History of the Brahmin Handbag

In 1882, Joan and Bill Martin began Brahmin Leather Works which was a small entrepreneurial enterprise in Massachusetts. The company began in their home where they were to create handbags that would capture the imagination of high society women in Massachusetts. The term Brahmin originally comes from the caste system of India where the elite class, the highest caste, were called Brahmins. The term also means learned one, and denotes one of the highest societies of the Indian caste system of the 1800’s. In Boston, the socialites of those days who were of high standing were called Boston Brahmins. The term was embraced by Bill Martin and stuck ever since.

As the years went by, the Martins realized that the company would amount to much more than a small Boston handbag shop. They soon began working with others to create a brand name and the Brahmin name took off like a shooting star. The high quality of Brahmin bags coupled with their fashionable designs are what made the company a symbol of fashion and the finest craftsmanship. Made of Italian leather and polished with a unique sheen, the bags became popular with the well to do of the New England area very quickly.

Today, while operations are large scale, there remains only four Brahmin handbag retailers. All of these are in the New England area. The company is still very much family owned, but has cooperated extensively with sales professionals from all over the country to promote their products. A recent big step for Brahmin was to collaborate with Dillards to sell their handbags. You can now find Brahmin hand bags in Dillards along with all your favorite high end brands. The only difference is that their handbags will be at a surprisingly low rate compared to other high end brands.

There are literally hundreds of styles and colors of hand bags to choose from. Brahmin has come up with a unique style of naming their purses to categorize them for easy reference. They use girls names like Rosaline, Alyssa, and Dana, to name a few to tell styles apart. You can find a variety of wrist purses, cross body bags, business bags, as well as party hand bags. The list is endless to what you can find. If you would like to locate a specific color and style you can do so easily by logging on to the Brahmin web site which is the official site for the renowned handbag.

Provider Overview – MassMutual Annuities

MassMutual was originally established in 1851 by George W. Rice. Rice was an insurance agent for a Connecticut life insurance company wanting to open a similar business in Massachusetts. He started the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company which became a true mutual company – a company owned by its policyholders – soon after it was started.

Today, the company is based in Springfield, Massachusetts and Enfield, Connecticut and has grown from a personal insurer to an international financial services firm. It has approximately thirteen million clients worldwide and over $500 billion in assets under its management. In addition to its operations in the United States, MassMutual has subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, China, Macao, Argentina, Chile, Bermuda, and Luxembourg. The total number of offices for the company numbers over 1200, and the firm’s full marketing name is MassMutual Financial Group.

MassMutual is still run for the benefit of its members and policyholders. They provide life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services, mutual funds, money management, and trust services in addition to annuities to their clients.

Although dividends are not guaranteed, MassMutual is proud of its financial strength and has paid dividends to policyholders every year since the 1860s. The company is also known for its charitable giving in the areas where they are based. They often contribute to programs which benefit education, arts, culture, or economic development in the local community.

In terms of annuities, MassMutual offers five different products – two deferred variable annuities, one deferred fixed annuity, and one immediate annuity. The individual products are as follows:

Deferred Variable Annuities:

o MassMutual Transitions Select

o MassMutual Evolution

Deferred Fixed Annuities:

o MassMutual Odyssey and Odyssey Plus

Immediate Fixed Annuities:

o MassMutual RetireEase

Some of MassMutual’s annuity policies can be initiated with death and living benefits. The death benefit option means that a beneficiary will receive all of the money in the account or a guaranteed minimum amount upon the annuitant’s death. Enhanced death benefits are also available which may allow for a higher payment to the beneficiary. The living benefits include guaranteed minimum accumulation benefits, income benefits, and withdrawal benefits.

As with most insurers, MassMutual attaches additional fees associated with its annuity products. These include administration and management fees.There may also be a mortality risk charge and an expense risk charge, often known as an “M&E” charge. In addition, surrender charges may apply if the annuity is terminated early or a portion of the annuity is withdrawn.

When considering an annuity company, it is important to understand the financial strength of the organization. One of the best ways a doing this is by reviewing the company’s financial ratings. Independent rating companies have given MassMutual some of the highest ratings in the industry. Below are the current ratings (as of July 2009) for MassMutual.

