Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's Get Started School Year 2014-15!

Washington West Supervisory Union

August 20, 2014

Dear WWSU Staff and Administrators,

I hope that all of you had a wonderful summer, full of fun, family and “chillaxing,” my new word. Your personal renewal is important; please keep it in focus as we go throughout the year.

Another school year is about to begin. I wanted to use this correspondence to sincerely welcome each of you back, welcome and announce all the new staff we are lucky enough to have joining our team, and to say a few words about where I think we are headed, since we will not gather as a supervisory union community until October.

In addition to the wonderful, formalized mentoring program that we have in the WWSU, I am hoping each of you will take the time to informally mentor and support new staff. Jobs in education are truly daunting today, often requiring skills for success that were never a part of our programs of study. Daily support for new staff and strong collegiality can make the organization thrive for everyone. We are welcoming the following staff to the WWSU community for the 2014-15 school-year:

Melinda Anderman                             .2 Math Teacher/.8 Instructional Assistant
Julia Cicchetti                                     English Teacher
Kathryn Delay                                                Math Interventionist
Nicholas Gordon                                 Social Studies Teacher (long term sub)
Justin Griffith                                     IT Assistant
Marc Grimes                                       Instructional Assistant
Tiffany Ladieu                                    Instructional Assistant
Meghan McCarthy                              Math Teacher
Katherine Pogharian                           Assistant Principal

Eric Bowker                                        Physical Education Teacher
Jessica Knoop                                     On-Staff Substitute/Instructional Assistant
Kelly Lu                                              School Nurse
Carla Occaso                                       Instructional Assistant
Nancy Robinson                                 Health Teacher
Mary Seaberg                                      Instructional Assistant
Amy Yavitz                                        Administrative Assistant
David Busker                                      Behavior & Academic Support Specialist
Krista Connolly                                   Art Teacher
Christine Elderd                                  Instructional Assistant
Elissa Fox                                            Next Step Teacher
Seth Marineau                                     Director of Student Management
Pamela Nadeau                                   Middle School Math Teacher
Dorothy Niss                                       Library Media Specialist (long term sub)
Corey Richardson                               Student Support Specialist
Adam Sargent                                     Social Studies Teacher
Emily Smith                                        French Teacher
Robert Smith                                       Technology Education Teacher
Nancy Van Dine                                 School Nurse

Allison Bataille                                   Physical Education Teacher
Anne Cassels                                       Special Education Teacher .5 FTE/Instr. Asst. .5 FTE
Kathleen Mackey                                School Nurse

Emilie Diller                                        Instructional Assistant
Nicholas Fischer                                  Instructional Assistant
Sara Huff                                            Special Education Teacher
Megan Rivera                                      Instructional Assistant
Susan Simpson                                    ELL Teacher

Allison Bataille                                   Physical Education Teacher
Nancy Robinson                                 Health Education Teacher
Samantha Streletsky                           Instructional Assistant

Jill Ballou                                            Principal
Renee Burrington                                Classroom Teacher
Yuko Cormier                                     Director of Food Service

Michele Ballard                                   Admin. Asst. to Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Heidi Clark                                         Accounts Payable/Accounting Clerk
Joel FitzGerald                                    Building Operations & Maintenance Director

First, I remain extremely proud of our schools. Each organization continues to grow, always striving for improvement; remains committed to staying current, rigorous and hopefully, cutting edge; all the while maintaining a healthy climate and culture based on strong traditions and community. That being said, there is more work to do; some by our choice and some by the choices of others. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC), Personal Learning Plans (PLP’s), Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS), Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), Technology Integration, Best Practices, Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements, dual enrollment, online learning, multiple pathways, strong student voice, service learning, internships, and schooling far beyond the walls of our buildings are just some of the initiatives leading us on the path of preparing the next innovation generation of students, well prepared for college, career, and beyond. We are teaching and leading in a time where the world no longer rewards students for what they know-Google knows everything-but for what they can do with what they know.

Each of you contribute in ever so many ways to both support students and their families and deliver an outstanding instructional experience, in spite of the ever changing landscape of public education. I can never remember a time in my 30 years when we have been asked to take on so many new initiatives, but not really taking any off the plate. Increased expectations and change can be a difficult and occasionally painful process. We will always attain greater outcomes together than we ever could alone. The journey towards change brings various levels of interest and commitment among those being encouraged to travel the path.

Being a teacher or administrator is an amazing profession. It is challenging, dynamic, energizing, and draining -but most of all, it is rewarding. Your impact on the life of a student extends far beyond anything you will ever know. The very best educators make every student feel valued. They know who may struggle or who may be reluctant to speak up. They set students up for success, reinforce their attempts, build on those attempts, and then provide future opportunities and experiences even more challenging and involving more risk taking.

Great teachers want their students to be more excited about learning tomorrow than they were today. They strive to create classroom environments where the development of social, emotional and cognitive competence are developed through consistent use of evidence based practices, strong mental models, ongoing targeted practice, consistent rapid feedback, and regular focus on emotional triggers. Great educators provide interactive engagement with equality in participation, humor, inquiry, mystery, appropriate pacing, and teasers that give students reason in which to be pulled. They demonstrate outcomes clearly tied to student interests that are multi-faceted, with media delivery, which requires reporting out and sharing.

Let us be reminded, as we strive to achieve even greater outcomes in all seven of our schools, that none of our successes would be possible without our glue- our dedicated, hard-working and caring support staff; in our kitchens, maintenance areas, classrooms, buses, offices, libraries, etc. Just as it takes a community to raise a child, it takes all of us to have a productive, healthy organization.

In September, I will be publishing a start of the school year report to our Boards of School Directors that will contain considerable specific information about where things are headed from a state level perspective, along with several attachments, such as the new Education Quality Standards for the State of Vermont. This year I will send it out to all staff as well, in case you might be interested in some of the highlighted pieces. All of my board level reports live on our website at  

The schools in the WWSU will continue to set high expectations, enforce accountability, embrace continuous improvement, practice data-driven decision making, provide a professional teaching culture, support strong leadership, maintain school climates where all adults and students feel valued and safe, and strive to regularly increase student supports and family engagement. Together we will develop a well-planned model for growth and determine how we are going to get there. I have said before, and I will say it again, we will not change for change’s sake or because everyone else seems to be doing so. I pledge to do what I can to keep our organization and its people moving forward on the path of growth to achieve success for each and every student who walks through our doors.

I am looking forward to getting together as a full supervisory union team at our October 14th inservice. After a summer of rejuvenation and reflection, we can once again regroup and get on this very important path together. I will leave you asking each of you to strongly focus upon how you take care of yourself and others around you while doing the hard and essential work day-to- day in our schools. Teach and lead by cultivating gratitude. Although gratitude is usually thought of as an element of family traditions, emerging research points to gratitude as a potential bridge between students’ academic and social well-being. Fostering gratitude by acknowledging intentions, sacrifices, costs and benefits can increase the sense of hope and trust in students and ourselves and fuel the desire to give back to others and the community.

Michael Fullan said “to be better at life is to be better at work.” To be better at work by itself will not last very long. It will eventually take its toll. It is up to each of us to strive to keep our tanks full. Be well.

Educationally yours,

Brigid Scheffert, Superintendent