Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Teacher Comes to Champlain Elementary School!

Ms. Carilo spent a full day with Ms. Fahy learning all about her new second-grade class and students.

An academic star before graduating Saint Michael's College, Ms. Sarah Carilo will begin teaching at Champlain Elementary School on December 5th!  Here she is, in her own words:

Hello! I am so excited to take over for Mrs. Fahy. I know I have big shoes to fill and can't wait to get started!

I recently graduated from Saint Michael's College with my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. I student taught second grade here at Champlain Elementary in Ashley Francke's class and am thrilled to be back!

After graduating, I moved to Hinesburg and have been working in early childcare. I have loved my experience being the Head Teacher in an infant/toddler room, but I know my heart belongs in the elementary classroom.

I believe that education is more than what students know; it's what they do and who they become. I aim to create a class where students are motivated to learn, where everyone is included, and empathy for all is found. I want to help support your child become the best they can be.

In my free time I love to cozy up with a cup of tea and a good book. I also love singing and have been singing in choirs my whole life.

I am looking forward to meeting you and your child. I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store! Feel free to contact me anytime after December 5th.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Message and Resources from the Burlington School District on Diversity and Democracy

To Our BSD Community and Beyond:

As we all take in and reflect on the results of the Presidential election, many of us are experiencing profound feelings of sadness, anger, confusion, and fear.  Regardless of any of our personal politics, this election season was filled with hateful rhetoric - xenophobia, racism, misogyny, rape culture, bullying, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia.  This is not who we are as a school district, and this is not what we stand for as a community.

The Burlington School District  honors and values our rich diversity.  Ultimately, we want to be able to come together as a community, support each other, and move forward with a renewed commitment to equity for all of us, but first, we must recognize that many among us are hurt.  We ask you not only to take care of one another, but also hold space for those who need to grieve, to mourn, and to heal.  
Burlington educators are known for putting our students first.  Our administrators and staff have been engaged in healing conversations with students, staff and community in the past week.  We will continue to do so, responding to their shock, fear, and uncertainty, with comfort, reassurance, and a safe environment at school.  We also need to take extra care to tune into the conversations and dynamics happening among them, and among us, and face the ugly reality that, to some, the results of this election serve to justify instances of bullying, harassment, and violence based on sex, religion and race.  Now is the time to teach and model empathy and compassion, both in our classrooms and in our own lives.  We offer the following resources to support you engaging your students further as needed:
From Bobby Riley, Principal at the IAA
Here is the letter Bobby sent to his staff the night of the election, before the official results came out.  He provides some wonderful tips for teachers, such as exploring the concept of bullying and the power of our words, empowering children to “be the change,” and explaining that there are checks and balances in our system of government.

From Dorinne Dorfman, Principal at Champlain Elementary

From Teaching Tolerance: The Day After
This article provides some tangible things that teachers can do, both for ourselves and with our students, such as strengthening our classroom community, creating space for reflection, and discussing the meaning of respect.

This article outlines some “truths kids need to hear,” such as that it’s okay to feel big emotions, that our country is divided along many lines, and that voting matters, but not just voting.

From the Huffington Post: What Do We Tell the Children?
This article provides suggested responses to the fear felt by many children.  Tips for teachers include things like, “Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.”

From Teaching Tolerance: Let the Students Speak!
Use the hashtag #StudentsSpeak to share their advice to the new president.

This website contains many resources for EL teachers and all teachers.

This is a collection of resources and includes sections on Countering Bias in Schools, and Safe and Affirming Schools: Tools for Positive School Climate.
In Solidarity With Love,
Diversity and Equity Team
Daniel Baron, Critical Friend and Facilitator
Hal Colston, Architect of Equity
Rebecca Haslam, K-12 Equity and Inclusion Instructional Leader
Miriam Ehtesham-Cating, Director of English Learning
Laura Nugent, Director of Student Support Services
Henri Sparks, Director of Equity and Safe/Inclusive Schools

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New Garden Shed and Science Education at Champlain

New Champlain Garden Shed 
Champlain's new garden shed now sits among our vegetable beds! We are very grateful for this generous donation to improve outdoor education for our students, and look forward to many years of its use in many projects.

Science Education on Screen
This past week, St. Michael's College professors Dr. Mark Lubkowitz and and Dr. Val Bang-Jensen filmed science education in Mrs. Betsy Patrick's third grade class after several days of instruction. In this photo, Dr. Lubkowitz asks students for their observations of different objects while the film crew tries to capture even the quietest students' voices on the microphone. This videos will become part of the professors' upcoming release of Talking Science: Exploring Children's Scientific Concepts with Literature (Heinemann).

