Welcome to the History and Social Studies Department

Meet the Faculty

Photo of Mr. DiPietro in halls, smiling

David DiPietro, Department Chair

B.A. Roger Williams University; MA of Liberal Arts in American Studies UMASS; Boston M.A.T. Tufts University

Mr. DiPietro began his time at SHS in 2012 as an educator of 9th grade US History. A trained history and special educator, he believes deeply in student-centered learning and helping students build the critical thinking skills necessary to see and understand the world and society they live in. In 2015, he formed a partnership with UMass Boston’s American Studies program to bring the American Identities course to SHS as a dual enrollment program, – the first of its kind in Somerville. The course looks at how identities are formed by community, generational, societal, and personal factors. After attending the Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership in 2021, he became the social studies department chair in 2022. As chair Mr. DiPietro is committed to teaching all students and forwarding Somerville’s equity mission through the social studies classroom. 


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Ted Blake

B.A.S. History and Journalism, University of Connecticut; M.A.T. Tufts University

Mr. Blake has taught full time at SHS since 2008. He currently teaches World History and AP World History. He runs the Trivia Team, coached at SHS for 10 years, and ran the Outdoors Club. He loves sports and outdoor activities, in particular basketball, football, hiking, sailing, cycling, and running. He is an avid reader and writer and an aspiring carpenter and handyman. Mr. Blake is an enthusiastic traveler, and took two years’ sabbatical to teach in Shanghai, China. He spends a lot of his time listening to podcasts.  


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Kara Carpenter

B.A. in History and Secondary Education, Lesley University; M.Ed. in Social Studies Education, American International College; CAGS Reading Specialist, American International College

Ms. Carpenter has taught at SHS since 2008. She teaches World History and Human Behavior. She is the advisor of the Community Service Club. She is an avid traveler and she spent 2 years teaching in China on a sabbatical from SHS. When not teaching, advising, or traveling, Ms. Carpenter spends time outdoors and enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and visiting museums.


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Carlos Contreras

B.A. in History and Secondary Education; M.Ed. in Mild/Moderate Special Needs, Boston College (Donovan Urban Scholars Program)

Mr. Contreras began his career at SHS in 2013 as a Special Education teacher working with the Social Studies Department in a co-teaching model. He has been with the Social Studies Department since 2018. He teaches U.S. History I, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and Debate. He also coaches the Ultimate Frisbee Team, advises the Debate Team, and serves as one of the building’s Union Representatives. As an undergraduate at Boston College, he was a captain of the Latin dance team, and he tries to bring his love of Latin dance to the school community whenever possible. In his spare time, Mr. Contreras also enjoys exploring different parts of Boston, attending sporting events, traveling, and reading.


Photo of Ms. Donnellan, smiling, in front of arid landscape and a body of water

Shannon Donnellan

B.A. History, Clark University; M.A.T. Clark University 

Ms. Donnellan started teaching at Somerville High School in 2016. She currently teaches US History Themes and co-advises the student council. Ms. Donnellan is grateful that she gets to combine her love of history and her love of working with young people every day. She is passionate about creating classroom communities in which all students feel valued and are empowered to take an active role in their learning. In addition to teaching at SHS, Ms. Donnellan also lived in and taught in Wai'anae Hawai'i for two years. When not teaching, Ms. Donnellan can be found traveling, at the pottery studio, running, or spending as much time as possible outside with her tiny dog.


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Steve Ensdorf

B.A. in History, Skidmore College; M.A.T. Union College

Mr. Ensdorf came to SHS in the fall of 2017. Previously he taught in the Boston Public Schools for 18 years. Prior to that, he worked with the Department of Youth Services teaching history and managing educational services for court-involved youth in a secure setting. Currently, he teaches World History and United States History. In the past, Mr. Ensdorf has participated in Fulbright and National Endowment for the Humanities projects in Mexico, testified at Boston City Council Meetings to advocate for more history instruction, and presented at the National Council for Social Studies Conference regarding Participatory Action Projects in the Civics Curriculum. In his spare time, Mr. Ensdorf enjoys riding bicycles, playing the guitar, reading, and traveling.


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Sarah Eustis

B.A in History, Tufts University, M.A.T in History Education, Tufts University 

Ms. Eustis grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Somerville to attend Tufts University, where she was a history and fine arts major. She taught at Somerville High School from 2013–2019, teaching US History and Women’s and Gender Studies. In 2019, Ms. Eustis moved to Shanghai, China, where she lived and taught history at international schools for 3 years. In 2023, Ms. Eustis rejoined the history department at Somerville High to teach world history. Besides history and teaching, her greatest passion is ceramics and she is often taking classes or renting studio space from Mudflat Pottery School in Somerville. She also loves to travel, cook, and eat delicious food from all over the world.


