It’s right around the corner...

As students prepare to begin another school year in the next few days, we bring you a roundup of what’s new in our local classrooms

As the schools in Windham County prepare for a new academic year, we take a look at some changes that will greet students and teachers on their return to their classrooms.

We've contacted the local schools to find out just what will be going on and what might be different as the kids make this transition.

Here are a few updates from some school administrators who were courteous enough to return our calls and emails.

Brattleboro Union High School

School starts: Tuesday, Aug. 29 for ninth graders and Wednesday, Aug. 30 for grades 10-12.

Changes in staff: New Assistant Principal Mark Kaufmann (BUHS class of 2002); new math teachers Jennifer MacKay and Ryan Connors; new long-term substitute for Spanish, Carmela Lucich; new chorus teacher for BUHS and BAMS, Elyse Wadsworth; and new special educators Rotina Gong and Raquel Moreno.

Changes in curriculum: According to school officials, “BUHS continues to move towards a proficiency based instruction and assessment system. This process, began in 2014, is designed to provide more nuanced and effective feedback to students and families.”

Summer improvements: Principal Steven Perrin said that “the custodial staff has done their usual stellar job preparing the building for the first day of school. This has included room painting, floor repair, and other annual maintenance tasks. Many of the improvements completed over the summer are related to the school's power plant and facilities systems.”

Perrin added that he and his staff “are very excited to start the school year and are looking forward to seeing our students return to school. This year, Assistant Principal Kate Margaitis will be working with students in Grades 9 and 11 and Assistant Principal Mary Kaufmann will work with students in Grades 10 and 12. Open House is Sept. 14!”

Oak Grove School (Brattleboro)

School starts: Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Staffing and curriculum changes: The school will be opening a new Pre-K classroom, with three new staff members.

“No new curriculum changes are planned, ” said Principal Jeri Curry. “The math program is Eureka Math, and we've been doing that for the last few years.”

Summer improvements: “There have been lots of changes in terms of reconfiguring one of the classes into a Pre-K space,” said Curry. “We've also revamped our library and given it a complete makeover. We communicate with families on a weekly basis, and our summer newsletter [came out] on Aug. 17 to let everyone know about new things going on.”

Jamaica Village School

School starts: Wednesday, Aug. 30 for students entering kindergarten through sixth grade; Thursday, Aug. 31, for Pre-K students.

New faculty and staff: According to Principal Laura Hazard: “The school will welcome Monica Deuse as the new fifth/sixth grade teacher. Deuse comes to the school with experience in elementary education, mathematics, and behavioral interventions and supports. Also joining the staff as the new music teacher is Rebecca Hall.

Changes in curriculum: Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) are planned to be built upon with the assistance of the Behavior and Emotional Learning (BEL) Center of Brattleboro and a PBIS coach.

“The focus throughout the year will be on teaching respect for oneself and others, as well as continuing a whole school approach of developing a growth mindset and practicing mindfulness,” Hazard said.

The school is also initiating overseas and local pen pals for the students in an effort to broaden the students' awareness of others and their communities. “We believe that all children can and want to learn, and by building positive relationships with our students, families, and community, we know we make a difference in the lives of those we serve,” Hazard said.

Saxtons River Elementary

School starts: Wednesday, Aug. 30. Principal Nancy Erickson said that “we have a full day and will start with playground supervision at 8. We will wave goodbye to parents after line-up, and then school begins.”

New faculty and staff: Mary Beth Monahan is the reading teacher. Holly Gauding will teach kindergarten. Jennifer Audet will be the school nurse on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Tiffany Manning is new to the grades 3-4 team and will teach reading to both third- and fourth graders, and social studies and writing to fourth graders. Johanna Wells is the physical education teacher, and Corina Stack is the Title 1 teacher.

“We are excited about the talents that these new teachers bring to our team,” Erickson said.

Curriculum: “Our theme this year is trees,” said Erickson. “We will be planting the seeds of learning to start the year.”

Summer improvements: “Our building is gleaming, thanks to the hard work of our custodians,” said Erickson. “We invite all of our students and families to come to our Classroom Visitation on Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 3 to 4 p.m. This is a great time to meet new teachers, gather or return paperwork, and for students to find desks and cubbies.”

Erickson reminded everyone that “to support the health and safety of students, staff, parents and others, animals are not permitted on school district property.”

Vernon Elementary School

School starts: Aug. 29. “The school day runs from 8:15-2:45 except for kindergarteners,” said Principal Mary Ross. “Kindergarteners will attend from 8:15-12:15 until Sept. 11, when full days begin.”

New faculty and staff: Jamie Card, school counselor; Sheila Overman, special education teacher; Emily Fennes, special education teacher; James McDonald, custodian; Helen Skiathitis, paraeducator; Christine Kierstead, school nurse; and Cheryl Brown, kitchen assistant.

Curriculum: The school will implement Reading Street curriculum and EngageNY math curriculum at additional grade levels.

“We are thrilled to begin the 2017-18 school year working hard so that each student will reach his or her academic, social and emotional potential,” said Ross.

Summer improvements: There's a new audiovisual system in the cafeteria and a new partition wall in the gym.

Twin Valley Middle High School (Whitingham)

School starts: Wednesday, Aug. 30. The school day begins at 7:57 a.m. and ends at 2:37 p.m.

New faculty and staff: Jessica Fisher will teach U.S. History and other history electives. She comes from North Carolina and Notre Dame University, where she is completing her doctorate. Jollene Mahon, who will begin work as the school nurse, has a great deal of experience in both public medicine and education.

Curriculum: The school will be expanding the use of the Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements to both ninth- and 10th-grades.

The school will be refining the use of the Collins Writing Program, in year three of its implementation plan.

Teachers will again be using a program called “The Fundamental Five,” a set of research-based classroom practices that have been found to consistently increase student engagement and achievement.

A series of workshops, discussion groups, and activities will take place around the school theme for this year: “Resilience.”

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