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20 posts categorized "Education"

July 03, 2012

Smilie School Garden Probable Casualty of Contaminated Compost

School_gardenSome home gardeners are reeling after learning they'll lose their vegetable patches to contaminated soil from Green Mountain Compost. That disappointment is particularly acute at Smilie Memorial School in Bolton, where the school used a $7300 grant from Fletcher-Allen Health Care to build their first-ever garden this spring.

The grant, aimed at improving kids' eating habits and combating obesity, enabled the school to hire a garden manager and build seven raised beds, which students filled with topsoil from GMC, as well as beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and broccoli. Many of those plants had been started by Smilie's 80 pre-K and elementary school kids under grow lights, and were to be used in the lunch program.

"We're trying to get kids to eat more colors and fresh foods and provide the experience from seed-to-table," says school principal Mary Woodruff, who wrote for and received the grant, along with another from the Subaru Healthy Sprouts program. But once the starts were in the ground, garden manager Bronwyn McKeown noticed that something "wasn't quite right," according to Woodruff, as leaves curled and bush beans withered and died.

Once they learned about the contaminated soil, and the culprit was clear. "We were just heartbroken," says Woodruff, who says that most of the plants, including the new raspberry patch, will probably need to be pulled out and the soil replaced. "But then you just have to say, what are we going to do next? The plan is to get this [soil] out of there and get new soil in and salvage what we can."

It was just over a week ago when Green Mountain Compost, an extension of the Chittenden Solid Waste District, suspended sales after finding out that its bulk compost and soil — most of which arrives in the form of trimmings and scraps from CSWD — had likely been contaminated by a persistent herbicide, the type of potent, long-lasting weed killer sometimes used on farms.

Continue reading "Smilie School Garden Probable Casualty of Contaminated Compost" »

June 14, 2012

Burlington Superintendent Jeanne Collins Holds on to Her Job

CollinsAfter months of harsh criticism, Burlington School District superintendent Jeanne Collins can breathe a sigh of relief: The BSD school board voted 9-5  late last night to extend her contract until 2014.

Board commissioners Keith Pillsbury, Haik Bedrosian, Ben Truman, Alan Matson, Kathy Chasan, Dave Davidson, Ed Scott and Bernie O'Rourke all gave Collins the go-ahead for another year on the job. (Had the board voted down her contact extension, Collins would have been job hunting in 2013.) Jill Evans, Rebecca Grimm, Paul Hochanadel, Meredith Woodward King and Erin Kranichfeld voted against retaining the superintendent.

The vote came after months of heated allegations of racism in the Burlington School District, and criticism centered in recent weeks on Collins. Her opponents  — who included activists from the minority community, some students of color, and City Councilor Vince Brennan — accused the superintendent of responding too slowly to these allegations, and called repeatedly for her replacement. Collins' supporters rallied in recent weeks, citing her long record of achievements in the district (including establishing the state's first magnet elementary schools) as reasons to keep her on.

Continue reading "Burlington Superintendent Jeanne Collins Holds on to Her Job" »

May 10, 2012

Vermont Gets Its First State Craft Education Center

IMG_0276The big, red, Fairfax barn that houses Vermont Woodworking School was abuzz yesterday celebrating its new designation as Vermont's first State Craft Education Center.

VWS joins the ranks of the state's other official craft centers, Frog Hollow in Burlington, Artisans Hand in Montpelier and Gallery at the Vault in Springfield.

The designation is largely symbolic; it doesn't secure the organizations any extra funding or perks (besides a flashy decal to place in the window and a listing on the state's website). But the nod lends a dose of prestige to the school, which is still relatively new.

Continue reading "Vermont Gets Its First State Craft Education Center" »

December 20, 2011

Center for Cartoon Studies Gets a New Home

CCSxmasIt's been a big year for the Center for Cartoon Studies. The nation's only cartoon school, based in White River Junction, kicked off 2011 with the announcement of Vermont's first, official cartoonist laureate, James Kochalka of Burlington.