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Katie Hennessey

B.A. History, College of Wooster; M.A. in Environment, Society, and Development, National University of Ireland-Galway; M.Ed. University of St. Joseph

Ms. Hennessey began teaching at Somerville High School in 2021. She currently teaches Sheltered English History and ESL Academic Success. Ms. Hennessey loves to travel, and lived in Ireland for more than two years. Her academic interests include environmental justice and adolescent identity development. In the past, Ms. Hennessey participated in a Geopolitics and Justice Research Cluster symposium, and conducted research on youth identity in former Yugoslavia with the U.N. Development Programme. Previously Ms. Hennessey worked at Lynn English and Methuen High as a Social Studies and ESL teacher. Ms. Hennessey is an avid reader who loves to spend time with her dog.


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Anais Rivero 

B.A. in Political Science and History, Pitzer College, M.Ed. in Secondary Education, Boston College (Donovan Urban Scholars Program)

Teacher Rivero grew up in Miami, Florida and moved to the greater Boston area to pursue a Masters in Secondary Education at Boston College. Teacher Rivero is very excited to be working with the Somerville community and currently teaches United States History and AP Psychology at Somerville High School. Teacher Rivero sees education as a vehicle for liberation, thus they deeply value building relationships with students and affirming students’ identities. Teacher Rivero hopes to make every student feel safe and comfortable in the class, as well as make the curriculum accessible and rigorous to all. In their free time, Teacher Rivero likes to cook new foods, go to boxing class, and read books, especially history books and queer romance novels.



Ms. Santos

Adda Santos-Smith

B.A. in History, University of Massachusetts at Boston; M.Ed. in Secondary Education, University of Massachusetts at Boston

Adda Santos was born in Porto Alegre, a city in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. She immigrated to the United States in 1990 to attend Northeastern University, where she stayed for two years before transferring to The University of Massachusetts at Boston, where she earned a BA in History and then a M.Ed. in Secondary Education. Adda continues to attend history seminars during most summers, where she focuses on African American history, her main area of interest. She has been teaching at Somerville High School since 1998. 

Adda is a true believer in teaching “hard history” to her students and never leaving any facts or voices out of the American narrative. 

In 2020, Adda was awarded the William Spratt Award for Excellence in Teaching Secondary Social Studies, and in 2021, Adda was also awarded The American Association of State and Local History Leadership in History Award for her creation and work on the exhibit The Basement Project: Not Your Usual Junk at the Somerville Museum in Somerville, Massachusetts. In 2022, Adda was named Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Photo of Ms. Sheikh in front of verdant landscape

Amina Sheikh

B.A. in History, Brown University; M.Ed. UMass Boston.

Ms. Sheikh grew up in Oakland, California and has been a teacher since 2012. Prior to joining Somerville High School in 2022, Ms. Sheikh taught history and special education/inclusion in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Cambridge. Outside of school, Ms. Sheikh loves hiking and swimming with her kids, eating ice cream, and reading Young Adult fiction.


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Beatriz Thomas

B.A. History and Secondary Education, Lesley University; M.Ed. in Secondary Education, Boston College (Donovan Urban Scholars Program)

Ms. Thomas grew up in East Somerville and attended East Somerville Community School before graduating from Somerville High School. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, and having so many wonderful teachers at SHS confirmed that. She has been teaching at SHS since 2020. Ms. Thomas currently teaches 9th grade World History and Women’s and Gender Studies. Previously, she taught 7th grade world history in Cambridge. In 2019, the Massachusetts Council for Social Studies recognized her with the Richard Aieta Award for Promising New Teacher. In 2021, she took part in the Latinx Teachers Fellowship through Latinos for Education. This fellowship inspired her to co-create the Latinx Student Union club in 2022. She feels lucky to be able to share her Salvadoran roots and culture with her students. In her free time, Ms. Thomas enjoys reading, reality TV, watching sports, hiking, and traveling to new places with her husband.


Photo of Mr. Timmins at beach at sunset, smiling

Vincent Timmins 

B.A. in History with a minor in Education from Smith College; M.S.Ed. with a concentration in History from Simmons College.

Mr. Timmins grew up in Medford, Massachusetts, and joined the Social Studies Department at Somerville High School this year. He previously taught History in Newburyport for six years, and is excited to be back in the Boston area. Mr. Timmins loves working with all learners, and looks forward to making connections with students every year to get them excited about history. Mr. Timmins teaches AP Psychology and Sheltered English US History at SHS. A lifelong athlete, Mr. Timmins was inducted into the Medford Hall of Fame for soccer and lacrosse in the fall of 2023, and has recently taken up wrestling. In his free time, Mr. Timmins can be found seeing live music with friends, traveling to new places with his partner, or at home drawing, watching movies, cooking and enjoying the company of his wonderful cat.