Alumni - UVEI - Upper Valley Educators Institute

  • A Midlife Career Goal Achieved

    I started my internship at UVEI at age 34. Despite a promising career in book publishing and mothering a four-year-old, I had always wanted to teach, but going back to school seemed unrealistic. When I heard about UVEI, my desire to become an educator was reignited—and the possibility that I could actually become one was within reach.

  • Read more

  • Amanda Soule Interviewed in the Valley News

    Amanda Soule was interviewed by the Valley News about her title-winning work as the girls lacrosse coach at Woodstock High School.  Amanda, who graduated from the Teacher Intern Program in 2015, is also a kindergarten teacher at Hartland Elementary School.  For more about Amanda

    Photo courtesy of the Valley News

  • Read more

  • Cristina Veresan: Teacher and Distinguished Educator

    First and foremost, Cristina Veresan describes herself as a teacher of students, not of science. Her belief -- that students must develop creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills -- could be applied to any subject matter.  It just so happens that STEM is her field and it is in those disciplines that Cristina works to engage her students in experiential and project-based learning experiences. 

    After graduating from UVEI in 2006, it took only a few years for Cristina’s talents to be recognized. As a science teacher, department chair and science fair coordinator in Port St. Lucie, Florida, she was named St. Lucie County Teacher of the Year. As her career progressed and she moved to Hawaii, Cristina sought out new experiences to enhance her professional practice.  In 2014, she was selected as one of 25 nationally-selected educators to become a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, which gave her the opportunity to travel to the Arctic, and she was also chosen as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher-at-Sea. In 2015, Cristina was named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow and moved to Washington, DC, where she worked with Senator Al Franken to advance his K-12 postsecondary education priorities.

    Today, Cristina is back in the classroom at Le Jardin Academy in Kailua, Hawaii, teaching sixth and seventh grade integrated science courses at the K-12 International Baccalaureate School  “In my classroom, students are doingscience; hands-on activities and experiments require students to employ scientific methods and use appropriate tools and technology to solve problems or test hypotheses,” Cristina says.

    In an interview with Cristina, we asked a number of questions about her teaching practice.  Here, in synopsis, are her responses:

    What principles and practices guide your work?

    Students are not empty vessels to be filled; great teaching is not so much espousing knowledge but exposing it. I encourage classroom interaction to unfold organically, and am always willing to clarify misconceptions or invite student discussion.  Empowering students as scientific thinkers begins and ends with an inquiry-based classroom environment that requires students to ask salient questions, to provide evidence, and to take responsible risks. Most importantly, I encourage an open feedback loop with students, so I can continually refine my practice to meet student needs.

    How do you motivate students?

    I try to motivate students by presenting real-life case studies and connecting concepts to students’ daily lives. One of my greatest motivators has been to get students outside to explore their world. In Florida and then in Hawaii, I have facilitated sustained programs of fieldwork.  I believe that experiential learning, rooted in local ecology, engages student senses, enriches science content and encourages environmental stewardship.

    Do you see science education moving in a particular direction?

    It's an exciting time for science education. There are many initiatives for expanding access to computer science and giving all students the opportunity to try coding. With the Next Generation Science Standards, there's also more emphasis on engineering and the process of design. I think these changes could have a tremendous impact on science education and help diversify STEM fields. In my teaching practice, I encourage all my students to see themselves as scientists and I provide experiences to build their confidence.  And even if students do not pursue a career in STEM, there's no doubt that scientific literacy is essential for life and citizenship. 

    You can learn more about Cristina and her work at  www.veresan.com

    Photo:  Cristina Veresan with her students at Star of the Sea School in Honolulu

     

  • Read more

  • First Day of School: A New Principal's Perspective

                       

     

    As a UVEI principal intern, Lenny Badeau had been teaching Humanities at the Milton Middle School (in Milton, VT) four years.  During his internship, he dedicated himself to breaking down the barriers that prevent teachers from learning from one another, using the Learning Walks protocol to stimulate an open culture and create collegial engagement in his school.  Now Lenny is a new principal.  This interview between Lenny and Nan Parsons, UVEI’s Associate Director for School Leadership, took place on September 15, 2016, just after his first day of school:

    What are you most looking forward to this year?