In August, CCS did battle with Tropical Storm Irene when the White River poured into the building housing the school's Charles Schultz Library (they saved all the books).

This week, CCS announces a very happy culmination to the year: a new building.

Well, a new old building. CCS closed yesterday on its purchase of the historic post office on South Main Street, which was constructed in 1934. The Colonial Revival-style brick structure has also been a Vermont District Court and a private office building.

It's about to become the school's HQ, housing classrooms, much-needed faculty space, and the library. Existing tenants in the upper floor offices will remain and their rent will help to pay the mortgage on CCS' first fully-owned building.

Continue reading "Center for Cartoon Studies Gets a New Home" »

November 14, 2011

Champlain College's Digital Forensics Lab Renamed in Honor of Sen. Patrick Leahy

Leahy lab 2Apparently, it wasn't enough for Senator Patrick Leahy to lend his good name to the Center for Rural Studies at Lyndon State College and the ECHO Lake Acquarium and Science Center, the home-away-from-home for scores of turtles, lizards and other aquatic critters: This morning, the Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation was officially renamed to honor Vermont's senior-most senator and chief congressional patron.

At a Monday morning press conference, Champlain College President David Finney officially christened the college's new state-of-the-art digital forensics lab the Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation — or LCDI for short. The new facility, which is housed in Champlain's brand-spanking-new Miller Center at Lakeside Campus in Burlington's South End, provides a high-tech and fully secure digital forensics lab that brings together students, police officers and other professional e-sleuthers. There, Champlain's computer and digital forensics students learn to recover evidence from computer hard drives, smartphones and other digital doohickeys.

Continue reading "Champlain College's Digital Forensics Lab Renamed in Honor of Sen. Patrick Leahy" »

October 13, 2011

Shelburne Museum to Build Shiny New Art and Education Center

Center_for_Art_and_Education_at_Shelburne_Museum WEBWhen Electra Havemeyer Webb founded the Shelburne Museum in 1947, she imagined the museum would one day be open year round, according to its board chairman, James Pizzagalli. More than 50 years after her death, her dream is coming true.  

The Shelburne Museum, which has always operated only between mid-May and the end of October, announced today its plans to construct a 16,000-square-foot, LEED-certified art and education center. The contemporary-style structure, which will hold galleries, an auditorium and classroom space, will serve as the museum's flagship building.

The big news? It will allow the museum to operate year round.

Gallery_Center_for_Art_and Education_at Shelburne_Museum"This allows us to fundamentally change the way the Shelburne Museum serves the community," said Thomas Denenberg, who starts November 1 as the museum's new director, at a press conference this morning. The museum's summer schedule has always made it difficult to connect with area school children, who can participate in educational programs only during small windows of time in the spring and fall. 

Continue reading "Shelburne Museum to Build Shiny New Art and Education Center" »

July 29, 2011

Fogel Earned Less Than Other University Heads

Dan Fogel Unremarked upon amid the upset over UVM President Dan Fogel's $411,000 compensation package is the fact that he's gotten substantially less annual pay than the heads of at least two other post-secondary schools in Vermont.

Gov. Peter Shumlin had it right when he cautioned that Fogel's take is not exceptional “because you can go to any institution of higher learning in the country and find this now.”

Well, not quite any institution of higher learning. But Shumlin's statement certainly applies to at least two Vermont institutions other than UVM: Middlebury College and Champlain College.

According to a survey for 2008-09 published last November by the Chronicle of Higher Education, both Ron Leibowitz of Middlebury and David Finney of Champlain earned more than Fogel: about $730,000 and $510,000, respectively. And depending on how Fogel's remuneration is calculated, St. Michael's College President John Neuhauser, with annual compensation of nearly $400,000, may also have earned more than the top Cat.

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July 20, 2011

UVM President Dan Fogel Resigns

Pres * Updated below with action from the UVM Board of Trustees meeting *

University of Vermont President Dan Fogel made his abrupt resignation official this morning in a campus-wide email that said the decision came after "much soul-searching."

