ARLINGTON — This fall, Fisher Elementary for the first time has shifted some of its teaching staff between grades to encourage a process called "looping."
"Last fall, a few of us attended a conference on behavior issues and 'looping' was discussed," said Principal Deanne Lacoste. "Looping is a practice in which teachers request to stay with their current class for an additional year to help students who have difficulties with transitions and have a history of behavior issues. The extra year provides some consistency and an opportunity to work on concerns. When I returned from the conference, I discussed looping with the teachers and then sent out an email to all Fisher teachers asking if anyone would be interested in looping for 2016-2017. Several teachers were interested, so I started the re-assignments.
"Of the seven moves," she said, "only one teacher has expressed disappointment in the classroom assignment for next year. This is not a teacher who asked to loop, but the result of looping does bounce some teachers to different grade levels. We have a great teaching staff here, and all of our teachers are certified to teach multiple grade levels. I appreciate the concern some people have regarding change, but I am excited for the changes (this) year, and many teachers here feel the same way."
This year's kindergarten teachers are Jennifer McKeighan, who also taught kindergarten last year, and Meghan Knight, who taught first grade, replacing retiring kindergarten teacher Cindy Granger. New hire Brendan Harris will teach first grade, as will Wendy Burgess, who taught second grade last year. Jennifer Wright, who taught first grade, will move up to second grade, where she will teach alongside Rachel Leard, who remains as a second-grade teacher.
Crystal Setzer will remain teaching third grade, but she will be joined by Jeremy Pratico, who previously taught fifth grade. Last year's other third grade teacher, Charlie Cummings, has moved up to fourth grade, where he is teaching alongside Shirley Casey. Cummings replaces Michelle Edmunds, who moved up to fifth grade to fill the slot left vacant by Pratico. She now teaches alongside Patricia Preseault.
Cummings, at the end of last school year, counted himself among those who were excited about the changes.
Harris, the new hire, is a native of Shaftsbury and a graduate of Castleton University, and said he was most excited, "to see how students grow and develop in their learning."
Around the rest of the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union, other new hires include Speech and Language Pathologist Alison Achor, Occupational Therapist Mary Nalor, Plymouth State Psychology intern Ashley Hess, along with Arlington Memorial Middle and High School science teacher Charles Black, math teacher Aaron Wood, and long-term substitute in English and Chinese Mario Lanzilotta.
Contact Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.