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

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.


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 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.


Amy Minor

Posted in Accountability, Budgets, Community, Employee Spotlight, General, Other Important Information, Personnel, Town of Colchester

Town Updates, Tax Information, Coffee and Conversation, and More

Would you like to see an overview of the Town of Colchester’s proposed budget reductions? Please click here to view it.

The Town of Colchester’s website offers information about the budget, as well; please click here to access it.


    • Want to have coffee and conversation with town officials and discuss the budget or any concerns you may have?
    • Curious when the new CCTA service will begin and what it will mean for Colchester?
    • Interested in learning how many calls for service your police department has recently managed?
    • Care to join us for National EMS Week and Family Fun & Safety Night?


    Please click here to find out more—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending April 25, 2014.

    When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Posted in Accountability, Community, District Office, Employee Spotlight, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School

School Board Appoints Carolyn Millham as Porters Point School Principal Effective July 1, 2014

We are very pleased to announce that the Colchester School Board has selected Carolyn Millham, the current assistant principal of Malletts Bay School, for the position of principal at Porters Point School effective July 1, 2014.

The search for PPS’s new principal was an extensive and collaborative effort. As we’ve discussed in past Spotlight articles, a selection committee consisting of teachers, administrators, parents, and other community members screened and interviewed candidates before recommending Carolyn to the school board for final consideration. The school board made its formal appointment at its April 1 meeting.

PPS Principal Jim Marshall has had an illustrious, three-decades-long career as an educator, and we are grateful to him for his many years of exceptional service and leadership.

Best wishes to Carolyn and Porters Point School for much success, and many thanks to all of the community members who participated in the comprehensive principal search process! Please stay tuned for a more extensive article about Carolyn a bit later this summer.

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Employee Spotlight, General, Other Important Information, Personnel, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Another CMS Teacher Honored for Innovative and Transformative Use of Technology!

As technology changes rapidly, our students are able to keep up and participate in many new opportunities as a result of having access to technology and knowledgeable teachers.
—Carol Smith, CMS science teacher

Colchester Middle School science teacher Carol Smith has been recognized by Vita-Learn for her innovative use of technology in her classroom!

Vita-Learn seeks to encourage teachers to push their own comfort levels and boundaries as they utilize the many technology tools available, and it celebrates teachers utilizing technology in order to prepare students for real-world situations.

Carol Smith, who has been with CMS since 1994, is one of only thirty teachers around the state recognized by Vita-Learn this year for working to incorporate classroom technology in meaningful ways for the benefit of students. She will participate in a round-table discussion with educators from around the state in Montpelier next month, during which time, the participants will share the projects and innovations for which they were nominated in order to bring back new ideas for further technology implementation to their schools.

“Our teachers are making efforts to utilize classroom technology, and we continue to seek innovative, real-world, meaningful ways to ensure that Colchester Middle School students are prepared with the technology skills they will need in college and in their potential careers,” she said.

The particular project that sparked Ms. Smith’s nomination was an outgrowth of a summer graduate course, “Google Tools for Schools.” Ms. Smith said, “As a result of needing to better address the Common Core State Standards in reading and writing, I designed a Google Site that housed an entire research project electronically. Students had choice of an essential question concerning reintroducing endangered species into Vermont or protecting against non-native species. I pulled together multiple media sources so that each student in the class had a different species to read or view as they became experts. Each seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher and special educator also contributed articles and media sources; hence, it fostered collegiality and collaboration within our department. Students conducted all of their work using our new Chromebooks, which allowed them to easily use the Google Tools incorporated in the project. They created Google Presentations … and students even used an app currently in beta production that allows users to visually record themselves discussing their project while displaying their electronic projects. These were shared with one another as a way of learning about each of the different species. Furthermore, I connected with a colleague teaching in the Palm Desert region of California … ultimately, our classes did a Google Hangout [which is similar to Skype] to share projects, meet one another, and compare Southern California and Vermont. It was 25 degrees here that day, and we laughed when we heard them complain that it was so cold there at 60 degrees!”

She further explained, “The project was collaborative among both students and teachers, and it offered choice, used multiple different types of technology, met multiple Common Core State Standards, and extended beyond our school and immediate community. All CMS seventh graders participated in the project with their science teachers; therefore, it met the requirements of innovative and transformational. Students used multiple technology applications, learned about real-world issues concerning species in their state, took positions about those issues, collaborated with one another outside of the classroom, and worked globally with another class across the continent.”

