News Releases

March 19, 2012

Three Schools Selected to Represent Vermont at Regional Conference on High School Innovation

Three Vermont public schools—Cabot School (Cabot), Essex High School (Essex), and South Burlington High School (South Burlington)—have been invited to represent their state at a regional conference on effective strategies for improving teaching and learning in the 21st century.

The conference, High School Redesign in Action (, will take place March 22–23, 2012, in Norwood, Massachusetts. It is sponsored by the New England Secondary School Consortium, a regional partnership committed to high school innovation, in collaboration with the departments of education for Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. All the selected schools have made significant progress raising student achievement, graduation rates, college-enrollment numbers, or other indicators of educational success.

“These three schools represent what is best about Vermont education and the work of the Consortium,” said Armando Vilaseca, commissioner of education. “The personalization of learning experiences for students, which makes their education more relevant and expansive, is a key factor in educational innovation and the success of these school. I am also proud that Cabot, Essex, and South Burlington will have a chance to present to their peers from across New England—it’s an exceptional opportunity for our school leaders and teachers.”

All three presenting schools are also members of the Consortium’s League of Innovative Schools, a multistate network of secondary schools working together to improve their programs and performance.

In Vermont, the League comprises 11 secondary schools from across the state, and their work is supported by grants from the Vermont Department of Education. The League’s goal is to promote the exchange of best practices and innovative improvement strategies among schools region.

Cabot School has created a project-based teaching and learning model in grades 7–12 that allows multiage groups to investigate problems through long-term research, Socratic-style seminars, hands-on discovery, the arts, and community connections—many of which take advantage of local resources, opportunities, and experts to make learning come alive. Students also present their projects and what they’ve learned to teachers, parents, and community members.

As part of its transformation process, Essex High School made a commitment to supporting students, personalizing learning, and developing “multiple learning pathways”—that is, creating more diverse learning experiences both inside and outside the school walls. To help the school achieve its goals, Essex also created two “schools within a school”—one focused on the visual and performing arts and the other on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—to engage student interests and aspirations through strategies such as senior projects and career internships.

Big Picture South Burlington created a set of proficiency-based graduation requirements that help teachers personalize instruction and make sure all students acquire the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed in adult life. At the school, students pursue an individualized course of study that is built around their interests and aspirations, and that incorporate internships, college-level courses, independent projects, workshops, travel, and volunteerism.

The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders. The Consortium’s goal is to ensure that every public high school student receives an education that prepares them for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. The Consortium is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (, the largest philanthropy in New England focused exclusively on education, and it is coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership (, a nonprofit educational-support organization in Portland, Maine. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation has committed more than $2 million to support the Consortium, which includes $1 million in partnership grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For more information:

Vermont’s High School Redesign in Action Presentations


Schools: Cabot School, Cabot

Presenters: Brian Boyes (teacher), Julia Hewitt (teacher), Jennifer Lindert (teacher), Dave Schilling (teacher), Karen Stewart (principal), Peter Stratman (teacher), and Students

Presentation Information: Friday, March 23 | 9:15 am + 10:45 am


Contact: Karen Stewart |


School: Essex High School, Essex

Presenters: Kim Audette (STEM director), Julian Bradshaw (AVPA director), Amy Cole (curriculum director), Rob Reardon (principal)

Presentation Information: Thursday, March 22 | 3:45 pm


Contact: Amy Cole|


School: South Burlington High School, South Burlington

Presenters: Jason Cushner (program coordinator), Jim Shields (advisor), and Big Picture Students

Presentation Information: Friday, March 23 | 10:45 am + 12:45 pm


Contact: Jason Cushner |

Source: Department of Education
Last Updated at: March 19, 2012 13:16:11