Middlebury middle and high schools welcome new teachers, students

MIDDLEBURY — Students entering Middlebury Union Middle and High schools for the first time are not alone. Both schools have each welcomed several new teachers to begin the 2013-14 academic year.
MUMS enters the 2013-14 academic year with a smaller student population and a lot of new faces among its teaching staff.
Principal Patrick Reen confirmed a fall enrollment of 298 students, down from what was an uncharacteristically large student body of 315 last year. This year’s 7th-grade class has 120 students, while there are 178 8th-graders.
“Projected enrollment for the foreseeable future looks to hover around 250 students with what looks like a slight spike in 2015-16 and slight dip in 2019-20,” Reen said. “We have had several conversations as a staff about this over the past several years, and we are keenly aware we will need to address the decline in enrollment.”
Reen announced 16 new additions to the MUMS staff this year, including Encore Program Director Sandi Hall, English teacher Courtney Krahn, science teacher Michael Graziadei, Doug Aigner as the new Tiger Program director, Rob DeBruyn as the new band director, algebra teacher James Heflin, Spanish teacher Natasha Causton, and several paraprofessionals.
“That’s quite a lot in one year,” Reen said of the new staff. “It’s the most I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been here.”
Math and English teachers spent several days this summer looking at ways to transition curriculum to the Common Core State Standards that all public schools will need to adopt by next year. This fall, science, English, social studies and math teachers will be attending conferences to learn more about these curriculum changes and about the next generation of science standards, according to Reen.
Meanwhile, MUHS Principal William Lawson reported an incoming student population of 603, up slightly from the 597 students served last year. And the short-term enrollment news is looking good at MUHS.
“We’ll get a significantly larger class next year,” Lawson said, pointing to the big current MUMS 8th-grade class. “Our numbers during the following four or five years will be pretty stable at around 600.”
That number could of course change, depending on new business activity in Addison County.
Lawson said there are a lot of things to be excited about on campus, beginning at the top.
“The most exciting thing, to me, is we are starting off the year with a permanent superintendent,” Lawson said, referring to top executive Peter Burrows. “It brings more stability to the district.”
Lawson introduced four new faculty: Spanish teacher Natasha Causton, math teacher Jim Heflin, Learning Lab Coordinator Ben Krahn, and driver education teacher George Rooney, who will also serve as National Honor Society co-advisor.
Thirty-two students attended summer school this year, focusing on history, science, math and English. One of those students was able to earn his 2013 diploma as a result of the extra work, according to Lawson.
MUHS students entered an improved building. Workers completed upgrades to the building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. New carpeting was installed in the E, C, B and D wings. And officials completed the first phase of a project to update the school’s fire safety system. That involved rewiring the horn/strobes throughout the building and installing a new main panel. The second phase will include replacement of all smoke and heat detectors.
Lawson is looking forward to a good year.
“It’s an exciting time,” he said. “Everyone has come in with a lot of enthusiasm.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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