Ms. Smith is also part of CMS’s original “Google Team” and has participated in coursework to become familiar with the many, many Google apps and programs and their direct applications to instruction. “CMS piloted and is now taking the lead on incorporating the Google domain, and it features in our curriculum and daily instructional practices,” she said. “Students receive and submit work electronically. They also collaborate online in real time with peers. As technology changes rapidly, our students are able to keep up and participate in many new opportunities as a result of having access to technology and knowledgeable teachers.”

This is not the first time that a CMS teacher has received this honor. CMS’s Jennifer Roberge was honored at the 2013 Project IGNITE Recognition Luncheon for her leadership in implementing Google Apps for Education at CMS (to read more about that, please click here).

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s pathways include Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway B: Technology Infrastructure and Integration; and Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls. There is a lot of forward momentum in our schools on these fronts. Furthermore, the Vermont Technology Grade Expectations outline major focus areas in education, and among them are digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts, so this work is particularly meaningful and relevant. (To read an earlier Spotlight article discussing other efforts in technology integration around Colchester School District, please click here.)

Congratulations, Ms. Smith and Colchester Middle School!

For more information, please contact CMS at (802) 264-5800, or e-mail Carol Smith at

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Posted in Community, Employee Spotlight, General, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

Going Red for the Cause—And Ongoing Wellness Efforts In Your Schools

In our recently published Spotlight article “Important Wellness Work in Your Schools,” we reiterated that the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s pathways include, among others, Pathway F: Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners, and we talked a bit about what your schools are doing to further this wellness pathway.

Last week, some of your schools participated in National Wear Red Day as part of the American Heart Association’s and the American Stroke Association’s Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness about heart disease.

At Porters Point School, many faculty and staff members wore red in support of the cause, and Nurse Mary Axworthy offered blood pressure checks to staff members who requested it.

PPS employees wearing red in support of National
PPS employees wearing red in support of National Wear Red Day

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? If you would like more information, please click here to read an article from our Wellness at CSD blog, and please click here to read another article about PPS’s participation in the event.

Faculty and staff at Union Memorial School also wore red on National Wear Red Day, and UMS school counselor Carol McCleary offered a presentation to the staff which included a short film describing signs and symptoms of a heart attack. A number of UMS employees also went snowshoeing together and have an upcoming cross-country skiing trip planned for a healthy outdoor activity.

Would you like to know more about what your schools are doing to promote and facilitate wellness? We have more than eighty Spotlight articles relating to wellness in our Wellness category, and we also have our aforementioned Wellness at CSD blog. Check them out!

For more information, please e-mail CSD’s wellness coordinator, Jaycie Puttlitz, at

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Posted in Colchester High School, Employee Spotlight, General, Grants, Other Important Information, Personnel, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Expanding Professional Development for Teachers and Why It’s Important

With grant funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Colchester High School science teacher Kara Lenorovitz recently honored Colchester School District by presenting at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual fall meeting in San Francisco, having been selected to do so by the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) program.

Ms. Lenorovitz joined teacher Tom Lane of Bellows Free Academy, Fairfax and St. Michael’s College’s Miranda Lescaze at the San Francisco meeting. (To read a brief feature about Ms. Lenorovitz’s San Francisco presentation, please click here, and to view her presentation materials, please click here.) More than 22,000 earth and space scientists, educators, students, and other leaders gathered to present groundbreaking research and connect with colleagues as part of the December 9–13 event.

“It was incredibly powerful and reaffirming to both attend and present at the AGU conference,” Ms. Lenorovitz said. “Having the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge scientific findings across the multifaceted disciplines of Earth science, network with researchers and educators from around the world, and to partner more closely with RACC colleagues represented unparalleled professional development. Learning more about the complexities of climate change and educator professional development opportunities offered by other national and international organizations truly highlighted that the broader RACC research focus and model of authentically integrating both high school teachers and students in a vibrant research community is a unique, dynamic, and effective model.”

Ms. Lenorovitz has participated in the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) program, which is part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)—which is itself a NSF-funded collaborative research effort between university researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and high school teams throughout New England, New York, and Puerto Rico—for four years. She also mentors CHS students in EPSCoR-related efforts; last school year, three CHS seniors focused their efforts on understanding how storm events impact phosphorus levels in streams in various areas of different land uses and were later recognized for their contributions to climate change research. (Read more about that impressive feat here!)

CHS has participated in the Streams/RACC project for all six years of the program’s existence (the name morphed to Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) after its third year). Because science teacher Will Warren led the CHS team for the first two years, two science teachers and thirteen students have been actively engaged in this research initiative over CHS’s six years of participation.

Why is this important?

