• March 31, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    We have had another busy week in our school district! Just as spring weather has a number of twists and turns as it makes its way toward sustained warmth, so too, we are busy working through transitions in the District as we interview for key district positions. See my updates on those and more below and thanks for your continued support! 

    Dates of Note:

    April 1, SBHS Career Expo

    April 1 and 2, SBHS student directed one-act plays at SBHS, 7 pm

    April 4, Zoom for families with Elementary School Assistant Principal Candidates, 6 pm

    April 6, Regular School Board meeting at 7 pm (agenda posted on District website tomorrow)

    April 7, Zoom for families with Executive Director for Equity Candidates, 6 and 7 pm

    April 13, District Arts Festival at SBHS 6:30 pm

    2022-2023 District Calendar Approved

    At the March 30 school board meeting, the board unanimously approved the District 2022-2023 calendar. I am grateful to have this in place for family and staff planning purposes. 

    Superintendent Search Update

    The school board is preparing to engage an external consultant to support the superintendent search. Other activities include a review of the current superintendent job description and developing a plan to seek stakeholder feedback on the qualities they desire in superintendent candidates. Opportunities to provide feedback and become involved in the process will be communicated in the coming weeks.

    Elementary School Assistant Principal Search: Meet the Candidates over Zoom 

    The Elementary School Assistant Principal Search Committee finished interviewing eight candidates for the two positions and have selected three finalists. Each finalist met in person with the district administrative team this morning and interviewed with me. Administrators provided their feedback to me as well.

    On Monday, April 4, each candidate will meet with each elementary school's faculty and staff via Zoom right after school. Faculty and staff will be able to provide feedback to me and the elementary principals via a Google survey. In the evening, families and community members are welcome to join the Zoom webinar beginning at 6 pm where they will have the chance to meet all three candidates: Stephanie Sumner, Chris Shackett, and Olivia Kane. Please join us!

    Executive Director for Equity Position: Meet the Candidates over Zoom next Week!

    This week, interviews with two candidates for the Executive Director for Equity position took place with our administrative team and me. Next week, on April 7, we will hold a Zoom Q and A for families and community members to meet, first, De-Dee Loftin-Davis at 6 pm and Nikki Ellis at 7 pm. Zoom links will be available soon and posted on the District website under announcements.

    De-Dee Loftin Davis (she/her) has served as the NAACP Communications Chair, is an Award Winning Racial Equity Advisor, a HBCU: Woman of Change for Racial Equity Winner - Lincoln University, a Racial Equity contributing writer for Forbes, a contributing writer for L.O.V.E is the Answer, and a Guest Lecturer at Lincoln University - Minority Small Business. 

    Nikki Ellis (they/them) is a transgender non-binary school leader and the current Assistant Principal at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington. Prior to living in Vermont, Nikki worked as a high school Assistant Principal in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Their career began as an high school ELL teacher and then Equity Coach in Des Moines Public Schools in Des Moines, Iowa.  Nikki is bilingual and speaks Spanish in addition to English. In their free time, they moonlight as a sous chef for a local catering company and run a Queer and BIPOC-friendly surf collective called The Lavender Lineup. 

    We hope you can join us for this virtual meet and greet!

    COVID Update

    Although we have seen a small uptick in COVID this week in our schools, we continue to do well overall. With the mask optional change, has also come a smattering of colds and other viruses. Please continue to wash your hands and stay home when sick, even if the symptoms are mild. You can access antigen tests upon request here in the district or pick one up for free at a number of  state run testing sites. There, you can also get a PCR or LAMP test. We continue to keep our eye on the BA.2 subvariant through the latest data from the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation and the Vermont Department of Health

    I wanted to remind everyone that our dashboard will continue to be updated. Please check the dashboard often to help make personal decisions around testing, masking and attendance at work or school. The dashboard also includes testing recommendations and guidance. Currently, at the elementary level, we are continuing with classroom email notification and directing families and staff to the dashboard until the end of April. The middle and high school have stopped email notification and are asking families and students to check the dashboard daily for updates.

    FHTMS Principal Update

    Last Thursday, we welcomed FHTMS Principal finalist Scott Sivo to our school for a busy day of meet and greets with our administrators, students, staff, and me. In the evening, we held a Zoom Q and A for families that was well attended. Further updates coming soon!  

