Monday, May 22, 2017

Supporting the Development of a New Student Group


In a recent middle school student anti-bias training, several students requested the opportunity to meet as a group, similar to the already existing GLAMM (Gay, Lesbian and Many More) group.  This group self-identified as students of color or minority and expressed a concern that there weren't opportunities for them to regularly meet as a group, share issues and offer support.  

In response to that request, I've invited a former parent and UVM Professor, Shelley Vermilya, and a current U-32 parent, Karyn Montague, to facilitate a fishbowl discussion this Wednesday, May 24, 2017 during callback.  This discussion will be with students who self-identify as students of color or minority and is meant to determine the goals of the group, the qualities the group hopes their eventual advisor will have, and provide a safe and inclusive environment.  Shelley and Karyn will then support the development of this group by helping to identify an appropriate advisor.


If this sounds like a group that would support your student, please encourage them to attend the fishbowl by signing up for callback in enriching students this Wednesday with Jody Emerson!  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Faculty & Staff Appreciation




It's Teacher Appreciation Week and here at U-32 that means we celebrate all of our faculty and staff!

It is wonderful to work here at U-32 and it's great to take an opportunity to thank all of the people who really make this school work.

One of the things we also do during this week is to collect nominations and positive information about our faculty and staff.  Our faculty, staff and students receive the following e-mail:

Hello Faculty, Staff and Students,

It is faculty and staff appreciation week and that means it is also time to nominate teachers for the 2017 Outstanding Educator Award and staff for the 2017 Outstanding Staff Member Award.

We are again using an online nomination form.  Please fill out the form to nominate U-32 faculty and staff for these awards.  We are providing the opportunity for you to nominate an individual and acknowledge additional faculty and staff.  Please note comments received here may be used in an end of the year celebration luncheon in recognition of all the good work that occurs at U-32. These have become a wonderful way to close out the school year


Please complete and submit this form online by Monday, May 22nd


This allows us to collect wonderful information about our faculty and staff and gives us the opportunity to celebrate, not only by announcing the winner but also sharing the quotes with faculty and staff at our end of year luncheon.

So why have I added this to my blog?  I'm hoping to get some parents out there who either read this on facebook, twitter or our website to also contribute some kudos to our faculty and staff!  We take this very seriously and really appreciate all of the feedback we receive; please consider taking part in this year's "Educator of the Year" and "Staff Member of the Year" nomination process by filling out the form attached above.

Thank you for your continued support of our school!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Honoring Difference and Confronting Bias at U-32

The following are pages from a handout that Amy Koenigbauer created and shared with Teacher Advisors (TAs) and Student TA Representatives to discuss with their TA groups in the hopes of strengthening our community and supporting all students.








Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who owns conflict?

U-32 has been working to allow for members of the school community to resolve their own conflicts, with support, through use of restorative practices.  Much of the work of restorative practices is based in building community through proactive circles in TAs and classrooms. When there is a conflict, however, restorative circles are used to allow participants the opportunity to resolve the conflict and repair the harm.


Recently, as part of a class I am taking in Restorative Practices, I read an article from The British Journal of Criminology on Conflict (Christie, 1977).  The article discussed the social consequences of criminology - indicating that the justice system has taken on the ownership of conflict.  Unfortunately, the consequence of having a legal system with lawyers that take on conflicts on behalf of clients means that the clients themselves may never truly have resolution, the perpetrator may never have to actually take responsibility for their actions, and the victim may never feel they had closure.

For students at U-32, conflict is often mislabeled as bullying or harassment by parents, staff and students. There are many reasons for this, however, by seeking to avoid that conflict, administrators have been asked to take conflict off the hands of their students.  What has been lost in a system where conflict is taken on by others?  The opportunity to resolve the conflict.  Yes, our system allows for punishment, but it doesn't always allow for those involved in the conflict to learn either strategies for resolution or reasons to avoid making the same mistake again.  Part of the goal of bringing restorative practices to U-32 has been to provide a facilitated process through which students can learn conflict resolution.


There is a reason for every action and it is important that the reasoning is heard, just as the impact of those actions are made clear.  This can’t be accomplished in a system that does not allow the voices from both sides of the conflict to be involved in its resolution.  Ensuring that all voices is heard is based on the "belief that a more personalised meeting between offender and victim would lead to reduced recidivism." (Christie, 1977, p.9)  If the victim and offender are not given the opportunity to resolve the conflict, a few things happen, the offender, has lost both the opportunity to take responsibility and to be forgiven.  In cases where a victim does not have the opportunity to face the offender, the victim is often removed from the case, sometimes in an attempt at protecting them and they rarely come to know the offender or have the opportunity to understand what happened or to hear that person to take responsibility for their actions, which often results in the victim going "away more frightened than ever." (Christie, 1977, p8).



Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Chronicle Needs Your Help - Tribute to Laure!

Hello U-32 Community,

Our school paper, The Chronicle, is collecting short, specific stories about Laure Angel to publish as a simple tribute.

If you have a vivid memory of Laure and would like
to share it, you can write it and send it as an email to chronicle@wcsu32.org.

If you would like to share your story in an
interview with one of our reporters, please email us and let us know when you're available.



Here's one of our first examples, to give you an idea of the length & type of story we're hoping to collect:

From Zach Gonzalez, Social Studies teacher:

“During the Root v. Kingwood race, there were many students and lots of faculty that came out that day.

The race had clearly turned in Jackson's favor... he was going to win.  
Isaac was trying really hard, and as he was coming around for his fourth lap, it looked like he was going to quit, but then a bunch of students began cheering for him, giving him energy.

I remember seeing Laure, coffee in hand, running down the hill onto the track, and she ran alongside Isaac that entire last lap."

We hope these stories can help in a small way to celebrate Laure's life. We will begin posting them next week, so please send in your story soon.

Thank you.
The Chronicle Staff

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

U-32 Library encourages U-32 community to read outside of their comfort zone!





Citing a Book Riot challenge, the U-32 Library launched the Read Harder Challenge 2017 last week.  The U-32 community is challenged to read outside their comfort zone - exploring new worlds, new genres and deepening their variety of reading throughout the year.  Readers are challenged to read 32 books from each of the following categories:

1. Read a book about sports.

2. Read a debut novel.

3. Read a book about books.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.

6. Read an all-ages comic.

7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.

8. Read a travel memoir.

9. Read a book published in 2017.

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.

11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.

12. Read a fantasy novel.

13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.

14. Read a book about war.

15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.

16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.

17. Read a classic by an author of color.

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey. 

20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel. 

21. Read a book by a Vermont author.

22. Read a classic children's book that you have never read.

23. Read a collection of poetry on a theme other than love. 

24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. 

25. Read a Red Clover book.

26. Read a Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book. 

27. Read a GMBA book.

28. Read or listen to an Overdrive eBook or Audio book.

29. Read a U32 librarian pick.

30. Read a U32 teacher pick.

31. Read a short story.

32. Read a book about one of your hobbies. 
Since I've already read a fantasy novel (#12) this year, Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, it's time to explore another category.  This year my son read a book for his English class from the category "classic by an author of color" (#17) that I've never read, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  I've decided that's my next book.  What's your next book?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Opportunities for Student Voice



The U-32 Student Council meets monthly with the U-32 Admin team, bringing ideas and sharing upcoming activities and community service.  As a result of these meetings there will be 3 high school pep rallies this year - the next one coming up on January 27th after a spirit week incorporating Bring the Change! (A Leukemia/Lymphoma foundation fundraiser)


In addition, individual students meet with the Administrative team on occasion and by appointment.  We've received wonderful presentations and valid feedback given from middle school students and high school students alike over the last few years.  This year a student requested that we bring a presentation to U-32 that he was fortunate to experience while at the HOBIE leadership conference.  As a result of his request and presentation, on January 18th – 19th Eric Thompson from Civil Schools will be at U-32 working with students, faculty and parents.  You can read more about the organization at http://civilschools.com/ .  Students leaders will be attending a workshop with Eric on January 18th, there will be a related faculty meeting that day and then a parent presentation at 6:30pm in the U-32 Auditorium Eric Thompson from Civil Schools will present:

CivilSchools: Helping Your Teen Navigate the Digital World: Moving from Hurtful to Healthful 
Rather than spending an evening discussing the dangers of social media, which are vast, we are going to equip you with the high leverage skills and interventions that are critical to your adolescent's well being.

We will focus on the pro-social behaviors that will help your family not only successfully handle cyber-bullying, sexting, and other negative elements of the online world but how to design a plan that prepares them to thrive within it.



Starting this month, Scott Harris and I will be facilitating monthly fishbowls in the restorative practice style.  We'll ask someone to prepare a dilemma to share with students to gather feedback and ideas on how to move forward.  Our first U-32 fishbowl will take place on January 25th and art teacher, Amy K. will present her dilemma around respectful communication at U-32 around the topic of diversity - she is seeking resources and ideas about ways to hold the discussion school wide.  If interested, sign up for callback with Scott Harris on January 25th!

*Photos courtesy of U-32 Learning Community & U-32 Student Council Facebook pages.