A.M. Best Company: (Superior, 1st of 15 categories)

Fitch Ratings: (Exceptionally Strong, 1st of 21 categories)

Moody’s: (Excellent, 2nd of 21 categories)

Standard & Poors: (Extremely Strong, 1st of 21 categories)

Top 20 Providers of Health Insurance Plans

For 20 years, the National Committee for Quality Assurance has been on the forefront of promoting the highest quality for health care and health insurance services. The organization uses HEDIS, the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, to measure performance. This year, the organization examined 227 health plans and selected the best 20 private plans available in the United States.

Their methodology was based on several factors–clinical effectiveness, NCQA accredation, and patient satisfaction. These factors should be important to any consumer looking to purchase health coverage.

According to NCQA, these are the best private health insurance plans for 2010-2011:

  1. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care: Available in Massachusetts, Maine
  2. Tufts Associated Health Maintenance Organization: Available in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
  3. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England: Available in New Hampshire
  4. Capital Health Plan: Available in Florida
  5. Geisinger Health Plan: Available in Pennsylvania
  6. Grand Valley Health Plan: Available in Michigan
  7. Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin: Available in Wisconsin
  8. Fallon Community Health Plan: Available in Massachusetts
  9. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado: Available in Colorado
  10. Health New England: Available in Massachusetts
  11. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts: Available in Massachusetts
  12. CIGNA HealthCare of New Hampshire: Available in New Hampshire
  13. Priority Health: Available in Michigan
  14. HealthAmerica Pennsylvania: Available in Pennsylvania
  15. Health Net of Connecticut: Available in Connecticut
  16. Independent Health Association: Available in New York
  17. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire: Available in New Hampshire
  18. Anthem Health Plan of New Hampshire: Available in New Hampshire
  19. HealthPartners: Available in Minnesota
  20. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine: Available in Maine

Interestingly, a significant percentage of these plans are in Massachusetts, a state which implemented its own version of healthcare reform several years ago. Michigan, New Hampshire, and Maine also have multiple entries on the list.

What if none of these health insurance plans are available in your area? There are several options: shopping around for products with similar benefits and costs is a good idea. At the very least, the NCQA list can provide a yardstick for judging quality.

Dangerousness Hearings (58A) and Drunk Driving (OUI) Cases in Massachusetts

If you are charged with a third or subsequent offense of Operating under the Influence in violation of G.L. c. 90, §24 the Commonwealth’s prosecutor can and has been with some frequency in Massachusetts been filing for those accused to be held in jail for 90 days without bail under G.L. c. 276, §58A (Dangerousness Hearing) pending trial. G.L. c. 276, §58A provides that “if, after a hearing… the district or superior court justice finds by clear and convincing evidence that no conditions of release will reasonably assure the safety of any other person or the community, said justice shall order the detention of the person prior to trial.”

The Judge in these Dangerousness Hearings will consider several pieces of evidence that include:

1. The circumstances of the accused crime,

2. Past criminal record,

3. Prior bail violations,

4. Employment history,

5. Mental illness records,

6. Community ties,

7. Reputation,

8. Dependence on controlled substances, and

9. The potential danger on the public if released.

Of some importance when it comes to OUI arrests and a Dangerousness Hearing the facts of the case will play a very important role. Facts of an exceptional nature will play an important role. The level of intoxication, the conduct of the accused that resulted in the individual being stopped, was there an accident, were other parties hurt, what was the defendant’s interaction and demeanor with the arresting officer?

Since the circumstances of the arrest can play a pivotal role in a Dangerousness Hearing it is important that if you are stopped for an OUI that you:

1. Be respectful and polite with the officer. Rude behavior can be detrimental to any future proceedings.

2. You have the right to remain silent, USE IT! Anything that you say will be used against you. Every prosecutor, defense attorney and police officer has heard the line “I only had one or two drinks.”

3. Be respectful and polite. No I did not accidentally repeat this, it is that important.

4. You have a right to refuse field sobriety test, such as the 9 step walk and turn and the one legged stand.

5. You have a right to refuse to take a breath test. Refusal of field sobriety and breath tests will result in license suspension. However, at a future trial these refusals are inadmissible.

6. Be respectful and polite while making such refusals.

7. Do not go to the arraignment without a lawyer. If it is your third offense you can be held for a dangerousness hearing to be held or after one is held even if you had made a bail set by a bail commissioner at the police station.

