Early August is a time when students and their families generally begin thinking about the coming school year. It is also a time for teachers, school boards and administrators to reflect on the previous year – What went well? What were the challenges? And ultimately, what can be improved upon for the upcoming year?
As we look back over the 2017-2018 academic year there are a number of accomplishments throughout Lamoille South Supervisory Union (LSSU) that were achieved through close cooperation between students, teachers, parents, school boards and the administration. I am particularly proud of this cooperation because it highlights dedication throughout the communities that make up LSSU to work toward the common goal of providing our students with the best possible education. This, in turn, positions our students – each one with their own unique personality, skill sets and interests – to be prepared for whatever and wherever the next chapter in their life takes them.
In 2017-2018 we had 1,740 students throughout LSSU, with 119 graduating from Morristown and Stowe. Of these 96% percent will be attending college, serving in the military, or pursuing other post-secondary education opportunities. We also added new programs throughout the district advancing equity and quality across our district schools, including K-8 access to foreign language instruction in Elmore-Morristown schools, and expanded instructional coaching and instructional intervention support in literacy and math in Stowe schools. Our students performed well academically, generally performing as well or better than prior years on state assessments. Students also performed well outside of the classroom earning numerous individual and team recognitions in athletics, drama, music and the arts. And, students at all schools were active in service to their communities and engaged in civics in their schools and communities in a variety of ways.
The students were not the only ones working hard over the past year. Two new principals – Kate Torrey at Morristown Elementary School and Chris Oleks at Stowe High School – both completed successful first years with us. With input from parents and community members the LSSU, SSD and EMUU boards completed an Act 46 Study, capping nearly a decade of collaborative work to ensure quality, equity, efficiency and transparency. Our towns passed responsible school budgets with strong community support, which included a new framework for budget communications. We also completed the first phase of enhanced school safety procedures, an unfortunate but necessary measure to ensure our students and staff are prepared for any scenario. The implementation of these procedures will continue in the 2018-2019 school year.
LSSU schools have successfully taken another step toward implementing the principles of proficiency-based learning. The focus of proficiency based learning is on students’ demonstration of desired learning outcomes, or proficiencies. PBL provides a framework that helps us to identify and address gaps, to provide equitable learning opportunities for every student, and increase student engagement. This implementation included the development of a new feedback system (report cards) to improve communication with students about what they know and their next steps for learning. We continue to work toward helping students and their parents understand and adapt to the new system.
Looking forward, we are working to enhance communications between LSSU, school boards, staff, teachers, students, parents and members of the community to ensure information is relevant, accurate, timely and easy to find. Continuing to interface with parents and students on proficiency-based learning will be a key component of these communications strategies, as will information on school boards, school safety, activities and budgets.
In the 2018-2019 school year, I look forward to building on the good work we have been doing cooperatively throughout the LSSU community. There will always be challenges, but together we can continue achieving positive outcomes, for parents, teachers, taxpayers and most importantly, for our students.
Tracy Wrend, Superintendent of Schools