Posted in General, Malletts Bay School, Personnel

New Principal Named at Malletts Bay School

Colchester School District is pleased to announce that Ms. Jordan Burke has been selected as the new principal of Malletts Bay School effective July 1, 2018.

Burke, JordanAfter an extensive search process that included a committee of highly-respected faculty, parents, school board members and administrators, Ms. Burke emerged as the outstanding choice to lead Malletts Bay School.

“What made Jordan standout amongst the other candidates was her connection with students, dedication to working collaboratively with the faculty, and her commitment to ensuring that Malletts Bay School is a welcoming place for students and families alike,” shared Superintendent Amy Minor.

Ms. Burke earned her bachelor’s degree in American studies from Colby College and her master’s degree from Dartmouth College in globalization studies. She later acquired her post master’s certificate in school leadership from Antioch University. She started her career as a middle school teacher at a charter school in Minden, Nevada. She then spent the next six years continuing to teach in North Haverhill, New Hampshire while also coaching track and field and soccer. In 2006 she was the sole New Hampshire recipient of a James Madison Fellowship, a highly coveted award that provides scholarships to social studies teachers pursuing their master’s degree. Ms. Burke became assistant principal of Haverhill Cooperative Middle School in 2011 and three years later came back to her hometown of Colchester, Vermont as the assistant principal of Malletts Bay School.

In her nearly four years at Malletts Bay School, she has overseen progress in several areas. Most notably, implementing the model of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in a successful school-wide format two years ago. This addition has helped form a proactive approach to improving social and academic competence for all students at the school.

Current Principal Julie Benay, who announced her intention to retire at the end of the school year, was thrilled to hear of the search committee’s decision. “I’m so excited that Jordan Burke will be leading Malletts Bay School. She is an incredibly talented and hard working young administrator, who is dedicated to her hometown of Colchester. Jordan is well known and admired by the Malletts Bay faculty and staff, and has established herself as an intelligent and thoughtful leader.”

When asked how she felt about her new role, Ms. Burke stated, “I’m honored to serve as the next building leader and I’m looking forward to working with everyone in the Colchester community.”

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 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.