OUI Laws and Drunk Driver Accident Liability

Massachusetts OUI (Operating Under the Influence) laws protect the public by making driving while intoxicated a serious criminal offense. Motorists caught driving under the influence (DUI) face fines and possibly criminal penalties. The more DUI offenses a Massachusetts driver has, the more severe the penalties become.

Defining Driving Under the Influence

Massachusetts OUI laws define driving under the influence as operating a motor vehicle with:

o A blood alcohol content of.08 or greater OR

o A blood alcohol content of.02 or greater if the driver is under 21 OR

o Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulants, or glue vapors.

Massachusetts OUI laws provide for fines, probation, possible jail time, and driver’s license revocation for 1 year for first time offenders. Subsequent convictions can mean harsher penalties and could elevate the negligent driver to felony level charges.

Suing a Drunk Driver in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, most victims of serious DUI accidents cannot afford to pay the difference between what auto insurance companies will provide and the total amount of medical bills they will face.

As a victim of a Massachusetts DUI accident, it is your right to sue the driver for negligence in civil court even while criminal charges are pending. You are entitled to recover the full amount of your personal injuries, which may include time lost from work, long-term care, and other expenses. It is important to keep in mind that drunk drivers will most likely face fines as well as jail time because of their negligence and may not be able to pay the full judgment that you are awarded.

Massachusetts DUI Accidents: Determining Liability

A driver must be found legally responsible for the Massachusetts drunk driving accident in order to be made to pay compensation to the victim. The case may be that other people-in addition to the driver-can be held legally responsible for a drunk-driving victim’s injuries.

If the driver was served alcohol by someone who knew the driver was already intoxicated, that person could also be held liable to the accident victim and therefore responsible for compensating the victim under Massachusetts law. This applies equally to people in bars and restaurants as well as people at parties and private gatherings.

As a victim, it is important that you determine all responsible parties in order to maximize your recovery and ensure your expenses are covered. This is why it is so critical to make sure you do not sign any settlements with a representative of an insurance company prior to speaking with your Massachusetts personal injury attorney.

A New Lawyer’s Best Friend – Pre Drafted Legal Forms

A newly admitted lawyer to the Massachusetts Bar, has several options upon receiving his or her license to practice law. They can apply for an associate position with a big firm, and conduct research for the next five years; they can apply to work in a small firm and do all the work the senior lawyers do not want to deal with; they can hang their own shingle. This article will take the perspective of the later, i.e., a recent law school graduate with an entrepreneurial spirit, a little cash on hand, and a desire to start his or her own practice.

Forget about the fact that marketing and obtaining clients is going to be the most difficult aspect of the new venture. Forget that the new attorney must choose an area of practice, for even a general practitioner can’t work in every field of law. Once the client walks in the door and the attorney wants to accept the case, the flood-gates of paperwork will open.

The first document a new lawyer must draft is a fee agreement. There are several internet sites out there that have these types of legal contract, as well as other legal forms, but those legal documents are very general in nature and likely do not satisfy the Massachusetts General Laws. However, a quick look in any Lawyer’s weekly will show a host of legal software companies who have created word documents drafted specifically for Massachusetts, or what ever state your practice requires.

Next is the whole process of filing a complaint or answer if a law suit is involved, drafting HUD statements if real estate is the issue at hand and so forth. One new Massachusetts Probate Attorney, recently said, “I didn’t know where to start before I had the direction of my document generation software and my online research tools”. She went on to state that, “but for the form generating software, I would have had to consult for hours the Massachusetts Practice Series and other form books”.

Once a case has been filed, the real onslaught of paper work and forms hits the fan – DISCOVERY. There are interrogatories, request for production of documents, requests for medical records, requests for police reports, subpoenas’ for depositions, etc. There are motions for summery judgment, motions to compel, and so many more. A new lawyer who has never drafted these documents has virtually no where to turn, but to the form books for hours and hours of unbillable research time.

