The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of September 12 to September 19, 2019
Monty Tech Vet Program

Dr. Sheila Harrity, superintendent director with Trixie, students Matteo Larralde from Westminster and Jessica Higbee from Winchendon and Dr. Kayla Sample, the new veterinary medical director with Rocko.

Monty Tech Vet Program

Dr. Kayla Sample and Jessica Higbee give Rocko a bit of an exam in the new “digs.”

Monday sees opening of new veterinary clinic at Monty Tech

FITCHBURG — After more than six years of planning, two years of construction, and $2.5 million raised in donations, grants, and in-kind services, the Monty Tech Veterinary Clinic will open its doors Monday, Sept. 16.

"This project has been a very special one for the Monty Tech community,” said Sheila Harrity, Superintendent-Director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School. “The leadership team had a vision and the talented instructors and students across our trades turned that vision into a beautiful 7,500 sq. ft., state-of-the-art reality."

Monty Tech is home to 21 vocational technical programs, with the newest addition being veterinary science. Students trained in the new facility receive classroom and lab instruction in a variety of related topics, ranging from fundamentals of animal science to comparative animal anatomy and physiology. In the students’ Junior year, they transition from the classroom to the clinic floor, where they will work side-by-side with veterinarians and technicians to provide care to dogs and cats. To ensure students are trained in the latest industry standards, school officials have partnered with VCA, who provided the veterinary medical director, at no cost to the school. Dr. Kayla Sample, whose impressive resume includes a small animal community internship at the Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic in Worcester, understands the value of community medicine and has enjoyed working with the next generation of veterinary professionals.

"Working with high school and college students has been a pleasure. While exams and procedures may take longer to complete in a teaching clinic, having the time and resources to train the veterinary workforce will benefit the profession in the long run,” stated Dr. Sample. “VCA understands the need to have a well-trained workforce, and has invested in the Monty Tech Clinic, as a means to ensure their clinics and hospitals will have a skilled workforce in the coming years."

Monty Tech veterinary science students will be involved in all aspects of veterinary care provided at the clinic. Greeting customers, taking histories, and observing exams and procedures, the students will be provided with valuable hands-on learning opportunities that can only be achieved in a clinic or hospital setting. The Monty Tech Clinic, like similar teaching clinics across the state, was designed to serve a specific pet population. Small animals, specifically dogs and cats, from families with limited resources, living in the Monty Tech district will receive subsidized veterinary care.

"Providing families with accessible veterinary care options for preventative and primary care is imperative, and our clinic aims to reduce financialbarriers that may prevent animals from receiving the care they need," said Sample.

"We have developed this program in collaboration with a number of area veterinary professionals, and are excited to partner with them as a resource for qualifying clients who may benefit from services at our clinic," stated Harrity.

To be eligible for services at the Monty Tech Veterinary Clinic, the owner of the pet must present a valid EBT card and a matching ID, and live within one of the 18 cities and towns comprising the Monty Tech District.

The Monty Tech District includes the following cities and towns: Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Barre, Fitchburg, Gardner, Harvard, Holden, Hubbardston, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Princeton, Royalston, Sterling, Templeton, Westminster, and Winchendon.

"While providing a valuable service to our community and educating the veterinary caregivers of tomorrow, is certainly our goal,” said Sample, “developing passionate advocates for veterinary care and community medicine, is the ultimate win for our profession, and an effort I am so incredibly proud and humbled to lead."

For questions regarding eligibility, or to schedule an appointment, please call (978) 516-0888.

New dean of students position making a difference

Meet Eddaliz Stevenson. She's the first ever Dean of Students at Murdock Middle school and after just a couple official weeks on the job, she's quickly immersing herself in the school's pulse and culture.

"I'm becoming part of the community and everyone has been really welcoming," enthused Stevenson, who added she's not the kind of administrator who's going to hide in her office.

"No one's going to get to know me and I'm not going to get to know anyone by sitting here. That's not me anyway. That 's not why I'm here," she stressed.

Stevenson has a lot on her plate. Explained principal Jess Vezina, "She's leading our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports) committee assisting teachers with their behavior support systems and developing intervention strategies."

"She's working closely with students and parents when behavioral issues arise. She's part of our instructional leadership team," said Vezina.

"I'm in classrooms," remarked Stevenson.

"We're focusing on the students' social and emotional" well-being as well as academics,” she said.

"How can we support them? That's the bottom line," she reflected.

Stevenson, who was born in Puerto Rico, graduated from Assumption, and has degrees in English and special education, came to MMS from a much larger school (Skyview Middle); and relishes the idea of working in a place where it's easier to get to know staff and students on much more personal basis.

"Smaller is better. You can make more of a difference," she emphasized.

"This is what I've always wanted to do. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be in education. I was the first in my family to go to college. I'm already happy here."

She lauded Vezina.

"Jess has all the qualities I aspire to have. I love working with her," beamed Stevenson.

The admiration is mutual.

"She's jumped right in. She's motivated to make MMS the best it can be and we are proud to have her as part of our school family," said Vezina.