October 21, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
The District's move to 577 Dorset Street got underway this week with members of the Central Office team making the transition and, as with any move, we are taking some time to get settled into our new space. Thanks to you all for your patience! In addition, as many of us (me) don’t like to admit, winter will be here before we know it, with our dedicated city and state snow plows keeping our roads safe. Something a bit more fun about that this year is that the Agency of Transportation is letting elementary schools across the state name their 250 snow plows!
The Agency of Transportation will then create a decal and assign the name to a truck. Then the snow plow driver will come for a visit to the school that named it along with the decal, so students can see their newly named snow plow! Our creative students at all three schools are participating and brainstorming names and voting began this week. The hardest part will be agreeing on only one name submission for each school. With names like, The MESSner, Snow A Tronic, and the Chamberlin Chomper (just to note a few!) I’m almost excited to see that first snow fall.
Upcoming dates to note: October 29 will be an early release day for our elementary students. There will be no school on November 2 for teacher inservice. Please see more updates below.
My Next Zoom Chat Monday Night!
I’m really enjoying my monthly and sometimes bimonthly Zoom pop-in chats for families! My next one will take place Monday, October 25 from 6:00-7:00 pm (Meeting ID: 858 9435 4075
Passcode: 714806). Unlike others that have primarily focused on COVID-19 related topics, this session will begin with a presentation on the importance of caring for mental health by Donna Lemay, LICSW Howard Center School Services Clinician for Tuttle Middle School and Alice Scannell, LICSW, Howard Center School Services Clinical Supervisor. They will share a few ideas on how to think about family well-being in these times, with specific considerations to the mental health of students and ways caregivers can strengthen awareness of and communication around any concerns.
Next, I will give an update on enrollment with time for Q and A. Then, the evening will conclude with COVID topics such as test to stay status and vaccines for children aged 5-11. Dr. Breena Holmes, Dr. Ben Lee, and Dr. Becca Bell will be joining the session. Hope to “see” you there!
As some of you may know, I have concerns around the growing class sizes at both Rick Marcotte Central and Orchard Schools and am currently involved in conversations with administrators around ways we can alleviate this pressure in the short and long term. At last night’s school board meeting, demographer Jerry McKibben gave the board and public an overview of his enrollment projections. I wanted to let you know that the District will be pulling a committee together, inclusive of community members, to discuss our options. I will reach out again very soon with further details.
School Board Updates
The school board was pleased to welcome their newest member, Laura Rowntree to her first meeting and Dr. Travia Childs back at their October 20 meeting. This meeting was full of robust presentations and discussion including information on the math audit, an enrollment update with a presentation from our demographer Jerry McKibben, information on our budget development timeline and much more! If you missed it live, you can check out the recording on the Media Factory website (it is typically posted the Friday afternoon after a Wednesday meeting).
The city council and school board joint Steering Committee will meet next Wednesday, October 27 beginning at 6:30 pm. You can join in person at the 180 Market Street auditorium or virtually through GoToMeeting.
COVID Cases in SBSD
This week, we had one positive case of COVID-19 at Orchard School. All close contacts were identified and there is currently one class in quarantine. In terms of the test to stay program, we are still waiting for further details and guidance from the state in terms of supplies, consent forms, and of course, working out logistics including how to adequately staff this endeavor. In terms of vaccinations for children aged 5-11, we have heard that the CDC will be considering this October 26 and that the state is prepared to stand up vaccine clinics to prioritize this newly eligible age group, hopefully in early November. I will keep you posted!
Big Picture Program Students Launch Cupcake Business
Kevin Downey, Program Coordinator at the Big Picture Program reported that a group of Big Picture SB students are learning about how to start a small business, experientially. They’ve started a small bakery from scratch! Beginning with research on nutrition and food safety, students met with Rhonda Ketner, Director of Nutritional Services for the district. They also interviewed the Food Network star, Nancy Fuller, for tips on recipes. The business is now up and running with an online ordering system. Collaborative decision making, budgeting, marketing and, of course, baking is on the learning menu. Custom cupcakes with buttercream frosting are the signature product. Yum!
SBHS Wolf GRRRDen Bursts with Produce
This year, the Big Picture Program used the Wolf Grr-Den, as their community service project due to Covid. At SBHS, Reneé Gardener’s Life and Employment Skills class planted, maintained, and harvested tomatoes and other produce from the garden this fall. The class has donated 57 lbs. of produce to the South Burlington Food Shelf so far! They also have been using the produce grown to work on cooking and employment skills. Most recently, the class has been selling the bounty of concord grapes recently harvested. Grape jam on pancakes anyone?
FHTMS 7th Grade Art Parodies!
Recently, students in Alison Treston’s Art 7 discussed portraiture throughout art history, looking at some of the most iconic paintings like the Mona Lisa, American Gothic, and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Students then got to choose a famous portrait painting to create a parody. They were encouraged to take something from popular culture and incorporate it into the portrait parody. Check out photos @fhtmsart!
Gertrude Chamberlin School Universal PBiS Team Recognized
The hard work that students and staff do to create a positive school culture was recently recognized at the Annual VT PBiS Forum, where Chamberlin School was given a ribbon as a "School of Recognition." This recognition is for their continued work in implementing PBiS with consistency and having positive results. The PBiS Universal team includes Ms. Balk, Ms. Rouelle, Mrs. McCarthy, Ms. Finlayson, student representatives Caylan and Sheebah, and Mr. Diamond. Mrs. Crawford is also on the team. Special thanks toPBiS coordinator, Ms. Finlayson, who keeps GCS on track with PBiS systems! Orchard School also received a ribbon of recognition.
Rick Marcotte Central Students Earn an All School Celebration!
Central School students have filled their Marky Mark bin and earned themselves their first all school celebration of the school year! While the celebration was initially going to involve extra recess outside, due to the rain in the forecast, a game celebration took place instead. From traditional board games to virtual, a well deserved fun time was had by all.
Orchard School Classes Join FlipGrid Live Event: She Persisted
Students at Orchard School were excited to take part this week in a Flipgrid Live event. Amy Verrill reported that her 21 third graders heard stories from the authors about Ruby Bridges, Florence Griffith Joyner, and Clara Lemlich. They heard powerful messages about how each of the women from the She Persisted books proved to us what is possible and as Chelsea Clinton said, “they turned the impossible into possible.” Verrill said, “The most powerful takeaway for children was Clinton telling them to “See yourself in these stories.”
Joanna Pecor’s class also participated and shared that she will be extending the "She Persisted" idea to their celebration of Indigenous women who persisted or are persisting. Some examples include Deb Haaland, Wilma Mankiller and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. Additionally, they are excited for their next Flipgrid live event with Amanda Gorman in November!
Thanks for reading and hope to “see” some of you at my chat Monday night!