Posted in Colchester High School, Community, Employee Spotlight, General, Personnel

Greetings from Norway!

Faculty Highlight Rachel Cohen (2)

The following is a post from Spotlight guest author, Rachel Cohen. Ms. Cohen is a humanities teacher at CHS who was awarded a Roving Scholar Fulbright Fellowship to Norway for the 2017-2018 school year. The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program that only awards two or three Roving Scholar Fellowships each year to applicants from all across America. The program brings American teachers to Norway for the school year where they spend their time traveling the country teaching and leading seminars about American history, culture, and teaching methods for both students and faculty. 

To hear more from Ms. Cohen about her journey abroad, visit her blog at www.rachelmaecohen.com

Greetings from Norway!

This month marks the mid-way point on my year in Norway as a Roving Scholar in American Studies, a grant made possible by the US-Norway Fulbright Foundation. While I am based in Oslo, the last five months have taken me to schools throughout this beautiful country. image1I have traveled by train, ferry and plane to reach some very remote schools, and others in large cities. I have logged nearly 70 teaching days and taught over 3,000 Norwegians students and teachers about US history, culture, geography, and the American education system. I have learned a new transportation system, developed strategies to cope with the long, polar nights, and learned a little bit of the Norwegian language along the way. I’ve also developed a fondness for brunost (brown cheese), the classic Norwegian “vaffel” and even reindeer meat! It’s a whirlwind of a teaching year— different in so many ways from my job at Colchester High School, and yet, at other times, I am reminded just how universal teaching and learning truly are.

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Most days I present several workshops to students in ungdomsskole, or lower secondary school, grades 8-10. After school, I often meet with teachers to talk about current trends in US education, sharing best practices in our respective systems.

A popular student workshop is called Teenage Life in America: A Day in the Life of Generation Z. In this workshop I ask students to finish the sentence “Teenage Life in Norway is all about…?” Here, their responses usually include things like “handball!” or “skiing!”, as well as “school work, hanging out with friends, preparing for the future, and watching Netflix.” Back in August I asked some of my students at CHS the same question, and when I share their responses it reveals how, in many ways, life is pretty similar for Norwegian and American teens!DSC_1056

 

This workshop led to a letter writing project between my students here and Mr. Price’s geography classes. In December we were able to skype with two classes here in Norway, in the tiny town of Kirkenes on the Russian border, and at another on the east side of Oslo, where the students are almost entirely new Norwegian or the children of immigrants. (You might be surprised to learn that about 17% of Norway’s population has an immigrant background). Questions ranged from “do you trust your President/Prime Minister?” To “what do you typically eat for dinner?” And “can you sing your national song for us?” This lesson will be one of my favorites of the year, I am certain.image4

The Norwegian School Day

My students here are surprised to learn that all Colchester schools begin before 8 am (compared to at least 8:30 here), that students move around the school all day rather than having all of their classes in one room, and that a hot meal is served at lunch. In Norway all students bring their lunch in a small box, and its customary to eat two slices of bread, and pålegg, meaning toppings for an open-faced sandwich. Cheese, caviar paste, meat pate, and cucumbers are most common. When Norwegians go home mid-afternoon they will have usually have a larger, warm meal then called middag, and perhaps a snack before bed.

image5Norwegian students are also surprised to learn about the large variety of extracurriculars opportunities that exist within American schools. By contrast, Norwegian teens play sports on town teams and are involved in private clubs for theater, arts, and music. So unlike in Colchester, the schools here are pretty quiet once the academic day has ended. Further, the students pay fees to participate in sports and everyone is welcome to play on the teams; there are no cuts. Students travel quite far for games and tournaments— sometimes even to other countries! Most teachers and students I talk with are very intrigued by (and perhaps even a little envious of!) the sense of community and spirit that school-sponsored extracurriculars foster in the USA.

A Social Democracy

Another popular workshop is based off of the 10th grade American Experience curriculum, and it is a look at opportunities and obstacles people face, both in the US and in Norway, to achieving their dreams. This topic often leads to a discussion of some of the benefits of Norway’s strong social programs, funded by relatively high taxes (about 35% on average) and their publicly owned oil fund. Many students are surprised to learn that American families have to save money for college, students hold jobs to save up too, and by the amount of debt that graduates take on. Here, higher education is basically free and accessible to everyone, at any time in a person’s life.image3

The US in the World

I’m surprised to learn just how much Norway’s culture is influenced by the US. Students watch American television, love American music, and use SnapChat to communicate with friends. Many students are eager to travel to New York City or Miami. Learning English is compulsory beginning in the first grade, and the English language is taught through a curriculum of US and British studies. As a result, many Norwegian teens have a good grasp of US history, and can identify many of the freedoms protected by the US Constitution. Norwegians also seem to know quite a lot about the history of indigenous Americans, and can draw comparisons between how American Indians and the Sami people have been treated by our respective governments.

