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.

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  • 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

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  • 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:

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  • 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.

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  • Flexible Pathways: A Graduate's Musings

    From the Vermont AOE website: The Flexible Pathways Initiative, created by Act 77 of 2013, encourages and supports the creativity of school districts as they develop and expand high-quality educational experiences that are an integral part of secondary education in the evolving 21st-century classroom. Flexible pathways also promote opportunities for Vermont students to achieve postsecondary readiness through high-quality educational experiences that acknowledge individual goals, learning styles, and abilities; and increase the rates of secondary school completion and postsecondary continuation in Vermont.

    The 2013 passage of Act 77, Vermont’s education law requiring flexible pathways to graduation and personal learning plans (PLP) in public schools, started my journey to bring these opportunities to life for students. This experience has provided some of the most rewarding snippets of success, but has also had its share of frustration and resistance. The challenges of implementing the expectations of Act 77 has proven to be a process that is heavily dependent on the conceptual understanding of the law, openness to re-imagining learning, and consistent support of school leadership. The following thoughts are solely my opinion based on many observations, discussions and attempts to implement PLPs.

    In my first meeting as a personal learning coordinator at a small, rural school in Vermont, I asked a group of eighth graders what they wanted to do when they grew up. After many responses, I asked how they thought they were going to get to all those amazing places. One student raised her hand and responded in a very impressive serious voice: “I will do whatever the school tells me I have to do”. Many nodded their heads in agreement. My thought about that response was that this is not ownership, but rather a process of putting their success (or failure) onto the school. Personal learning plans and flexible pathways have the potential to turn this around so that the new response may someday be, “With the help of my teachers and support groups, I will decide the best way for me to achieve my goals”.

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  • 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.

     

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  • Impressions of a First Year Teacher

    Culture Shock, Adjustment and Acceptance at a New School


    Before enrolling in UVEI’s Teacher Intern Program, Eric Braun was a higher education administrator and instructor. During his 30-year career, Eric helped hundreds of students earn their college degrees. At age 50, he enrolled in UVEI and completed the requirements for certification in elementary education in June 2016. Eric recently finished his first year of teaching at Bethel Elementary School (Vermont). Below, Eric describes the stages of first year teacher culture shock he experienced and suggests strategies to support educators during their first year of teaching.    

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Teaching Keeps This Career Changer "In the Moment"

    Meghan Oliver didn’t always want to be a teacher. But her passion for wildlife and experience working with wild birds and recommending books to children helped her realize that teaching was a perfect fit.

    Her career path, she said, has been “anything but linear.”When Meghan graduated from college with the dream of pursuing journalism, “The field started to change,” she recalled. "Newspaper jobs were hard to come by, things went online.” And, she added, sitting at a desk all day was mentally painful.

    During her time as a journalist, though, she met many people who were extremely happy in their work. They seemed to be able to be completely engaged and in the moment at work, something she struggled with. Engaged and in the moment was what she wanted from her career. “That was important,” she said.

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