Dr. Val Jensen-Bang and Dr. Mark Lubkowitz

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Improving Teacher Knowledge and Practice During the October Inservice

On Friday, October 21, the Champlain faculty participated in multiple activities utilizing Critical Friends Group (CFG) protocols. Each protocol lays out specific steps to encourage focused discussion on an educational topic, ensuring equal "airtime" for everyone to present ideas and analyze information. For several years the Burlington School District has utilized protocols during Professional Learning Community sessions on Wednesdays, during which grade-level and unified arts teachers meet. Last summer, the BSD offered a four-day training on the Critical Friends Group model to interested faculty from every school, which six CES teachers attended. They played a leading role in Friday's inservice.

To begin, I presented a concise history of the similarities and differences between the National School Reform Faculty Critical Friends Group model with the more widely practiced Professional Learning Community (PLC) model promoted by educational leader Rick DuFour. Here is the diagram I drew on the board:
Teachers throughout the country meet in small CFG or PLC groups and utilize protocols in the pursuit of improving student learning. The major difference between the two approaches lies in the belief on what actually improves teaching. In 2000, the Annenberg Institute of Brown University had launched the National School Reform Faculty after arriving at their major research finding: teachers improve their practice through meaningful reflection on their practice in dialogue with colleagues. Conscience-raising among educators improves student achievement and school climate. Since then, thousands of teachers across the world have been trained in CFG protocols, and at one time, Vermont had its own CFG organizational chapter.  

About the same time, the company Solution Tree began promoting PLC groups in order to show teachers how to analyze the big data coming out of newly-adopted standardized assessments. Only by understanding the relationship between specific standards and individual students' performance could teachers redesign their instruction and target gaps in understanding and skill. Thus the driver of improving student learning was acting upon quantitative data. Rick DuFour and his associates have presented the PLC model worldwide and authored many books for teachers, adding data analysis to their repertoire. 

Our inservice combined aspects of both CFG and PLC. Using the protocol, "Save the Last Word for Me," they acquainted three drafted procedures affecting our school and provided valuable feedback before the final version. With four per group from different grade-levels and subjects, they shared highlights and discussed possible implications on their classroom and the whole school. The silent protocol, "Chalk Talk," gave teachers a large blank paper to respond to questions about student behavior and developmentally-appropriate consequences. Then teachers seamlessly responded to each other's comments and drew connections between themes. This data provides the groundwork of an ad-hoc committee to formalize CES's behavioral consequences with a consistent, student-centered approach.

The last protocol was "Atlas - Looking at Data." Small groups combined into larger think tanks reviewing and analyzing the most recent (spring 2016) student performance outcomes. On all exams, the New England Comprehensive Assessment Program (NECAP - gr. 4) science exam and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC - gr. 3-5) in literacy and mathematics, more CES students who are not eligible for free meals demonstrated proficiency (3) or proficiency with distinction (4) than their Vermont counterparts. The results of students who are eligible for free meals were either just above, the same, or below the state average on the seven exams. Since the performance of students who are not low-income was very high, the income gap overall was greater than the state average. More information on the scores of individual students and CES overall will be forthcoming. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Family Handbook and Volunteer Handbooks Now Available!

A beautiful summer sped into a rapid start to the school year, and despite the best efforts, Champlain's 2016-17 Family Handbook and Volunteer Handbook were not ready for publication, until now. These two documents provide the most useful information to parents and volunteers. Our collaboration to provide an excellent education for each and every student can be found throughout the handbooks. If questions arise, please contact me for clarification. Here are the links:

Family Handbook:

Volunteer Handbook:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dorinne's Champlain Song at First Student Assembly

Sung to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad"

I've been working at Champlain School
All summer long
Custodians working at Champlain School
Staff and teachers right along
Can't you hear Miss Kendre calling,
"Line up for your class!"
Can't you hear Dr. D shouting,
"Line up for your class!"

Line up for your class!
Line up for your class!
Line up for your class - class - class!
Line up for your class!
Line up for your class!
Line up for your class!

Hazen's in the kitchen with Chef Kaye
With Miss Jane three lunches long
Hazen's in the kitchen with Chef Kaye
Serving three lunches long
Singin' fee, fie, fiddly-i-o
Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o-o-o-o
Fee, fie, fiddly-i-o
Kids learning all day long!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrating Champlain Renovations

At the September Harvest Fest, three speakers presented at our ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new main office suite and four new classrooms with windows. We hope this beautification is just the beginning! Champlain parent Adam Bluestein shared the history of the Windows Committee, which diligently met over four years to keep the pressure on the Burlington School Board and administration. Adam recognized Zoe Richards, Heather Fitzgerald, Nina Chill, and Carin Lilly for all their commitment to this major school improvement. BSD property Services Manager Marty Spaulding thanked the many individuals who contributed to the renovation, including Champlain custodians Sam Jackson and Carl Terry. Students Damien Lilly, Jessie Fitzgerald, Miranda Brown, and Nora Vota cut the red ribbon on each door to the office, and helped lead the tour of our renovated offices and classrooms.
Carin Elly, Adam Bluestein, and Zoe Richards 
Marty Spaulding
Sam Jackson and Carl Terry

