Friday, October 19, 2012

September Celebrations

In my remarks for the Opening Day in Montpelier Public Schools, I mentioned to the assembled Faculty, Staff, and Administration that we get to do something amazing on a daily basis in education - we get to touch the lives of children every day.  Further, because of my role as Superintendent, I get to see many, but not all, of these wonderful moments.  By visiting our schools as often as I do, I witness first hand the "a-ha" moments, the moments of joy, the moments of challenge, the moments of celebration.  

And I wanted more.  I wanted those that serve with me in this District to shed their humility briefly and brag about themselves.  I challenged everyone on that first day to reflect from time to time on what they do that is worthy of celebration.  

Here are the highlights from September:

Cathy Butterfield (Social Studies, MHS): I am excited to have a SMART Board and to meet my professional goal to integrate more technology into my lessons.  The SMART Board has increased my organization and effectiveness - plus, I finally feel like I have entered the 21st century!  This technology is dynamic and interactive and while I don't have a full grasp of what it can do, I am encouraged by the possibilities.  The experience has also allowed me to forge a new partnership with the Technology Department.  They are extremely knowledgeable and helpful.  Ultimately, it has been a gratifying - albeit, time-consuming, start to the new year.  

Cathy Clements (Math Coach, K - 8): I am happy to note that I have some students coming in early on for a math club.  We just began so it's developing but they are coming in wanting to do problem solving, the harder the better.

Sylvia Fagin & Patti Magoon (ELL & Literacy Coach, MSMS): We have a student that up until recently couldn't read or write in English.  We teamed up to provide intensive support - Patti, 1:1 reading instruction; me, in-class ELL support.  This student now has taken to reading and is really beginning to flourish.  And did I mention this student is requesting books from the library and READING?

Chris Guros (Special Educator, MSMS): One of my groups is making outstanding progress with multiplication, finishing a full unit of our math program in about four weeks.  Pre- and post-testing supports that every student in the group made significant progress.  I would also like to celebrate that one of my students, who hates to write, wrote a paragraph for homework and emailed it to me to ask if it was acceptable.  This student rarely does any homework, so another teacher and I were very excited.  I am also proud of the continuing work we are doing at Main Street with Michael Giangreco around defining inclusion so that all students get the attention and education they deserve.  This is important work that is in its' early stages, but is, nonetheless, exciting and necessary.  

Kristine Kane (Art, UES): I wanted to share the UES artwork is on display at the Kellogg Hubbard Library!  Sunflower studies by Linda Beaupre's second grade class are on exhibit for the month of October.  Our theme for second grade Art this year is "Art Explorers."  In this project we were inspired to explore the Elements of Art color and line through sunflower still lives.  We are thrilled with this opportunity to share our artwork with the Montpelier community and hope to do more of this in the future!

Dave Rapacz (Head Custodian, MSMS): We have, with the whole school's help, been able to reduce our use of plastic garbage bags by 50%!  We instituted a "1 can per room rule."  Many rooms had multiple trashcans, and our trash bag usage was much too high.  This was truly a school-wide effort, as many teachers and students had to be willing to give up the convenience of multiple trashcans.  Thanks to our school trash audit, we can verify that our plastic bag usage has been cut in half, eliminating 18 - 19 pounds of plastic going into the landfill each month!  We also installed a water cooler with bottle filler on the first floor.  After just one week in service, the bottle savings counter indicates we have saved 534 bottles from being used, and going into the trash/recycle.  Our plan is to have one on each floor and possibly one in the cafeteria.  The Custodial Staff looks forward to continued work with our "Green Team" at MSMS to establish even more environmentally progressive plans.  

Emily Wrigley (Kindergarten Teacher, UES): The Kindergarten Team (all five classes) learned the words to and dance for a song called "First Comes the Egg" about the life cycle of the butterfly, and in September performed a whole class sing-along in the big gym for one another, teachers, and other special adults in the MPS Community.  Learning made fun!

These are just some of the wonderful things that are happening in our schools.  Please come and join in our celebrations by visiting classrooms and witnessing first hand the tremendous work that all our Faculty, Staff, and Administration do on a daily basis.  Perhaps you would even be inspired to share a celebration that you witness or that involves your child(ren).

I will close this post by honoring the two UVM Teachers of the Year from Montpelier Public Schools.  Each was nominated by their peers and selected by the Administrative Team.  The were both honored on Wednesday, October 17 at the Ira Allen Chapel on the campus of the University of Vermont.

Colleen Purcell started working at Montpelier High School in 2011 after a very successful time working at Colchester High School.  The opportunity to work in the same community she lives in was a primary factor in her decision.  Having come to teaching Spanish following a less traditional pathway, her inspiration for teaching came after immersing herself in the language, culture, people, and geography of Central America.  As a result, her classroom for students is an immersion in the world of Spanish speaking people from around the world.  A typical class is a rigorous and relevant mix of history, culture, geography, agriculture, foods, music, and poetry, with the common thread being learning to speak, understand, and converse in Spanish.

For the past forty years, Mary Mello has enthusiastically and creatively fostered a safe, fun, and powerful learning environment for kindergarten and first grade children in Montpelier.  Her masterful teaching appears to be effortless, but in fact comes from countless hours of preparation and professional development outside of the school day.  Mary is an expert in designing primary level learning experiences that ensure student engagement and success.  She adapts lessons to suit students' needs, and challenges herself to find more effective ways to help every child achieve excellence.  Mary assiduously seeks our opportunities to broaden her professional knowledge and share her new learning with colleagues.  She is always the first to volunteer for committee work, particularly work that supports her colleagues.  She has dedicated years of service to to the district's Local Standards Board, curriculum design initiatives, mentoring new teachers, and leading her grade-level team in the work of a professional learning community.  Mary is highly respected for her dedication to her profession and the families she serves, but also for her generous grace, humility, quick wit, and love of children.  Mary is the educator we all aspire to be.

We have much to celebrate in Montpelier Public Schools!