The biggest problem for new lawyers is they did not learn how to try cases in law school. Rather, they are more equipped to argue an appeal in front the The United States Supreme Court then they are to handle a simple will contest, or personal injury matter. The bottom line is, in order for a new attorney to be efficient, they can either purchase one of these up to date, form generating software packages, be lucky enough to have a mentor, or put their dreams and aspirations on hold for two or three years, while working for a small practice. In the case of the young probate attorney, she decided to purchase the software, and was lucky to have one of the premier real estate and probate attorneys in the state as a mentor. However, not all new lawyers are so lucky, and if you are going to spend 30 hours a week researching what forms are needed to follow procedure, you will be hard pressed to find time to actually represent your clients, let alone conduct legal work that can be justified as billable hours.

The gist of all of this is that it would be highly advisable to look into the technology that is available today if you are a new lawyer, and in fact, even if you are an experienced lawyer, this technology allows you to stay current with any changes in the law and procedure for state courts in your document library.

Melanie’s Law Explained

Many Massachusetts Drivers are thoroughly confused by the penalties imposed by Melanie’s Law, a tough drunk driving law which was designed to improve public safety.

On October 28, 2005, the Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law was amended by “Melanie’s Law” This law substantially increased penalties and sanctions for drunk driving related offenses and refusing the breathalyzer. Also, the law imposed an immediate suspension upon refusal of a chemical breath test and eliminated the 15 day temporary licenses which were previously issued to offenders who refused the breathalyzer. Since the passage of Melanie’s Law, the number of people who were arrested in Massachusetts and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor (OUI) has steadily increased. According to data from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), in the year prior to the passage of Melanie’s Law, 13,335 people were arrested and charged with OUI. Between October 28, 2005 and October 28, 2006, the first year after Melanie’s Law took effect, the number of arrests rose to 14,068; in the second year, that number rose again to 15,591. According to the RMV’s most recent statistics, in the third year since Melanie’s Law took effect, there were 16,199 people arrested and charged with OUI in Massachusetts.

One of the goals of Melanie’s Law was to persuade people to take the breathalyzer by imposing harsh license suspensions for breathalyzer refusals. License suspensions for breathalyzer refusals range from 6 months to lifetime.  With these long suspensions, many people think twice before refusing the breathalyzer.

Another component of Melanie’s Law requires the installation of breath alcohol ignition interlock devices in vehicles of repeat offenders. Drivers with 2 or more DUI charges on their records must operate only those vehicles equipped with interlock devices during the entire term of any hardship license and for a period of two (2) years after getting their full licenses reinstated.

Melanie’s Law created the following new crimes: Employing or allowing unlicensed operator to operate motor vehicle, allowing an individual with an ignition interlock restriction to operate a vehicle not equipped with the device, Removal of the device, or failing to have the device inspected, maintained, or monitored on at least two occasions, at least two attempts to start a vehicle with a blood alcohol level in excess of .02, Driving without an ignition interlock device when its mandated, Tampering with an ignition interlock device, supplying an air sample to start someone else’s vehicle,  DUI while driving on a suspended license because of drunk driving, and DUI with a child 14 years of age or younger in the car.

Melanie’s law also increased the waiting period to apply for a hardship license for a second offense.  Now, in most cases, you must wait one year to get a hardship license on a 2nd offense. Also, it increased the length of license suspension for vehicular homicide from 10 to 15 years.

Given the complexities of Melanie’s Law, having a qualified lawyer fight for you is essential. You should hire a lawyer who knows the Massachusetts Drunk Driving and Hardship License laws inside and out.

What You Should Know About Drunk Driving Charges (Operating Under The Influence) In Massachusetts

How many of us have had a few drinks at the bar, at a friend’s house, or at a work event and thought I have only had a few so I am OK to drive home. For some this ends up being a costly decision and they find themselves charged with Operating under the Influence (OUI).

What you should know about OUI charges are that if an experienced attorney is engaged early it can make a world of a difference. In an OUI case the state’s prosecutor has to prove several things beyond a reasonable doubt, we call these parts elements of the crime. In an OUI case the elements of the crime are that the 1.) accused, 2.) operated a motor vehicle, 3.) on a pubic way and 4.) while his/her ability to do so was impaired or his/her blood alcohol content is above.08.

We will take these elements of OUI one at a time. It may sound like a no brainer, but it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they have the right person before the court. This is simple enough to prove but does require some sort of identification or circumstantial evidence; normally a police officer’s testimony or a civilian’s testimony that was at the scene of the alleged crime will suffice.