Communication Between Champlain's Office Team

Visitors to Champlain may have noticed a new gadget among main office staff. Caught on camera below are school counselor Greg Kriger, administrative assistant Janet Breen, and I holding our two-way radios (walkie-talkies) ready for action. Throughout the school day we communicate with two other colleagues, who also carry radios at all times, student behavior coach Kendre Guinane and head custodian Carl Terry (Sam Jackson after 2:30pm). We plan to add two additional radios for nurse Nancy Pruitt and for teachers taking children outside. Fortunately Champlain's after-school program staff communicates with radios on the same frequency, so we are in touch on school safety from 7am to 6pm.
A staple on many campuses, our radios not only alert each other to address concerns around the building, but notify Janet in case she needs to announce an immediate command, such as "Clear the Halls," over the Public Address system. Wait-time to handle classroom disruptions or an unexpected mess has been substantially reduced. Even on off-hours, use of radios must strictly apply to school matters, despite the temptation for a Rosco P. Coltrane impersonation.
Greg, Janet, and I pose with pride to reach each other instantly anywhere on campus with our two-way radios. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Helping Improve Food and Security

Food, Glorious Food
The food served at Champlain Elementary School by Burlington's Food Service is delicious, nutritious, and popular. The Parent-Teacher Organization Cafeteria Committee has organized a volunteer crew to help serve food and support students nearly every day. Their contributions have proven indispensable and deserve our gratitude. Not only does their volunteerism help save money for education, but their relationship building with students strengthens our community bonds. 
Students start lining up for lunch first with the salad bar. A meal must include a fruit or vegetable, according to federal guidelines. This week community member Kristin Boehm began helping each student receive the right-sized portion and enjoy a positive dining experience. 
Chef Kaye Douglas slices hot baked potatoes, one of the many unprocessed meal choices. When one of our three hundred and eighteen students make special requests, she really listens and considers what they're asking and what they need, which, speaking as a novice lunch monitor, isn't as simple as it seems.

School-sized Security
Last Friday members of Champlain's Incident Command Team met with Burlington Police School Resource Officer Bailey Emilo to finalize procedures for building evacuation and lockdown drills. The State of Vermont requires both in September, followed by alternating practices every month. For the first lockdown drill, we anticipate three officers will escort Incident Command Team members throughout the building to ensure that everyone is in adherence. While schools are among the safest places for children and the chance of a dangerous incident within a school building is very low, practicing drills, especially in tandem with law enforcement, prepare us for the more likely emergencies faced in Vermont, such as a power outage and weather event. 
The Incident Command System refers to the standardized response system to emergencies instituted by U.S. federal and state agencies. The unified approach allows multiple organizations to easily coordinate efforts through improved coordination and common terminology. 
Champlain's Incident Command Team includes William Boos, Janet Breen, Tammy Charbonneau, Ashley Franke, Kendre Guinane, Greg Kriger, Nancy Pruitt, Terry Ryan, Carl Terry, Jessica Villani, Lindsay Wilcox, and myself. Pictured on the left are Kendre, Terry, Greg, me, Officer Elimo, and Richard Amato. Formerly assistant principal at Hunt Middle School, Rich supports and coordinates emergency response efforts for the Burlington School District. On the right, Officer Elimo smiles as she informs us that SROs were once formally called, "Officer Friendly."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Champlain Launches 2016-17

This past week Champlain Elementary School launched the 2016-17 school year. After a summer of extensive renovation and movement across the first floor, a few small tasks still remained. Parents/guardians and students may have seen Burlington School District Property Services staff tinkering with equipment, doors, and phones. More likely they experienced the joy on the faces of friends seeing each other for the first time since summer break, and the thrill of looking around our four classrooms now illuminated by natural light. Champlain educators are deeply grateful to the Window Committee of our Parent-Teacher Organization and our maintenance staff for their endless hours of commitment to improve our learning environment. Thank you to everyone for the patience and understanding this transition has required. Here are a few highlights of the first days of schools:
Champlain maintenance staff-member Mr. Sam Jackson usually works afternoons and evenings, but he spent all day alongside his colleagues preparing and cleaning throughout the renovation this summer. 
Second-grade teacher Ms. Ashley Francke has completed her new classroom arrangements with bookshelves below the new windows. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Ms. Francke also serves as Communications Officer of Champlain's Incident Command Team. Eight Champlain school and after-school employees comprise the team, managing emergency plans and carrying out practice drills. 
The beautiful voice of music teacher Betsy Greene resounded down the hall, leading our students in the Champlain School song. Her new windows enhance the natural wood of the many instruments her students learn in music class.
On the second floor, Ms. Regina Miller (right) repurposed a smaller classroom into a vibrant mathematics center. Sixteen fifth graders learn math with Ms. Miller daily, and students from all grade levels attend math interventions to improve their conceptual understanding and numeracy skills.
Near the math lab, Ms. Jill Sikora-Cain refined lesson plans after redesigning her learning environment for her third-grade class. 
First grade teacher Ms. Nancy Leon feels bright and cheery with sunlight pouring into her classroom after many years without windows. She rearranged her room once the painting and shelves were complete to greet her new students. 