Exceptional teachers and teaching opportunities best position our students for success. Teacher collaboration is a critical element of student success (please click here to read a Spotlight primer about it), as are strategic professional development opportunities. In addition to serving as an elemental component in CSD’s teacher evaluation model (please click here to access our three-part primer about it), professional development is also the foundational aspect of in-service days (please click here to read more about them). Students’ ability to participate in hands-on, experiential learning is critically important, and your schools work to provide as many hands-on opportunities as possible for students—from pioneering a first-of-its-kind sustainability initiative and partnering with UVM to conduct atmospheric research to working with a state official to design simple water filtration systems … and from seeking grant funding to support the construction of a human-powered generator to teaming up with Colchester Police Department to explore forensics, your schools work to align with the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s many pathways, including Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway B: Technology Infrastructure and Integration; Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls; and Pathway E: Parent, Community, and School Partnerships Among Lifelong Learners. And we are having an astronomical reach—literally; did you know that one of our graduates is a flight controller for the International Space Station?

Hands-on study and application of science is important because making real-world connections to abstract classroom learning piques student engagement and attention—thus encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and enhancing learning. It also strengthens students’ observational skills and allows them to actively engage in their learning, providing additional sensory activities and expanding their curiosity. Our students are busily preparing for careers that do not even exist yet, and as such, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are of even greater importance; students must be able to translate the theories and concepts they learn now toward applications they will use in their careers that have yet to be developed. Facilitating an increased emphasis on hands-on education—and providing opportunities for leadership development and career preparation in the process—is an excellent example of the forward thinking that the district works hard to promote and encourage. In order to do that, we must have quality teachers. To have quality teachers, they must have relevant, meaningful, and ongoing professional development.

In short, expanded professional development for teachers equals enhanced experiential learning—and thus greater success—for our students.

For more information, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700.

Your schools and your town government are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

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

CHS Teacher Named VT Health Teacher of the Year

The Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (VTAHPERD) has given a Colchester High School educator its top honor.

Melanie Laquerre recently received VTAHPERD’s Health Educator of the Year award, which recognizes outstanding teaching in health education, at a ceremony at Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa in Stowe.

Melanie Laquerre at the award ceremony in Stowe
Melanie Laquerre at the award ceremony in Stowe

She spent nearly a year conceptualizing and designing her signature course, “Food: From Soil to Stomach,” collaborating with UVM Extension in order to develop curriculum that was appropriately challenging for high school students (you can read more about the class, which explores the various aspects of food—including growing, cooking, and eating—through an eclectic assortment of subject matters like nutrition and obesity, conventional versus organic agriculture, food miles, sustainability, the treatment of animals in food production, and the global implications of the production and transportation of our food supply, by clicking here).

Melanie Laquerre and CHS Principal Amy Minor at the award ceremony
Melanie Laquerre and CHS Principal Amy Minor at the award ceremony

Melanie also collaborates with other schools within the school district to help establish connections with a wide variety of students and to create collaborative learning opportunities. (Click here to read about a taste-testing event, and stay tuned for an upcoming article discussing her work with waste awareness and recycling efforts.)

Melanie’s honor speaks to the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s efforts with Pathway F: Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners.

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Colchester Middle School, Employee Spotlight, General, Personnel

School Nutrition Association of VT Honors CMS’s Ruth Quintin!

Congratulations to Colchester Middle School head cook Ruth Quintin for her recent honor!

Since 1988—way back when President Reagan was in office!—Ruth has been dedicating her energy to students and to school nutrition. As a result, the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) recently presented her with its “Serving Up Excellence” award. According to SNA-VT’s website, the honor was given “to recognize the valuable contributions of school food service staff who work in daily operations preparing and serving appetizing meals to children. These employees make the difference between an outstanding program and an average one through customer service, interest in young people, creativity, participation in professional growth and training, and a willingness to ‘greet the challenge’ on a daily basis.”

Ruth received the honor at the recent 2013 SNA-VT Annual Conference and Membership Meeting at Shelburne Farms.

Award-winning school cook Ruth Quintin with XX at the ceremony at Shelburne Farms
Award-winning CMS head cook Ruth Quintin with incoming national president of SNA Leah Schmidt and outgoing president of SNA-VT Doug Davis at the ceremony at Shelburne Farms

Among other missions, the SNA-VT works to promote and support school nutrition. It put out the call for nominations, and Ruth received a wealth of support from around the district. “Ruthie is definitely an example of the fact that we can keep improving over time,” wrote Director of Nutrition and Food Services Steve Davis in his nomination letter to SNA-VT. “For the past twenty-five years, Ruthie has been a shining star at Colchester Middle School. She excels in her position in our district’s food service program, and she cares about our students’ nutritional needs.”

