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2022 Letter From the Superintendent

"We work together to empower all students to be responsible, productive and engaged citizens, and to provide them with equity, access and robust opportunities so that they may successfully pursue their passions now and in the future."
Catherine Gallagher - Lamoille North Superintendent

Dear Lamoille North Community Members,

I continue to be honored to serve as Superintendent of the Lamoille North Schools, and am fiercely proud of our team of administrators, Board of Directors, community partners, expert staff and most importantly, the reason we are here…our students and families. We have just begun the second half of the school year, and although the pandemic upended and disrupted our learning for more than two years, we are back on track and well positioned to be a stronger school system than ever before.

Our task is to work intentionally and collaboratively with school leaders and community partners: to create more equitable opportunities for all students; to identify and remove any barriers that exist for members within our school community; and to advance a culture of belonging, dignity and safety in our system with the goal of improving outcomes and ensuring equity for all students. We incorporate principles of equity within policies, programs, operations, practices and resource allocations. This annual report is intended to give Lamoille North stakeholders an opportunity to see how we are working to prioritize and accelerate academic and social emotional learning for all our students.

Lamoille North’s mission and vision remain the same. We work together to empower all students to be responsible, productive and engaged citizens, and to provide them with equity, access and robust opportunities so that they may successfully pursue their passions now and in the future. I am grateful and inspired by the commitment, sacrifice and care provided by the entire Lamoille North school community; that dedication speaks volumes about the ideals and principles we hold sacred, as well as the strength and quality of our school system and local communities. Our work encompasses the following three areas: academic rigor, social emotional wellness and student engagement. Although we have had the good fortune of ESSER grant funds to support much of this work, those funds will cease to exist for us at the end of FY24 and we will need to continue this work with other sources of funding.

How will we navigate this? Perhaps some context is helpful. We know that property taxes are tied to our education budgets and have been for years. We know that in any given year, taxes go up or go down, but the one thing that never changes is our need to serve our students well. We live in a state that is aging faster than other states in our nation. In 2015, our median age was 43 years, compared to the national average of 38. By 2022, the percentage of Vermonters over the age of 65 exceeded the percentage of those under the age of 20. Our current workforce is made up of those close to retirement. It is necessary for us to educate our students, help them develop skills and expertise in their chosen career path, and provide them with jobs that will allow them to support themselves and make Vermont a desirable place to live and thrive. We will not accomplish this if we are unable to provide opportunities and experiences for the entirety of their prekindergarten – grade 12 education trajectory and beyond.

At the elementary level, our focus has been on collaborative learning, health and wellbeing. We continue to strengthen our core instructional programs and have systematized our learning management systems to assist us in delivering curriculum. Our common math and literacy programs enable us to ensure that our students will have had access to a consistent sets of skills and concepts when they transition to middle school, no matter the elementary school they attended. In addition, our schools have emphasized the importance of health and wellness, restorative practices, nutrition, civic discourse and support for self and others.

At the middle school, high school and technical center, personalized learning plans, proficiency-based learning and restorative practices continue to evolve and strengthen. Additionally, our students are coming together to create an understanding of what respect means and identifying avenues where they can respectfully use their voice to communicate how they feel in conversations with peers and adults alike. At the high school, more students are taking advantage of our unique EPIC Academy (Educational Path I Choose) to identify a passion and design semester- or year-long projects to develop their interests that simultaneously fuel their passions and incorporate learning proficiencies. Our technical center continues to be one of the strongest of its kind in promoting mastery in technical and employability skills
in its many programs. Our goal remains to ensure that all graduating students are college, career and “life” ready.

Our Board, with input from our student representatives, has identified and adopted goals that set the framework for student success. Work continues in the areas of curriculum – specifically aligning Pk-12 curriculum, ensuring rich course offerings and academic rigor for students; health and safety – particularly supporting our efforts to ensure social and racial justice and encouraging training and education in all schools for staff and students; communication – especially seeking to strengthen community connection through access to technology for all students and development of a Community Advisory Group to have a better understanding of community needs; and fiscal responsibility – simultaneously maintaining a sound budget and ensuring excellent programs and services for all students.

What you will see in the report ahead is that our schools are a resource and asset that are worthy of our tax dollars. The reports, tables and charts on the following pages will tell a story of a fiscally responsible budget that will meet the needs of our students and support our quest to ensure the best possible outcomes for them as the future decision makers and workforce of Vermont. The investments to support the success of our students include: professional development for our staff so that they can provide the best education based on current best practices for our youth; interventionists and coaches to identify and develop programs for student instructional needs; counseling professionals for our students; and competitive salaries for teachers and staff so they can afford to live in Lamoille County where we can train, develop and retain them as expert educators and student support professionals. Our students need the very best we can offer.

I consider myself most fortunate to work with all members of our school community, including administrators, staff and school board members; my greatest joy, however, comes from my interactions with our students. I am filled with hope for the trajectory of our education system and am humbled by the resilience, dedication and strength I have once again witnessed this year from students, staff and community members alike. I extend my deep gratitude to the extraordinary people who comprise our school community and thank you for all of your combined efforts to ensure that we have the resources to make sure our communities thrive.

Respectfully and with gratitude,
Catherine Gallagher, M.Ed.
Superintendent of Schools
Lamoille North Supervisory Union