    Learning and growing as a leader, and having the chance to make positive impacts on the lives of my students, faculty and community.

    What are you or have you been carrying into this role from your work at UVEI?

    The three most important things I learned at UVEI are:  relationships, relationships, relationships

    Building trust with the faculty, staff and the community is an uppermost priority.  I also want to work with everyone in the building on practices and solutions to common problems and identify potential leaders and innovators.

    ​What do you see as your top priorities for staff and students this year?

    We are working on improving our implementation of MTSS (multi-tiered system of supports) at Folsom.  Most notably, we are working on improving our behavior management system to improve the culture and climate of our school, increase focused learning time while lowering the amount of learning lost due to behavior issues.   We are also working on the implementation of intervention blocks to address Tier II and III student needs while providing opportunities for advance students to further extend their skills.

    Underlying all of this (and this goes back to what I learned at UVEI), my main goal this year is to build trust- based relationships and to learn about the strengths and needs of my staff, students and community.  I am dedicating a lot of my time and resources to communicating, listening and focusing on leveraging any opportunity available to demonstrate my capacity to support people as they persist in their efforts to grow, master new initiatives, and improve teaching and learning.

    Tell us about the photo.

    That’s me “supervising" the K- 4 recess. There were a handful of little ones who seemed restless and were not making smart choices on the playground so I directed their energy into having them "teach" me how to use the super cool balance beams. This eventually became a fun game of follow the leader, with different challenges each time we went on a beam.

     

    Leonard Badeau graduated from the UVEI Principal Intern Program in 2016 and is the new principal at Folsom Education and Community Center in South Hero, VT.

  • Read more

  • From the Classroom to the Principal's Office

    Kevin Petrone was hired as a teacher at Thetford Elementary School (TES) in 2010 after working as a second grade teacher at Samuel Morey for seven years. As a first grade teacher at Thetford,  he quickly earned the reputation as patient, but firm. I can attest to his patience:  it took working almost the entire year with my daughter to keep her shoes on during circle time on the rug-- and it paid off! (Although she still prefers to be barefoot, her shoes are usually on her feet the whole school day now.)

    In 2013, Kevin was hired as TES's interim principal and now holds the principal position. He just started his fourth year and draws on his eleven years as a classroom teacher in his approach to leadership. I talked with Kevin recently about his transition to administration -- the opportunities, challenges and areas of focus.

    What prompted your transition from classroom to principal's office?

    I had always thought about moving to administration. What happened at TES is that an opportunity presented itself. I jumped sooner than I would have, but Keith Thompson moved [out of the position as TES principal] to fill an assistant superintendent roll, and I turned to UVEI to get principal certification.

    I also wanted to extend my impact beyond classroom. I was a competent teacher. Colleagueship, sharing ideas and bringing things into the school is hard to do at classroom level. The administrative role makes it easier to influence school culture and climate. I have more of an impact in that role.

    What do you find most rewarding about the principalship? What do you miss?

    I’m in my fourth year, and it’s extremely different from the dream! I sometimes compare being a principal to having a baby: you don’t really know what it’s like even though people tell you what to expect. So much goes on behind the scenes. As a classroom teacher, you don’t really know. You make judgements about your administrators. Now I have more respect for the position.

    What have you found surprising about this job?

    Facilities and maintenance. Some days the custodian isn’t in, and I’m fixing toilets, getting phone calls in the middle of night that heat and water are out. I also spend a lot of time on special education law. I’ve learned so much about this.

    What are the biggest joys of the job? The challenges?