    Enrollment Committee Update

    The dedicated committee of volunteers tasked with evaluating current enrollment pressures at two of our elementary schools met Tuesday, March 29. They discussed the results of a survey developed by two committee members designed to help evaluate options using a scoring matrix. The committee had a robust and valuable discussion about how the various options could factor into the District’s short, medium, and long term plans to address both increased enrollment and infrastructure needs at all schools. Next, Rani Philip and Lee Dore of Dore and Whittier Architects, who have been facilitating some of this work, will develop cost projections for various options and these will be presented to the committee at their next meeting April 12. More updates to come. 

    School Happenings

    SBHS Senior Hiba Ali Named Finalist in Science and Engineering Competition!

    The annual Vermont STEM Fair was held from March 24th-26th. At this competition, SBHS senior Hiba Ali was one of the two students who qualified for the next competition, which is the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). She will compete with finalists from all over the world in Atlanta, Georgia in May for over $4,000,000 in prizes and scholarships.

    Hiba shared that, “The title of the research that qualified me to attend this international competition is "Coordination of Myosin Va Motors Within a Team During Cargo Transport". I studied an actin-based molecular motor called Myosin Va that is present in our bodies and how it works with other myosin Va motors to transport insulin granules to the plasma membrane. This research is important because if insulin granules are not transported to the plasma membrane for secretion, Type 2 Diabetes will develop. I hope that my research can provide a framework for understanding this insulin granule transport which would be useful in determining a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes.” Well done!

    FHTMS Backs4Kidsfor Kids Initiative Going Strong! 

    Tomorrow is the final day of the Backpack4Kids initiative being held at FHTMS. The backpack drive launched March 21 and as of yesterday 256 backpacks had been collected. Wow! Even the local news took notice and dropped by for an interview. Liz Siddle has organized this effort  along with the peer leadership team at FHTMS. Operation Backpack4Kids was created by local pilots who have witnessed long lines of children fleeing Ukraine with very few basic necessities. They will be collecting and flying these filled backpacks to Cologne, Germany and giving them directly to Ukrainian refugees. I’m so proud of our deeply caring students and community.

    Rick Marcotte Central Students Launch Student Newspaper

    Teacher Danielle Vincent reported that a group of students in her classroom created a newspaper named “The Snooz” in September. It started out as a classroom activity and has been evolving.  In December, the students wrote a persuasive letter to Principal Kilbourne asking that the Snooz be distributed to the entire school.  A compromise was reached with one copy going to each classroom.

    Since December, these students have met with Kristen Courcelle during their recess time to figure out the layout and design while Vincent has met with them to help with grammar and punctuation, but Vincent stressed that she has been minimally involved as this has been a student driven project since day one! Last week, the Snooz dropped off their first edition to each classroom. They even included a page for feedback in the issue. Great work by Grayson Dailey, Thomas Chittenden, Jake Maino, Ethan Hale, and Chet Curley! I was lucky enough to snag a copy and can’t wait for the next issue! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin Principal Rouelle: Named Vermont Principal of the Year

    The Vermont Principals Association has announced that GCS Principal Holly Rouelle has been named the National Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Vermont Principal of the year! The selection was made by their Executive Committee. Candidates are judged on their leadership skills as they relate to the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Holly will attend the VPA Leadership Academy Award Dinner August 2nd at the Killington Grand where she will be formally honored. Holly was nominated by Megan Goyet, Kerry Farrell, Lynne Baechle, Lisa Rundle, Dean Melen, Amy Wheeler-Sutton, and Nancy Hunter Rogers. Congratulations! 

    Orchard Spirit Week will Focus on Autism Acceptance 

    Next week, Orchard students will celebrate spirit week with an autism acceptance focus. The idea was proposed by  speech language pathologist at Orchard, Jenna Lewandowski. Jenna shared that April is Autism Acceptance Month and from April 4th through 8th, Orchard will celebrate Autism Acceptance Spirit Week! Their spirit week was inspired by McAlister Huynh, who runs The Neurodivergent Teacher Instagram page. Students and staff will celebrate some amazing characteristics of autism, such as differences in how autistic brains work, the passion autistic people have for their interests, the sensory sensitivities autistic people often have, and how we love and support autistic students, colleagues, and community members. It's going to be a great week! Additionally, this spirit week will also take place at FHTMS next week thanks to special educator Bonnie Sullivan. 

    If you are looking for an activity to check out this weekend, aside from the SB one acts of course, the Friends of the Library will be holding their used book sale at the South Burlington Public Library tomorrow and Saturday. This rainy weather calls for a good book.

    Thanks,   

    David