2021 Principal's Report
I am pleased to submit this year’s state of the school report for the Cambridge community. A year ago, I never envisioned that our global and local communities would continue to face so many hardships caused by the pandemic. Regardless of how different and difficult this year has been for our school community, we persevere and experience endless amounts of joy from our students and colleagues. Like this past school year, our school community is like no other. Our doors have remained open, despite numerous cases of COVID 19 within our school, because of the selfless teachers and staff who come to work every day smiling behind their masks ready to offer the children of this community not only an excellent education, but also unconditional love and compassion.
We began this school year tasked by the state of Vermont with implementing a robust recovery plan, developed by staff using assessment and anecdotal data from the past school year. Immediately, we were faced with new cases of COVID 19 within our school community and as a result, we continue to respond to the pandemic while also being asked to recover from it. Federal grant funds were made available to us to implement strategies that our staff deemed to be necessary to help our students overcome academic loss and social and emotional stressors caused by the pandemic. I will highlight some of these strategies in the following paragraphs.
Our most academically at risk students struggle with a variety of conceptual areas and subject matters. In most cases, learning loss created by the pandemic has only negatively impacted them further. Using recovery funds, we hired an additional math and literacy interventionist which has enabled us to provide additional, intensive support for our students who are performing below grade level. With these funds we have trained two of our instructors to become certified Reading Recovery teachers who provide this highly effective, short term literacy intervention with first grade students. Our interventionists allow students, who are struggling to meet grade level standards, access to additional highly trained teachers to work with them in fluid, data driven instructional groups both in and outside of the classroom. Accelerated learners benefit from our interventionists during this time as non-intervention teachers have more availability to provide accelerated learning opportunities to this group of students.
Some of our students, regardless of academic ability or income level, struggle with the acquisition and application of important social and emotional skills necessary to cope with change, social dynamics, and lack the perseverance necessary to overcome learning challenges. Our students are displaying higher levels of anxiety since the beginning of the pandemic. Using recovery funds, we have hired a full time behaviorist/Restorative Practices Coordinator and a part time school counselor to work alongside our school counselor and guidance department to offer immediate, needs based support for our students utilizing restorative, responsive, and supportive methods to all of our students. These positions have been instrumental in supporting our students through another challenging school year.
In addition to providing our students with additional academic and social and emotional supports, whenever possible, we strive to provide them with normalcy and enriching opportunities. I am thrilled to share that our fourth, fifth and sixth graders will once again have the opportunity to ski, ride, or snowshoe at Smugglers Notch Resort this winter. This beloved opportunity is possible through the generous financial support of the Cambridge Rotary Group who provide all funding necessary for private lessons, rentals and lift tickets. Our students frequently name this experience as the highlight of their entire CES career! Rotary Reads continues with Rotary members adopting a classroom to read to throughout the school year. Additionally, fifth and sixth graders have had the opportunity to join an “Early Act” club which is essentially a junior Rotary club. I remain grateful for the long standing support of the hardworking, caring group of individuals who are the Cambridge Rotary Group. Almost all of our sixth graders have signed up to volunteer with me at the North Country Animal League. While there, the students clean, organize, and spend time with the shelter residents. A large group of fifth and sixth grade students serve as technology ambassadors - learning important technology skills from our staff and applying these skills through service projects throughout the school.
As you can see, despite the uncertainties and daily stress faced by all of us, our students are being offered exceptional opportunities to learn and grow as individuals and community members. School is without a doubt the best place for them to be! It is such a pleasure to watch our students interact with one another. Just the other day, I observed two second grade students getting ready to leave at the end of the day. Something one of them said was apparently hilarious. Their eyes twinkled as they both laughed hysterically with one another as they put on their winter coats. Our students love coming to school in part for the human interaction that they need and enjoy. Our staff is fully committed to maximizing learning for our students during this time and in order to make this happen, each and every one of them has been willing to go above and beyond what is ordinarily expected of them. The programming budget that we have developed for your consideration is based upon our projected enrollment for next year. We will be adding a third grade teaching position. Our recovery grant funded positions will continue for the next two school years.
I would once again like this opportunity to thank our tireless, dedicated employees for their daily commitment to the children of this community. I could not ask for a better group of individuals to care for your children and I remain deeply grateful for the fact that I am a member of this school community. I would also like to thank this vibrant community for its ongoing support of our beautiful school. I wish you all happiness and good health as we hopefully are witnessing the end of this chapter. The best is yet to come!