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There are many established, traditional norms for measuring school success: performance on national standardized tests, percentage of students enrolled in advanced placement classes, college acceptances, graduation rate and dropout rate, to name a few of the more obvious barometers. However, the true benchmark of a school's success, one which has profound impact on the tangible results mentioned above, is more abstract and certainly more difficult to measure. Educators often refer to this area of a school as its culture and climate and it is most often recognized by the following qualities.
  • Students are invested in their own education and teachers in their own professional development.
  • Students and teachers recognize that their voice is of value in the school's direction.
  • There is a sense of ownership and pride among students and teachers - they feel connected.
  • Students treat one another and their teachers with respect.
  • There is a spirit of collegiality among teachers.
  • Students feel that they have advocates among the faculty.
  • Teachers are valued and appreciated by the administration.
  • Teachers are encouraged to grow professionally.
  • There is a sense of community within the school.
  • School morale and school spirit are high.
  • Failure is not an option.

The Foundation believes that systemic change, the kind that can alter a school's culture and enhance its climate for learning, is derived from visionary leadership within the school. It cannot be mandated by top down attempts at school reform from Montpelier or through federal legislation. Visionary change is predicated on key partnerships that develop between a school leader and the faculty, often inspired by an individual teacher who is given the encouragement and resources to affect change.

Erica Wallstrom, 2014 Rowland Fellow
"The Rowland Fellowship is a truly unique experience that continues to provide Rutland High School educators with flexible scheduling, financial support, and inspiring networks, making innovation in our school not only a possibility, but a reality." — Erica Wallstrom, 2014 Rowland Fellow, Rutland High School, Science Teacher

To this end the Foundation will annually offer up to ten fellowships to Vermont secondary educators. The Foundation seeks proposals in which a teacher/counselor and the principal/head of school form a clear partnership to improve an element of the school which will profoundly impact students by enhancing the institution's culture and climate. The Rowland Fellow will assume the key leadership role in the project's development and its implementation with financial support from the Rowland Foundation and the guidance of its Executive Director.

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