Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28

Ponderable: Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”  Tony Wagner, Harvard Innovation Education Fellow.

Changes for 15/16 at CBMS:  In late June, 20+ CBMS  teachers spent the week at the Middle Grades Institute at Vermont Technical College in Randolph.   During that week, we focused on 4 major areas:  Schedule, Student Voice, Personal Learning Plans, and 1:1 Technology.  Over the next few Cougar Comments, I will focus on areas of change in this school year that came directly out of our work that week and over the summer.  

Change #1- "Den" is the new "AG".  A solid "Advisory Program" is a key component of a high-functioning Middle School, with the goals of 1) Ensuring that each student is known well at school by at least one adult who acts as that student's advocate, 2) Guaranteeing that every student belongs to a peer group, and 3) Helping every student find ways of being successful within the academic and social options the school provides. In the past number of years, AGs (Advisory Groups) met for 10 minutes first thing in the day. By the time students got breakfast and attendance, lunch counts, and lunch money were dealt with, it was often time to head out to class. AG felt to many like a glorified homeroom than a place that we could truly meet the goals of an advisor program. In our new schedule, "Dens" meet for 25 minutes at the end of the day, and we have had, and will continue to have, a good deal of staff conversation around what Den is, what it is not, and how to put structures and activities into Den to promote connections with students, a school-wide community of respect, and a positive end to each school day. Den will be a place from which we fuel both Personal Learning Plans (more on these to come) and Student Voice. Do take a moment to ask your child about Den!

WWSU Spelling Bee - 5th and 6th graders are invited to try out for the CBMS team next Thursday, Sept 3rd, during Den.  Please talk it up with your child!

Walk and Roll to School is coming up on Wednesday, September 16th. We will be departing Rusty Parker Park at 7:15AM sharp to walk and roll to CBMS!

Cougar Kudos to Nan Hathaway for having her Blog be added to the Tinkerlab list of 30 Inspiring and Useful Art Education Blogs!  Click here to check it out.

On Tuesday, Sept 8th, at 6PM at HUHS in the auditorium, the local school boards of the Washington West Supervisory Union will have a first presentation on Act 46 or H.361. This is the new legislation that requires merger/consolidation of school districts  by July 1, 2019. The Executive Committee of the WWSU board decided to take a break over the summer and then move full throttle into the work immediately in late August and throughout the fall. The presentation will include an overview of the law, some cost models for Washington West based on what we know to date, and a Q & A. Nicole Mace, attorney and Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association, and Brad James, an accountant/finance officer for the Agency of Education, will present with Michelle Baker, WWSU CFO and Brigid Scheffert Nease, Superintendent of Schools. This event will be widely publicized. We are encouraging all community members, faculty, and media to join the boards and administration as we begin to fully understand the law and begin our very important work. The following evening, Wednesday, Sept. 9th, the WWSU Executive Committee will debrief the presentation, set a rigorous working schedule (additional meetings), change the bylaws to expand the membership for this work to include an additional representative from each school board, and begin serious work on the primary guiding question; should the WWSU go for the accelerated merger option: why or why not? A number of resources to study can be found on the Vermont Agency of Education and websites. This is a very important time to serve, with serious decisions-financial, governance and programmatic to be made, on behalf of many student generations to come and our taxpayers at large. As always, I look forward to working with you as we tackle these challenges and engage in problem solving. We are very lucky to have such wonderful people capacity and resources in the Washington West Supervisory Union! Please attend. Brigid Scheffert-Nease

Upcoming Dates of Note:
  • TODAYTeam Quest to Waterbury Reservoir - 9:45-2:00
  • August 31st- Club Cougar opens
  • September 3rd- Team Titan to Waterbury Reservoir - 8:00-2:00
  • September 4th- WWSU Inservice Day- No School for Students today
  • September 8th- WWSU Presentation on Act 46- 6PM in the HU Library
  • September 7th- Labor Day - No School for Students today
  • September 8th- WDSD School Board meeting- 6PM in the CBMS Library
  • September 10/11- Team Prodigy overnight campout at Little River State Park
  • September 10- WDSD School Board meeting- 6PM in the CBMS Library

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