Posted in Colchester Middle School, General, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Did You Know About These Changes at Colchester Middle School?

Last June, Superintendent Larry Waters delivered his commendations and recommendations to Colchester Middle School following a three-month appreciative inquiry as part of an effort to enhance the school’s performance and instruction. Shortly thereafter, as we reported last July, he and members of CMS’s leadership team attended the then National Middle School Association’s 2011 Institute for Middle Level Leadership (now known as the Association for Middle Level Education).

As a result of these and numerous other efforts over the course of the 2011–2012 academic year, a number of changes have taken place at CMS. Here is just a sample of them.

  • CMS has created and initiated implementation of school-wide data protocols that will in turn serve to facilitate decisions about curriculum and interventions.
  • The School Improvement Plan (SIP) has been designed to allow state-level and common local assessment (CLA) data to help inform instruction and to ensure that educational opportunities are equitable. It works to incorporate research-based instructional strategies, and the Vermont Department of Education has been complimentary of it. In fact, the SIP, the new action plan, and the professional development plan have all been coordinated in order to be most effective.
  • The school’s budget has been redesigned in order to facilitate and support additional access to technology. This is particularly important since a major component of the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 concerns technology infrastructure and integration.
  • All curriculum in all content areas has been rewritten. This was a monumental collaborative effort involving all CMS teachers and administrators. The new curriculum incorporates elements of the Common Core State Standards, the Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities, and technology integration.
  • CMS will focus on building common lesson plan templates starting with fall of 2013 in order to support building academic norms and increasing instructional expectations for the learning opportunities offered to its students.
  • A three-year plan for professional development is being finalized. This plan will support all faculty and staff to more effectively engage students through the implementation of research-based instructional practices and the use of data-driven decision making in an effort to more systematically support the growth of all learners.
  • The school-wide educational support team has been remodeled in order to align with the Vermont Department of Education’s best practices.
  • CMS has implemented CloudK12 to replace paper-based student planners. The implementation of this program has already resulted in a cost savings of approximately $5,000 and has facilitated student and parent awareness about projects and assignments.
  • CMS has redesigned its master schedule in order to allow for a number of important benefits, including additional curricular opportunities, increased interaction between students and educators, and increased flexibility.

This sampling of changes at CMS is only the beginning. For more information about Colchester Middle School and the changes taking place there, please e-mail Principal Dawn Gruss or call (802) 264-5800.

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Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information

Additional Information About the School Board Opening

In our June 21 CSD Spotlight post, we announced a vacancy on the Colchester School Board.

As a reminder, the board would like to appoint the new member at the meeting on July 17, 2012. The new member will serve on the board until our Town Meeting Election in March 2013. This is a correction from our June 21 post.

Candidates must be Colchester residents and legal voters to qualify. Applicants are asked to send letters of interest to:

Larry Waters, Superintendent
Colchester School District
125 Laker Lane
P.O. Box 27
Colchester, VT 05446

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Colchester Middle School, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Primer Series, Union Memorial School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

Primer Series: Inservice Days

Have you ever wondered about what takes place during an inservice day?

Inservice days offer important training and professional development opportunities for teachers and staff covering a vast array of topics—anything from new research in instructional design to technology implementation strategies … and from considerations for special needs students to information about the Common Core State Standards. The purpose of inservice days is to support our educators so that they, in turn, can best support our students. These professional development and ongoing training opportunities are vitally important for our educators in our efforts to provide excellence in our classrooms.

School administrators custom design their inservice days in order to best support their educators. This flexibility is important since each individual school may face different issues. Offering a wide variety of trainings ensures that educators are well positioned to work collaboratively to support their school’s overarching mission and offer the best opportunities for the students.

As an example, both Malletts Bay School and Colchester Middle School offered mindfulness workshops with Martha Whitney as a component of one of their recent inservice days. (Please see our November 4 article, “Mindfulness in Our Schools,” to learn about the benefits of mindfulness curriculum.) Mindfulness is aligned with the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, which has a pathway dedicated to wellness-oriented, balanced, and healthy learners.

The mindfulness-oriented inservice is closely related to another example of recent inservice training, in which Porters Point School and Union Memorial School attended a Howard Center presentation about creating trauma-informed learning environments. Creating such environments for students who have or who are experiencing complex trauma can help them to better recognize and learn to alleviate their stressors. This, in turn, has positive implications for entire classrooms and the schools’ overall academic climate.

These are just a few examples of the wide variety of training and development opportunities that take place during inservice days. If you would like to know more, please contact Colchester School District’s administrative offices at (802) 264-5999.

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information

School Board Seeks New Member

Colchester School Board announces a position opening and is now accepting applications from qualified candidates.

Clerk of the Colchester School Board Steve Cormier, whose term expires in March of 2014, announced his resignation at the June 19 meeting. The board would like to appoint the new member at the July 17 meeting. The new member will serve the remainder of Mr. Cormier’s three-year appointment.

Candidates must be Colchester residents and legal voters to qualify. Applicants are asked to send letters of interest to:

Larry Waters, Superintendent
Colchester School District
125 Laker Lane
P.O. Box 27
Colchester, VT 05446

Thank you!

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Colchester High School, General

Congratulations, CHS Class of 2012!

The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.
—Maya Angelou

At Colchester High School’s June 15 awards night event, thirty-nine awards and forty scholarships were awarded to seniors, and on June 16, the school graduated 189 seniors at the commencement exercises.

Retired CHS educator John Willard delivered the commencement address.

Stay tuned for photographs of the grand event—coming soon!

Congratulations, graduates!

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Grants, Videos

Introducing the Human-Powered Generator

We recently announced a $2,500 grant awarded by Berlin City Auto Group to Colchester High School to support a sustainability project.

On June 1, CHS students and staff were on hand to accept the award and demonstrate an aspect of the sustainability project—a human-powered generator built by science educator Will Warren.

CHS staff and students and Berlin City’s Dedrick Casab

To watch a short video of Mr. Warren explaining the human-powered generator, click here.

As we’ve mentioned, the generator is capable of storing electricity to help offset some of CHS’s stage lighting, sound, and projection equipment’s power requirements. Performers requiring electricity can generate and store at least some of it in advance and then use it during their performances, which creates more ecologically conscious and responsible facilities. Developing greater awareness about conservation efforts—and developing hands-on solutions—helps our students collaborate with their local and global communities to address our intensifying ecological situation.

Many, many thanks to Berlin City for its support of our schools yet again!

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Posted in Community, General, Student Spotlight

Join Us in the Independence Day Parade!

Colchester School District invites the community to join us for the forty-third annual Colchester Independence Day parade on Wednesday, July 4!

We are celebrating an outstanding year for CSD, including:

And so much more! We are proud to be a part of this community. Please join us! The parade will begin promptly at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, at Creek Farm Plaza and will proceed down Main Street. The parade is expected to last approximately one hour.

If you are interested in participating, please e-mail ColchesterSOS@gmail.com for additional information.

See you there!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in General, Porters Point School

PPS Welcomes New Teachers for the 2012–2013 School Year!

Porters Point School eagerly welcomes two new educators into its community. We proudly introduce them to you here—please join us in welcoming them!

Meg Terrien will teach first grade.

Meg Terrien is a Colchester High School graduate who has returned to teach within Colchester School District! She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree in education from Manhattanville College. The coming school year will be her third teaching in Vermont, having previously taught fourth grade at Swanton Central School and first grade at South Royalton School. She also teaches Jazzercise classes in Colchester and in Burlington … when she’s not scooping ice cream at her family’s ice cream shop, The Village Scoop.

Natalie LaRose will teach second grade.

Natalie LaRose, who holds a business degree and her elementary teaching licensure from Saint Michael’s College (SMC), will teach second grade. Her previous teaching experience includes teaching Title I at Edmunds Middle School and both second and third grade at Burlington’s Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes. Natalie is currently earning her masters in Special Education at SMC.

If you would like more information about Porters Point School’s incoming new teachers, please contact Principal Jim Marshall at (802) 264-5920 or by e-mail (marshallj@csdvt.org).

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, General

CHS Bids Farewell to Retiring Staffers

Colchester High School will bid a fond farewell to a number of its staff members who will retire at the end of this school year.

Joe Desrosiers has taught science at CHS for thirty-seven years.

Marilyn Hindes has been with Colchester School District for thirty-four years, the last fourteen of which have been as a special educator at CHS.

Mary Kate Rowan has been with CSD since 2004, largely with the Colchester Alternative Program (CAP).

Marion Thompson has been with the special education department at CHS for nearly three decades.

GiGi Uzelle has spent the majority of her twenty-nine years at CHS in the kitchen, refueling our students during their school day.

The Lakeside Voice, CHS’s award-winning student newspaper, is paying tribute to these longtime staffers. Please see the June issue of the Lakeside Voice for photos and stories about these members of the CSD community. (The publication has received a meritorious achievement award in scholastic editing and publishing by the New England Scholastic Press Association (NESPA) at Boston University’s School of Communication a number of times!)

Please join us in wishing all of CHS’s soon-to-be retirees well!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester Middle School, Community, General

Positive Climate Through Positive Expression

A picture is a poem without words.
—Horace

CMS students with their artwork “Four-Season Tree.” The pair worked on the piece nearly every day for four months.

Throughout the year, we have shared numerous examples of the ways in which our schools are proactively working to cultivate positive climates. Colchester Middle School has struck upon another idea that is really brightening its learning environment.

A sixth grader with the mural he and a friend recently completed. Notice the incorporation of the school’s colors into the snowman’s scarf and the bear’s umbrella.

The idea: why not allow students an opportunity to develop a sense of ownership and pride in their school by opening up wall space for murals?

Any student or group of students interested in creating permanent mural art for CMS must first submit a schematic to art educator William Albright and Principal Dawn Gruss, and once approved, the murals are completed during student support time (SST) and during daily breaks.

An eighth grader stands with her creation, “Robot.” She said, “The colors are big, bold, simple … but it is hard work to get the sharp edges and to put your own creative twist on it.”

The murals are not graded; instead, they are an opportunity to encourage free expression and promote positive school climate. As we’ve mentioned before, research has indicated that students are more likely to succeed in school when they experience a positive sense of belonging and when they feel that they are part of something greater.

Eighth graders stand with their work, “The World Is Full of Beauty.” The piece took a week to design and three months to complete.

Art also provides an excellent forum for creativity, exploration, communication, and imagination. For many students, it also builds confidence, self-discipline, and increases self-esteem.

Efforts in positive climate are multifaceted and cumulative … and these murals are contributing by facilitating a warm and collaborative spirit in the hallways of CMS.

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