“There is no job that Ruthie will not do or cannot do,” wrote colleague Glyn Gelinas in her letter of support. “Ruthie loves her job, and it shows in everything that she does, no matter how big or small the task at hand.”

CMS administrators Principal Dawn Gruss, Assistant Principal Peg Gillard, and Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda wrote in their letter of support that they “cannot imagine an individual whose career has been more exemplary in her ability, and desire, to adapt and grow with the times—all in an effort to provide a nourishing meal to our children … prepared with kindness, caring, and compassion.”

And of course the CMS Cougars love Ruth, too; last year, the Cougars surprised her with a seventy-fifth birthday celebration, complete with the “Happy Birthday” serenade, a grand cheer, and cake for everyone (please click here to read that story and to watch a video of it).

The requirements governing school nutritional programs are vastly different from those of generations past. Meals need to be planned around religious and ethical considerations as well as around allergies, and, as the result of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the new nutrition standards are written by the US Department of Agriculture, which decides what foods may be sold and what ingredients can be used on school lunch lines and in vending machines.

In addition to all of that is the required incorporation of government commodities, such as cheeses, meats, and canned fruits and vegetables into the menus—and it needs to be appealing, all within the confines of limited financial resources. Colchester School District has already conformed to the US Department of Agriculture’s requirements and is working to implement other improvements, as well. (Please feel free to visit our primers about the district’s food service program and wellness program for more information.)

“Recognition is something Ruthie has never asked for, but I feel it is well deserved,” wrote Steve Davis.

Congratulations to Ruth, and very well done!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

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

Vermont Principal of the Year Amy Minor Honored In Washington DC

Vermont Principal of the Year Amy Minor has recently returned from Washington DC, where she joined top principals from all around the nation for an important three-day event.


CHS Principal Amy Minor in Washington DC in September
CHS Principal Amy Minor in Washington DC in September

The award-winning principals from all across the country came together to discuss best practices and current education-related legislation and to meet with senators and congressmen and congresswomen on Capitol Hill.

CHS Prinicpal Minor and US Senator Leahy discuss education in Washington DC
CHS Prinicpal Minor and US Senator Leahy discuss education in Washington DC

(Senator Leahy wore a blue-and-green tie in honor of the Lakers for his meeting with Principal Minor.)

Heidi Lucas-Moccia, Principal Bellows Falls Middle School, US Senator Leahy, and Principal Minor at the Capitol in Washington DC
Bellows Falls Middle School Principal Heidi Lucas-Moccia, US Senator Leahy, and Principal Minor at the Capitol in Washington DC

While on Capitol Hill, Principal Minor advocated for funding to support electronic devices for all students in grades 6–12. She shared with legislators some of the current challenges that high school students face, and she shared some of the ways in which CHS is working to personalize learning and the high school experience for all high school students. She also discussed at length the funding challenges that all schools face and how challenging it is to offer innovative programming on a limited budget.

“It was an honor to engage leaders from around the country in such meaningful and important dialogue,” Principal Minor said. “I had the sense that our voices were truly heard; Arne Duncan, Senator Leahy and Senator Sanders, Congressman Welch … they truly listened. It was a phenomenal experience.”

Colchester High School has repeatedly ranked among the top 5 percent of high schools in the nation under Principal Minor’s leadership. Additionally, CHS won high praise from the Vermont Agency of Education for its impressive improvements in performance with Principal Minor at the reins. In fact, Lawrence O. Picus and Associates conducted an extensive case study of CHS for the Vermont State Legislature in order to ascertain how such improvements were accomplished … without high spending and without high teacher salaries. As a result of the comprehensive study, CHS is being regaled as a model for other high schools across the state.

Under Principal Minor’s tutelage, CHS won accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)—the result of a long-term, multi-component, and comprehensive assessment, and the school has been invited to present at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 conferences to present the school’s work on personalizing the academic experience for students through its AT program and to present the school’s work in developing a positive culture, climate, and beliefs for its learning community.

(Principal Minor leads the charge in cultivating a warm and comfortable learning environment, making grand efforts to create and foster school and community spirit. Please click here to watch a video of a surprise faculty flash mob at a pep rally.)

To read the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) press release about Principal Minor’s recognition, please click here.

For those of you who may not have seen WCAX’s coverage of the surprise send-off the CHS students coordinated for Principal Minor, you can watch it here.

Congratulations and very well done, Principal Minor!

Your schools and your town are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!