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North Branch School hires new teachers

RIPTON — The North Branch School has announced that Pam Struhammer, a Mt. Abraham Middle/High School math teacher for the past 15 years, will be heading up the math department at the school. “Pam stood out to us because of her vast experience and her desire to teach middle school-age kids,” said Tal Birdsey, co-founder and director of the school.
For the past eight years, Struhammer taught high school math to accelerated middle school students, while also providing intervention programs for struggling middle school students. In addition, she designed a Math Art enrichment program. Struhammer also has elementary level teaching experience, having taught at the Aurora School in Middlebury for four years where, along with teaching, she developed the math and science curriculum for grades K-6.
“Pam has a vast amount of experience teaching a wide range of learners,” said Birdsey, “She knows curriculum inside and out, has utilized every current best practice, and now will be able to bring those skills into a low teacher-student ratio setting.”
Outside of the classroom, Struhammer has been the MathCounts coach at Mt. Abe for the past six years; a member of the district task force to create a K-12 assessment program for mathematics; and on the RTI Data Team to design, implement and assess the efficacy of the intervention programs for literacy and mathematics. She was a member of the Addison Southeast District Math Committee, assigned to create an implementation plan for the Common Core, with particular focus on the transition from sixth grade to middle school.
Struhammer will be taking the place of Rose McVay, who has taught math at NBS for the past thirteen years. McVay will take over the science teaching duties, directing the three-year science curriculum program at North Branch.
McVay began teaching at North Branch in 2004, having been enrolled in physics, adolescent psychology, and educational coursework. Since then, McVay has taught math, ceramics, coached the NBS MathCounts team, designed a stained-glass curriculum, designed sets for the school plays, and taught drawing, sculpture and painting.  She holds a B.S. in Materials Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
This summer McVay studied climate and energy science education at the Summer Institute of the Vermont Environmental Educators Programs (VEEP). McVay will continue building a science program that is dynamic, rigorous, fun, hands-on, and connected to the world around us.
“I am excited about this position and also feel the imperative that right now it is critical that our kids look closely and understand the science that is going to determine their future,” said McVay.  “Climate and energy awareness will power our study of physical, earth and life science at NBS. The aim is to unite science with action and use content to make a difference. This year we will be studying physical science phenomena through the lens of analyzing our own energy use and footprint and it’s impacts, and explore alternatives and design solutions.”
Among many initiatives, Bill McKibben will be visiting the school in October, and the students will study the feasibility of installing a photo-voltaic array to provide power for the school and the energy grid.  McVay replaces Eric Warren, of Lincoln, who taught science for the first sixteen years of the school’s existence.
The North Branch School is a non-profit, independent school in Ripton, VT serving middle school age children (grades 7-9). 

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