As stated in the Rutland Northeast “Compact”, our local community, boards and schools committed to promoting learning outcomes for our students that include independent and creative thinking, innovation and problem solving and awareness and respect for the natural world. In my short tenure in the RNESU, I have had the pleasure of seeing these commitments come to life.
At Leicester, I joined a class of 3rd and 4th graders who were problem solving about how to build an Abenaki village. The research into the Abenaki tribe, the collaboration and problem solving skills needed to recreate the village, were all alive and well on this Friday morning. Students worked together to identify the what was needed to complete the village, having already built lodging and a fire pit. They shared ideas, researched possibilities and discussed how to make it happen. The teacher empowered students to have a voice, as opposed to telling them what to do. She skillfully led a class discussion in a way that included all voices and honored all ideas.
Two weeks later, I participated with the 5th and 6th graders at Whiting and Sudbury schools to sort through trash and determine what needs to be recycled, composted and what was actual garbage. Students had already done their research, heard from experts, and now were physically experiencing the sorting process. Again working in teams, they were able to successfully sort and discuss items that fell into multiple categories. The teacher had prepared them well and again skillfully led a discussion that had students questioning their decisions and reflecting on the right piles to make.
At Otter Valley High School, students are joining teachers in a year long college class researching teacher advisories and student voice. Students are empowered to use their voice and creative thinking to help move the high school into a model that values independent and creative thinking and collaboration.
There are many other examples such as I just shared which I have seen and participated in. I will share more as the year goes on. You can review the Compact on website at www.rnesu.org. I am impressed, and I hope the community is also, at the level of teaching that occurs in our schools, the level of professionalism and commitment of our faculty, staff and administration, and the commitment and passion of our Board members. Our students are the future leaders of our community and I am confident they will leave our schools prepared to succeed, lead and contribute.