Secondly to prove an OUI, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had operated a motor vehicle. Again proving this element is normally not that difficult, however a trained experienced attorney maybe able to exploit this area to your advantage. The specific facts of your case will be determinative of the viability of mounting a defense on this issue.

Thirdly to prove an OUI, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the operation of the vehicle occurred on a public way. Again, this may seem like an easy thing to prove, but for an inexperienced prosecutor they may overlook this element allowing an experienced OUI attorney to secure a directed verdict or a not guilty. Simply put the prosecutor must prove that the operation occurred in an area generally open to other members of the public to operate their vehicles.

Finally, the state’s prosecutor must prove that your ability to do so was impaired or that your blood alcohol content was above a.08. If the individual facts of the case permit the prosecutor can proceed on both theories.

Starting with the latter, whether you have a blood alcohol content of.08 will be proven either by a blood test or more commonly a breathalyzer test. However, if you had refused to take either type of test this theory of prosecution will be unavailable and additionally the fact that a refusal occurred is inadmissible at trial in Massachusetts. It is important to have an experienced OUI defense attorney especially a former prosecutor because they are well aware of the potential issues that may bar this evidence from being used at trial or how to negate it if it does come into evidence at trial.

With proving the first theory of whether your ability to operate said motor vehicle was impaired, many factors will ultimately play into the outcome. They often include, but are not limited to, observations of driving behavior, (was the driving erratic), observations of you at the time of the alleged offense (slurred speech, ability to stand, blood shot glassy eyes, ability to comprehend), whether field sobriety tests were performed and what where the results (commonly the one legged stand, or the nine step walk and turn). It is important to remember that refusals of field sobriety tests cannot be used as evidence against you. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney knows the manual on how these field sobriety tests are to be performed and can often poke holes into the administering officer’s testimony at trial.

Of some final consideration is whether this is a subsequent OUI, Massachusetts allows for lifetime look back, thus if you have ever been found guilty or received a continuance without a finding for OUI in any state in your lifetime you can be charged with the appropriate subsequent offense and have enhanced penalties, I have listed the potential penalties below. In practical terms this means that the prosecutor must have a second trial if you are found guilty of an OUI at the first trial, this is what is referred to a bifurcated trial. The prosecutor at this second trial has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is in fact you that has been previously convicted of a previous drunk driving crime. Proving the subsequent portion is often done through certified court documents, live testimony and registry of motor vehicle records. Again, this element tends to be hyper technical and requires an experienced attorney to combat it.



Incarceration in the House of Corrections: Not more than 2 ½ years House of Correction Fine: $500-$5,000

License Suspension: For 1 year, hardship license considered in 3 months for work or school and a general hardship in 6 months

Alternative 1st offense disposition:

Probation with a mandatory participation in the 24d alcohol-drug education program paid for by the offender

License suspended for 45 to 90 days, a hardship license is usually available upon completion of an intake for the 24d program.


Incarceration in the House of Corrections: Not less than 60 days, not more than 2 ½ years Fine: $600-$10,000

License Suspension: For 2 years, work/education hardship considered in 1 year, general hardship in 18 months

Condition of hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least 2 years.

Alternative 2nd Offense disposition:

Probation with a 14 day confined treatment program paid for by the offender.

Eligible for 1st offense disposition if have had only one prior offense that is over 10 years old


Incarceration in the House of Corrections: Not less than 180 days, not more than 5 years State Prison

May be served in a correctional facility treatment programs

Fine: $1,000-$15,000

License Suspension: For 8 years, work/education hardship considered in 2 years, general hardship in 4 years

A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least the hardship period.


Incarceration in the House of Corrections: Not less than 2 years (1 year Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years

Fine: $1,500-$25,000

License Suspension: For 10 years, work/education hardship considered in 5 years, general hardship in 8 years

A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least the hardship period.


Incarceration in the House of Corrections: Not less than 2 ½ years (24 mos. Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony Status)

Fine: $2,00-$50,000

License Suspension: For life, no hardship


First Offense $500.00

Second Offense $700.00

Third Offense $1,200.00

Developing the Next Generation of School Leaders in Massachusetts

Call it what you will: building management capacity, growing a new crop of potential leaders, or just planning ahead. However you want to describe it, there’s a real need for it in Massachusetts.

