News & Events
Last night was our annual Thanksgiving celebration! Each year, one week before the holiday, we celebrate Thanksgiving with our community. Parents, staff and their families, alumni, friends, and students gather together for a service followed by a feast! Students lead the service, playing music, reading poetry, and performing a thematic play. Students also contribute to the Thanksgiving meal by preparing food from our Farm to School program. This year, Gus Buchanan, history teacher, and his wife, Kara, guided the action in the kitchen and helped students prepare Creamy Succotash and Roasted Delicata Squash. We were also so glad to welcome back so many of our alumni, including three Champlain College students! We wish everyone a restful and happy vacation!
Hillary Kramer, our Director of Admissions, is off at the annual Independent Educational Consultant Association Conference in Orlando, Florida this week! The goal of the conference is for schools and programs to connect with Educational Consultants and each other. There are seminars, workshops, and speeches aimed to help both consultants and representatives from schools and programs improve. Hillary is having a great time connecting with consultants she’s known for years, meeting new consultants, and learning about other school programs! She especially enjoyed the keynote speaker at this year’s conference, 17 year old Justin Bachman, who shared his struggles and his resilience as someone with Tourette’s. Justin challenges everyone to “Be an upstander, not a bystander.” His speech was relevant to so many of our students and was very inspiring! Here’s a video of Justin introducing his methods and ideas:
The 2014 Ooky Spooky race was a smashing success! Despite cool, rainy weather, 88 brave runners came to participate, along with family members, students, volunteers, and kids! This year, there was also a short kids’ race around the lower field, with some very enthusiastic participants. Thanks to all our supporters, the race raised $1020.00 for the Committee on Temporary Housing (COTS) to help homeless Vermonters. This is 40% more than we raised last year! Thanks to all the goblins, ghosts, witches, gnomes, and princesses who came out to run and to raise money for this worthy cause! See the document below for the official race results.
For years, our art teacher, Jeannie Waltz, has been doing Andy Goldsworthy inspired projects with our students. Goldsworthy, a British photographer, sculptor, and environmentalist, produces site-specific sculpture and land art in natural and urban settings. Previous year’s projects have involved building a giant bird’s nest in the front lawn and creating wreaths from vines and hanging them in the sumac trees, just to name a couple. This year, students in the Core 1 class were ispired to use our fresh asphalt on the basketball court as a background to showcase the bright fall foliage. The combination of an urban feature (asphalt) and the natural beauty of the maple leaves created a striking end result. The students were so inspired by their first effort, they decided to make a second project, involving the entire community and using sumac leaves. Check out the time-lapse video below, created by a member of the class!
Today we attended another fantastic, thought-provoking Burlington event! We got to hear filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom (writer and director of the Sundance documentary “Miss Representation”) speak at the inaugural event of the Executive Leadership Series, put on by the Vermont Business Roundtable. To prepare for the discussion, we all watch the documentary and engaged in a pre-event discussion. At the event, there was a great panel discussion aimed at college and high school students titled “Becoming Women of Influence” following the speech, with panelists former Governor Madeleine Kunin, Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell, and Commando founder and CEO Kerry O’Brien, all joining Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The speech and panel discussions focused on women in the workplace and how the media exerts tremendous cultural influence on men and women alike. We continued conversation on these topics back at school, and will likely be continuing it well into the future. Thanks to Gus Buchanan, our history teacher, for getting us invited to this amazing event. You can read more about the event here.
One of the great things about being in Burlington is that there are tons of cultural and artistic events we can go to! We have had a relationship with the Flynn Center for Performing Arts for years and this year we are attending the Lane Series at UVM. From the Lane Series Website:
“The University of Vermont Lane Series features a diverse season of performing arts events including classical music, early music, film, theatre, jazz, and folk music. Each year brings a variety of artists — from established international favorites to promising new talent. We enjoy an international reputation as a presenter of chamber and classical music. The Lane Series was established in 1955 with a generous gift from the Lane family.”
We are really looking forward to checking out the awesome shows in the next few months and we are so grateful to our generous board members who made it happen!