    Joys? Working with the larger school community. community responses, community feedback and conversations with people who are really satisfied. I really enjoy having those conversations with people and passing that feedback on to those responsible. I have way more connections -- parents, school boards, local communities.

    Challenges? So many on a daily basis. I have high expectations for myself in this role -- the matter of prioritizing is a challenge. On any given day your plan can go out the window. Those things that come up are pressing, like sitting down with a child who needs you. It’s easy to be removed from kids in this role. So it’s important to be present. I don’t have a daily influence on kids, but it’s there. But I’m more connected with them throughout their life here. As an elementary teacher, once kids move out of your classroom, you barely see them. Now I have them for seven years. I have a different perspective.

    This year there’s a focus on Project Based Learning (PBL) at TES. Why PBL? What were you seeing in the school that led you to choose this approach?

    It’s funny, as the supervisory union was forming this initiative around PBL, at TES, our school leadership team and groups of teachers were already talking about student engagement. We created value statements a few years ago, and PBL was on our list.

    What are some examples of successful PBL at TES?

    It’s still our first year and it’s in progress. The first grade farm stand is a great example. It was done last year and this year it involved more than one classroom -- harvesting the garden and making products, selling after school, donating to charity. We have smaller PBL projects, too -- the sixth grade mapped the playground. They calculated the square footage so we can get an idea about how much fertilizer we need year-to-year. It’s more authentic, it removes the text book. The kids see value in what they’re doing.

    What school-community connections do you think may be enhanced?

    Our PTO is in process of developing a directory of business and community members with expertise who would be willing to come to school and share their expertise; what subject teachers are working on and an expert they can go to find resources. This is a work in progress. Our goal is to have a bank of people who can help kids with the project they’re working on.

    The principal's job is challenging, but rewarding. It’s a good feeling.

    Interview conducted by Kristen Downey

    Kevin Petrone is the principal at Thetford Elementary School.  He graduated from UVEI’s Principal Intern Program in 2014.

     

  • Read more

  • Heidi Magario

    Introducing Competency-Based Learning to My Students

    “Can I have a calculator?” asks Dylan, “I want to see what I got.”

    “What do you mean, ‘what you got?’”  I ask.

    “The average.  What’s my overall grade?”

    Inspired by my time at UVEI, I have spent the better part of the last year training my students to think beyond the traditional single-grade system. Though I still have students like Dylan—those who care more about the grade than the quality of the learning—he is the exception.  Most of my students say that they like the change.

  • Read more

  • My Evolution as a Literacy Coach

    In my role as Literacy Coordinator at the Richmond Middle School, I wear many hats, one being a literacy coach. Planning and collaborating with, observing, and providing feedback to both new and veteran teachers is a complex undertaking which I hesitated to jump into until I more fully understood the many facets of coaching. Professional development can so often be disconnected from our daily work in schools. What I found at UVEI/UVGSE was a group of professionals who gathered in the evenings or on weekends for classes which had a direct and practical connection to the work I was doing on a daily basis at Richmond Middle School (RMS). I learned how to consider, examine and articulate each phase of the coaching process. Although it took some time for me to feel comfortable with the stances of a coach and the process of working with a colleague who wants to improve their practice, my participation gave me the boost I needed to gain confidence and take the leap into instructional coaching.

  • Read more

  • School Change Begins with Listening

    How do leaders strive to move schools in a good direction, from whatever starting point?  That is the central question of school change, and that is the question that is occupying Deb Beaupre (UVEI Principal Intern Class of 2015), the new assistant principal at Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School.

    Drawing on her long experience as a teacher and a teacher leader, and building on the ideas,  experiences, practice and feedback she gained at UVEI,  Deb has (at least) two starting answers:  listen and rely on evidence.

    Deb understands that good leadership begins with listening. “I know that my job is to listen, and better understand where teachers are coming from,” she said. With this commitment in mind, she began her tenure by seeking to understand how teachers approach their work, the challenges they are wrestling with and the support they were looking for.

  • Read more