Fact: In recent years, school districts have found it increasingly difficult to fill many top positions. In some cases, few (or no) qualified candidates even apply.

If you accept the premise that the teachers of today are the school administrators of tomorrow, we need to redouble our efforts to develop more leaders from within the teaching ranks. We need to do so immediately.

Granted, some positive efforts are already underway. To help fill the gap, professional organizations such as the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association (MSSAA) and the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) have established their own programs to train teachers to enter management. MSSAA runs a Leadership Licensure Program (LLP) and a Leadership Licensure Program – Superintendent (LLPS). MAVA runs a Leadership Academy for Middle Managers (Leadership Academy I) and a Leadership Academy II to train future Principals and Superintendents.

The Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials (MASBO) runs a licensure program for would-be School Business Managers. The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) runs an Induction Program for newly-appointed Superintendents.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) helps fund many of these programs.

These are all commendable efforts, but more must be done.

As a veteran school administrator, I believe that school districts and the leaders in them have an obligation to help fill this management gap. And I think we can do it, with little cost or effort.

Here are five specific ideas for school superintendents to consider:

Idea #1: Annually enroll at least one staff member in an MSSAA or MAVA leadership program.

• Advantages: Steadily builds management capacity, at a reasonable annual cost of $2,000-$8,000. May be eligible for funding through one of the district’s federal entitlement grants.

• Possible negatives: There’s a cost. Teachers who receive the training may leave the district.

Idea #2: Establish in-school internship programs to get more teachers licensed to take administrative jobs.

School districts already have mentoring programs for teachers. Simply expand yours to include an internship program for aspiring administrators. In a formal program, team up aspiring administrators with current administrators who are willing to share insights with their protégé and guide them through a series of practical projects.

• Advantages: There’s little or no cost to the district. And it’s easy to get such programs approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Education. Upon successful competition, teachers earn administrative licenses.

• Possible negative: You need mentors for each of the teachers. Teachers need to put in hundreds of hours of work to obtain a license. Teachers may encounter confidential information. Teachers who receive a license may leave your district.

Idea #3: Allow teachers to take part in the budget development process.

• Advantages: No cost to the district. Simple way to train teachers to develop annual spending plans. Many would-be administrators have no experience in this key area.

• Possible negative: Teachers may get access to confidential information. Current administrators lose some measure of control.

Idea #4: Let teachers take part in real planning, on important topics to the school.

Include teachers in self-studies/and planning for Coordinated Program Reviews and visits by regional accreditation teams.

• Advantages: No cost to the district. Gives teachers practical experience in areas of planning that administrators actually encounter regularly.

• Possible negatives: Teachers are likely to uncover problems within the school of which they were previously unaware. Current administrators may feel loss of control.

Idea #5: Let teachers do some of the real “heavy lifting” in the school.

Don’t isolate them. Involve them. Ask them to do substantive presentations to the School Council or School Committee. Have them make presentations to Town Meeting or the City Council.

• Advantages: No cost to the school. Hones public presentation skills. Many would-be administrators, while comfortable in a classroom, have no experience making presentations to large public bodies. This is a key skill.

• Possible negatives: Teachers are likely to uncover problems within the school of which they were previously unaware. Teachers may make errors in public. Current administrators may feel loss of control.

Sharp-eyed superintendents will notice that these ideas cost little or nothing. They don’t require a tremendous amount of work by the district. And they don’t require added personnel.

But they have a big payoff: They help would-be administrators develop key skills. And they help build management capacity in the teaching ranks.

Guide to Haunted Lighthouses – Massachusetts

Massachusetts, well known for Plymouth Rock, where the first pilgrims landed, and the Salem witch trials, is also home to five of America’s most haunted lighthouses.

The Haunted Bell

Baker’s Island Light

Baker’s Island Light, just six miles off the coast of Salem, home of the infamous witch trials, is reputedly haunted by a phantom foghorn bell.

This mechanized bell sounded a warning to sailors of impending danger, and rang just once, before being struck by lightning that destroyed it. The lighthouse keeper had to go out in the storm and manually strike a hammer against the bell at precise intervals to keep mariners safe. The bell was replaced, but the new bell repeatedly failed and the frustrated keeper left his post.