For the past several years, Rock Point has participated in Farm to School projects. The goal of these activities is to connect students to local farms and involve them in preparing the food they eat so that they can learn about agriculture and nutrition. In our version of the program, led by Gus Buchanan (history teacher), students are involved in harvesting and gleaning through the fall. This year we are working with the Intervale Community Farm and have already done some potato harvesting! In the past, we have gleaned carrots, picked arugula, cut milky oats, and picked purple beans. With each harvest, we make recipes highlighting the local, seasonal ingredients. Students have baked apple pies, pickled beets, and made succotash, just to name a few delicious dishes. Finally, we invite the farmers to come join us for a meal at the school.
In the past two years, we have also developed our own gardens at Rock Point. Some students planted raised beds in the spring and summer session students weeded and harvested through the hotter months. This fall we have had a record harvest with our own gardens and have been enjoying fresh salad greens every day! Kevin Douglas, our chef, has come up with creative ways to incorporate all the produce into our daily meals. In fact, today, we are having a “Garden Lunch” consisting of all Rock Point veggies! The class of 2013 raised funds to build a hoop house and, since the zoning has now gone through, we hope to have it up this year so that we can grow food later into the fall and winter.
This program has become an integral part of what we do at Rock Point. It enhances our science curriculum, helps students connect to the culture and history of Vermont, improves student and staff wellness, and teaches students life skills. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun!
On September 27th, Rock Point students and staff will be participating in Hunger Free Vermont’s Hike for Hunger. This annual event raises funds to help eliminate hunger and malnutrition in Vermont, works to improve the health of the community, and raises awareness of hunger issues in Vermont. We have participated in this event almost every year since it’s conception! This year, the hike will take place at the Catamount Family Center in Williston. We are really looking forward to a fun morning of exercise, followed by wood-fired pizza, ice cream, and bluegrass music!
If you would like to help us reach our fundraising goal, here is a link you can use to donate:
If you want to learn more check here: http://www.hungerfreevt.org/
Our culture is obsessed with the cutting edge and innovation––and almost automatically assumes that newer is better. I’m not moved to argue against change; life is change. And many changes are good. Instead, I want to have more thoughtful conversations, especially in education, about recognizing and valuing what’s tried and true, while still supporting progress.
There are some wheels we don’t need to reinvent, and I’m concerned that in our rush to change and innovate, core principles get overlooked––because they’re not new and “sexy.” Simply put, they don’t have a lot of market value. This is one of the downsides of living in a consumer culture, where we start applying consumer values to just about everything.
In my more than twenty-five years in educational settings, and especially at Rock Point School, the things I’ve seen work consistently are:
- recognizing that all learning is always cognitive, social, and emotional
- building community
- providing strong mentoring
- creating a culture of kindness
- giving meaningful responsibility to students
- encouraging trial and error
- rewarding both success and effort
- noticing small gains, not just large ones
- holding students accountable
- measuring progress based on where a student starts
- honoring students for who they are, even as we’re encouraging growth
I know these things work, because I’ve watched students thrive, learn, and grow for 25 years here at Rock Point School, with these principles guiding us.
None of this, of course, precludes place-based education, differentiation, explicit executive-function skill-building, scaffolded essay-writing instruction, or project-based inquiry––all of which are vibrant parts of a Rock Point School education. And while the concepts and tools that make rocket science possible are also an important part of our curriculum (Physics, math, computers, communication skills, etc.), what really makes me proud of this school are strong mentoring and our culture of kindness.
As the Head of Rock Point School, I am always interested in what’s new and how we can change for the better. I’m proud that we have the largest solar orchard in Burlington, and that our students can use it as a laboratory. At the same time, I know it is our ability to keep the core principals above at the center of what we do––and what we have done so well for many years––that enables Rock Point School students to become their best selves and to go into the world with more competence and confidence.
One of our beginning of the year traditions occurs the first weekend at school when the boys and girls split up to go camping! We have found there is nothing like snuggling together in a lean-to and eating s’mores by a fire to bond people together. This year, the girls went to Branbury State Park, located on the eastern shore of Lake Dunmore at the base of Mt. Moosalamoo. After a cold Friday night by the fire, the girls were glad to explore nearby Middlebury, go thrift store shopping, and get fries and shakes and the A&W. The boys stayed at Ricker Pond State Park, in Groton, Vermont. Although the park is located on the shore of the pond, none of the campers was eager to dive in! On Saturday morning, per boys floor tradition, they explored the wonders of the Tunbridge World’s Fair, where they bought some kitschy t-shirts.