published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

Dumont says she would like to be an obstetrician when she gets older and she stated that, “You get to be a part of the best day of someone’s life (when their child is born) every single day!” She saw cesarean sections being done and seeing it firsthand she said really helped with her research.

Along with her ASR accomplishments Dumont is a dedicated student and a part of many clubs, such as the green team, NHS, peer tutoring, Interact club, class office, debate, and band. She also plays field hockey and runs for the winter track team.

Her dedication to all of her activities shows and she tries to get to as many events as she can. Teachers and fellow students look to her as a role model and recognize her familiar face throughout the school and the community. Dumont will graduate this year and heading off to college in the fall and there is no doubt she will be missed by many of her friends and fellow classmates, along with the teacher and friends she leaves behind.