Superintendent Peter Burrows' Communiques
June CommuniquePosted by Peter Burrows on 6/1/2020
Standing Up in Vermont
As we encounter yet another incident of violence against people of color in our country, it's critical that we, as a community, renew our stance against racism, discrimination, and hatred. The deep-rooted racism and harm that communities of color are experiencing is a call to action to move beyond accepting things as they are and have been, and to work harder to dismantle the institutional, societal, and structural barriers that continue to perpetuate racism, bias, and discrimination.
In a largely white community that can at times feel isolated from the rest of the world, we need to reaffirm that working harder to fight racism can't fall by default to our community members of color or be impacted by the thinking that racism is an issue only in larger, more diverse cities. This work is critical here and must be carried by all of us. It needs to be rooted in our continued work to understand privilege and implicit bias. And it needs to be led by each one of us.
I know our staff are engaged in helping our students, now remotely, in understanding the world around them. If any students are needing additional support, please reach out to your principal for resources. The American Psychological Association has excellent resources on talking with children about racism, which can be found here.
Giving our students voice to help us better understand how to continue to address racism, bias, and discrimination is essential. This spring, the ACSD Student Equity Team was formed, with the aim of empowering students to lead equity work at the district and school levels. As we work through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our community, we know that we must make students a forever-central part of our work to address inequities.
I stand by all of you in stating that we must strive to do more and do better for every member of our community.
ACSD Retiree Celebration
On June 9, we'll be celebrating the service and impact of our ACSD retirees. This will be the third year that we've celebrated our retirees as a district. The district celebration honors those that have taught in ACSD for 15 or more years.
This year's celebration is a bit different than normal, as we are going to be going virtual. We'll be posting a link on our website in the next week with information on how to attend and how to be a part of the celebration in sharing thoughts and thanks for specific retirees.
Name Position School YOS Atwood, Tamara Paraprofessional Shoreham 27 Crosby, Patti Classroom Teacher MHS 20 Lawson, William Principal MUHS 25 Murawski, Jeffrey School Counselor BCS/MUMS 31 Ruffa, Jill Paraprofessional Bridport 21 Dodson, Julie Faculty Secretary MUHS 17 Harder, Leigh Classroom Teacher/Interventionist Weybridge/
16 Herrick, Robin Interventionist Bridport 17 Kallen, Susan Administrative Assistant MHS 15 Lessing, Perry Mathematics Teacher MUHS 19
ACSD Recovery Plan
To prepare for a re-introduction to school in the fall and plan for the many aspects of our learning system that could be impacted by COVID-19 health guidelines, we are creating an ACSD Recovery Plan. This plan, led by an ACSD Recovery Planning Team and four Action Teams, will organize our response to the fall to be prepared to meet the needs of our school community in the different potential phases of learning we'll encounter.
Please go here to access an outline of the ACSD Recovery Plan. To apply to be on an Action Team, please fill out an application here. The Action Teams will be working throughout the summer, and information on timelines and specifics will be shared once teams have been set.
May CommuniquePosted by Peter Burrows on 5/1/2020
Teacher Appreciation Day
On May 5, the country will be celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day. I wanted to actually begin the celebration today, with the recognition that that this appreciation should be a daily practice as opposed to an annual event. I feel incredible gratitude for the work that all of you do to support our students, their families, and the greater community.
One thing that has become absolutely clear during the pandemic is the role educators and schools take in supporting the social, emotional, and academic needs of our community. As we have moved to remote learning, the backdrop of all that we normally take for granted in our daily routine has come into sharper focus. Through our forced physical distancing, it's easier to see the ways in which ACSD teachers fill innumerable roles to serve the many needs our students and families have. You all are at the core of how our communities thrive.
On behalf of many, many people in ACSD and our graduates all over the world, thank you for what you do!
Figuring Out Summer and Fall
Over the last week, I've had many conversations with state leaders, local educators, and parents regarding questions around what the summer and fall might look like and what direction we may take in working to get back to "normal." As different organizations begin to take steps, such as UVM announcing they will open campus to students in the fall, school districts across the state are working to determine what's possible given the Governor's orders.
Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 orders, we expect to get much more clarity on what the summer and next year will look like within the following month. Agency of Education guidance on graduation and graduation ceremonies is coming May 8, and I expect that we will continue to receive updated state guidance that will help us to make definitive plans around structures and approaches that we can use as we transition back from remote learning. I think it's clear that returning to normal will be a gradual process as opposed to the flipping of a switch.
We are working statewide to discuss what's possible given the many different parameters that could be placed on school districts this fall. With the inherent challenges we've been facing with remote learning, it will be critical that we determine how we'll support all students in making a transition back that addresses potential learning loss and gets all back on stable ground. Our recent continuity of learning survey, in which we've had over 600 responses thus far, will be an important starting point to determine where we need to focus our attention in bridging the inequities that we face.
