ACSD adds new teachers, fresh curriculum
IB’s really focused on inquiry and having students ask questions and understand, as opposed to learning the facts alone. We want to create thinkers.
— ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows
MIDDLEBURY — The Addison Central School District begins the academic year with more than 20 new educators, four new administrators and roughly the same number of students served last year — 1,750.
But numbers don’t tell the whole story of what will be one of the most transformative years in the district’s history. ACSD next spring will complete its transition to the International Baccalaureate Program, making it the only K-12 public school system in the state — and one of only around 10 in the nation — to enjoy full “IB World District” status.
International Baccalaureate World Districts share a common philosophy — a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering “challenging, high quality programs of international education that share a powerful vision,” according to a mission statement found at ACSDVT.org.
ACSD includes Middlebury Union middle and high schools, and the elementary schools in Bridport, Cornwall, Middlebury, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge.
For the past three years, Addison Central has been preparing for three tiers of IB instruction: The Primary Years Program for students age 3 to 12, the Middle Years Program for students in grades 7-10, the Diploma Program, for learners ages 16–19.
“It’s student-centered, focused on creativity and a trans-disciplinary approach to learning,” ACSD Superintendent Peter Burrows said of IB. “It’s really focused on inquiry and having students ask questions and understand, as opposed to learning the facts alone. We want to create thinkers.”
Burrows has prior experience with IB. He taught the Diploma Program at his previous stop — Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore.
“I know the program is both challenging and incredibly rewarding,” Burrows said.
ACSD recently earned authorization for its Diploma Program. Its Middle Years Program is slated to be authorized this winter, and the Primary Years Program should be green-lighted by the end of this academic year.
Addison Central School District directors recently endorsed the notion of expanding Middlebury Union Middle School to include grades 6-8. The school now accommodates graded 7 and 8. They proposed a move to a larger MUMS, which is intended to facilitate IB instruction at the middle school level.
Burrows praised district educators for their mastery of IB curricula, something that’s occurred over months of work with consultants.
“The staff have been carrying this for three years,” he said. “We’ve all been in a learning process together, in understanding what it means for us.”
Burrows confirmed more than 30 Middlebury Union High School 11th-graders will be going through the Diploma Program this year, while some of their classmates will simply be taking select courses.
“It’s really exciting,” he said.
Burrows said ACSD is committed to making the IB program work for all students.
“We started a ‘system of services’ design team last year to begin looking at how we can support every student in being successful in the IB framework,” he said. “That work is central to ‘IB for all,’ which is making sure every student has access and is growing and excelling.”
District officials believe IB will open up new opportunities for Middlebury-area students in an increasingly global economy. And others in education are taking notice of ACSD’s embrace of the program.
“Increasingly… word has spread through Vermont about what we’re doing,” Burrows said. “We’ve seen more applicants looking at the work we’re doing. People have talked to me through the interview process about how they’ve applied here because of the IB process.
“There’s been a bunch of interest (from other Vermont school districts) to learn about what we’ve been doing,” he added.
ACSD welcomes four new principals this year, including Nicole Carter at Weybridge Elementary School, Heather Raabe at Bingham Memorial School in Cornwall, Matthew Brankman at Bridport Central School, and Jen Kravitz at Middlebury’s Mary Hogan Elementary.
Where they are teaching
MUHS: Lisa Sihler, Special Educator; Dan Raabe, Individuals and Societies Teacher; Benjamin Weir, Learning Lab/504 Coordinator
MUMS: Liam Battjes, Paraprofessional
Shoreham Elementary School: Ellen Gawarkiewicz, Classroom Teacher; Sarah Fornaby, Classroom Teacher
District: Richard Sherman, Music Teacher; Cody Bohl, Special Educator; Annabelle Maroney, Special Educator; Kelsey Murtha, Paraprofessional; Nicole Chalke, Special Educator; Liza Allen, School Psychologist
Bridport Central School: Anna Cavazos, Grade 1/2 Teacher
Weybridge Elementary School: Rebekah White, Classroom Teacher
Cornwall, Ripton & Salisbury: Tammie Johnson, Teacher
Cornwall: Kerry Burns-Collins, Teachers
Mary Hogan Elementary School: Connie Mosquera, Spanish Teacher; Emily Glover, Speech and Language Pathologist; Courtney Aucoin, Special Educator
Middlebury College Student Teachers: Cece Alter, Jack Parker and Luna Asaro-Niederlitz, Middlebury College Student Teachers
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]
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