Seventeen years later while visiting the lighthouse by steamer, the keeper and his fellow passengers heard the bell. After dropping a few passengers off at a nearby harbor, a waterspout suddenly rose from the sea, capsizing the boat and drowning all but a few passengers. The former keeper, who survived, believed the bell was sounding a warning.

According to legend, this bell, also destroyed by lightning, can be heard sounding the alarm even when there is no apparent danger.

The Ghost Walk

Boston Harbor Light

Boston Harbor Light on Little Brewster Island was the first lighthouse built in the pre-revolutionary war colonies. The original structure, cone shaped and first lit by candles, and later oil lamps, was destroyed by the British Army garrisoned in Boston, after colonial militiamen twice attacked it.

When the war was over, a new tower was erected, that stood 75 feet above the sea, and prevailed against hurricanes, gale force winds and high seas for more than 200 years. A new Fresnel lens was installed in 1859, making Boston light visible for sixteen miles.

Little Brewster had its share of shipwrecks, though not as many as other lighthouses. Sailors still speak of a “ghost walk” several miles from the island, where the lighthouse signal cannot be heard. New Englanders and others believe this area is haunted.

The Pirate Keeper

Bird Island Lighthouse

The first keeper of Bird Island Lighthouse was alleged pirate, William Moore. Moore, who fought against the English in the War of 1812, owed the government enough money to justify their banishing him to the lonely life of a lighthouse keeper.

He was assigned to Bird Island Light in 1819, taking his wife who apparently married him when he was financially prosperous. Mrs. Moore, suffering from tuberculosis and addicted to tobacco, was forbidden to leave the island, as her husband feared that once gone, she would never return.

The dampness of the lighthouse aggravated her condition, and her desperation for tobacco so distressed her that people on the mainland could hear her cries. The local doctor implored Moore to allow her tobacco, but he staunchly refused. The townspeople, disturbed by her wailing took pity on her and smuggled tobacco to her, despite fearing her husband.

When she finally died, Moore raised the distress flag, and a minister went to the island, performed the funeral rites and laid her to rest. The angry townspeople blamed Moore for her death, and he in turn blamed them for not respecting his wishes. Rumors flew that Moore murdered her and covered up the true cause of her death.

According to legend, several of Moore’s successors reported seeing an old woman’s ghost, hunched over, knocking at the door late at night.

The Long Goodbye

Gurnet (Plymouth) Light

Gurnet, or Plymouth Light, America’s oldest wooden lighthouse dating back to the Revolutionary War, is also one of its most haunted.

Today, the Coast Guard operates Plymouth Light, yet many believe the spirit of a former keeper’s wife haunts its rooms, waiting for her husband’s return.

Hannah stayed behind to tend the light while her husband went off to fight for America’s Independence from Great Britain. Her neighbors noticed her standing vigil at her window each evening, waiting for her husband, who unfortunately was killed in action.

Some say Hannah still keeps her faithful vigil, briefly appearing at the window, and then quickly vanishing from sight.

Warning Cries-Nightly Shadows

Minot’s Ledge Light

Minot’s Ledge Light is no more than a tower that sits on a reef jutting out to sea off the coast of Scituate. The first tower lasted less than a year before an angry sea claimed it.

Isaac Dunham, the first keeper at Minot’s Ledge urgently warned his superiors about the lighthouse’s instability to no avail, and he retired after fourteen frustrating months.

One day, Dunham’s successor, John Bennett flew a flag from the lighthouse indicating he needed a ride to shore. He left his two assistants, Joe Wilson and Joe Antoine in charge, when suddenly a savage nor’ easter packing one hundred mile an hour winds attacked them. Bennett watched helplessly from shore as the storm destroyed the lighthouse, killing his two assistants.

Several fishermen reported seeing Antoine swinging from a ladder, yelling, and “Stay away!” in his native Portuguese. Subsequent keepers reported seeing shadows in the lantern room, hearing ghostly whispers at night, and hearing or feeling soft taps upon their shoulders. The two Joes used these taps to signal the end of a shift. One keeper, hearing the taps committed suicide, and another went insane and was taken to shore in a straight jacket.

Then there are the windows…It generally takes an entire day to clean windows soiled by overhead seagulls, yet each new keeper’s assistant reported the windows sparkling clean before ever reaching them.

Are these stories truth or legend? Visit one and find out.