Board and Budget Update
The ACSD Board had its first virtual meeting this week, and will be following this format for the foreseeable future. Board meetings are streamed live on MCTV through YouTube, and you can also login to Zoom to provide public comment.
Central to the work of the Board during COVID-19 is getting a better handle on the financial implications of the pandemic and its impact on education funding. Vermont news outlets have been sharing information about the legislature's work in determining the projected revenue shortfall for current and future fiscal years, impacts on the economy, and actions they can take to address the challenges ahead. Here's an article from VPR that outlines the impacts of COVID-19 on the education fund.
There is no question that we will be facing significant fiscal challenges as a state, and I will share information as I get it as we work together to figure out what's the right course of action.
April CommunquePosted by Peter Burrows on 4/2/2020
Rising to Meet the Challenges
I can't start this communication without acknowledging the incredible work that all ACSD educators are doing to continue to serve our students and communities. These are unprecedented times, and we are being called on to change and adapt in ways we could never have imagined. I have heard from many community members about how, given these incredibly extenuating circumstances, educators have stepped up to provide food service, connect with students and families, keep our buildings and operations afloat, and work together to take care of those in need.
In our second full week of closure, I see our systems starting to coalesce. Work at both the building and district level has been focused on setting up the pathways and protocols for remote learning, and it's clear that we have answered many of the questions we had last week about how we will connect with students, how we will cover material, and when new learning will occur. I have been meeting virtually with superintendents daily to learn of their progress and to work together across regions to make statewide decisions on many of the components of extended school closure. If you are struggling with something and wonder how others are confronting specific challenges, please reach out to your principal, who can share those queries with me as we respond to the evolving landscape of COVID-19.
April Break is happening! We have been awaiting guidance from the state regarding April Break, and we just heard that schools will follow the calendars as set forth at the beginning of the year. We expect to receive AOE guidance on meal service and parameters during break within the next week.
The Governor has set the time period of April 6-13 as the start of the next phase of our learning journey. As we near this next phase, we still have more work to do over the next weeks, and we are right where we need to be. Both locally and statewide, questions still remain around how we reach all students remotely, what assessment looks like across all grade levels, and how we honor those graduating this year (both students and staff). Our understanding continues to evolve, and I appreciate the level and clarity of communication I've seen throughout the past two weeks which has brought a degree of calm and a clear vision of where we are headed together.
Remember to take time to seek balance, take care of family and friends, and take a break from screens and the media. There's a lot of intensity in our world right now, and finding time to be reflective is really important.
Thanks for everything you do.
March CommuniquePosted by Peter Burrows on 3/1/2020
ACSD Youth Summit
The ACSD Youth Summit happened this past week, and it was so incredibly inspiring to see our 5th and 6th grade students engaging in human rights issues through their inquiry into the IB unit How We Organize Ourselves. Students had the opportunity to attend sessions on constitutional law, fake news, taking action & action planning, United Nations mission and work, gender rights, health care rights, developing leadership skills, Special Olympics, gerrymandering, civil rights, Bill of Rights for Children and Youth, and more.
What was most exciting about the Summit was that it was a culminating event that reflected the deep inquiry that students are engaged in in their classrooms daily. Rather than being a celebration in and of itself, this event was an expression of the continued inquiry, reflection, and action cycles that I've seen students embrace in classrooms throughout the year. As we face considerable challenges as a nation in 2020, I feel grateful that our students are learning the skills and applying their thinking to be positive and impassioned leaders to make a difference in the world.
Thanks to all who helped to make this event a reality!
PYP Verification Visits!From March 30 - April 10, our Primary Years Program verification visits will be happening in our seven elementary schools. These visits are the culmination of the work we've done to prepare for the authorization of all of our schools, and represent the learning and development we've done over the last four years to be ready for IB to grant us our initial five-year authorization.
There's much to reflect on when you consider just how much time has gone into being ready for this moment: (a) the tireless work of all of our elementary staff to collaborate in new ways we've never been able to, (b) the thoughtful leadership of Jess, Joy, and Caitlin, our PYP learning team, (c) the re-envisioning and establishment of systems that frame learning in a way that engages students in inquiry to grow as individuals and be leaders in reaching for equity, understanding, and excellence in our communities (d) and the real analysis we've done to be sure we aren't just "doing IB," but rather are fully present in the work and continue to critically reflect on our journey.
There's not enough space here to highlight the many transformations that have taken place and continue to blossom in our schools. This is a true moment of celebration and reflection, and I thank all of our staff for being in this change that we will build on and grow through in the years ahead.
Say Something Week
This year, ACSD is participating in Say Something Week , a "national call-to-action week to celebrate students being ‘upstanders’ in schools and communities by speaking up when noticing warning signs and threats of potential violence." Building a culture and community that looks out for each individual and recognizes that we all need to communicate when we see something that is unsafe to individuals and our community is critical. By working more closely together, we can increase the safety and security of our schools, and be sure that everyone in our community is taken care of and supported.
Look for information from your school to learn more about how to get involved.
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