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

Posted in Colchester Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Other Important Information, Personnel, Primer Series, Programs

Autism Awareness and Information About CSD’s Special Education Programming

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, faculty and staff at Colchester Middle School wore special T-shirts supporting raising awareness for this neurological condition.

The T-shirts have an autism awareness logo on the front and CMS’s name and location printed on the back. Principal Dawn Gruss and special educator Deb Gay spearheaded the initiative in an effort to celebrate all students’ unique individuality.

CMS faculty and staff wore autism awareness T-shirts every Friday throughout the month of April in a show of support
CMS faculty and staff wore autism awareness T-shirts every Friday throughout the month of April in a show of support.

Autism’s prevalence is increasing in the United States. “As a school, we are striving to learn more and better ways of serving, guiding, and empowering our students to live independent, productive, and fulfilling lives,” Ms. Gay said. “What better way to show that than by wearing the T-shirts each Friday in April?”

As we have discussed in the Spotlight before, special education—of which autism is a part—is a vast and complex subject encompassing a host of factors regarding specific classifications of needs—and the process of identifying and qualifying them—as well as the various approaches to instruction, specialized services, funding, and even legal issues. The school district tailors instruction through a variety of measures to students with identified, explicitly defined disabilities through alternative learning environments, individually tailored instruction, adaptive materials and equipment, modified curriculum, and so on.

(CSD’s special education program has received high praise from the state; please click here to read more about it.)

To read our primer about special education, please click here, and please click here to access the Vermont Agency of Education’s Special Education Rules document.

For more information about CMS’s celebration of Autism Awareness Month, please call (802) 264-5800. For more information about CSD’s special education program, please call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999.

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

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.

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    • 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?

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    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, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School

Superintendent Serving as PPS Principal for Remainder of School Year

Following his exemplary, three-decades-long career as an educator, Porters Point School Principal Jim Marshall is officially on leave for the remainder of the academic year. We are grateful to him for his many years of exceptional service to and leadership in the Colchester community, and we wish him all the very, very best.

PPS Principal Jim Marshall at one of the "In Shape and In Season" program events he spearheaded
PPS Principal Jim Marshall at one of the “In Shape and In Season” program events he spearheaded in 2013
PPS Principal Marshall with a group of students at a 2013 walk-to-school event
PPS Principal Marshall with a group of students at a 2013 walk-to-school event
PPS Principal Jim Marshall plunges into the water at a 2013 little league hit-a-thon event
PPS Principal Jim Marshall plunges into the water at a 2013 little league hit-a-thon event
PPS Principal Jim Marshall accepting grant funding alongside his students in 2012
PPS Principal Jim Marshall accepting grant funding alongside his students in 2012
PPS Principal Jim Marshall encourages healthy eating at a 2011 school-wide celebration
PPS Principal Jim Marshall encourages healthy eating at a 2011 school-wide PBIS celebration

Superintendent Larry Waters has assumed the role and responsibilities of principal at PPS for the remainder of the school year; as such, he has temporarily relocated his office to PPS.

As we announced earlier this month, Malletts Bay School’s Assistant Principal Carolyn Millham was appointed by the Colchester School Board as PPS’s new principal effective July 1, 2014.

For more information, please contact PPS at (802) 264-5920.

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

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Programs, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

Ready, Set, Run!

Porters Point School teachers kicked off an after-school RunVermont youth running program called Ready, Set, Run for students on April 2.

Ready, Set, Run activities will take place at PPS on Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the remainder of the school year. While registration for the program has closed because of the overwhelming response, organizers are thrilled with the student interest. “Over sixty-five students have signed up, which far exceeds our original expectations,” PPS second-grade teacher Natalie LaRose said. “Since the number of participants is so high, many adults have stepped up and said they would help out with the program … which speaks volumes about the wonderful community we have at PPS.”

PPS’s Kerry Connor and Tessa Warren initiated the launch of the program, and PPS’s Greg Kriger, Allison Donnelly, Meg Terrien, Jennifer Randall, and Natalie LaRose have teamed up with them to volunteer with helping to ensure its success.

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s pathways include, among others, Pathway F: Wellness-Oriented, Balanced, and Healthy Learners, and wellness is an integral part of the day at Porters Point School. Along with its extensive student walking program and other such activities as walk-to-school events, the students participate in the Five-a-Day Healthy Snack Month; offer input into meal choices; and enthusiastically participate in the breakfast program, Jump Rope for Heart, and more. PPS has also hosted the Harlem Globetrotter’s CHEER for Character program. Additionally, PPS hosted a grant-funded, collaborative, family-based, multidisciplinary approach to nutrition and wellness aimed at addressing childhood obesity and childhood malnutrition called “In Shape and In Season” that was highly successful.

For more information, please contact PPS at (802) 264-5920.

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, Community, District Office, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Superintendent Invites Community to Meet PPS Principal Candidate on April 1

As we announced in our January 27 Spotlight article, a selection committee consisting of teachers, administrators, parents, and other community members has been screening and interviewing candidates in order to make recommendations to the Colchester School Board for the position of principal at Porters Point School.

On Tuesday, April 1, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., parents and community members will have the opportunity to meet the Porters Point School principal candidate in Colchester High School’s Library/Media Center.

We invite the community to pose questions to Carolyn Millham, the current assistant principal of Malletts Bay School, concerning her professional experiences and ideas about elementary education. Community members may also complete a short feedback form in order to provide additional input to the school board.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., the board will interview Millham in an open format; we invite and encourage community members to attend.

Following the open-format interview, the school board will conduct its regular meeting, and following the regular meeting’s conclusion, the board will convene in executive session to further discuss and review Millham’s qualifications and abilities to meet the needs of Porters Point School.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the Colchester community to participate in a principal selection process. We want to hear from you. Please join us!

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

Posted in Accountability, Budgets, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, District Office, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Town of Colchester, Union Memorial School, Videos

Video Featuring Our Community Members and An Update from the Town of Colchester

Many thanks to the ever-increasing numbers of community members who participate in the annual community dinner before the Colchester School District and the Town of Colchester’s annual meetings. To view a video containing some of the highlights of the March 3 gathering, please click here.

  • Would you like a quick recap of the Town Meeting Day results and how you can offer feedback?
  • Would you like information about an upcoming free breakfast event?
  • Want to know what will be constructed on the site of the old Friendly’s Restaurant at Exit 16?

Please click here to find out more—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending March 7, 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, 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 smithc@csdvt.org.

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

Posted in Accountability, Budgets, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, District Office, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Programs, Union Memorial School, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

IMPORTANT! Introducing a Must-See Mini-Film

We think you’re really going to want to see this mini-film.

An engaging inside tour of your schools … surprising facts about school funding … a helpful discussion about what the budget might mean for you …

Please click here to watch the film.

This film is also streaming on LCATV; you may click here to view it, or tune into LCATV’s Channel 16 to catch one of its ongoing showings.

We are working hard to make the Colchester School District FY 2015 budget information as widely available and accessible as possible. We ask everyone to review the budget materials, ask questions, and generate dialogue as you consider your vote.

All of this information can also be found on Colchester School District’s website. You may also call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999 or stop in at 125 Laker Lane to request copies of the materials and ask questions.

We are working to continue the critically important work of strengthening our schools and our community. Please vote on Tuesday, March 4.

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