Greetings! Catamount Corner is back with a monthly column about teaching and learning at the St. Johnsbury School. We have had a terrific start. I am so impressed with students' respect, kindness, and curiosity and with teachers' and paras' dedication and commitment to serving students. The mood throughout the building has been upbeat, energized, and enthusiastic.

Our goal as a professional learning community is to continue building a highly functioning educational system that ensures students' success and promotes a professional teaching culture. One of our goals for this year is to continue the transition to the Common Core State Standards, providing strong instruction that builds on students' strengths, maximizes student engagement, and promotes critical thinking. A second goal is to develop a robust system of intervention, support, and enrichment. Effective schools use data to inform instruction so a third goal is to develop the capacity of school wide teams to collaboratively engage in effective assessment and data analysis that will enable teachers to use data results to adapt instruction on an ongoing basis. A fourth goal is around school climate -- ensuring that all students are safe and that they experience a supportive and encouraging learning atmosphere, conducive to building relationships and promoting curiosity and creativity. Strong professional learning communities nurture collaboration among all staff members so a fifth goal is to improve staff teamwork, design effective professional development and support teacher leadership. The final goal is to implement structures that promote strong parent connections and strong family-school relationships as well as continue to strengthen our PTO and parent volunteer programs.

Our school was awarded a Children's Literacy Foundation Grant bringing a variety of rich literacy experiences to students over the course of this year. As a kick-off this week, students in grades 3-6 each received two free books as well as the treat of listening to a master storyteller.

Music teachers will be rehearsing with students for spirited Band and Chorus performances. The 50's Drive Thru Diner event will bring school and community together for a lot of fun in October. Grade 3 students will present F.I.T., a music show, in January. Grade 1 will present their music show, "The Box," in May, and Grade 4 will present "Yo, Leonardo" in June. A new Jazz Band is forming which will perform at concerts.

Last year a powerful parent volunteer program started, and we are looking forward to the partnership of room parents and classroom teachers again. The PTO holds its first monthly meeting next week, planning year-long events to benefit students.

Hopes, dreams and exciting possibilities all lay ahead during the coming school year. The St. Johnsbury School is indeed a special place as staff, students, parents, and community members work together for educational excellence.

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