Rowland Foundation

2010 Rowland Fellows

Current Fellows 2010

Synopsis of the projects for the 2010 Rowland Fellows

Richard Boisseau Richard Boisseau, St. Johnsbury Academy

"ASPIRE seeks to provide more tools and support to parents who have the momentous task of educating their children for the 18 hours a day their student is not at school," said Richard Boisseau, Director of the Center for Academic Improvement. In the early stages of Aspire, the project was awarded funding from the Rowland Foundation. The infusion of these funds propelled the Academy forward in both the intent and mission of ASPIRE.

Recently ASPIRE began offering "The Biggest Job," a nationally recognized program that addresses character issues of students, parents, and families. Additionally, a "Parent Conference Tip Sheet" from the Harvard Family Research Project was distributed to all teachers and parents. The tip sheet has received positive feedback.

Another example of outreach involves Capstone—Academy seniors are required to complete a Capstone project. To inform the seniors' parents of Capstone requirements, a Capstone informational evening was offered at the beginning of both the Fall and Spring semesters in 2010-2011. The evening was attended by 75 percent of those invited. One parent responded, "First of all I would like to thank you for the great informational meeting about Capstone. It definitely helped us better understand what (our son) has been working on."

In the coming months, ASPIRE will expand its scope to include a web presence, improved teacher and parent communication, and programs aimed at involving parents during their students' transition from middle school into high school.

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Dawn Deibler Dawn Deibler, Thetford Academy

Thetford Academy is buzzing with activity on the technology front. Last summer sixteen of our teachers attended a completely optional week long technology session. This summer 49 of the 60 returning faculty and staff will participate in another optional technology opportunity. Adults on campus are excited about the changes we are making and feel more a part of the decision making process. TA now has a teacher led technology team eager to take input from the entire campus. Faculty and staff are now committed to working toward a more unified technology future.

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Kristine Kirkaldy Kristine Kirkaldy, Vergennes Union High School

VUHS faculty developed nine different areas in which learners will demonstrate mastery of content and skills. These Performance Based Graduation Requirements (PBGRs) reflect the 21st Century skills:

In order to graduate, each VUHS learner creates and maintains a Graduation Portfolio that documents evidence of skills, knowledge, and enduring understanding as an autonomous, lifelong learner. The Graduation Portfolio must show proficiency in each of the following requirements. Each learner will give a final presentation and defense of their portfolio in their senior year.

The work of developing the PBGR system has become a means for us to work collaboratively to build understanding and respect among faculty across core subjects. We are looking to create opportunities for interdisciplinary themes, and possibly courses. Our work of developing a performance based graduation system is just beginning. Over the next 6 years, the staff will work with students and families to define the "evidence" that students will create to show that they are ready to graduate. These pieces of evidence that students select for their portfolios of academic success will also require them to self-assess their work and to demonstrate their learning using real world tools. Our advisory (Morning Meeting) and Call-Back systems are becoming more comprehensive as we seek to create opportunities which will facilitate the success of all students as they create a personal learning plan and eventually run student-led, portfolio-based conferences.

Each graduating class for the next 6 years will participate in some aspect of the new PBGR system. The Class of 2016 will be the first class expected to graduate based on successful performances of the PBGRs.

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Adam Rosenberg Adam Rosenberg, Rutland High School

In the fall of 2010, Rutland High School piloted a freshman program in which an English, Math, and Science teacher provided an integrated and personalized approach to learning for a common group of sixty students. The program was built upon core standards that teachers reinforced in each of their content areas, and a collaborative approach to curriculum development, implementation, and intervention.

In the fall of 2011, building off of the success of the Freshman pilot, we expanded the program to include the entire Freshman class. Our Freshman Interdisciplinary Team—comprised of two English, two Social Studies, two Science, and four math teachers—offers students a cohesive, integrated curriculum in which they are given opportunities to demonstrate what they learn within real-life contexts through project-based units. As the program evolves, two sets of competencies—Global Studies and STEM—will be emphasized.

Plans for the future, coordinated by our 2012 Rowland Foundation Fellow Jen Kravitz, include building this integrated approach to curriculum vertically through senior year. Students will have the opportunity to concentrate in Global Studies or STEM and receive the respective designation upon graduating.

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Mary Whalen Mary Whalen, Twinfield Union School

"The Rowland Foundation Fellowship has provided credibility and momentum to a model of student voice in decision-making not only at our school but also throughout the state. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to reflect on my practice as well as have the ability to envision my next steps with a wealth of current research, best available resources, new experiences and inspired colleagues as my new foundation for continued growth."

Schools may be the last platform for democracy. The Declare Ourselves! Project continues to be devoted to make this last platform effective, relevant and inspiring to our students of the Millennial Generation. The Declare Ourselves! Project developed a participatory action research model dedicated to developing 21st century student voice at Twinfield Union School and across Vermont. Students continue to establish collaboration with schools across the world and as a result, are breaking down the geographical borders rural schools face in Vermont. The goal of the project is to enable students to understand themselves as they seek to understand others.

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