What’s new around the county’s schools

Here's to a new school term, and here's your look at what's coming up in school districts around Windham County:

Windham Southeast

• Brattleboro Union High School principal Steve Perrin said the school will focus mostly on fine-tuning the ACE block, a twice-weekly, 40-minute block for students who need time to catch up in classes. This was implemented during the second semester of the 2012-2013 school year.

“I'm looking forward to continuing the changes we've started in the past couple of years,” Perrin said. “We'll be continuing to find ways to positively recognize students, continuing to develop our staff, and continue to be a positive place for kids to come and learn.”

• In November, 16 teachers and administrators from schools throughout New England will come to BUHS to assess the school's self-study of instruction, community and student resources for learning, and school structure for leadership.

If approved, the school will be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for another 10 years. The accreditation assures colleges and other schools that the school meets certain standards.

• Austin Mohawk, the company contracted by the school to fabricate a new press box atop the newly constructed bleachers at Natowich Field, has informed BUHS that the box will be several weeks late in arrival and installation.

It will not be ready for the first football game of the season on Aug. 30, but is forecast to be operational by mid-September. The old press box, located in the old bleachers on the south side of the field, were both torn down last year.

• New staff at BUHS this year include physical education instructors Mia McGorry and Luke Croxton; counselors Gina Onorato and Meghan McLoughlin; Tobias Moore and John Kersey in the English department; Kate Westby and Perrin Scott in special education; diversity coordinator Ashley Nadeau; health instructor Kate Burt; and long-term substitute teacher Jillian Murphy in the math department.

Twin Valley/Windham Southwest

• Three schools - Deerfield Valley Elementary, and Twin Valley Middle and High schools - will be in transition through the end of the 2014-2015 academic year as a two-year consolidation project is rolled out, including renovations - and, in the high school's case, moving to a new building.

Whitingham and Wilmington voted a year and a half ago to consolidate into two schools. The first phase will be completed in another month. Elementary school students from Whitingham and Wilmington will attend the new Twin Valley elementary school, which has been renovated.

An information session and tour for families is set for Monday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m.

Additionally, along with many other districts in the county, Windham Southwest Supervisory Union schools are preparing to adopt the Common Core curriculum in the classroom.

“We're making a lot of changes philosophically in that the master schedule has been changed to accommodate some present and future changes, how groupings of students are dealt with, and when classes are offered,” Twin Valley Middle School principal Keith Lyman said.

“The school is already using a standard space grading system, but we'll hopefully be moving towards a proficiency based model,” he added.

• As the high school prepares for consolidation starting in the 2014-2015 school year, principal Bob Morse hopes for a successful final year. Riding the wave of Twin Valley's achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on the school's NECAP scores, additional improvement initiatives will be rolled out, including an 'intervention block' that will be adopted starting mid-year.

“[Moving to the new location] is a big thing,” Morse said. “The building has been here since 1899, and I think that we want to go out in style and grace. Not only is the school going to be greatly improved physically, but we are also working to bring our learning initiatives into the 21st century.”

• There will be five new teachers at Twin Valley - Caroline Comely in special education; Jeremy Taylor in social studies; Sarah Grant in science; Victoria Lamp in English; and Hui “Helen” Zhang-Treat in Chinese.

Windham Northeast

• The district will be welcoming John Turner as newly appointed principal of the Athens/Grafton Elementary School.

Also new to the district are Heather Chapman and Rebecca Coleman in special education, Carol Cronce in music, and Kellie Gouin and Amanda Rihm as elementary teachers.

At Bellows Falls Middle School, the new teachers are Cliff Desmarais, Matthew Harris, and Stuart Strothman.

Bellows Falls Union High School welcomes new staff as well: teachers Kimberly Lunna and Kristen Fredericks, and special education administrator Karen Steinbeck.

Westminster's new teachers are Amy DeCarolis, Kathryn Hewes, and Russell Williams.

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