Champlain's tireless administrative assistant Janet Breen multitasks all day with a smile in our brand-new main office suite. Her desk teems with new technology as a result of the renovation and security – a video monitor, intercom, and radio improve our building safety. Visitors may be surprised when Ms. Breen asks them to sign in and take a visitor's pass, but most understand the new measures are standard throughout the district and state. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Champlain Elementary and King Street Center Collaboration

Danielle Tekut works at both Champlain and King Street.
Champlain Elementary School and the King Street Center are proud to announce their collaboration to support our students. Beginning this fall, Danielle Tekut, who works at both Champlain and King Street, will accompany students from school onto the bus to the King Street Center every afternoon. Our students' ages range from 4 to 11, and with Danielle's supervision, every one of them can transition safely from school to King Street's after-school programs. This arrangement has been made possible by the generous supporters of the King Street Center.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Final Push on the Champlain Renovation

New carpets and walls and fresh paint of many colors are filling our new main office suite! The construction crew is improving safety, increasing convenience, and making many infrastructural upgrades at Champlain Elementary School. Here are a few shots of their progress as of yesterday, August 17.

Nurse Nancy Pruitt and administrative assistant Janet Breen pose in our new main office hallway of five doors. The doors shown (from left to right) are the conference and testing rooms, nurse's office, guidance counseling office, after-school program office, and principal's office.

Left photo: The future home of the main office: Notice the two entranceways and window to the front lawn for improved security. Janet will use the intercom and camera to see who's there from the outside before buzzing them in.

Right photo: Finally, we will have a conference room in the main office suite so teams, parents, and educators can finally meet in a quiet, confidential space!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Burlington Systems Leaders Retreat

Burlington Elementary School Principals worked together during the Systems Leaders Retreat at Hunt Middle School on August 10th and 11th. At the table from left to right are Bobby Riley of the Integrated Arts Academy, Shelley Mathias of Edmunds Elementary, Amy Mellencamp of Smith Elementary, Dorinne Dorfman of Champlain Elementary, Tom Fluery, assistant principal of Edmunds, and Lashawn Whitmore-Sells of Sustainability Academy. Principal Graham Clarke of Flynn Elementary had joined us earlier that day. With middle and high school leaders and central office administration, we discussed the district vision, logistics, and teamwork, and looked forward to an inspiring, collaborative, and productive year serving the families of Burlington.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Renovations at Champlain are Moving Along and Looking Bright!

While our building still remains closed for the summer, here are a few sneak-peek shots of the beautiful lighting our new windows bring into classrooms. Many thanks to all the professionals working hard to complete this huge project to improve our learning environment, and to the Burlington community that cares so much for our students!
Lower Elementary Classrooms
Ms. Betsy Greene's Music Room

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Champlain Elementary School and King Street Center Collaboration

Champlain staff visited the King Street Center in July to share ideas and plan collaboration for the upcoming school year. Seasoned CES colleagues introduced two CES newcomers to the King Street facility and staff. During the tour, CES students summer programs crowded around to greet their beloved teachers and meet their new teacher and principal.

The King Street Center is one of many after-school programs offered in the Burlington School District. Every day at dismissal, a bus drives our students directly from CES to King Street for a full array of academic and enrichment programs. Our possibilities for partnership and program alignment K-5 from 7:30am to 5:30 are limitless. CES is grateful to our partners for their devotion to our community's children.

Champlain and King Street staff pictured above include:
Front row: Physical Education Teacher Tammy Charbboneau, Executive Director Vicky Smith, and Principal Dorinne Dorfman. Back row: Associate Director Dacia Ostlund, English Language Learner Teacher Meghan Warda, Morning Champions Leader Deena Murphy, Director of Community Outreach Gabriella Tufo-Strouse, and Afterschool Excellence Director Carrie Jacques

To learn more about the King Street Center's programs, visit: