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UVM Teachers of the Year

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Congratulation to Jane Howe-Boucher and JB Hilferty who were named this year’s Outstanding Teachers.

Jane Boucher has demonstrated leadership both at Berlin Elementary & throughout WCSU. She is an integral part of the PBIS committee and working to align Berlin’s successful work in PBIS with staff and student’s understanding of how to implement Transferable Skills. Jane’s ability to move all students towards wanting to do their best & understanding their capabilities is exemplary. Her students respond because they know she respects them. They work harder and extend themselves, working together because she has created a classroom climate that is safe and fun. Jane volunteers on the Curriculum Council, Social
Studies Committee, Curriculum Camp and Extended School Year Program.

Jane’s caring nature, infectious smile, and dedication to her students helps to remind all who work with her why we have chosen to become educators. She will always look for the positive in everyone, and help them to see that positivity in themselves.
According to a student, JB (John) Hilferty “is just an awesome teacher!” He works tirelessly to make sure that his lessons are engaging and appropriately rigorous for each student. He is looked to by numerous staff and faculty members for advice and support. JB is the consummate teacher. Each year he strives to be better at what he does and he reflects on how he can better connect with and teach his students. He was one of the pioneers in Project-Based Learning, jumping in and really testing his own skills as a teacher. Students who have JB feel accepted and challenged; U-32 is stronger with him here.

JB rarely complains and is always there when he is needed. He shows true compassion for students, teachers, and staff. Everyone feels happy around JB. He is fun loving and always has a smile on his face.

Book Buddies

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U-32 seventh graders presented the books they made for district elementary first and second graders at the annual Book Buddy event at U-32 on May 25. One of the most cherished events of the year!

U-32 Celebrates Community Mentors

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On the evening of May 9th, U-32’s atrium was filled with students, parents and community members. All were gathered to showcase and celebrate the work done by U-32 students and the help of mentors in our annual Mentor Appreciation Night.

U-32 offers five programs in which students have the chance to link up with mentors in the community: Branching Out, Community Based Learning (CBL), The Pilot program, Branching Out Middle School, and the Alt Path to Graduation. All told, we have as many as 130 students each year learning from community members and area businesses.

The five programs at U-32 give students a chance to study a topic not available in school — like Japanese, Buddhism, antique gunsmithing, building an electric guitar, or studying philosophy. Other times, students may want to get a glimpse of a career of interest — accounting, marketing, surgery, psychology, teaching, sound engineering or law enforcement. Exactly how mentors and students spend their hours together varies widely. One thing is consistent: mentors gift their time, expertise and interest. Students get a chance to meet community members, shadow or intern at area businesses, or get to know a familiar neighbor or family member in a new way. Lessons students learn often include how to reach out and communicate outside of school; how to connect with new adults; how to follow a thread of interest; how to be critical thinkers and feelers; how to be lifelong learners.

The student/mentor connection is the heart of these programs at U-32. Sophomore Finn Olson spent the year exploring questions of how people develop their moral/ethical values. On mentor night, Finn spoke about his connection with his mentor, East Montpelier resident Paul Erlbaum. “Paul taught me how to tackle big questions. He taught me how to research, and most importantly, he taught me that with a little peppermint tea, anything is possible…Paul has been a truly important adult in my life this year.” Paul responds “What an opportunity! Ruminating on questions people have pondered for centuries with a smart, determined, engaging 15-year-old — not an opportunity to be missed! Working with Finn and witnessing his critical thinking skills grow is a consistent joy.”

Mentor Ann Stanton, a mentor for several students studying psychology, shares the enthusiasm. “Everything about the mentor experience has been so positive. Just walking in the U-32 door, I feel boosted up by the energy contained in that building. My student mentees were serious about and invested in their topics. They worked hard, were eager to discuss and open to suggestions, and courageous in their explorations. In short, they were ideal students.”

Thank you to all the community members and businesses who have helped make our programs possible – we could not exist without their expertise and generosity. TREMENDOUS THANKS. If you are interested in mentoring a student, please feel free to contact Karen Liebermann, or Mentor Coordinator Kim McKellar,

U-32 English Teacher Alden Bird Awarded Rowland Fellowship

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The Rowland Foundation, based in South Londonderry, Vermont, offers grants to Vermont secondary school educators “who are visionary, willing to lead, motivated and committed to affecting change in an area of concern within their respective schools.” Currently in its tenth year, the Foundation has named educators from six Vermont high schools as Rowland Fellows.

Washington Central Supervisory Union and U-32 Middle/High School are proud to announce that U-32 English teacher Alden Bird has been awarded a 2018 Rowland Fellowship by The Rowland Foundation.

Bird’s fellowship comes with a $75,000 grant for U-32, part of which will allow him release time from daily teaching to continue implementing the U-32 English department’s one-on-one student conferencing initiative. Begun as a pilot program two years ago, English teachers at U-32 now spend part of their days conferencing individually with students.

Bird plans to spend this next year conducting research, interviewing students, teachers, and U-32 graduates, and studying high schools and colleges around the country that employ individual conferencing. He will also continue his work as English A.P. Coordinator, and will return to teach two classes during the second semester.

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