"I am doing so for the good of this wonderful university and for deeply personal reasons," wrote Fogel, who will step down on July 31, a year ahead of schedule. "Suffice it to say that I care greatly about my wife and our marriage, and it has become increasingly clear to me that, in the face of difficult challenges, I cannot serve the university to the best of my ability while obeying the imperative need I feel today to devote significant time and my very best energies to taking care of her and myself and, collaterally, to preparing to resume my work as a teacher and scholar, right here at UVM, in what my father always told me never to forget is the University’s highest rank, the rank of professor. That for me will be a great joy, which I consecrate to his memory."

Read the full emailed letter here.

As noted in this week's "Fair Game," Fogel's decision to step down comes less than two weeks before the scheduled release of an internal investigation related to his wife Rachel-Kahn Fogel, which is expected to be critical of both Fogel and UVM.

Continue reading "UVM President Dan Fogel Resigns" »

June 01, 2011

UVM Review: 'No irregularities' with Dissertation on Role of Presidential Spouses

Trustees An internal review by the University of Vermont found "no irregularities" regarding either the research work or dissertation written by a top university official who was involved in an unusual and years-long relationship by UVM President Dan Fogel's wife, Rachel Kahn-Fogel.

As a result of Seven Daysinquiries into Kahn-Fogel's influence over the doctoral studies and day-to-day employment of Michael Schultz, the school's associate vice president for development and alumni relations, UVM trustees launched an investigation into the relationship between Kahn-Fogel to determine if UVM resources were used inappropriately or whether she violated any UVM workplace policies.

Schultz admitted during a divorce hearing that he had been in a nonsexual but amorous relationship with Kahn-Fogel for more than six years. Kahn-Fogel’s romantic emails — retrieved from the university email system — revealed she also lobbied Schultz’s bosses to arrange his schedule so the two could work events together.

UVM trustees were investigating whether Kahn-Fogel had any undue influence on Schultz’s doctoral dissertation, titled “Elucidating the Role of the University CEO’s Spouse in Development, Alumni Relations and Fund Raising.”

The results of the internal review — which found Schultz's doctoral files to be "in order and unremarkable" — were released Tuesday at a UVM Board of Trustees Executive Committee meeting. The report was compiled by Associate Provost for Curricular Affairs Brian Reed and read to the board by Provost Jane Knodell.

"A review of the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Michael Schultz was conducted during the time period May 16 to May 27, 2011," Knodell said. "The purpose of the review was to ensure the dissertation had in fact followed all institutional policies and procedures and that there had been no irregularities including direct or indirect attempts by Rachel Kahn-Fogel to influence the inception or the outcome."

Continue reading "UVM Review: 'No irregularities' with Dissertation on Role of Presidential Spouses" »

April 04, 2011

VT Dept. of Education Issues New Seclusion and Restraint Rules

Special ed coverEd. note: Ken Picard provides a follow-up to this week's cover story on special education.

To what extent are Vermont teachers and other school staff allowed to use seclusion or physical restraints on students who act out, throw tantrums, destroy school property or pose an imminent and serious threat to themselves or others?

That question has been debated for years, especially by advocates for students with physical and developmental disabilities, who are subjected to seclusion and restraint at much higher rates than the general student population. Currently, there are no laws at the federal level restricting the use of seclusion or restraint in public or private schools, and state laws vary widely across the country.

But on March 17, in response to pressure last year by parents and disability advocates, the Vermont Department of Education issued new rules governing the use of seclusion and restraint in all settings under the DOE's jurisdiction. They include public schools, private schools, preschools, tutorial programs, daycare centers and juvenile treatment facilities. 

The new rules, which take effect August 15, expressly prohibit the use of physical or chemical restraints in school, as well as any other containment method that "restricts or limits breathing or communication, causes pain or is imposed without maintaining direct visual contact."

Also, seclusion-and-restraint techniques may not be used as a convenience for staff, as a form of discipline or punishment, as a substitute for inadequate staffing or adult supervision, or as a response to profanity or other verbal or physical displays of disrespect.

Continue reading "VT Dept. of Education Issues New Seclusion and Restraint Rules" »

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