“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Dear Valued Members of the Lamoille North Communities:
Welcome to the Lamoille North Supervisory Union 2018-19 school year! I hope you have had time to do the things you enjoy this summer and to spend time with the people you love and are now ready to begin the school year with excitement and optimism. I continue to be fiercely proud to serve you and all the families of the Lamoille North communities.
When I think about what is most important to share with you at the beginning of the new year, I have to frame my thoughts in terms of our identified mission and vision because that serves as a driver for everything we do. Our mission is to work together to inspire passion for learning and to empower all students to become responsible, productive and engaged citizens. Our vision provides the answers to how we will accomplish our mission. It is simple and clear…..equity, access and opportunity for all.
We have accomplished much thus far and want to build on that great work. We have had a relatively smooth transition in consolidation, and we continue to build on our work with proficiency-based learning. We have moved forward developing a common curriculum, and having strong, targeted and cohesive professional development. We have recently entered into a pilot program with the Department of Health to look at ways to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of our staff and students. We also are in receipt of almost $150,000 of a grant to enhance school safety. However, we know that simply making our physical structures more secure cannot by itself be a solution. What is most important is helping students, staff and all members of the community to build the kind of culture and relationships necessary so that there is an atmosphere of safety. We have to cultivate relationships that value all of us.
Why do we engage in all of this work? To help students become college, career and “life” ready. We need our students to be proficient not only in content mastery, but critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. We may not know what jobs will exist 20 years from now, but we need to know that people can work together and communicate. Those skills will not go away.
I want to step back for a minute and acknowledge that last year was markedly different from others in our lives. There were national events that rocked us to the core and those events asked for us to redefine humanity. We saw our communities supporting each other and in many cases raising funds for various causes that resonated for them. If we take a look at social media, art, music, etc., we see that more and more of pop culture has strong social commentary. We can frame an issue from a place of fear or one of positivity. Technology, for example, has enabled people globally to address issues of universal import, to weigh in on what is important to humanity and to drill down hard on issues that are unjust and improper. We see people being vocal about social justice, equality, work ethic, conservation and sustainability.
Never has it been more important for our students to think critically, collaboratively and to look at new ways to navigate issues. It has never been more important to embrace the theme of college, career and “life” ready. Last year I heard in one high school class a student say that it does not matter as much what your stand is on any issue, it is your ability to responsibly take a stand on thinking. This comment suggested an ability to critically analyze and problem solve. These are some of the transferable skills we seek to have our students possess.
We acknowledge we face challenges in the world of proficiency-based learning and at times have looked to retreat into the comfort of what we have always known. Oscar Wilde said quite eloquently that “what seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”. We will continue to work through the challenges and towards education that will serve our students well in the 21st century, knowing that content mastery alone does not help our students in the global realm of today.
I encourage all of us to not only see these changes as opportunities for something better, but to embrace the responsibility that comes with being part of something greater. No matter who we are or what we look like or what we may believe, it is both possible and important to come together in common purpose and common effort. I am so honored to serve you and to embrace every opportunity ahead to collaborate with you.
By working together, we can ensure that every child receives an exemplary education. It is our responsibility to encourage academic and social emotional wellbeing so that all of our students are ready for whatever path they choose, whether college or career, and most certainly “life”. I stand strong in my commitment to support all of you in these endeavors and look forward to a year that I know will be exceptional.
My best to you,
Catherine Gallagher, M.Ed.
Superintendent of Schools