Efforts to transform Burlington, Winooski schools - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Efforts to transform Burlington, Winooski schools

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A major transformation is in the works in Burlington and Winooski schools.

"The point of the partnership is to remodel our high school in Winooski and Burlington. And to do that we need to see what's out there... what's working." said Hal Colsten, the director of Partnership for Change.

The districts are teaming up in an effort called the Partnership for Change, and this summer it's adding five new fellows to help implement the program's five core goals. They include proficiency-based learning, youth engagement and community-based learning.

"We're so used to thinking of schools as these buildings and walls rather than Burlington and Winooski are the classroom-- the entire communities are," said Erika Lowe, a Burlington High School English teacher and new fellow at Partnership for Change.

Lowe is stepping away from the classroom for the next year to explore new ways to get kids learning in new places.

"It's really giving students a chance to learn from people in the community, you know, hands-on. To give them some skills that they can take with them outside of the classroom and beyond," Lowe explained.

Edmunds Middle School teacher Beth Brodie is also on board as a new fellow.

"It's a two-way street between families and schools," Brodie said.

She'll spend half her time teaching and the other half focused on family-school partnerships looking at ways to give families a voice in education, including community meetings and going door to door talking with parents.

"It's not just the schools always giving information to the families. We want to know from the families what's important for them as well," Brodie said.

A fifth fellow will look at improving teaching and learning environments through collaboration and being flexible with learning time and space.

"The community, the families, the school; as I say, they're all connected," Brodie said.

The partnership and its fellows are being paid for with the help of close to $4 million in grants from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Three of the new fellows are from the Burlington Schools and two are from the Winooski schools. They are spending time together training this summer to take on their new responsibilities.

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