Buses are back in action: Local students head back to school

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Student-made artwork is displayed throughout Hinesburg Community School.


School buses are rumbling across Vermont for the start of another school year that got under way in the Champlain Valley School District on Wednesday.

As usual, teachers and staff across the district had their “first day” late last week as they began preparations for the new year.

Last Friday, teachers swirled through the halls and classrooms at Hinesburg Community School opening boxes, setting up rooms and greeting each other, ahead of students’ arrival yesterday. On Monday, Charlotte Central School was quiet as staff attended trainings off site.

There are a number of new faces on staffs in both schools and some small changes were made to school facilities over the summertime.

Some additional safety improvements will likely happen in upcoming weeks using recently awarded state grand funding. Charlotte Central will receive just over $24,000 and Hinesburg will have $4,500 to spend. School district officials would not specify the upgrades planned for each building. Instead they offered examples such as improving entry monitoring, window and door hardware, and mass-alert systems.

And since snow days seem so far off as August comes to a close, a peek at the school calendar shows the last day of school: Thursday, June 13.

Charlotte Central School

In Charlotte, summer construction included building permanent walls between classrooms, and replacing folding walls in the elementary school wing. Co-principals Stephanie Sumner and Jennifer Roth explained the move in an email to families over the summer.

The school is also working on more proficiency-based grading initiatives. Grades Kindergarten through 4 will be implementing Second Step, a curricular program and approach rooted in social-emotional learning, they wrote.

Grades 5 through 8 will continue working with the University of Vermont’s Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, where staff from Charlotte Central will work with students to develop personalized learning plans, the principals wrote.

The school has a number of new staff and some staff changes this fall including:
• Stephanie Murray, a long-term substitute literacy coach and coordinator.
• Reina Guarnaccia, a part-time grades 5-8 Spanish teacher.
• Allan Miller, a digital learning leader and a proficiency and personalized learning coach.
• Angie Morin, a special educator for grades 5 and 6.
• Janelle Moynihan, a speech language pathologist.
• Elizabeth Kehr and Lin Warren as general education paraeducators.
• Mike Hulvey as athletics director.

In addition, Shannon Spellman will fill in as a long-term first-grade substitute teacher.

Hinesburg Community School

A new face for people to meet at Hinesburg Community School this school year is Co-principal John Pontius who has joined the district from Essex where he taught English and language arts at Albert D. Lawton Middle School.

Pontius will lead the 5th- through 8th-grade teams.

“This year is a year of just trying to come together and listen from parents and staff to figure out a direction to move in,” Co-principal Suzan Locke said. She has been working for the district for three years. She said adding Pontius to the administration will be an opportunity to either confirm the direction Hinesburg Community School is going in, or make changes.

One thing that won’t change, Locke said, even with the arrival of new art teacher Rebecca Gove, is the student art displayed around the school.

“Everything here is student-created,” she said, pointing to the artwork hanging in her office as she caught up with The Citizen on Friday. The artwork adds to the “unbelievably friendly, supportive, caring kind community,” she said.

The playground has also gotten a facelift and is more accessible to students, Locke said.

“I miss the laughter and hearing their voices,” she said, excited for the new school year.

In addition to Pontius and Grove, Hinesburg school’s new staff members for this year are:
• Libby Koch, an administrative assistant in the main office.
• Sarah Leister, a grade 7 math teacher.
• Mary Muroski, a grade 5 classroom teacher who previously taught in Charlotte.
• Vicki Nelson, a counselor for kindergarten through 4th grade who will split her time between Hinesburg and Charlotte schools.
• Sarah Schoolcraft, a new instructional coach for kindergarten through 4th grade.
• Linda Scott, digital learning leader.
• Peg Sutlive, grade 6 literacy and math support teacher.

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