DSC_1625Most Norwegians see the US as a great ally. Occupied by the Nazis during WWII and constantly under threat due to their border with Russia during the Cold War, Norwegians tend to hold America’s commitment to preserving democracy abroad in high regard. This helps explain Norwegians’ keen interest in the American political system and current events. Almost daily students express concerns about the threat of nuclear war. One teacher recently told me, “Our society is inextricably linked to American values. Destabilization in the American world means destabilization everywhere.”

Turning Nations into People

Despite the number of new students I meet each day, the real student here is me. With each interaction, workshop, train ride, and school lunch, I am growing as a teacher and DSC_1049lifelong learner in ways I never imagined I would. Every day I meet people from all walks of life who challenge my assumptions and force me to think differently. In the classroom I’ve been tested with questions that are complex and heart wrenching. “Are you proud to be an American? Is it harder to be an immigrant in America or Norway? Do you think the USA could learn anything from the Norwegian prison system?” I am at once a spokesperson for the US and a private citizen living abroad. Striking that balance has been the great challenge of this job, but an enriching experience all around.

DSC_0672Senator William Fulbright created the Fulbright Foundation in 1946 to promote mutual understanding in the post-WWII world. The value of this program and other opportunities for cross-cultural exchange has become abundantly clear to me. Often students will tell me I’m the first real American they have ever met, and that I helped them think differently about the US, perhaps even to second guess their stereotypes and biases. I am humbled and proud to be in this role. My work seems to be fulfilling Senator Fulbright’s vision:

“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. Man’s capacity for decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings, whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception of an adversary in abstract terms.”

IMG_1654I am deeply grateful to both my colleagues at CHS and the Colchester community for allowing me to pursue this educational opportunity. While most days I have to pinch myself just to make sure I’m not dreaming, the work is never easy and most evenings I collapse onto a hotel bed, exhausted from teaching, traveling, and navigating a foreign country on my own.

But I am confident that I will return to my position at CHS with new teaching skills and a fresh outlook on global citizenship. I am looking forward to Fall 2018 and sharing more stories of my travels with my friends in Colchester!

Tussen takk og ha det bra,

Rachel Cohen

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, District Office, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School

Keeping the “giving” in Thanksgiving

We’re just over a third of the way into the 2017-2018 school year; the leaves are gone, the air has a chill to it, and the holiday season is upon us. As we think about the start of Thanksgiving Break next week, our thoughts turn to the families in our district who may benefit from a little extra help to make sure there’s enough food on the table.

Here’s a couple of ways we can rally behind those families. After all, this is what makes our community so special.  #wearecolchester

Donate Thanksgiving Fixings at CHS

What: Non-perishable items or monetary donations to purchase food 
When: This week (11/13 – 11/17)
Where: Front Office of CHS

If you didn’t already know, Colchester High School has an amazing club called CHS Cares.image They do some incredible things for our community all year round and Thanksgiving is no exception. For the past 10 years, they’ve collected and purchased goods to make 25 complete Thanksgiving meals for families throughout the district (including the turkeys!). They also include other items such as pasta, soups, and peanut butter to help beyond just the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

This Friday the club will stay after school to catalog what they have and what they still need before delivering the baskets on Saturday, November 18th. If you’d like to help this incredible group of teenagers please bring non-perishable items or a monetary donation (checks made out to CHS Cares) to the front office at CHS sometime this week.

Donate a Book to the Burnham Library

What: New or gently used books for kids and teens
When: Now until November 29th
Where: Lobby of all Colchester Schools, Town Offices, and the Burnham Library

SAM_7072The Burnham Memorial Library is once again partnering with the Colchester-Milton Rotary Club on their annual Holiday Gift Basket Project. The baskets will be filled with food and other items to help families in need have food on their tables during the holiday season. These baskets also include books for all the kids and teens in these families. Please help us to make this happen by dropping off your new (or very gently used) books at one of our drop-off locations. Bins have been placed in the lobbies of all Colchester schools, Town Offices and at the Burnham Library. We will be collecting books donations until Wednesday, November 29th.

Donate to the Colchester Food Shelf

What: Thanksgiving Staples: stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes (fresh or instant), casserole ingredients, and of course, turkeys!
When: Regular Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-1:30pm and Wednesday 3:30-6:00pm
Special Hours: Saturday, November 18th 10:00-1:00pm
Where: 245 Main St, Colchester

The Colchester Food Shelf is preparing for Thanksgiving and is looking once more to ourcolchester-food-shelf-logo loyal Colchester residents, who have continued to be wonderful, reliable supporters of the food shelf. They would like to be able to offer dinner fixings along with a turkey to food shelf clients and are looking for boxed scalloped potatoes, turkey gravy, green bean casserole ingredients, boxed stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, and turkeys.

They will be turning on our freezers to accept turkeys (14-16 lbs is a good size) beginning Tuesday, November 14th. Distribution to clients will be Monday, November 20th.

They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11-1:30 and Wednesday, 3:30 – 6:00 for drop-off of donations. They will also be open for donations, from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, November 18th.

Thank you for your continued support and Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General

CHS Awarded 5K Grant To Administer PSATs

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CHS students work on an assignment in class prior to the exam.

This morning, Colchester High School administered a total of 309 Practice SATs to students in grades 10 and 11 thanks to the VSAC Gear Up Grant. The Practice SAT or PSAT is designed to measure readiness for college, access scholarships, and practice for the SAT. The test is composed of four sections: critical reading, writing skills, and two math sections. It takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Approximately 3.5 million students across the nation take the PSATs to get a feel for the exam and to use their scores to discover what areas they should focus on in advance of taking the SAT.

vsac-logoTypically, families have to cover the exam cost and provide transportation to and from a testing facility on a Saturday. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, CHS was able to cover the cost for all students and administer the exam right at CHS during the school day. This gave all students, regardless of their ability to pay, the opportunity to prepare for the SAT.

PSAT scores are also used as the qualifying test for entry into the National Merit Scholarships Program. In September, the 16,000 students who scored in the top one percent of the nation were notified that they had qualified as a semifinalist in their state. This year, CHS is proud to have three students among those with the highest scores in Vermont; Charlie Davidson, Megan Lagerquist, and Jacob Dell.

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Nation Merit Scholarship Semifinalists: Charlie, Megan, and Jacob.

The three CHS semifinalists will be notified in February if they have advanced to the finalist round with a chance to win a National Merit Scholarship worth $2,500.

Posted in Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General

Artists at CHS Compare Observation and Imagination in Still Life Project

A stimulating set-up in the CHS art room is inspiring students to tap into their creativity. Art 1 students have been applying concepts and techniques they’ve learned through a series of still life drawings.

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In the several weeks since the installation was set up, they’ve had the chance to practice their skills and recently started on their final drawings last week.

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Using every bit of space surrounding the 360º set-up, students chose their favorite composition (making sure to include at least 5 objects), and got to work.

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With the goal to fill the entire sheet of paper they used viewfinders to help sight and measure the proportions of objects.

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Prior to starting the project students learned the basic concepts and vocabulary of still life to include things like: construction, contour, and gesture lines; highlights, grounding an object, and cast shadows. They worked to utilize these techniques throughout their individual compositions.

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One of the final requirements of the project asked them to create a fantasy creature or monster who would “live” in their still life drawing.  They then drew their monsters in 3D form and added any other features that related to their creature’s environment.

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The addition of the creatures promoted the project’s overall objective of reality and observation vs fantasy and imagination. The students should be finishing their drawings within the next week.
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Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Music, Student Spotlight

Members of CHS Jazz Band to Perform at Flynn with Acclaimed US Army Band

On Sunday, October 30, three Colchester High School (CHS) jazz band members will perform with the U.S. Jazz Ambassadors at the Flynn Theater in Burlington. The nationally recognized Jazz Ambassadors, a 19-member ensemble formed in 1969, is the official touring big band of the U.S. Army. chs-jazz-band_2016

CHS Band Director Evan Peltier contacted the group and learned that they were seeking a trumpet player, trombone player and saxophone player to join them on stage to perform a piece during the concert. The following CHS jazz band students are participating: Nikoli Holly (trumpet); Nathan Colgrove (trombone); and, Jacob Dell (tenor sax).

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students,” said Peltier. “They won’t have the opportunity to rehearse with the group in the days leading up to the concert…They’ll be asked to join the group briefly backstage and then it’s show time!”

The Jazz Ambassadors band has played in every state and abroad; their Flynn performance will feature swing, bebop, contemporary jazz, popular tunes, Dixieland compositions, patriotic pieces and more.

The October 30 concert begins at 3 pm and is free and open to the public. For ticket information, visit: http://www.flynntix.org.

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Malletts Bay School, Programs

SBAC Results to be Sent Home with Report Cards

This spring students in grades 3-8 and 11 took a statewide assessment called Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  This assessment shows a student’s proficiency level of our state standards in English Language Arts and Math.  It also shows a student’s growth toward college and career readiness.

Student results have just been made available, months earlier than previous years. These results will be sent home this week with your child’s report card.  For information about how to read and interpret the SBAC report look for the Individual Student Report Guide that will be included in the report card.

District and state results will be released later this summer.  Shortly after this release the district will share results with the community on our website and in your school reports.

Posted in Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Malletts Bay School, Programs, Student Spotlight, Videos

Calculus in the Classroom at Malletts Bay School (Contains Video!)

Over the last two weeks, several MBS classrooms had special guest teachers during their math class!  Ten CHS calculus students paired up to teach standards-based math lessons related to calculus to five MBS classes for their final projects.  Their lessons ranged from teaching about speed & measurement conversions to area of a curved shape and volume.

The CHS students were well prepared for their first teaching experience!  They began by observing their MBS class and interacting with the students they would be teaching.  Each pair of students consulted with the classroom teacher and their calculus teacher to design one hour lessons. Lauren Bergen, Katelyn Hass, Cassie Mallabar, Andrew Lynch, Kristen Schick, Danielle Whitham, Connor Zwonik, Jordan DeMattis, Victoria Mier, and Abby Harrington taught amazing lessons in Mrs. Marlow, Mrs. Ellingson, Mrs. Carney, Mrs. Boucher, and Mrs. Buswell’s classes.

MBS students were impressed that the math they were doing was related to calculus.  Many young mathematicians were inspired by these talented calculus students.  While the lessons were challenging, the MBS students were engaged and excited to solve problems related to their future study of Calculus, and the CHS students had an authentic opportunity to find relationships between the elementary school math standards and the Calculus they learned throughout the year. It was an excellent collaboration between CHS and MBS!

Click here to see a video clip of the students in action.

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School

Bus Dismissal Schedule for Last Day of School, June 9

Colchester School District announces the bus dismissal schedule for last day of school, which will be Thursday,  June 9, 2016.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Colchester High School—There will be no bus departing from CHS on June 9. Students requiring a bus may walk to Colchester Middle School for 12:00 p.m. to access them.
Colchester Middle School—buses will depart at 12:00 p.m.
Porters Point School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.
Union Memorial School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.
Malletts Bay School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.

Please call your child’s school with any questions.

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Programs, Student Spotlight, Union Memorial School

District Art Show at CHS – May 3-6, 2016

2014 art show pic

The annual Colchester School District Art Show will be held in the gym at Colchester High School on May 3-6, 2016.  The show will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Artwork from each school in the district will be on exhibit.  A reception for artists, families, and the Colchester community will be held on Thursday night, May 5 from 6:00-8:00 p.m., granting the artists the opportunity to discuss their work.  We hope that you will join us in celebrating the creativity and talent of our students!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester High School, Community, Currently Colchester, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, District Office, Employee Spotlight, General, Other Important Information, Personnel

Announcing the New CHS Principal

Dear Colchester Community,

On behalf of the Colchester School District we would like to thank the members of our community who participated in the collaborative process to find the next principal of Colchester High School. A selection committee consisting of students, parents, support staff, teachers, administrators, a school board member and other community members screened and interviewed candidates before recommending a finalist to the school board. I would like to extend special thanks to the selection committee, school board, and all individuals who attended the employee and community forums last evening.

CHS is a high-functioning school that requires a candidate who will continue the trajectory of the school.  We believe that an effective administrator pushes professional practice and promotes effective classroom and system-wide practices, while always doing what is best for students.

I am extremely pleased to announce that Heather Baron has been selected as the next Colchester High School Principal!  Heather was selected as a result of her ability to:

  • Understand what all learners need in order to be successful
  • Foster our culture of collaboration and curiosity
  • Develop and implement a vision for teaching and learning
  • Build strong relationships with students, staff, families and the community
  • Build capacity for teacher leadership
  • Seek out and listen to multiple perspectives
  • Make informed decisions confidently

Heather currently serves CHS as a science teacher, professional development coordinator and instructional coach.  During her 17 years in education she has demonstrated excellence both inside and outside of the classroom.  We are certain that she possesses the qualities and the capacity to lead Colchester High School to even greater heights.

Best wishes to Heather and Colchester High School for continued success!  Many thanks to all of the community members who participated in the comprehensive principal search process.

Sincerely,

Amy Minor